Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return.
It’s not uncommon to hear Nicodemus being slighted by preachers, who claim he was a sneaky and cowardly Pharisee, ashamed to admit publicly that he believed in Yeshua. This is almost solely based on the present passage and the fact that Nicodemus came at night. Those same preachers, neglect to recognize the other instances in Scripture where Nicodemus proves himself to be more than willing to act on his faith in Yeshua (Yochanan/John 7:50-51, 19:49)
As we examine the text of Yochanan (John) 3 and in particular 3:1-21, we must put aside any bigoted view we may have of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the sect of Judaism that most identified with Yeshua’s teaching. They believed in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, demons, healing, signs and wonders. They hoped for a Great One—Rabbi, a Mashiyach—Messiah and King to redeem the people of Israel. It is far too easy (and anti-Semitic) to disregard all Pharisees as anti-Christs. With regard to their theological position, they were by far the closest of all the sects of first century Judaism to the teaching and actions of Messiah. So why did some of them oppose Him? Why does one preacher oppose another, though they both share the same message? It is because they sought glory for themselves rather than for the message. Nicodemus and his like-minded friends (Pharisees) sought the glory of God and found Messiah Yeshua. Next time you’re tempted to disparage the Pharisees, remember that you share their beliefs and take care.
Joh 3:1 There was a man of the (Ho[G]) Pharisees (Pharisaios[G], Perushiym[H], chaste, abstinent ones), named Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) a ruler, officer (archon[G], ketziyn[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]):
“Nakdiymon” The Pharisee with a Greek name meaning “Conqueror of the assembly”. The Talmudic etymology for his name is derived from a Hebrew root that suggests the meaning “One who holds back the sun”. Others see Nakdimon as a compound of two Hebrew words joined to mean “Innocent blood”. He was one of the ruling class of the Judean religious community, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin (John 7:50), and as such a teacher of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). As a leader of Israel—that is part of the
Sanhedrin (70 members, 70 being the Hebrew number for the nations)—he sought victory for his people from their physical and spiritual oppression. As a Jew he was a man of innocent blood. Thus there is a correlation to Yeshua’s description of Nathaniel, “a man in who there is no guile.”
It is likely that the Nikodemos mentioned here (John 3:1) is the same Nakdimon ben Gurion who was brother to Josephus ben Gurion the first century Jewish historian and writer of the Wars and Antiquities of the Jews (Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 19. 1). Josephus writes in the first century CE (AD) of the historical events taking place in the Roman provinces of the middle east and in particular Roman occupied Israel, name Philistia by the Romans as a means of psychological warfare against and subjugation of the Jewish people.
Nakdimon ben Gurion is also mentioned in the Talmud (a codified oral tradition of the Jewish religion). The Talmud, albeit codified much later in history, non the less offers its readers many viable historic accounts from the first century passed on as oral traditions, and later codified.
Nakdimon ben Gurion was a contemporary of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zaccai of the Talmud, who also lived in first century Roman occupied Israel, right up until the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 CE (AD); both men are recorded as having been at a first century feast together, a celebration of the brit milah (circumcision) of the son of a common friend [Pirke Eliezer, c. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 23. 2].
Nakdimon was known to be exceedingly rich: the Babylonian Talmud names him as one of the three richest men in Jerusalem (T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 56. 1), a man who was able to sustain and maintain a city for a period of ten years (Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 4). The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) confirms that Nakdimon was very rich, recording that at the burial of the King Messiah, Nikodemos brought a great weight in costly myrrh and aloes to consecrate Yeshua’s body (John 19:39). As well as being rich he was also known as a righteous man. The Talmud tells an account of Nakdimon who, “On his way to the temple (House of Study) in Jerusalem to pray, had carpets laid out on the path before him which were to be left behind and given to the poor” (Ket. 66.b).
Nakdimon ben Gurion, is said by historical Jewish tradition to have been an advisor/a counsellor in Jerusalem (Echa Rabbati, fol. 46. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 1). Which is clearly the case in John’s Gospel (John 7:32-50). Therefore, the Talmud is effectively confirming Nakdimon’s role as a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious government).
He was also known by the name Boni (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1; Ta’an 20.a). Jewish tradition records that Boni was one of the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua (Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 3). This is consistent with his actions following Yeshua’s death where he openly identified with Joseph of Arimathea, another of Yeshua’s disciples from the rich ruling class. It seems that as a result of Nakdimon’s open profession of faith in Yeshua following the resurrection, that poverty came upon him and his family. The Babylonian Talmud records that Rav Yochanan ben Zaccai saw the daughter of Nakdimon, having been reduced to extreme poverty, gleaning barley kernels from under the hooves of horses in the northern coastal city of Akko (T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2). The name Boni may be related to the Greek Boanerges “Sons of Thunder”, or may simply mean “My son” or “The coming of me”, “My coming”.
Based on Jewish legend, the Hebrew meaning of Nakdimon’s name is derived from nakdah meaning to shine forth. The legend tells of an occasion (T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1.) when Nakdimon, needing water for pilgrims for the purpose of ritual cleansing prior to a feast, made an agreement with a certain man to use the water from twelve wells and replace it by a certain day, or pay 297 kilos of silver for the water used. When the day came, the man demanded he be compensated either with the water, or the money. Therefore, Nakdimon went and prayed, and there was a torrential rain fall that filled the wells with water. However, the owner of the wells insisted that by the time the rain had ended the sun had set, and the appointed day was passed, and therefore, the money was still owed him. Nakdimon went and prayed again in the temple, and as a result of his prayer the sun turned back from setting, meaning that the appointed day had not ended and that the money was no longer owed to the lender.
The Babylonian Talmud concludes the matter by saying:
“His name was not Nakdimon but Boni, and he was called Nakdimon because on his account the sun was held back. The rabbis taught: ‘For the sake of each of only three men the sun nakdimah (nkdmh) was prevented/held back, and they are Moses, Joshua (T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1), and Nakdimon ben Gurion.’” -Talmud Babylonia Ta’anith 3
Joh 3:2 The same (man) came to Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) by night (noox[G], laylah[H]) and said to Him (Yeshua), “Rabbi (Rhabbi[G], Rabiy[H]: my great one) we know that you are a teacher (didaskalos[G], moreh[H]) come from God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]): for no man can do these signs, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) that you do, unless the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is with him.”
