From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Mar 12 1997 - 20:34:18 EST
At 6:38 PM -0600 3/12/97, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
>at my Bible study last night, a question was raised about the meaning of
>John 3:5. In this verse Jesus responds to Nicodemus's question "How can
>a man enter a second time into his mother's womb and be reborn?"
>Jesus replies "....EAN MH TIS GENNHQH EX UDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS, OU
>DUNATAI EISELQEIN EIS THN BASILEIAN TOU QEOU"
>"Unless a person is born of water and the spirit, it is not possible to
>enter into the kingdom of God"
>Now, the question raised was what does the water signifiy? And what does
>it mean to be "born of water"
>Someone suggested that water often signifies cleansing. Therefore being
>born of water indicates repentence.
>This seems a bit eisagetical to me...
>My present feeling is that the water signifies the amniotic fluid we
>swim in when we were in our mother's womb. Therefore, being born of
>water means to be born physically.
>I am assuming EX UDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS are compond genitives of source.
>Does this mean that a person must be born of water and the spirit
>*simultaneously*? If so then my suggestion above (physical birth) would
>obviously be incorrect.
(1) I think that the two elements are best associated with what John the
Baptist says, Mt 3:11 = Lk 3:16 EGW MEN hUMAS BAPTIZW EN hUDATI EIS
METANOIAN, hO DE OPISW MOU ... AUTOS hUMAS BAPTISEI EN PNEUMATI hAGIWi KAI
PURI. We needn't talk about a "baptism of fire" here, but the distinction
between the Johannine baptism of water and the baptism of the spirit is a
fundamental NT Christian one.
(2) The conception of re-generation is deeply inherent in both baptisms,
for the baptism in water is (a) a more-or-less universal symbol of death
and regeneration, of immersion in the primeval waters of chaos and rebirth
into newness of life;for John it is a symbol of repentance and readiness
for new life; and (b) moreover it came rather early to be understood as a
believer's dying and rising with Christ (Rom 6:1-11); baptism in spirit for
Luke is concentrated in his account of the Pentecost event in Acts 2, but
for John that comes in Jn 20:22, where after the risen Christ commissions
the disciples, KAI TAUTA EIPWN ENEUSHSEN KAI LEGEI AUTOIS, LABETE PNEUMA
hAGION--i.e. the risen, regenerated Christ regenerates believers.
(3) For the genitive of source you might look at the account of spiritual
regeneration in the Johannine prologue, Jn 1:12-13 EDWKEN AUTOIS EXOUSIAN
TEKNA QEOU GENESQAI, TOIS PISTEUOUSIN EIS TO ONOMA AUTOU, hOI OUK EX
hAIMATWN OUDE EK QELHMATOS SARKOS OUDE EK QELHMATOS ANDROS ALL' EK QEOU
EGENNHQHSAN. I think the essential contrast here is between biological
generation and generation from above, from God; the biological sphere is
represented by the mother's menstrual blood (hAIMATWN--thought in
contemporary medicine to bond wih male semen to conceive the new child),
sexual desire (EK QELHMATOS SARKOS) and male lust (EK QELHMATOS ANDROS),
all of which are contrasted with EK QEOU EGENNHQHSAN: regeneration of
believers as "children of God."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
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