Trinity Sunday: water and spirit

waterandspiritThe Dialogue Continues… Nicodemus is oblivious to the two levels of meaning. He focuses on one meaning of “born anōthen” (“again”) and protests that what Jesus calls for is physiologically impossible (3:4). As in v. 2, Nicodemus’s categories of what is possible intrude into the conversation. On the level that Nicodemus understands Jesus’ words, Nicodemus’s protest is correct. It is impossible for a grown man to reenter his mother’s womb and be born a second time. Nicodemus’s protest is ironic, however, because his words are correct and incontestable on one level, but that level stands in conflict and tension with what Jesus intends by the expression “to be born anōthen.” Jesus’ words speak of a radical new birth, generated from above, but Nicodemus’s language and imagination do not stretch enough to include that offer. Continue reading

Advertisements

Trinity Sunday: being born

waterandspiritBorn anōthen. Jesus response to Nicodemus’ opening greeting is bold, challenging and begins with the solemn “Amen, Amen…”

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born gennēthē anōthen .”

The expression gennēthē anōthen can be translated as “born again” or “born from above.” Some bibles opt for the “again” (TLW), some opt for “again” with a footnote to explain there is an alternative (RSV, NIV, TEV, NASB, ESV, KJV). Other opt for “from above” without explanation (NAB, NJB) or with explanation as to the alternative (NSRV, CEV). Continue reading

Coming to believe: the Spirit given

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“Receive the holy Spirit” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The sacred writer had already introduced the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 7 in a scene during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Spirit is promised at a future time when Jesus was glorified. In the Fourth Gospel it is at the crucifixion that Jesus is glorified in that his willing obedience manifests the nature of God, which is love. It is there on the cross that Jesus deliver the Spirit into the world (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. Continue reading

Risen: the Spirit given

doubting-Thomas-Duccio“Receive the holy Spirit” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The sacred writer had already introduced the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 7 in a scene during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Spirit is promised at a future time when Jesus was glorified. In the Fourth Gospel it is at the crucifixion that Jesus is glorified in that his willing obedience manifests the nature of God, which is love. It is there on the cross that Jesus deliver the Spirit into the world (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: water and spirit

waterandspiritThe Dialogue Continues… Nicodemus is oblivious to the two levels of meaning. He focuses on one meaning of “born anōthen” (“again”) and protests that what Jesus calls for is physiologically impossible (3:4). As in v. 2, Nicodemus’s categories of what is possible intrude into the conversation. On the level that Nicodemus understands Jesus’ words, Nicodemus’s protest is correct. It is impossible for a grown man to reenter his mother’s womb and be born a second time. Nicodemus’s protest is ironic, however, because his words are correct and incontestable on one level, but that level stands in conflict and tension with what Jesus intends by the expression “to be born anōthen.” Jesus’ words speak of a radical new birth, generated from above, but Nicodemus’s language and imagination do not stretch enough to include that offer. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: being born

waterandspiritBorn anōthen. Jesus response to Nicodemus’ opening greeting is bold, challenging and begins with the solemn “Amen, Amen…”

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born gennēthē anōthen .”

The expression gennēthē anōthen can be translated as “born again” or “born from above.” Some bibles opt for the “again” (TLW), some opt for “again” with a footnote to explain there is an alternative (RSV, NIV, TEV, NASB, ESV, KJV). Other opt for “from above” without explanation (NAB, NJB) or with explanation as to the alternative (NSRV, CEV). Continue reading