What do you mean “born again?”

Let’s not be too sure, but remain open-minded until we have carefully reviewed all the verses related to this teaching. Why? In several Bible versions, 1 John 3:9 says that one who is born of God “cannot sin because he has been born of God.” While there are attempts to explain this some other way, what is the real truth?

This very popular teaching among many sincere religious groups today claim that they are now already “born again.” While we don’t want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, that very disturbing biblical statement needs to be objectively studied.

In the same way that Nicodemus (a Pharisee and part of the religious establishment and a teacher of his day) did not understand Christ’s actual message then, such is exactly the case today.

In contrast, while Nicodemus was trying to grasp Christ’s words from his limited physical perspective, most modern religious people and theologians put a false spiritual twist to that message.

Definition and Description of “Born Again”

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, (Eleventh Edition):

born-again 1: of, relating to, or being a …Christian person who has made a renewed or confirmed commitment of faith esp. after an intense religious experience. 2: having returned to or newly adopted an activity, a conviction, or a persona esp. with a proselytizing zeal.

The Catholic.com Website describes the difference between Catholic and Protestant interpretations of “born again” in reply to the question: “Are Catholics Born Again?”

“Catholics and Protestants agree that to be saved, you have to be born again [based on John 3:3]. When a Catholic says that he has been “born again,” he refers to the transformation that God’s grace accomplished in him during baptism. Evangelical Protestants typically mean something quite different when they talk about being “born again.”

“For an Evangelical, becoming “born again” often happens like this: He goes to a crusade or a revival [meeting] where a minister delivers a sermon telling him of his need to be “born again.”

“If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe he died for your sins, you’ll be born again!” says the preacher. So the gentleman makes “a decision for Christ” and at the altar call goes forward to be led in “the sinner’s prayer” by the minister. Then the minister tells all who prayed the sinner’s prayer that they have been saved—”born again.”

“So the answer to the question, “Are Catholics born again?” is yes! Since all Catholics have been baptized, all Catholics have been born again.” [Including all those baptized as infants, of course.]

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, adds the following information:

The phrase “born again” is also used as an adjective to describe… members of the movement… as well as the movement itself (“born-again Christian” and the “born-again movement”).

John 3:1-13: A Greatly Misinterpreted Passage

The Apostle John (the beloved) is the best authority regarding this subject of “born again” because he was present during that visit by night of Nicodemus and only he (among the other New Testament writers) recorded that particular conversation:

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

[NOTE: 1 Cor. 15:50 expounds more on this.]

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

[NOTE: Christ obviously does not refer to physical birth.]

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

[NOTE: Christ refers to TWO completely different kinds of births: fleshly and spiritual birth.]

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

[NOTE: One that is “born of the Spirit” (is no longer mortal), is INVISIBLE like the wind, yet it has FORCE & POWER]

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

[NOTE: He can’t understand spiritual things because his level of thinking was mainly PHYSICAL]

Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

[NOTE: There’s a difference between EARTHLY and HEAVENLY things, which the unconverted religious Pharisees cannot grasp].

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

[NOTE: The apostle John was inspired to add this verse to show that there is a vast difference between earth and heaven.]

The Most Vital Truth Most People Misunderstand

Christ said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; [but] that which is born of the Spirit is SPIRIT” (John 3:6).

[NOTE: Flesh and Spirit are two completely different modes of existence. It is wrong to combine the two and invent a new unbiblical interpretation; claiming that while we are still mortal, we are at the same time are already immortal [born again as a Spirit Being].” This is an IMPOSSIBILITY.]

Furthermore, the Bible says, “…Flesh and blood (mortals) CANNOT inherit (enter, possess) the (Spiritual) Kingdom of God…” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

One who has been transformed by God into a SPIRIT being is no longer a flesh and blood mortal. (1 Corinthians 15:48 also describes the very vast gulf [chasm] fixed between the two modes/natures: earthy and heavenly; also described in Luke 16:26).

This transformation from mortal to immortal (among human believers) will ONLY occur in the future, at the sound of the seventh trumpet [not now] (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Revelation 10:7; 11:15; 16:17).

