Jhn 3:3 Except a man be born again,

KJV Verse: 

Jhn 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

I am teaching you the real truth. If someone would not have been begotten from on high, he does not have the power to perceive the reign of God.

Hidden Meaning: 

The Greek word translated a "born" has a primary meaning of being "begotten," but it means being created or produced generally. It is the same word used to give Christ's genealogy in Matthew. Importantly, however, the verb is in the aorist form, meaning it describes and action performed in the past. This phrase does not, as you might think in English, refer to a future birth but a past one.

The Greek word translated as "again" means "from on high" or "from the beginning." It is usually translated that way in the KJV, except here and in a subsequent verse (John 3:7) referring back to this statement. The root of this word is "ano," which means "on high." It's translation as "again" seems to come from Nicodemus's response to Christ, but that may have mean that Nicodemus misunderstood what Christ was saying or didn't believe it. As we shall see, later statements by Christ in this dialogue clarifies that he referring to himself coming down from heaven.

The common Greek term for "again" is a common word, palin. This word also means "anew." If Christ wanted to say "again," palin is the Greek word used everywhere else in the Gospels he does so. Strangely, the two meanings of "from above" and "again" only work in the Greek. If Christ and Nicodemus were speaking Aramaic, as commonly thought, this confusion could not occur. The translation of anothen as "again" occurred originally in the Latin Vulgate version of the Gospels, but the Greek that the KJV translators worked from, which was translated back into Greek from the Latin, shows this word as "anothen" not palin, so the issue over its meaning was known at the time.

As we have said many times the Greek term translated as "can" has more the sense of having a specific ability or power rather than the kind of help verb "can" is in English. Christ always uses it in the verb and noun forms to refer to power. Christ is explaining his power of seeing what the Father does, which he says more directly in John 5:19.

The Greek word translated as "see" means seeing in the sense of learning to understand, or, as translated in the alternative, as perceiving.

The Greek word translated as "kingdom" also means "reign" or "dominion." It often seems that Christ uses it to refer to the rules or laws that God, as the ruler, lays down. A kingdom is where the rules made by a certain ruler are in effect.


Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν " Verily " is from amên ( amen), which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from legô (lego) means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."

σοι, "You" is from soi which is the singular, second person pronoun, "you".

ἐὰν "Except" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

μή "Except" is from (me), which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective,οὐ objective.

τις "A man" is from tis (tis) which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "many a one", "whoever," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

γεννηθῇ (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Be born" is from gennaô (gennao), which means "to beget", "to bring forth", "to produce from oneself", "to create," and "to engender." This is the causal form of gignomai, which is translated as "done" in the NT, but which comes closer in meaning to "become."

ἄνωθεν "Again" is from anothen, which means "from above", "from on high," [in a narrative] "from the beginning" or "from further back", "higher", "more universal," [NT translation] "over again", "anew," and "afresh."

οὐ "Not" is from οὐ ou "Not" is from οὐ ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

δύναται (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is from the verb, dunamai (dynamai), which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

ἰδεῖν (aor inf act) "See" is from (eidon) which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

τὴν βασιλείαν "The kingdom" is from basileia (basileia), which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τοῦ θεοῦ"Of God" is from theos (theos), which means "God," the Deity."

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