Born from above

by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3 NA28)

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless one is born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 3:3 (above) is a term that is unique to Christianity and is not well understood even by those have been γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν. The word translated above as “again” is  ἄνωθεν or anōthen, which is comprised of ἄνω or anō, “above, upwards,” and the suffix θεν or then, which denotes “from.” 

“The most significant use of anōthen occurs in Jn. 3:3, 7 when Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “born again” (or does it mean “born from above”?). We really do not need to choose between these two options, for when we are born from above (i.e. born of the Spirit of God), we experience rebirth (i.e. we are born again). The ambiguity in the word beautifully covers both concepts.” – Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, page 274.

The word translated as “born” is γεννηθῇ the aorist tense, subjunctive mood, passive voice form of γεννάω or gennaō. We get our English words generation and genetic from this word. Literally it speaks of men begetting, but in the metaphorical sense we find its usage in passages like John 3:3 in which God is begetting in a spiritual sense. This consists in regeneration, sanctifying, quickening anew, and ennobling the powers of the natural man by imparting to him a new life and a spirit in Christ (1 John 5:1). That is what it means to be “born of God” (1 John 3:9) and being the “sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

Peter used another word that we translate as “born again” in 1 Peter 1:23. Here is that passage from the Greek:

ἀναγεγεννημένοι οὐκ ἐκ σπορᾶς φθαρτῆς ἀλλʼ ἀφθάρτου διὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ καὶ μένοντος. (1 Peter 1:23 NA28)

Here is my translation:

having been born again not from corruptible seed but incorruptible through the abiding Word of the living God.

The words translated here as “having been born again” is one Greek word, ἀναγεγεννημένοι the perfect passive participle form of ἀναγεννάω. This verb form describes a state brought about by the finished results of the action. The passive form tells us that Christians are “born again” as a work of God not by their own works. The word ἀναγεννάω could easily have been translated here as “begotten us again.” Our new birth unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (paraphrased from 1 Peter 1:3).

My brethren, we have new life in Christ because we have been born from above, we have been begotten again. Can we say glory hallelujah?

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “Born from above

  1. I Appreciate your work brother!

    Here is “some” homework for you. In Ephesians 4:11 we read that He gave “some” to be… What is that Greek word, and what does it translate out to actually be? When I replace the word “some” with the Greek word “tous” in the verse and then look at it in context, it sure paints a different picture. “He gave “THE” Apostle, “THE Prophet, “THE” Teacher, “THE” Evangelist and “THE” Shepherd…all word pictures of THE Christ, and of course The Holy Spirit!

    Unity in the Body
    …11And He gave THE Apostle, and THE Prophet, and THE evangelist, and THE Pastoral One and THE teacher, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.…
    …14As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

    (Think Clergy/Laity divide aka the deeds of the Nicolaitan’s which things He HATES!)

    …15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    So, brother, what do you think? Now, I recognize you as the learned one and I the neophyte…
    LOL

  2. Teacher of course to also be capitalized…

    What is amazing, is this blows huge holes in the “jesus franchise” theory and practice of American Churchianity, while at the same time supporting biblical fellowships with functioning under-shepherds and elders who claim no office, yet serve the body sacrificially within the “Christ in/through me” gifting’s, while recognizing no head but Christ Jesus!

  3. 11 Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, (Ephesians 4:11 NA28)

    11 And he gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers, (Ephesians 4:11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

    Yes, τοὺς is the accusative, plural, masculine case of ὁ and literally means “the.” This is a double accusative in that each of the nouns following their corresponding τοὺς is also in the accusative case. The accusative case tells us that the noun is the direct object of the main verb in the sentence. That would be ἔδωκεν wouldn’t it, which I translated as gave. Here ἔδωκεν is in the Aorist, Indicative, Active case. This is non-continuous action and the time it took place is not specified. So what do we have? Why are so many translations saying that this is saying “some…” and not “the…”? It is because it would make sense if all it was talking about was apostles, but not prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. These last four will be needed throughout the history of the Church and that is why all English translations I have looked at translate it this way. Also, Dr. James White has said that just because there is “the” in front of your noun does not mean you should translate it. ;-)

  4. Huh…Wha?!?!

    Man you did that like the best of them! LOL

    Now, when I look at the entire chapter, everything points to Christ Jesus as the subject of the discussion:

    Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

    1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and IN YOU ALL..

    7But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the GIFT OF CHRIST.

    8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and GAVE GIFTES UNTO MEN.

    9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS.) 11And he gave some,

    (“the” Himselfas Apostle, Prophet,Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher to each one of us as giftings)

    apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which IS THE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, ACCORDING TO THE EFFECTUAL WORKING (Christ in/through me the hope of glory) in the measure of every part, maketh INCREASE OF THE BODY UNTO THE EDIFYING OF ITSELF IN LOVE.

    For He is the Head, He sent the body the Comforter/Holy Spirit to work though the saints as these gifting’s.

    With regards to the last 4 yes, because there are only the original foundational Apostles, but are there not still those sent and who found His Work through them in new places? Not that they are of the same kind as the foundation of the Ecclesia.

    This is His manner of Work through His saints until He (That which is perfect has come/returned. For then we will be physically changed from corruptible to un-corruptible flesh and ever in His presence!

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    “Paul! Too much studying has made you crazy!” LOL

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    Thanks Mike for taking the time with me!

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