“The same (man) came to Yeshua by night” Much has been made of these few simple words, almost all of it demeaning to Nakdimon. There are many possible answers as to why Nakdimon sought out Yeshua at night:
• He may have wanted to converse with Yeshua on a deeper level than was possible
among the crowds of Passover
• Perhaps he wanted to keep his position in the Sanhedrin secure so that he could
advocate for Yeshua along with the other Pharisees who believed in Him
• It is possible that he had Yeshua’s safety in mind
• Or that it was simply the coolest and most convenient time of the day in the Israeli
The least convincing possibility is that he was a coward and cared only for his own betterment in the Sanhedrin and the ruling class of Israel.
As I’ve explained, some have suggested that Nakdimon came by night so as not to be seen. While this is a possibility (John 12:42) but highly unlikely, it is equally possible and far more likely that Nakdimon had commitments during the day which included adjudicating disputes, teaching Torah and other practical tasks related to the rule of the Jewish community in Roman occupied Israel during the first century. Therefore, just as members of our own community must often arrange to meet after work hours in the evening, so too Nakdimon arranged to meet Yeshua at the end of the work day. When we assume the worst of righteous men, we prove ourselves unrighteous. It was also traditional for Jewish religious teachers to study Torah at night and in particular on the nights of the festivals of the Torah:
"Rav Aba (Rabbi Abba) rose in the middle of the night, as did the rest of the companions, in order to study in the Torah (Instruction).” -Zohar in Exod. fol. 84. 1.
“And it is often said of Rav Simeon ben Yoechal, and Ele’etzer his son, that they sat in the night and laboured in the Torah (Instruction); and it was reckoned very commendable so to do, and highly pleasing to God…” - Ib. fol. 8S. 2. in Lev. fol. 5. 3, 4. & 10. 1. & passim.
“Whoever studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the holy blessed God draws a thread of mercy upon him in the day:'' - T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 3. sect. 13.
"Everyone that studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the Shekinah (manifest glory of God) is over and with him.'' - T. Bab. Tamid. foi. 32. 2.
For two reasons we know that Nakdimon didn’t come to Yeshua alone:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Nakdimon begins his conversation with Yeshua by stating that he and his compatriots believe Yeshua is from God. This amounts to an open admission of Yeshua’s Messianic status. Nakdimon believes and is seeking the mechanism for his belief.
As evidence for their belief, Nakdimon calls to attention the signs (miracles) of Yeshua. He calls them signs because they are clear signs of the specific miraculous actions that the coming Messiah must perform as proof of His identity. Yeshua is about to preach to the choir here, only it’s a choir that has the sheet music but doesn’t know how to read it.
“And he shall send them a saviour, and a Great One—Rabbi, and he shall deliver them.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 19:20
Nakdimon calls Yeshua “My Great One”, while some may employ this title in flattery, it is clearly not the case with Nakdimon. Rather than come publicly with other Jewish religious leaders and taunt Yeshua, Nakdimon has come at night to dialogue with Him in a more intimate setting, proving his righteous character. Thus, when he uses the title Rabbi he shows respect for Yeshua. This is quickly backed up by Nakdimon’s acknowledgement of the evidence that Yeshua is a man of God, Who has shown this in a manifest and powerful way. None of this denotes doubt or disrespect. Although Nakdimon is a religious ruler who carries great authority, he non the less approaches Yeshua with humility and genuine questioning. Nakdimon’s questions are from the good inclination (yetzer ha-tov) showing that he seeks the truth with a teachable heart.
The previous chapter concludes with mention of the many signs Yeshua did in Jerusalem during Passover (2:23). Some of the specific signs (miracles) He performed are recorded in the other Gospels, some are not. Regardless, it is to a wealth of signs in addition to the sign of water to wine and the destruction of the trading tables, that Nikodemos is referring.
“you are a teacher come from God” One of the first century Jewish expectations of the Messiah was that He would be a teacher like Moses.
“‘The teacher’, he is the King Messiah.'' - Maimon. Hilch. Melacim, c. 11. sect. 3.
"O you children of Tziyon (Zion), rejoice and be glad in the word of the Lord your God, for He will return ‘your teacher’ to you.’'' -Targum Yonatan Joel 2:23
“No man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Even more prominent in the first century Messianic expectations of the Jewish people was the belief that the King Messiah would perform miraculous signs like those of Moses and Elijah.
Joh 3:3 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]), he cannot (ou[G]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) see (eido[G], lirot[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).”
The repetition of the Amen is according to the Jewish literary devise an affirmation of that which has preceded and an assurance of that which is about to be revealed as something firmly established by God.
Notice that Yeshua agrees with the assessment of Nakdimon and his fellow Pharisees. “Amen—of course true! You got that right!” Nakdimon had rightly assessed the divine origin of Messiah, he knew that Yeshua was from above. What he didn’t realize was that Yeshua had come so that Nakdimon and his friends could also be born anew through Yeshua, from above.
“fathered, born from above” We note that the text is best translated “born from above” or “born anew”. The translation “born again” is misleading and can be easily misunderstood.
The concept of one being spiritually born is not foreign to Judaism:
“Shimon ben Lakish said, ‘…a proselyte (convert to Judaism) is like a newborn infant.’” - Talmud Babylonia. Yevamot 62 a. [Rabbi Yosi of the Talmud said the same (Yevamot 48 b.)]
“If one is not fathered, born from above, he cannot have power, permission, ability to see the kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship of the God.” There are many facets to this teaching. Yeshua is in essence saying that the Kingdom of God cannot be attained through Torah observance. He is also saying that being born physically into the sin affected world is a death sentence unless one is born anew from above. In addition, He is alluding to the power (Spirit) of God required for one to walk perpetually in righteousness and thus into the Olam Haba (World to come). The “sight” Yeshua refers to is spiritual sight that can only be received from God by His Spirit and through His Son the King Messiah. All of this teaching is a direct affront to the teaching that says that repentance, Torah observance, mitzvot, petitioning and prayer can earn one entry into the Olam Haba.
Therefore, unlike the rabbis of the Talmud, Yeshua does not teach that conversion to Judaism will birth one anew, but rather, that only salvation through the redemptive work of God will bring newness of life to the repentant.
“Kingdom of the God” The equivalent Hebrew term is Malkut Shamayim “Kingdom of the Heavens” (Dan. 4:3; 1 Chr. 29:10-12), and implies God’s divine reign over the present world made new (rid of sin, evil etc). This is a more correct understanding than the traditional and (extra Biblical) Christian concept of a heaven in the clouds. To the contrary, by the tikun olam (repairing of the world) of God through the atoning blood of His Son Yeshua, the present world will be cleansed, restored, and renewed, and will transition to become the Olam Haba (world to come). This is well supported by both the Tanakh (OT) and the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT).