Christ Tried to Illustrate What He Meant Using Wind

Because Nicodemus (even if he was a Pharisee, and a ruler and religious teacher among the Jews (John 3:1, 10) did NOT understand what Christ was exactly saying (like most people today), Christ illustrated what He meant by using a good example which he might understand — WIND.

“The [invisible] wind blows [it has inherent power] where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, [there is physical evidence of its presence and power] but [one] cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes [because it is INVISIBLE]. So [in the same manner] is everyone who is born of the Spirit [they also become INVISIBLE].” (John 3:8).

[NOTE: In other words, a “born again” (born of the Spirit) son/daughter of God becomes invisible, but possesses power and eternal life.]

Sadly, most people today are at the same physical level of MISunderstanding as Nicodemus.

Please see the Appendix below for the meaning of certain key words.

HOW THE GREEK WORDS APPLY INTO THE TEXT OF John 3:3,5,7:

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [gennao] again [anothen], he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [NOTE: Actually born from God–above]

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [gennao] of water [hudor] and the Spirit [pneuma], he cannot enter the kingdom of God. [NOTE: We can’t enter God’s Kingdom in mortal form—only when we are already born again as SPIRIT Beings.]

7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born [gennao] again [anothen].’ [NOTE: Remember there is an unfathomable difference between human birth and becoming born into a Spirit Being and becoming a son/daughter in God’s Kingdom.]

WORD USAGE AFFECTED BY PRECONCEIVED FALSE IDEAS:

Poor translation example:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten [anagennao] us again [anagennao] to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” NKJ 1 Peter 1:3 [NOTE: Did you notice the double use of “anagennao” in the same verse?

Better translation example:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born [gennao] again [anothen] to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” ESV 1 Peter 1:3; ESV, NAU, NLT, YLT=beget (still gennao).

CORRECT TRANSLATION OF “GENNAO”:

“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten [gennao] you through the gospel.” KJV 1 Corinthians 4:15

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten [gennao] you through the gospel.” NKJ 1 Corinthians 4:15

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten [gennao] thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Correctly used “begotten”) Hebrews 1:5; ESV, KJV, NAU, NKJ,YLT)

ONE ALREADY TRANSFORMED AS A SPIRIT BEING “BORN AGAIN” SON OF GOD OF COURSE, “CANNOT SIN”

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD.” 1 John 3:9 KJV

The Greek word for “cannot” [G3756]. isou

Meaning: 1) no, not; in direct questions expecting an affirmative answer.

Other meanings of “cannot” [G3756] ou = nay, never, no man, nothing

Origin: a primary word, the absolute negative [cf 3361] adverb; particle

Usage: AV – not 1214, no 136, cannot + 1410 55, misc 48; 1453

REFERENCES: E.W. Bullinger Companion Bible; Appendix 105; page 150; THE USES OF NEGATIVES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT; and Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, Index of Greek Words on Page 737.

This “CANNOT SIN…” is corroborated also by the following translations:

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD.” NAU 1 John 3:9

“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD.” NKJ 1 John 3:9

“Anyone who is born of God does not commit sin, for the offspring of God remain in him, and they CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE THEY ARE BORN OF GOD.” Moffatt Trans.: 1 John 3:9

NOTE: Other translations changed some words to accommodate the popular concept of “born again” because they can’t grasp the REALITY of Christ’s TRUE message.

Conclusion

Nicodemus and most modern Christians failed to grasp Christ’s real message about the NEW BIRTH. They think that believing in Christ, confessing their sins, accepting Him as their Savior, praying the “Sinner’s Prayer,” and actively confessing Him to others already fulfills that desired “Born Again” experience. What is commonly and popularly believed is a shallow counterfeit.

Humans today who have truly received the gift of the Holy Spirit of God after repentance and baptism are not yet “born again.” They are simply “begotten” children of God. The best analogy is that of a child sired by the father, conceived and kept in the mother’s womb, developing until the proper time for it to be born. While the child is still in the womb, it is already truly owned by and cared for by both parents, though not yet born into the world.

