What does "water" refer to in John 3:5?

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  • What does "water" refer to in John 3:5?

    John 3:5
    Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (NASB)

    Water refers to:
    a. Repentance (Matthew 3:8, 11)
    b. The Holy Spirit - The "and" (kai) is used epexegetically. Thus "water, namely Spirit" (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-26).
    c. The word of God (Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 1:23)
    d. Christian water baptism
    e. Physical birth
    f. A combination of two or more from the above
    g. None of the above

  • #2
    Hello Faber,

    I select F

    A couple of other suggestions: What does "Rebirth", "Born Again", "Born from Above" or "Regeneration" Mean? -Christforums

    Lemme share the pertinent clip directly:

    Many interpreters understand "water" here as the water of baptism, but such a reference, before Christian baptism was instituted, would have been meaningless to Nicodemus. Others find a reference to John's baptism, but Jesus nowhere makes John's baptism a requirement for salvation. Probably the statement refers to OT passages in which the terms "water" and "Spirit" are linked to express the pouring out of God's Spirit in the end times, and the purification and new life that flow from His arrival - Isaiah 32:15; 44:3, Ezekiel 36:25-27.
    In John 4:10 living or running water is employed figuratively as a reference to divine activity as well as in Jeremiah 2:13; Zech 14:8.

    I think we can actually draw from John 4 similar parallels between the conversation with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. In John 4:14 Jesus again refers to water springing or welling up which is consistent with divine origin. The Ezekiel 36:25-27 verses was an allusion Jesus made to Nicodemus, being a teacher of Israel, he should of known these OT passages. In any case whenever water is active or the phrase combines water and Spirit it is divine activity/origin that is expressed.

    God bless,
    William
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    • #3
      Any follow up Faber ?

      I see another thread touching upon this subject and was curious if you had anything more to share?

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        He is referring to the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins and for the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

        Rebirth is mentioned in Titus 3:5. Some translations use rebirth, the KJV says regeneration, but the Greek word is synonymous with rebirth.

        It is quite clear that Titus 3:5 is talking about baptism for the remission of sins.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Faber View Post
          The word of God (Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 1:23)
          As you will note in the thread on Soteriology, this is the correct interpretation for "water", and it has been further explained there.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lucas View Post
            As you will note in the thread on Soteriology, this is the correct interpretation for "water", and it has been further explained there.
            G'day Lucas,

            I think it important to address the context of John 3:5. Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, please address the OT allusions in which Nicodemus should of known. Jesus directly said to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?"

            Now I am not saying that these references are wrong, but what I am suggesting is that we are at an advantage because we have the NT Canon, Nicodemus had the OT which was completed a few hundred years before Christ walked upon the earth. Jesus was directly speaking to Nicodemus (the teacher of Israel) and I think that context needs be addressed here and any allusions made to the OT from which Nicodemus should of understood.

            God bless,
            William
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            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post
              Any follow up Faber ?

              I see another thread touching upon this subject and was curious if you had anything more to share?

              God bless,
              William
              I believe "water" in John 3:5 is used epexegetically. That is "water namely Spirit" (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27).

              Trist mentions Titus 3:5 but this liquid imagery of "washing" with "pouring" refers to the work of the Holy Spirit.
              Titus 3:5-6 (the underlined is mine)
              (5) He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
              (6) whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (NASB)

              As I mentioned in the debate with Trist the Holy Spirit was "poured out" (Acts 10:45) upon the Gentiles before their water baptism (Acts 10:48). Thus this water that is poured to wash us can not refer to Christian water baptism.

              The same can be said concerning Ephesians 5:26 and Hebrews 10:22. God's love is poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
              Notice as well that the Lord Jesus equated water with the Holy Spirit elsewhere in John's Gospel (John 4:10, 14; 7:37-39).


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              • #8
                Originally posted by William View Post
                G'day Lucas,

                I think it important to address the context of John 3:5. Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, please address the OT allusions in which Nicodemus should of known. Jesus directly said to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?"
                G'Day William,

                Yes, we cannot ignore the OT allusions and the Lord would have known that Nicodemus was familiar with Ezekiel 36:25-28, where water is a metaphor for the regeneration by the Holy Spirit, as corroborated by John Gill's comment (below the Scripture):.

                25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

                26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

                27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

                28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.


                John Gill's Commentary
                Verse 25. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,.... Not baptismal water, as Jerome; an ordinance indeed of the Gospel, and to which the Jews will submit when converted; and which is performed by water, but not by sprinkling, nor does it cleanse from sin; and is administered by men, and is not an operation of God, as this is: rather the regenerating grace of the Spirit;

                I have already indicated in another thread that the metaphor of water can apply to BOTH the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. When Christ spoke to Nicodemus, He was addressing the world through that message and anticipating the propagation of the Gospel. So when Christ said "born of water AND of the Spirit" that was not redundancy, but distinguishing between the "water" of the Word and the "water" of the Holy Spirit. Both of those are the power of God unto salvation, and we have further corroboration by James that the Word of God brings about the New Birth when accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit (James 1:18).

                Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Faber View Post
                  Notice as well that the Lord Jesus equated water with the Holy Spirit elsewhere in John's Gospel (John 4:10, 14; 7:37-39).
                  Agreed, but that does NOT exclude the Word of God. This metaphor (as discussed above) applies to both.

                  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26).
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lucas View Post
                    Agreed, but that does NOT exclude the Word of God. This metaphor (as discussed above) applies to both.

                    That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26).
                    I agree.

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                    • #11
                      I marvel at the biblical ping pong you all must do to try and be right.

                      "I interpret it as water [namely] spirit"

                      I dust my feet off; no more will I speak on this forum. God is taking me elsewhere.

                      Amen.
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                      • #12
                        The Bible sometimes reads "God and Father."

                        Does that mean "God" and "Father" are distinct or does it mean "God namely (the) Father"?

                        Furthermore, the "and" (kai) is used that way in Titus 3:5 for the Gentiles in Acts 10 definitely had the Holy Spirit "poured out" on them before their water baptism. Your heresy (and yes it is a heresy) had no answer to this in our previous debate and it had no response to it in this thread.


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                        Last edited by Faber; 07-10-2017, 07:43 AM.
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