Joh 3:4 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) can a man (adam[H]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) when he is old? He does not have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the womb (koilia[G], el-beten[H]) of his mother (meter[G], Imo[H]) of himself (autos[G]) a second (deuteros[G]) time, and be fathered, born (gennao[G], yivaleid[H])?”
What surprises me most about this response from Nakdimon is that he hears a parable--mashal—from Yeshua, but instead of interpreting it as a parable he takes it literally. As “The teacher of Israel,” Nakdimon was familiar with using, listening to and interpreting metaphorical and allegorical parables and sayings. Why then did he jump straight passed the obvious metaphor and go with a literal interpretation of The Rabbi’s answer? I know in myself that I only do this when I am unable to absorb the consequences or perceived impossibility of what I know the answer to be. Perhaps Nakdimon could just not see how God might impart life renewal to Israel.
By his question Nakdimon shows a limited understanding of the coming Kingdom of the Heavens (something he himself teaches others). His understanding sees the Kingdom of the heavens only in physical terms. Therefore, rather than consider the spiritual implications he instead asks how it is possible for a man to be made righteous through a renewed birth from a human mother. This is certainly in keeping with the miraculous nature of the signs of God through the Messiah, however, it misses the point entirely. We may see these things in retrospect, but be assured, had we been in the position of Nakdimon we too would have entirely missed the point. He asked his question in order to understand what might be possible and not in order to refute Yeshua’s teaching.
Joh 3:5 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) and of the Spirit, breath, wind (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]), he cannot have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).
Again, Yeshua doesn’t tell Nakdimon that he’s got it all wrong. He simply points to the first instance, being physical birth and affirms that both it and a spiritual renewal are necessary. All are born through the breaking water of the mother but something more is needed if we are to enter God’s Kingdom. We must be born of God’s Spirit, born anew, from above. We can also find in the words “water” and “Spirit” the tevilot immersions (baptisms) of both Yochanan (John) the Immerser (Baptist) and Yeshua. Water represents the tevilah (baptism) of repentance and The Spirit the tevilah (baptism) of Spirit and Fire from above. Without Yeshua’s tevilah (baptism) of death and His resurrection we are unable to receive the Spirit. In Him we have access to the mechanism for our Salvation, His very own Spirit, and the Spirit of the Father in us. God’s Spirit births in us the desire to repent--tishuvah—turn around, turn back to God. Then only through Messiah are we able to receive the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit who births us anew from above into a life reconciled to God.
“Born out of water” As per the context denoted by the previous verse, born of water refers to the breaking of a mother’s waters at physical birth. It speaks of being born into this world (the sin affected creation).
“And of the Spirit” Refers to being born anew, fathered by God through His Spirit. In the same way that physical birth breaks water and through blood brings new life into the present world, so too spiritual birth breaks the living waters of Messiah and through His blood atonement births anew the soul of a human being into the Olam Haba (world to come). Meaning that one’s entry into the Olam Haba (world to come) begins at the moment of being born anew in the Spirit through Messiah and continues through physical death into everlasting living. This is why Yeshua says:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” -Yeshua [Yochanan (John) 11:15-16]
Joh 3:6 That which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the flesh, meat, body, sensuous nature (sarx[G], basar[H]) is flesh (sarx[G], basar[H]); and that which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the Spirit, breath, wind (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]), is spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]).
Nakdimon has an earthly understanding. Messiah wants to impart to him and his fellows an understanding from above.
“But the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” -1 Corinthians 2:14
Joh 3:7 Don’t marvel, be in wonder (thaumazo[G]) that I said to you, you must, it is necessary (dei[G]) you (humas[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]). Joh 3:8 The Spirit, wind, breath (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]) blows where He (Hu[H]) intends, determines, desires, takes delight, sits (thelo[G], nosheiv[H]), Alt. Heb. [Yachepotz sham hu novsheiv[H], where the Spirit wants to blow there He sits], and you hear (akouo[G], tish’ma[H]) the sound, voice, language, of Him (phone[G], et-kolo[H]) of it, but cannot see, perceive, know, examine (eido[G], teida[H]) the place (pothen[G]) where (anah[H]) it He came from (ba[H]), and where it He (hu[H]) leads, goes (hupago[G], holeikh[H]): so it is with every individual (pas[G]) those the (ho[G]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of, from (ek[G], min[H]) the Spirit (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).”
“You must be born anew from above” One born of the race of Ha-Adam the first man are born into the sin affected world due to the inherent nature of the sin choice of the first human beings. Therefore, to be born from above means to be delivered from the just consequences of the sin we commit as heirs to the sin affected world of the first man (Adam) and this redemption comes through the last Adam, that is, the King Messiah Yeshua:
“For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive.” -1 Corinthians 15:22
“So it is written: ‘The first human Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” -1 Corinthians 15:45
Being born anew from above is the work of God, it is not achieved through human labour—as is the case in the physical effort of birthing a child. We are not able to work our way toward or earn new birth by our own efforts. We are born anew through the mechanism of Messiah’s death and resurrection in the Spirit of God.
In Greek the determiners regarding the Spirit are neuter but in Hebrew the Spirit is referred to as He.
The metaphor of the wind (spirit, breathe) shows how the Holy Spirit, Who comes from above, moves in such a way as to be unrecognised by the spiritually blind. He comes from a place unknown to human understanding and goes to that place where He intends to abide, rest, sit; that is, within the believer through the redemptive work of Yeshua. The unbeliever comprehends the Holy Spirit in the same way that human beings consider the wind. That is, the wind comes up at times we least expect and often blows from a place we cannot determine, coming to rest on a land we may not have considered. Therefore, the origin, destination, and movements of the Holy Spirit are ordered from above and transcend human understanding until such a time as Yeshua, through His death, resurrection, and ascension, together with the Father, pours out the Holy Spirit without measure or restriction.
Joh 3:9 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) answered and said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) are these things (kazot[H]) possible, able to be (dunamai[G]), come to pass, come into existence (ginomai[G])?”
Nakdimon genuinely wants to know how these things can be made possible. As a righteous teacher of Israel he has desired her redemption and looked with great anticipation for the coming Kingdom of the Heavens. Once again, this is a question asked with a genuine desire to learn. As a teacher of such high standing, authority, and reputation, Nakdimon shows great humility in asking this of Yeshua.
Joh 3:10 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “You, (su[G]) you are (ei[G]) the (ho[G]) teacher (didaskalos[G]) of the (Ho[G]) Yisrael[H] (Israel), Alt. Heb. [Rav be’Yisrael[H], Great one in Israel], and these things (tauta[G], zot[H]) you haven’t learned, don’t know, are not intimately familiar with (ginosko[G], yodata[H])?
