Re: John 3:6

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Sat May 02 1998 - 17:50:41 EDT

George, wrote:

> Edgar Foster wrote:
> > > > Is it "permissible" to use the terms "physical" and
"spiritual" in
> > > > John 3:6?
> > > I have no idea of what is permissible. The text simply seems to
> > > "That which has been begotten out of flesh is flesh." And the
> > > for spirit. 3:7 would seem to take the purpose of this
> > > differentiation a little further, as does 3:8. There is no word
> > > 'human' [ANQROPOU], not physical [FUSIS], just spirit and flesh.
> > > Spirit spiritual? This line doesn't seem to be saying so. It
> > > says it IS Spirit. Same with flesh. Is flesh fleshy or human?
> > > text doesn't seem to be saying so ~ Only that it IS flesh.

> > I agree with the comments above. Jesus simply seems to be saying
> > just as a human begets a human, so the spirit of God begets a SPIRIT
> > being. Lest my words be misunderstood, I am not suggesting that a
> > spirit-filled child of God walks upon the earth EN DUO PHUSUSIN. But
> > it seems to me that if a true contrast is being made here, as a
> > bears a human--so God's spirit must bring forth a SPIRIT (not
> > spiritual) being. The one brought forth must BE spirit (John 3:8). I
> > will not get into the partciculars, but it appears that this is the
> > thrust of Jesus' words.

> Edgar ~

> Your understanding can [arguably, of course] be drawn from the text
> here, and I would not disagree with it. However, it does seem to me
> to run the very grave danger, in translation [...'permissible'...?],
> of saying what is not there to be said. I most certainly do draw the
> conclusion that 'out of Spirit spirit is begotten' in terms of the
> 'kind' of result[s] such begetting begets, but perhaps even this, if
> rendered into translation, would mislead, for it is MY interpretation
> of the actual words. Such understanding, or its absence [which may
> very well be the 'true' case here], is best left to the reader, as
> John has done...

I have no problem with the translation, 'that which is born from
spirit is (ESTIN) spirit.' I DO have a problem with rendering John 3:6
"spiritual" and "physical." I think this skews John's words.
> > Louw may not be trying to provide an exact translation here.
> > Maybe he is only paraphrasing John 3:6,

> And this is exactly the point, you see ~ Paraphrasing amounts to
> saying, in effect ~ "Well, in other words...
> What John REALLY meant to say here.... Is the following..." And it
> leads to error just about inerrantly!!
> Which is why I would rather see a reader struggle with a consistently
> translated 'transliteration' [insofar as this is possible] of the
> text, than be thrown to the wolves of 'versions' of it.

I am not totally against paraphrasing. I think that Louw-Nida and
Moises Silva do it very skillfully. I am also a supporter of the
Amplified Bible. But I think we should grapple with the text (and what
it REALLY says) BEFORE we paraphrase the text (what it MIGHT say).
> > "The second of the two units [of Jesus' reply to Nicodemus in John
> > states the issue [of begettal] unambiguously: "what is born of a
> > is PHYSICAL, what is born of the Spirit is SPIRITUAL." This explains
> > the expression EX hUDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS" (Caps. for emphasis.
Words in
> > brackets inserted for clarity).
> The dual themes in John of water [John the Baptist] and Blood [Jesus
> Christ] are a matter that is best left to the reader. I most
> certainly have MY understanding of their meanings and their
> inter-relatedness in this text, but only came to that understanding
> while reading the Greek text. The English 'versions' [I had 13 of
> them to 'help' me in the English] only served to stumble and confuse
> me.

The "water" and the "blood" of John is a very interesting discussion.
The WBC has some very intriguing points on the matter.

> > Louw seems to be stressing the NATURE of what is brought forth, over
> > against WHAT is produced or begotten. That is my contention with his
> > statement.

> > John seems to say that just as God IS a spirit (PNEUMA hO QEOS) in
> > John 4:24, so those born ANWQEN are PNEUMA hOI ANQRWPOI EN SARKI.

> Indeed he does 'seem' to say so, arguably. Are we to become "spirit
> beings in the flesh"? Not on b-greek, my friend!! :-)

> George Blaisdell

I know, I know. ;-)

Edgar Foster

L-R College

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