3:1 There 1 was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a a ruler of the Jews:
(1) There are none sometimes more unlearned than
the learned, but the learned as well as the unlearned must desire wisdom from
(a) A man of great estimation and a ruler amongst
3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto
him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a b
teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, c
except God be with him.
(b) We know that you are sent from God to teach
(c) But he in whom some part of the excellency of
God appears. And if Nicodemus had rightly known Christ, he would not only have
said that God was with him, but in him, as Paul does in (2 Corinthians
3:3 2 Jesus
answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be
born again, he cannot d see the e
kingdom of God.
(2) The beginning of Christianity consists in
this, that we know ourselves not only to be corrupt in part, but to be wholly
dead in sin: so that our nature has need to be created anew, with regard to
its qualities, which can be done by no other power, but by the divine and
heavenly, by which we were first created.
(d) That is, "go in", or
"enter", as he expounds himself below in (John
(e) The Church: for Christ shows here how we come
to be citizens and to have anything to do in the city of God.
3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How f
can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his
mother's womb, and be born?
(f) How can I who am old be born again? For
Nicodemus answers as if Christ's words were only addressed to himself.
3:6 That which is born of the
flesh is g flesh; and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit.
(g) That is, fleshly, namely, wholly unclean and
under the wrath of God: and therefore this word "flesh" signifies
the corrupt nature of man: contrary to which is the Spirit, that is, the man
ingrafted into Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose nature is
everlasting and immortal, though the strife of the flesh remains.
3:8 The wind bloweth where it h
listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it
cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
(h) With free and wandering blasts as it wishes.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
(3) The secret mystery of our regeneration which
cannot be comprehended by man's capacity, is perceived by faith, and that in
Christ only, because he is both God on earth, and man in heaven, that is to
say, man in such a way that he is God also, and therefore almighty: and God in
such a way that he is man also, and therefore his power is made manifest to
3:11 Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye
receive not our i witness.
(i) You handle doubtful things even though you
have no solid basis for believing them, and yet men believe you: but I teach
those things that are of a truth and well known, and you do not believe me.
3:13 And no k
man l hath ascended up to heaven, but he
that came down from heaven, [even] m the
Son of man which n is in heaven.
(k) Only Christ can teach us heavenly things, for
no man ascends, etc.
(l) That is, has any spiritual light and
understanding, or ever had any, but only the Son of God who came down to us.
(m) Whereas he is said to have come down from
heaven, this must be understood as referring to his Godhead, and of the manner
of his conception: for Christ's birth upon the earth was heavenly and not
earthly, for he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
(n) That which is proper to the divinity of
Christ, is here spoken of the whole Christ, to show us that he is but one
person in which two natures are united.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth o in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
(5) Nothing else but the free love of the Father
is the beginning of our salvation, and Christ is he in whom our righteousness
and salvation dwells: and faith is the instrument or means by which we
apprehend it, and everlasting life is that which is set before us to
(o) It is not the same to believe in a thing, and
to believe about a thing, for we may not believe in anything except in God
alone, but we may believe about anything whatever, says Nazianzene in his
Oration of the Spirit.
3:17 6 For
God sent not his Son into the world p to
condemn the world; but that the q world
through him might be saved.
(6) Christ does not condemn, but rather despising
(p) That is, to be the cause of the condemning of
the world, for indeed sins are the cause of death; however, Christ will still
judge the living and the dead.
(q) Not only the people of the Jews, but whoever
will believe in him.
And this is the r condemnation, that
light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because
their deeds were evil.
(7) The only reason why men refuse the light that
is offered to them is wickedness.
(r) That is, the cause of condemnation, which
remains in men, unless through God's great benefit they are delivered from
3:21 But he that s
doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they
are wrought t in God.
(s) That is, he that leads an honest life, and is
void of all cunning and deceit.
(t) That is, with God, God as it were going
8 Then there arose a question between
[some] of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
(8) Satan inflames the disciples of John with a
fond emulation of their master in order to hinder the course of the gospel:
but John, being mindful of his office, not only puts a stop to their
endeavours, but also takes occasion by that means to give testimony of Christ,
that in him alone the Father has set forth everlasting life.
3:27 John answered and said,
A man u can receive nothing, except it
be given him from heaven.
(u) Why are you trying to better my state? This
is every man's lot and portion, that he cannot better himself in the
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is x
earthly, and y speaketh of the earth: he
that cometh from heaven is above all.
(x) Is nothing else but man, a piece of work made
of the slime of the earth.
(y) Is characterized by nothing but corruption,
ignorance, dulness, etc.
3:32 And what he hath z
seen and heard, that he testifieth; and a
no man receiveth his testimony.
(z) What he knows fully and perfectly.
(a) That is, very few.
The Father loveth the Son, and hath b
given all things into his hand.
(b) Committed them to his power and will.
3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting
life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not c
see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
(c) Shall not enjoy.