Nakdimon still doesn’t understand and if we’re honest, neither do we. Fortunately it is not our own understanding that we are relying on, but rather, God’s understanding. Yeshua calls Nakdimon, “The teacher of Israel.” This indicates that Nakdimon had a very high position among the Rabbis of Israel. His coming to faith was strategic to the move of God through the leaders who later believed.
“You are the teacher, Great one of Israel” From Yeshua’s words we can deduce that Nikodemos must have been one of the highest authorities among the Torah teachers of Israel at that time. He was afforded this position through his association with the Judean religious leaders and the ruling body of the Sanhedrin and was therefore a powerful figure in the ruling religious class of first century Israelites under the Roman occupation. His position is likely the reason that he had come to see Yeshua at night when he would be less likely to be noticed by the other members of the religious ruling class.
Joh 3:11 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (lakh[H] f.), We (hemon[G]) speak of that which we do know, see, perceive (eido[G]), and testify (martureo[G]) to that which we have seen with our eyes (horao[G]); and you won’t receive (lambano[G]) our testimony, witness (maturia[G]) Alt. Heb. [Kiy et asher-yodanu nedabeir ve’et asher-raiynu naiyd ve’atem lo tekabelu eiduteinu[H], For that which we know intimately we have spoken and that which we see we testify to, and you (plural) don’t accept us or that which we present].
“I say to you” Not just to Nikodemos but to all Israel: the Greek (you) is plural, and the Hebrew lakh (you) while singular is non the less feminine and infers the people of Israel rather than Nikodemos (who is male) alone. For this reason and because the plural “atem” (all of you) is used in the latter part of the verse, it seems likely that the disciples of Yeshua are included in this admonition. Therefore, “We” refers to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After all, Yeshua speaks of things seen with the eyes that can only have been perceived by Him at this point in time. Those things being the things of the Spirit of God and not yet made known to human beings (including the disciples of Yeshua). Yeshua’s teaching (testimony, witness) concerning the need to be fathered from above acknowledges the Father God. His explanation of the need for this new birth to be accomplished by the Spirit, reveals the Holy Spirit of God. Finally, this teaching is being given to Israel (and humanity) by the King Messiah and true Teacher of Israel, the Son, Yeshua. The teaching of Yeshua in verse 3 through 10 expounds knowledge and personal experience that the disciples of Yeshua have not had, nor have they yet understood or seen these things.
“We speak of that which we know and that which our eyes have seen” Some believe the “we” Yeshua is referring to is the unity of the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some think He is referring to Himself and His disciples, still others believe He is referring to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel. However, He cannot be speaking of the disciples, whose eyes have not yet seen the new birth of the Spirit, nor do they yet know the fullness of God’s redemptive work through Yeshua, the means by which a human being can be fathered by God, born of His Spirit. Nor do the patriarchs and prophets of Israel qualify, given that they only prophesied in part and placed their hope in what is unseen. Therefore, Yeshua says “We” referring to the Godhead, or the Godhead and the malakhim (Angelic Messengers) of God.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you the (Ho[G]) earthly, terrestrial (epigeios[G], Ha-aretz[H]) things, and you don’t believe, trust, think them true (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyniym[H]), how will you believe, if I tell you of the (Ho[G]) things that exist in the heavens, that are of heavenly origin (epouranios[G], Ha-shamayim[H])?
Yeshua is simply saying, “I’ve spoken to you in earthly metaphors and you people don’t get it. How do you hope to understand the literal reality of the heavenly things I tell you about?”
The “earthly things” are explained in the previous verses and concern the progression from physical birth, through spiritual renewal and into the Olam Haba. Therefore, Yeshua does not make a separation between the physical and the spiritual as some suppose, rather the “earthly things” include spiritual things and are the explanation of a convergence between the present physical birth and the subsequent spiritual birth from above which Yeshua has spoken of.
The teaching of Yeshua reveals the ultimate form of tikun olam (repairing of the world). The Scriptures clearly teach a renewed heavens and earth and a descending New Jerusalem at the end of the age. Thus, through Yeshua, God empowers His children to begin the work that will be filled in the return of the Messiah and the dwelling of God with humanity. We are admonished to remember that without the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are incapable of participating in the true tikun olam. The religion that teaches we can repair the world by our own efforts is a religion of anti-Christ. Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return. The Bible clearly teaches that we will spend eternity with God on the renewed earth under a renewed heavens and not in some Greco-Roman gnostic inspired heavenly kingdom in the sky.
Joh 3:13 And no one, nothing, no man (oudeis[G], ve’iysh[H]) has ascended, gone up (anabaino[G], alah[H]) into (eis[G]) the (Ho[G]) heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), but He that descended (katabaino[G]) from the heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), the (Ho) Son (uihos[G], ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) which came out from (ek[G]), is in the heavens (ba’shamayim[H]).
Wait a minute, didn’t Enoch and Elijah ascend into the heavens? In fact they ascended only into the second heaven, and now await their return and subsequent death, for “it is appointed unto human beings to die once, and then the judgement”. The Messiah has come with revelation of God Himself, from the third heaven outside of time and space, whereas Elijah and Enoch were born first of water—natural birth. Messiah has always been God and has come down to be united in flesh, fully God and fully man. Regardless of the possible solutions to this conundrum, the point is that Yeshua is the only begotten, singular in kind Son of God and His is a unique and all-encompassing revelation of God with us (Immanuel).
There is a correlation here between Yeshua’s words and the Torah. In fact it is likely that Yeshua is making a drash using the Torah:
11 “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 13 Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 14 No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.[a] 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess.” -Deuteronomy 30:11-18 TLV
This is consistent with what follows regarding both the redemption of the believer and the judgement and condemnation of those who refuse to believe.
“The words of Agur son of Jakeh--
an oracle this man declared to Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal:
“Surely I am more stupid than any man
and do not have a man’s understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?[a]
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name and what is the name of His son—if you know?” -Proverbs 30:1-4 TLV
Joh 3:14 And according to (kathosas[G]) Moses (Moshe[H]: drawn out one) lifting up the serpent (Ho-ophis[G], Ha-nachash[H]) in the wilderness, solitary, desolate place (eremos[G], bamidbar[H]: ba [in the] mi [from] dabar [word, essence]), in this same manner (houto[G]) it is necessary (dei[G]) that the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) be lifted up:
The snake (Ha-Satan) was the one who enticed humanity and Israel into disobedience and is also the constant accuser and tormentor of Israel and humanity. By looking to this symbol of sin, disobedience, fear and offence each Israelite was admitting their sin and recognizing that only God could save them from destruction. In the same way we must look upon Him who became sin for us (that is, took on the punishment we rightly deserve), in this simple action of turning--tishuvah—our heads to gaze upon the execution tree of the Messiah, upon His tortured body and unfathomable sacrifice, we are born anew in His Spirit, poured out without measure upon those who will simply acknowledge His Kingship. It is here, that in a very real sense, we are living both within and outside of time and space. There is a parallel universe, but it is not the sum of science fiction and quantum physics.
“Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the land: for I am God, and there is none other.” -Isaiah 45:22
The Targum Yonatan translation of Numbers 21:8 is incredible:
"and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a high place; and it was, when a serpent had bitten any man, and he looked to the serpent of brass, and directed his heart, to the name of the word of the Lord, he lived.''
Jewish tradition attributes healing of both the body and spirit, the entire soul, to those who looked upon the seraph (serpent):
"as soon as they said, ‘we have sinned’, immediately their iniquity was expiated; and they had the good news brought them ‘of the healing of the soul’, as it is written, ‘make thee a seraph’; and he does not say a serpent; and this is it: ‘and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looked upon it, shall live’, ‘through the healing of the soul:'' - Tzeror Hammor, fol. 123. 2.
The Targum also likens the King Messiah to a flying serpent:
"the Messiah shall come forth from Jesse's children's children; and his works shall be among you as a "flying serpent.'' -Isaiah 14:29 (Targum)
As does the Zohar:
"other serpent of life" - Zohar in Gen fol. 36. 2.
"holy serpent" - Tikkun Zohar in Jetzira, p. 134.
Joh 3:15 That whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (appolumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).”
The belief that receives Messiah has by receipt, already entered everlasting living and is assured of eternal security and redemption from the just destruction that awaits those who refuse God’s loving offer.
The Greek appolumi translated “perish, die” etc. means “be ruined, destroyed, lost” in perpetuity. Therefore, to continue to be ruined, to continue to be lost, to continue to be destroyed. It does not allow for the false teaching of Annihilationism, which is contradicted by a wealth of other Scripture including but not limited to:
“Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” -Matthew 25:41 TLV
“Sinners in Zion are afraid. Trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can live with the consuming fire?” “Who among us can live with everlasting burnings?”
-Isaiah 33:14 TLV
“13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Sheol gave up the dead in them. Then they were each judged, each one of them, according to their deeds.14 Then death and Sheol were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Revelation 20:13-15 TLV
Joh 3:16 In this way (houto[G]) because (gar[G], kiy[H]) the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) so morally, intimately and truly loved (agape[G], Ahavah[H]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]), Alt. Heb. [Kiy-ahavah rabah ahav ha-Elohim et Ha-olam[H], because with love that is great, all surpassing, the God loved the world], insomuch that (hoste[G]) He gave (didomi[G], natan[H]) His One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben), that whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (apollumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have, hold onto (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).
Clearly God desires that every human being come into right relationship with Him. He is holy, loving, merciful, compassionate, self-sacrificing (literally sacrificing Himself in Messiah), and just. Elsewhere we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The Gospel message is presented in a concise form within this verse and its subsequent counterpart:
Joh 3:17 For the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) did not order, appoint, send (apostello[G], shalach[H]) His the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]) in order to (hinah[G]) separate, condemn, put asunder (krino[G]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]); but that the world through, by, in, with Him (the Son, Yeshua) might be saved, kept safe, rescued from destruction (sozo[G], yivasha[H]).
Through His redemptive plan God sought to reconcile Creation to Himself. He did not send the Messiah Yeshua in an attempt to punish His creation with punitive aforethought, rather, as a loving Father He sent Yeshua to save. Perpetual condemnation must result against those who refuse salvation as a logical outworking of the consequences of sin. God does not send people to everlasting torment, to the contrary, they choose to go there.
Joh 3:18 The believer (pisteuo[G], Ha-ma’amiyn[H]) in, on, toward, for (eis[G]) Him is not separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]): but the disbeliever, one who has chosen disbelief (me pisteuo[G], lo-ya’amiyn[H]) is separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]) already, because he has not believed, trusted in, become convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) the name (Ho onoma[G], Be’sheim[H]) of the One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Ha-Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]).
This means our belief in Him has put condemnation behind us, as it is written elsewhere:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
“Those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The statement “condemned already,” is qualified by, “because they have chosen not to believe in the name of the only Son of God.” Because God is just, all must be presented with the opportunity to receive redemption through the One True Son of God and His saving work, and must then wilfully choose to reject Him, only then does anyone stand condemned.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, separation, judgement, just decision (krisis[G]) Alt. Heb. [Ve’zeh hu hadiyn[H], And this is His judgement], it is because (hoti[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) is come into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], el Ha-olam[H]), and people, the children of Adam (agapao[G], uv’neiy ha-adam[H]) preferred, loved (mallon[G], Ahavu[H]) the darkness (Ho-skotos[G], ha-choshekh[H]) over the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), because of their evil, (poneros[G], raiym[H]) actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H]).
The judgment of God is just, because He has offered light to those living in darkness. Many, having seen the true light of God, Yeshua, have chosen to remain in darkness. Those who are determined to do what is wicked are unwilling to have their deeds exposed, though they are aware of their need the thought of dwelling in perpetual light is abhorrent to them, they have truly become sons and daughters of the evil one, children of darkness.
Joh 3:20 For every one, whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) does, practices (prasso[G]) what is evil, bad, wicked, mean, easy (phaulos[G]) hates, detests (miseo[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), nor do they come near to the light, so that they won’t be convicted (elegcho[G]) for their actions.
Those who act wickedly often do so in darkness and are ashamed for their deeds to be brought into the light.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” -Ephesians 5:11
It is interesting to note that the Greek phaulos which refers to wicked deeds can also be translated as easy deeds. It is easier to give in to the dark inclination than it is to repair the world. Therefore, God sent the King Messiah Yeshua so that we might be afforded the strength of His Spirit in order to do what is hard, and to live in the Light.
All that is hidden will be brought into the Light.
Joh 3:21 But he that does the truth (altheia[G], ha-emet[H]) comes to the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), so that his actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H])
may be made manifest, visible (phaneroo[G]), because they are performed (ergazomai[G]) in God (en Theos[G], Bei-Elohim[H]).
Those who see their need for light have already been motivated by the Spirit of God to begin to do what is true, thus they welcome the opportunity to dwell in that light perpetually. Thus their deeds have been done in God. That is, their salvation comes, not by their works but through the work of the Spirit and the sacrifice of Messiah. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8). God chose us and in response, we have received Him. Condemnation is found in the simple act of refusing to be chosen.
