John 3:5

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!


Surrounding Verses

Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, answering his questions on how to be saved.


John Chapter 3



Scripture (According to Fundamental Baptist Understanding)

Salvation is by faith alone and has nothing to do with Baptism.

Commentary in light of context

There are a couple of ways to interpret this verse. Water here could be referring to physical water (amniotic fluid), baptism, or more likely, the cleansing of faith in Jesus or of the Holy Spirit and word of God.

Let's first discount the first two options. Water referring to a physical birth is the least likely of the possible interpretations. Although we say of a woman whose amniotic sack has ruptured prior to giving birth as, "her water broke", it is unreasonable to project this onto the understanding of first century Jews. This interpretation has no other scriptural, or even cultural precedent.

Just as bad is to interpret this verse to mean baptism. At no other time did Jesus ever say that baptism was the way to salvation, so it would seem strange for him to suggest this to Nicodemus, and at the same time rebuke him for not knowing it. How would Nicodemus know that you would have to be baptized to have eternal life?

What Nicodemus would have known is the prophetic verse from Ezekiel 36:24 saying that God would sprinkle Israel with water and give them a new spirit. The new spirit comes through faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is being born of "water, even of spirit".

We can quote Jesus himself, speaking in the next chapter to the woman at the well for further support of this interpretation. John 4:14 says

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.


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