Finding the true meaning and implications of being “born again”
The Christian belief in being “born again” can be at the very least confusing. Does it mean you get to restart your life, kind of like a do-over? Is it beginning a brand new life lived in a brand new context? Does being born again mean you are the same person with the same issues, or are you somebody different? Is it living a new spiritual life in place of our present physical life – “once in grace, always in grace”? Does being born again actually mean what we think it means? To figure this out, we need to not only have a clear understanding of context, we also need to have a good sense of some specific Greek words and how they are used.
We need to be clear on the definitions of two little words - the difference between comprehending a deep biblical truth and latching on to a fabricated story. The story of these two little words begins with Nicodemus, a wise and respected leader among the Jewish leadership of his day. Even though his counterparts inwardly and outwardly despised Jesus, Nicodemus saw something different. He saw a learned, wise and compassionate man who not only always knew what to say, he also knew what to do. In Jesus he saw a healer and a teacher, a man connected to God. Nicodemus sought Jesus out under the cover of nightfall. He was seeking the answers needed to better understand this man he had observed from a distance.
A powerful truth
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, he told him far more than Nicodemus could have anticipated. Once Nicodemus proclaimed he knew Jesus was a man from God, Jesus responded. There was no small talk. Instead, Jesus simply proclaimed a powerful truth. He said that to see the kingdom, one must be “born again.” To Nicodemus, this statement was entirely perplexing. His response showed his confusion. To us, this statement contains those two little words that carry so much meaning - you must be “born again.”
On the surface, it seems like this is a no brainer, after all they are simple words with obvious meanings. The problem arises when we look into the ancient language in which these words were originally recorded. We find marked differences. For instance, the word for “born” in Greek is the exact same word for “begetting.” When talking about a masculine role in the reproductive process, the word means "to beget." When talking about a feminine role in the process it means to be born.
What does all this mean? Check out our January 27, 2020 podcast, “Are Christians Really Born Again?” for more. We walk through the entire conversation where Jesus taught Nicodemus. We trace what Nicodemus knew and what he was missing. We find what meanings apply where and then paint a picture of the actual lesson Jesus taught. This is a really fascinating journey with a really powerful conclusion. Don’t miss it!
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