Joh 3:22 After these things Yeshua[H] and His disciples (Talmidim[H]) came into the land of Judaea (Yehudah[H]); and there he remained with them, and immersed (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]).
We known from John 4:2 that it was not Yeshua but His disciples who performed the immersions. The immersion attributed to Yeshua is the immersion he makes possible. Simply put, His immersion teaching was manifest in practical terms via the participation of His talmidim.
Joh 3:23 And Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist, YHVH gracious giver) was also immersing (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]) in Aeiynon[H] (Ayin[H]eye, spring; Yonah[H], dove; Ain-Yon[A] “Spring/Eye of a Dove”) near to the Salim, because there was much (polus[G], le’rav[H]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) there: and they came, and were immersed (baptizo[G], yitaveilu[H] [tevilah[H]]).
“Aeiynon” The proposed location of Aenon is on the west side of the Jordan river close to a natural spring and near the ancient town of Salim (Not to be confused with Salem, a synonym for Jerusalem). Aenon is approximately 95 km north east of Jerusalem (20 hrs. walk). Being located near a natural spring meant an abundance of water and large pools suitable for ritual immersion known as tevilah. As explained in a previous article, the gathered waters used for immersion are known as mikveh.
This location is on the opposite side of the Jordan river from where Yochanan had been immersing. Both the Hebrew and Aramaic names for this location mean “Spring/Eye of a Dove”. This of course correlates to Yochanan identifying Yeshua as the One upon Whom the Spirit will descend like a dove (John.1:32-33). It is significant that there is a physical spring near to the location and that a spring is a source of mayim chayim (living waters from a pure source). Thus, the eye of the earth bears witness to the King Messiah and reveals Him and His living waters to the eye of the believer.
“and they came, and were immersed” The “they” consisted of Jews from many sects and regions, including those from the ruling Judean religious class, as alluded to in the following verse.
Joh 3:24 For Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) had not yet been cast into prison (Beit ha-sohar[H]).
The author’s initial Jewish audience would have been aware of the chronology of events and the imprisonment of Yochanan the Immerser, thus Yochanan the Gospel writer clarifies the chronology for the reader by showing that these events took place prior to Yochanan the Immerser’s imprisonment.
This is an illuminating portion because John’s Gospel is the only Gospel that shows Yeshua and Yochanan the Immerser’s ministries overlapping.
Joh 3:25 Then a debate (zetesis[G]) arose between some of Yochanan’s[H] (John the Baptist) disciples (mathetes[G] , talmidim[H]) and some Judeans Alt. Aram. [a Judean[A]] (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H], Yihudaya[A]) about purifying, ritual cleansing (katharismos[H], ha-taharah[H]).
“Some Judeans/A Judean” While other English translations misrepresent both the Greek and Hebrew text, I have chosen not to render “the Jews” or “the Judeans” because neither the Greek or Hebrew texts use the definite article “The”. Therefore, “a debate arose between some of Yochanan’s disciples and some Judeans” or, as the Aramaic text renders, “a question had arisen between one of Yochanan’s disciples and a Judean”.
There were differences in the ritual washing practices of various sects of first century Judaism. Added to this was the focus that Yochanan placed on immersion as an act of repentance and the further teaching of Yeshua that would eventually identify immersion with death and resurrection in addition to its many other facets. The debate that arose in this case must have initially related to the emphasis Yochanan had placed on repentance, and then progressed to a dialogue over the aspects of Yeshua’s immersion teaching that seemed to add to the teaching of Yochanan (The Immerser) [v.26].
The fact that this debate was concerning “ritual purification”, a concept that has its roots in Torah observance (Lev.14:8), tells us that the immersion of Yeshua given to the disciples (Matt. 28:19) is firmly rooted in a Torah instructed practice. The immersion of Yeshua is a reframing of that immersion which already existed within Biblical Judaism and not an entirely new immersion (Christian Baptism). Therefore, so called “Christian Baptism” is the progeny of the marriage between Torah and Living Word (Yeshua).
Joh 3:26 And they came to Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist), and said to him, “Rabbi (Rav, great one, teacher) He (Yeshua) that was with you beyond the Yarden (Jordan, descender), the one you bore witness to, behold, the same man immerses, performs tevilah[H], and all come to him (Yeshua).”
“Rabbi” This is the one exception in the New Testament where someone other than Yeshua is called Rabbi. In all other places the title is used of Yeshua or is explained by Yeshua. I misspoke in a former article where I failed to state this exception.
The disciples of Yochanan, perhaps along with those debating immersion, came to Yochanan the Immerser concerned that Yeshua might be taking followers from Yochanan the Immerser.
Joh 3:27 Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, Alt. Heb. [lo-yuchol iysh lachat davar[H], none among all men can take anything], except it be given (didomi[G], nitan[H]) him from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]).
Sadly, in modern religious practice (both in Christianity and Judaism), many religious leaders are intent on making a name for themselves and their respective theologies and practices. Yochanan the Immerser seeks no glory for himself but instead explains to his disciples the simple truth that all things are given by God for a purpose and in keeping with a person’s identity and calling in life. Therefore, there is no need for jealousy concerning the success of others when one’s focus is entirely on pointing to and acknowledging God and His redemptive purpose.
Yochanan’s practice stood in opposition to that of the rabbis, who said:
"It is not lawful for a disciple to teach the constitutions, or sentences of the law, before his master; but must be twelve miles distant from him, as the camp of Israel… a disciple that teaches before, or in the presence of his master, is guilty of death” - T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 37. 3.
Joh 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness (martureo[G]), that I said, I am not the Christ, Anointed One (Ho-Christos[G], Ha-Mashiach[H]), but that I am sent, ordered, appointed (apostello[G], shaluach[H]) before Him.
Yochanan reminds his listeners that he has been very clear to point them beyond himself to the King Messiah. He reiterates his proclamation that “I am not the Christ!” Yochanan is not the Messiah but he has been appointed by God as a shaliach sent one who is to come before the Messiah and point Israel to Him.
Yochanan is the epitome of humility, in many ways he is the Brit Chadashah’s (NT) Moses.
Oh that the leaders of our religious communities would take a leaf from Yochanan’s book and chose to point to Yeshua rather than to themselves (I include myself in this admonishment).
Joh 3:29 He that has, holds (echo[G]) the bride, betrothed (numphe[G], Ha-Kalah[H]) is the bridegroom (numphios[G], Ha-Chatan[H]): but the friend (philos[G]) of the bridegroom (numphios[G]), which stands and hears (akouo[G], shomeia[H]) Him, rejoices (chara[G], samoach[H]) greatly (chairo[G], yismach[H]) because of the voice (phone[G], kol[H]) of the bridegroom: this my joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) therefore is filled up, brimming with peace, wholeness, wellbeing, perfected, made secure (pleroo[G], sheleimah[H], from shalem, related to shalom).
