3 1-2 After dark one night a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a member of the sect of the Pharisees, came for an interview with Jesus. “Sir,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miracles are proof enough of this.”
3 Jesus replied, “With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God.”
4 “Born again!” exclaimed Nicodemus. “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit,[a] he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. 6 Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; 7 so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again! 8 Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the Spirit. We do not know on whom he will next bestow this life from heaven.”
9 “What do you mean?” Nicodemus asked.
10-11 Jesus replied, “You, a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I am telling you what I know and have seen—and yet you won’t believe me. 12 But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about such things as these that happen here among men, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? 13 For only I, the Messiah,[b] have come to earth and will return to heaven again. 14 And as Moses in the wilderness lifted up the bronze image of a serpent on a pole, even so I must be lifted up upon a pole, 15 so that anyone who believes in me will have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son[c] so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.
18 “There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God. 19 Their sentence is based on this fact: that the Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 They hated the heavenly Light because they wanted to sin in the darkness. They stayed away from that Light for fear their sins would be exposed and they would be punished. 21 But those doing right come gladly to the Light to let everyone see that they are doing what God wants them to.”
22 Afterwards Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and stayed for a while in Judea and baptized there.
23-24 At this time John the Baptist was not yet in prison. He was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. 25 One day someone began an argument with John’s disciples, telling them that Jesus’ baptism was best.[d] 26 So they came to John and said, “Master, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River—the one you said was the Messiah—he is baptizing too, and everybody is going over there instead of coming here to us.”
27 John replied, “God in heaven appoints each man’s work. 28 My work is to prepare the way for that man so that everyone will go to him. You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him—that is all. 29 The crowds will naturally go to the main attraction[e]—the bride will go where the bridegroom is! A bridegroom’s friends rejoice with him. I am the Bridegroom’s friend, and I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
31 “He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. I am of the earth, and my understanding is limited to the things of earth. 32 He tells what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! 33-34 Those who believe him discover that God is a fountain of truth. For this one—sent by God—speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit. 35 The Father loves this man because he is his Son, and God has given him everything there is. 36 And all who trust him—God’s Son—to save them have eternal life; those who don’t believe and obey him shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God remains upon them.”
- John 3:5 Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, or “Physical birth is not enough. You must be born spiritually.” This alternate paraphrase interprets “born of water” as meaning the normal process observed during every human birth. Some think this means water baptism.
- John 3:13 the Messiah, literally, “the Son of Man.”
- John 3:16 his only Son, or “the unique Son of God.” So also in v. 18.
- John 3:25 that Jesus’ baptism was best, literally, “about purification.”
- John 3:29 The crowds will naturally go to the main attraction, implied.
New International Version
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus(A) who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.(B) 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi,(C) we know(D) that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs(E) you are doing if God were not with him.”(F)
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.(H) 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit.(I) 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d](J)
9 “How can this be?”(K) Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,”(L) said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know,(M) and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.(N) 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven(O) except the one who came from heaven(P)—the Son of Man.[e](Q) 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,(R) so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f](S) 15 that everyone who believes(T) may have eternal life in him.”[g](U)
16 For God so loved(V) the world that he gave(W) his one and only Son,(X) that whoever believes(Y) in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(Z) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world(AA) to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.(AB) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,(AC) but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.(AD) 19 This is the verdict: Light(AE) has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.(AF) 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.(AG) 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John Testifies Again About Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.(AH) 23 Now John(AI) also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.)(AJ) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.(AK) 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi,(AL) that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified(AM) about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’(AN) 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom.(AO) The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.(AP) 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[h]
31 The one who comes from above(AQ) is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth.(AR) The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard,(AS) but no one accepts his testimony.(AT) 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent(AU) speaks the words of God, for God[i] gives the Spirit(AV) without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.(AW) 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,(AX) but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
- John 3:3 The Greek for again also means from above; also in verse 7.
- John 3:6 Or but spirit
- John 3:7 The Greek is plural.
- John 3:8 The Greek for Spirit is the same as that for wind.
- John 3:13 Some manuscripts Man, who is in heaven
- John 3:14 The Greek for lifted up also means exalted.
- John 3:15 Some interpreters end the quotation with verse 21.
- John 3:30 Some interpreters end the quotation with verse 36.
- John 3:34 Greek he