Jean’s Gospel: God’s Birthing Suite

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22 Responses

  1. Josh the Baptist says:

    In the very same passage would you also argue that Jesus is speaking of ONE birth, of flesh AND spirit?

  2. Josh the Baptist says:

    #1 is in response to: “He is speaking not of two baptisms (one by water and the other by the Spirit), but of one baptism of water and the Spirit.”

  3. Jean says:

    Hi Josh,

    I’m not sure I am tracking your question. Jesus is speaking here of a second birth as a child of God (the first being as a child of Adam). Therefore, this second birth (i.e., “from above,” “of God,” “again”) is affected by water and the Spirit. The Spirit not only regenerates the Christian, but also dwells in the Christian and intercedes for the Christian.

    Does that answer your question?

  4. Josh the Baptist says:

    No. You said that this quote: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’

    Was speaking of baptism, not 2, but 1 of water AND spirit.

    Yet Jesus’ quote was in response to a question about birth from a man who had already been born. Jesus was speaking of two births. One of flesh and one of spirit. It seems you miss that if you force the verse to be speaking about baptism.

  5. Jean says:


    To say:

    (1) “is born” is somehow speaking of two births is forcing the verse to speak of 2 births; and
    (2) “water” is somehow speaking of natural birth is forcing the verse not to speak of baptism.

  6. Josh the Baptist says:

    “born again” forces the passage to speak about two births.

  7. Jean says:

    “’born again’ forces the passage to speak about two births.”


  8. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, then what the heck does you #5 mean?

    And why the heck did you squeeze baptism in there?

  9. Jean says:

    The term “born again” clearly speaks of a 2nd birth.

    However, when Jesus says: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”, He is speaking of “how” the 2nd birth is accomplished by God.

    To force “born of water” to be referring to the 1st birth renders the phrase essentially meaningless because Jesus is speaking to a living person who was already born of Adam. Why communicate a condition to someone who obviously has fulfilled it? Everyone who reads John 3 has already been born of Adam. Such a reading robs the phrase of any meaning. Jesus, however, is speaking about “how” God accomplishes the second birth.

  10. Josh the Baptist says:

    But then read the next versus, Jesus interprets himself.

    He speaks of two birth.
    In vs 5 – water and spirit.
    In vs 6 – flesh and spirit.

    Do you argue that verse 6 is speaking of one birth? That of flesh and spirit? Of course not, he is contrasting the two, as he is in verse 5.

  11. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ugh my typos are killing me. Sorry.

  12. Jean says:


    No problem on the typos; I’m sure I make plenty of them myself.

    Here is that next verse you mentioned:

    “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

    Notice 2 things:

    (1) Jesus did not say “That which is born of water is flesh,…” If He was interpreting himself from the prior verse, one would think He would have linked water to flesh.

    (2) What He is further interpreting is His original assertion: “You must be born again.”

  13. Josh the Baptist says:

    Seems obvious, but Ok. Thanks for the interaction.

  14. Duane Arnold says:


    Just a thought, but within the context of the first three chapters of John, I think there are two things going on here –
    1) Christ is placing his ability to give the gift of the Holy Spirit (second birth) as John the Baptist predicted in chapter 1, in contrast to John’s mere baptizing with water, as we note in the second narrative of chapter 3.
    2) John the Apostle, is using the narrative to allude to late first century Christian baptismal practices in which the gift of the Holy Sprit was given.

    These, I don’t think are contradictory, but merely the use of the single narrative to point out the difference between John the Baptist and Jesus, as well as providing theological meaning to what would have been familiar to John’s contemporary readers.

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think we can all agree with Duane’s 2nd point @14. Baptism delivers the Holy Spirit and I will add that there is no salvation without first having the Holy Spirit delivered to a person. Hence “Baptism Saves.”

    What was Jesus’ last command? For us to go out and through baptism deliver the Holy Spirit to others, giving them the new birth and making them disciples.

    This is pretty cool stuff. 🙂

  16. Xenia says:

    Isn’t the Holy Spirit given at one’s Chrismation? Which happens directly after baptism? When one is anointed with oil and the priest says “Receive the Holy Spirit?”

    “Chrismation (sometimes called confirmation) is the holy mystery by which a baptized person is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with oil. As baptism is a personal participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ, so chrismation is a personal participation in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”


  17. Duane Arnold says:


    You are quite right. In the Roman and Anglican rites, immediately after baptism one is anointed with oil and the priest says, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. In the ancient church, it was part of one rite. Through the high middle ages and into the Reformation, the rite was split into two distinct actions, leading some bodies to identify it with a later Confirmation. Most liturgical scholars, however, place it in the context of the baptismal rite.

  18. Steve says:

    Jean, you mentioned 3 elements: There are three elements required for a baptism: God’s Word, water and the Holy Spirit. Would you consider a fourth element to be faith? Without faith isn’t baptism invalid?

  19. em... again says:

    well, at least all agree that we must be ‘born again’…

    an interesting aside are the baptisms that preceded Jesus’ ministry, those of his cousin John… worth considering the why of those baptisms… to which Jesus himself submitted “to fulfill all righteousness” … there is the opening of heaven and God’s visible interaction and message
    some equate the Holy Spirit’s descending upon Jesus at that time with the “New Birth” …
    i don’t, it makes far more sense to see our second birth as a literal new creation within our being, a spirit. After which we are body (dying flesh) eternal soul and spirit … this does not preclude the Holy Spirit’s special work at water baptism IMHO

    with the spirit warring with the flesh, we are somewhat sanctified schizophrenics 🙂

  20. Jean says:

    Hi Steve,

    Great question. “Faith” is a disposition of the heart which trusts in Christ. So, it is worked in us.

    It is written that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” It also says that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”

    So, whether an adult who already has the Holy Spirit is baptized or an infant who does not yet have the Holy Spirit, baptism conveys the Holy Spirit through the Word which is added to the water, and the Holy Spirit either creates or strengthens faith.

    Baptism is totally consistent with sola fide in that we are justified by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. Baptism also is consistent with the doctrine of Divine monergism.

  21. Steve says:


    There is the faith of the individual being baptized and the faith of those that are preforming the ceremony. For an infant, the faith may not be there before the baptism but there is faith of the parents, the pastor performing the ceremony and the congregation witnessing it. If none of these folks had faith and were just going thru the motions, are you saying God would still use this sacrament to create faith where it didn’t exist before? I know this is an extreme hypothetical but no matter how you slice this, it does appear that faith is absolutely needed albeit still a gift just as is the water and the Word are as well.

  22. Jean says:

    Hi Steve,

    God makes the promise, so we trust that God is faithful to His Word and will accomplish what He promises. Our faith should always be in God’s Word.

    All the promises made in baptism come from God and are given directly to the baptized. Whether the pastor or parents are going through the motions or not is irrelevant, because they do not mediate God’s promises.

    I agree with your conclusion that faith is absolutely needed. It is needed at all times throughout our life, not just at some entry point. And as you said it is a gift, given by the Holy Spirit in and through God’s Word and Gospel.

    Therefore, in the great commission, Jesus does not command the disciples to make disciples by baptism alone, but by baptizing and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Because of this last part, Lutherans do not typically baptize a person who (1) does not want to be baptized, or (2) is a baby of parents who are not willing to raise their baby in the faith.

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