The bridegroom imagery is firmly established in the writings of Israel’s prophets and is a prophetic vision of one who celebrates and rejoices over his bride. God Himself is likened to the bridegroom:
“As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.” -Isaiah 62:5 NIV
This bridegroom imagery is connected to the recently celebrated wedding in Cana and to the Jewish idea of an eschatological banquet at the end of the age, when joy and abundance will be manifest in the promised Messianic age, the Olam Haba (world to come)[Isa. 25:6-8; Exek. 34:17-30].
Allusions to the Messianic Banquet also occur in later rabbinic literature (Babylonian Talmud Sanh. 96-99).
Joh 3:30 He must increase, grow larger and larger (auxano[G], gadeil[H]), but I must decrease, subtracting and subtracting (elattoo[G], chasor[H]).
No greater statement of humility has ever been spoken by a prophet of Hashem. Thus Yeshua says elsewhere, “Amen, I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser…” (Matt.11:11a).
Yochanan could only point to the One Who would open the way to the Olam Haba. Whereas Yeshua was and is the Creator, the means of entry, and the One Who sustains the Olam Haba (world to come).
Joh 3:31 He that comes (Ha-ba[H]) from above, from the beginning (anothen[G]) is above (epano[G]) every individual (pas[G]): he that is of the earth (meieretz[H]) is earthly, and speaks (dabeir[H]) of the earth (meieretz[H]): He that comes from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], mi-shamayim[H]) is above (epano[G], na’aleh[H]) every individual (pas[G], col[H]).
Yochanan’s testimony of the person of Yeshua is impeccable. Yeshua is from above, from the beginning of all things, and is above every created thing while being submissive toward God the Father. On the other hand, Yochanan speaks from an earthly (albeit God inspired) perspective and therefore sees himself as subordinate to the One Who is from above.
Joh 3:32 And what He (Who is from above) has seen with His eyes, perceived (horao[G], ra’ah[H]) and heard (akouo[G], shama[H]) that He testifies (martureo[G], yaiyd[H]); and no one receives (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]).
“What He has seen” recalls the words of Yeshua, “We testify” (v.11), and is further proof that Yeshua was speaking of the Godhead.
“and no one receives His testimony” Yochanan prophecies the rejection that Yeshua will face from those who refuse the testimony He brings from above. On the other hand the text says “no one receives His testimony” in the present tense, meaning it is yet to be received by some.
Joh 3:33 He that has received (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]) has secured His seal, double sealed (sphragizo[G], chatom chatam[H]) showing that the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is true (alethes[G], emet[H]).
The one who receives the testimony of Yeshua has been double sealed in that because he has believed Yeshua (God with us) he has also shown his belief in God and is therefore safe in Messiah, in God (John 14:20). A double seal is a figure for that which is unbreakable.
"the seal of the blessed God is truth" - T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1. & T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 64. 1. & Yoma, fol. 69. 2.
Joh 3:34 For He Whom the God (Ho-Theos[G], Elohim[H]) has sent, appointed, ordered (apostello[G], shelachu[H]) speaks (yadabeir[H]) the utterances, words (rhema[G], divreiy[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]): Who (God) does not give out a limited measure of the Spirit (Ho-pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).
Judaism had understood up to this point that the Holy Spirit was only ever given in measure:
"Says R. Joden bar R. Simeon, even the waters which descend from above are not given, but, "in measure".--Says R. Acha, even the Holy Spirit, which dwells upon the prophets, does not dwell, but "in weight".'' - Vajikra Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 157. 3.
The sent Word speaks the Word of the God. It is the Word (Yeshua) Who is given authority in the Father to pour out the Spirit without measure, something that has never happened in Israel before. This is prophetic of the outpouring of the Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days after the resurrection of Yeshua (Isa.44:3; Joel 2:28; Acts 2).
Joh 3:35 The Father (Ho-pater[G], Ha-Av[H]) loves (ohev[H]) His Son (et-beno[H]), and the all, everything, every individual (pas[G], ve’et-kol[H]) has been given (didomi[G], natan[H]) into His hand (be’yado[H]).
Having revealed the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Yochanan now speaks of the Father having given all creation into the hands of the Son. Thus the Godhead is revealed in complex unity. Yeshua has been given authority because it is through Him (a man, Who is also God) that humanity and creation are to be redeemed. Yeshua in turn will submit both Himself and all of the renewed creation to the Father.
“When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son will also make Himself subject to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” -1 Corinthians 15:28
Joh 3:36 He (all) that believes, trusts, is persuaded of, places his confidence (pisteuo[G], kol-hama’amiyn[H]) in, on, with, for the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) has, holds (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]): and he that does not believe, is apathetic toward (apeitheo[G]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) shall not see, or be seen by (optanomai[G]) life, living (zoe[G], chayim[H]); because (kiy[H]) the wrath, anger (orge[G]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) abides, remains, sits (meno[G], yishkon[H]) on, by, before, against, over (epi[G], alayv[H]) him.
A Midrash speaks of the King Messiah, the Latter Redeemer:
“whosoever believes in him shall live; but he that believes not in him shall go to the nations of the world, and they shall kill him.'' - Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.
“The one that believes, in the Son holds everlasting living” We note that the one who believes in the Son Yeshua “holds” present tense, “everlasting living”. The one who believes has already entered everlasting living, a form of living that death has no hold over.
“The one that does not believe, who is apathetic toward the Son shall not see, or be seen by living because the wrath of the God remains on that one.” Many today are happy to talk about redemption but are unwilling to speak of consequences for those who refuse redemption. The Gospel is clear in its affirmation of the just judgement of God. His wrath is (present tense) on all who have had the opportunity to receive His Son but have rejected Him and refused God’s loving offer of sacrificial atonement. As long as one resists God that one stands condemned, judged. However, in the moment that that same one choses to receive the Son and return to God, that one enters everlasting living. Thus, as I stated previously, God does not send people to eternal punishment, to the contrary, those who go to that place have chosen it through a perpetual refusal of Gods love, grace and mercy. This kind of persistent refusal of God’s mercy is elsewhere called the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matt.12:30-32).