Satan has again been very successful in misleading humanity with a false deceptive message. To further cement such deceptions, to some extent, he has successfully corrupted the translation of many Bible verses to hide the true message from God, even adding concepts which are false.

The TRUE, unadulterated message from Christ is that to enter the glorious Kingdom of God, we need to be reallyborn again” [for a second time] into a NEW dimension or mode of existence; wherein our physical body will have to be changed into a SPIRITUAL BODY, full of power and glory, yet invisible to physical eyes—like a very strong wind—as an analogy.

That misunderstood message of Christ is also the TRUE GOSPEL MESSAGE. It concerns the announcement on how sons and daughters can be part of God’s Eternal Ruling Kingdom!

There are more eye-opening, mind-boggling, and interesting details concerning these big spiritual subjects which we plan to write about and publish in BiblicalTruths.com. Please watch out for these up-coming articles.

Appendix

MEANING OF KEY WORDS:

1. BORN

The Greek word is “gennao” [G1080] which means “to beget,” (passive voice); “to be born” (chiefly used of men “begetting” children), Mat. 1:2-16. Used also to refer to “conception” (Matthew 1:20, “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived [G1080] in her is of the Holy Spirit.”)

Meaning: 1) of men who fathered children 1a) to be born 1b) to be begotten 1b1) of women giving birth to children 2) metaph. 2a) to engender, cause to arise, excite 2b) in a Jewish sense, of one who brings others over to his way of life, to convert someone 2c) of God making Christ his son 2d) of God making men his sons through faith in Christ’s work

Usage: AV – begat 49, be born 39, bear 2, gender 2, bring forth 1, be delivered 1, misc 3; 97

2. BORN-AGAIN

The Greek word is: anagennao [G0313]

Meaning: 1) to produce again, be born again, born anew 2) metaphorically, to have one’s mind changed so that he lives a new life and one conformed to the will of God [My NOTE: The second meaning is added to accommodate the popular concept of “born-again” teaching.]

Usage: AV – begat again 1, be born again 1; 2 [NOTE: Used only twice in the whole Bible]

3. AGAIN

The Greek word is [G0509] anothen {an’-o-then}

Meaning: 1) from above, from a higher place 1a) of things which come from heaven or God 2) from the first, from the beginning, from the very first 3) anew, over again

Usage: AV – from above 5, top 3, again 2, from the first 1, from the beginning 1, not tr 1; 13

4. WATER

The Greek word is [G 5204] hudor {hoo’-dore}

Meaning: 1) water 1a) of water in rivers, in fountains, in pools 1b) of the water of the deluge 1c) of water in any of the earth’s repositories 1d) of water as the primary element, out of and through which the world that was before the deluge, arose and was compacted 1e) of the waves of the sea 1f) fig. used of many peoples

Usage: AV – water 79; 79

5. SPIRIT

The Greek word is: [G4151] pneuma {pnyoo’-mah}

Meaning: 1) a movement of air (a gentle blast 1a) of the wind, hence the wind itself 1b) breath of nostrils or mouth 2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated 2a) the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides 2b) the soul 3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting 3a) a life giving spirit 3b) a human soul that has left the body 3c) a spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel 3c1) used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men 3c2) the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ 4) of God 4a) God’s power and agency distinguishable in thought from his essence in itself considered 4a1) manifest in the course of affairs 4a2) by its influence upon the souls productive in the theocratic body (the church) of all the higher spiritual gifts and blessings 4a3) the third person of the trinity, the God the Holy Spirit 5) the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one 5a) the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.

Usage: AV – Spirit 111, Holy Ghost 89, Spirit (of God) 13, Spirit (of the Lord) 5, (My) Spirit 3, Spirit (of truth) 3, Spirit (of Christ) 2, human (spirit) 49, (evil) spirit 47, spirit (general) 26, spirit 8, (Jesus’ own) spirit 6, (Jesus’ own) ghost 2, misc 21; 385

REFERENCES: Computer BibleWorks, Version 5; Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996; Pages; 4, 18, 57, 593-594, 668; E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1974; (Appendix 105)