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
"And Yeshua answering said to him, ‘Allow it to be so now: for thus, it comes to us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then Yochanan allowed him." -Mattitiyahu 3:15
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Yeshua (Jesus) said:
"Go therefore and make talmidim (disciples) of all the nations, immersing (baptizing) them in the name of the Av (Father) and of the Ben (Son) and of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." –Mattitiyahu/Matthew 28:19, 20
Therefore the rite of Mikvah/Immersion/Baptism is practised in obedience to Yeshua’s instruction, as a testimony to both the believer and to others.
It is a rite of Hebrew origin that signifies an admission of sin and t’shuvah, repentance—returning or turning—toward G-d. This immersion process involves the complete Kippot (covering) of the candidate as a symbol of all-encompassing cleansing from sin and the sanctification/purification of the body, mind and soul.
In Messianic Judaism there are three key, distinct examples of immersion in a ritual sense. These forms of immersion are known as entering the mikvah (pool of immersion). These three forms of immersion become echad (one) in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). They are:
1. Redemption/T’shuvah (Returning)
2. Priesthood/Kohanim (Priesthood)
3. Sanctification/Eytzer (Comfort)
These three central mikvot (immersions) are seen in both ancient Israel and in the first century C.E. during the earthly ministry of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
Immersion of Ancient Israel
1. Israel are redeemed through the blood of the Lamb (The Father offers His firstborn) and is immersed through the parting of the Red sea.
Exodus 12:23New American Standard Bible (NASB)
A Memorial of Redemption 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
Exodus 14:21-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord [l]swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
2. Ritual cleansing with water is given to the priesthood (The Son) of Israel at Sinai along with the Torah (Written word of G-d)
Exodus 29:4New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water.
3. Israel is sanctified by fire (The Holy Spirit) at the mountain of Sinai and comforted by the promise of a future redeemer and the land of promise.
Exodus 24:17New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.
Immersion of the Ministry of Messiah
1. Yochanan (John) the immerser taught an immersion of confession and returning
2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you immersed (baptized)?” And they said, “Into Yochanan’s (John’s) immersion (baptism).” 4 Paul/Shaul said, “Yochanan (John) immersed (baptized) with the immersion (baptism) of shuvah (returning, repentance, confession), telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Yeshua (Jesus).”
2. Yeshua provided an immersion of redemption through His death and resurrection. In addition, as our High priest He makes it possible for all believers to receive a priestly immersion.
3 Don’t you know that those of us who have been immersed into the Messiah Yeshua have been immersed into his death? 4 Through immersion into his death we were buried with him; so that just as, through the glory of the Father, the Messiah was raised from the dead, likewise we too might live a new life.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;
3. The Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) is given to immerse us and sanctify our actions. We’re given the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) as a deposit and assurance of our redemption and eternal security. He also comforts and guides us. He is G-d the helper to every believer. Therefore, by His work in us we have been redeemed and are being sanctified.
Mark 1:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB) “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 1:13-14New American Standard Bible (NASB) 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in [c]Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
John 14:26New American Standard Bible (NASB) 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
These three immersions also represent the persons of the unity of G-d:
1. The Father offers chesed (grace and mercy) to the repentant (returning) person who willingly confesses his or her sin
2. The Son, Yeshua offers redemption through His blood, and He offers priesthood to all believers as a result of His High priesthood
3. The Spirit, Ruach Ha-Kodesh offers us the strength and comfort so that we can live as new creations: having been (past tense) redeemed, we are (present continuous tense) being sanctified, made holy.
All three immersions are unified in Messiah Yeshua:
1. Yeshua’s sacrificial death makes way for returning to G-d and redeems the repentant person
2. Yeshua’s resurrection gives life to a new priesthood and the promise of eternal life to all believers
3. Yeshua’s comfort and strength is poured out upon as when, having returned to The Father G-d, He and the Father send the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) as our helper, comforter and strength, as we journey toward the completion of all things
Romans 6:1-11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“6:1 So then, are we to say, “Let’s keep on sinning, so that there can be more grace”? 2 Heaven forbid! How can we, who have died to sin, still live in it?3 Don’t you know that those of us who have been immersed into the Messiah Yeshua have been immersed into his death? 4 Through immersion into his death we were buried with him; so that just as, through the glory of the Father, the Messiah was raised from the dead, likewise we too might live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was put to death on the execution-stake with him, so that the entire body of our sinful propensities might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For someone who has died has been cleared from sin. 8 Now since we died with the Messiah, we trust that we will also live with him. 9 We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, never to die again; death has no authority over him.10 For his death was a unique event that need not be repeated; but his life, he keeps on living for God. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua.”
When we enter into the mikvah/Immersion of Yeshua, we are dying with Him in His death and being raised with Him in His life. Water has long represented death and sheol (holding place of the dead) in Judaism as well as life and purification. This dual understanding is seen in the ritual of water immersion. We die to our old lives of sin and are washed clean in the water of life in order that we might begin anew, living our lives in the Spirit of G-d as children of G-d.
Therefore the rite of Mikvah/Immersion/Baptism is practised in obedience to Yeshua’s instruction as a testimony to both the believer and to others.
In conclusion, the ritual of Messianic Jewish marriage requires the premarital immersion of both groom and bride. Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan (John) the immerser prior to His death (Matthew 3:13-17), which was also an immersion (Mark 10:38), in preparation for His future marriage to the community of believers at the end of the age. As believers we also enter into immersion as a sign of our having received His wedding proposal and of our willingness to prepare ourselves for that future wedding day.
Prior to Israel’s entering the promised land (Yehoshua/Joshua 3), which the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4) tells us is a picture of the Shabbat rest of the Olam Haba (World to come/eternity); Israel is lead through the parted Jordan river by Yehoshua (Joshua/Jesus/Salvation). This mikvah/immersion/baptism is Israel’s final preparation for her entry into the land of promise, Eretz Yisrael.
One day we will all enter this final mikvah, the mikvah of death, in preparation for the eternal rest of G-d, but as believers in Messiah Yeshua we will not enter it alone. Yehoshua/Yeshua (The names are synonymous in Hebrew) goes before us, He is behind us and beside us and He is within us. We will enter the mikvah of death in the same way that we briefly entered the water mikvah/immersion/baptism of our faith, breaking through the surface of the water of life and into the fresh air of eternity. This is the ultimate hope of all mikvot (immersions) and it is found only through the mikvah of Yeshua our L-rd and King, our Redeemer and friend, our Mashiyach, Melekh ha-melekhim (King of kings).
Therefore we gladly and willingly keep His instruction:
Yeshua (Jesus) said:
"Go therefore and make talmidim (disciples) of all the nations, immersing (baptizing) them in the name of the Av (Father) and of the Ben (Son) and of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." –Mattitiyahu/Matthew 28:19, 20
© 2015 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,