John 3:5 Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Honestly, honestly, I'm telling you. If someone would not be begotten from water and the breath of life, he does not have the power to come into the reign of God.

My Takeaway: 

Humans are made of water and air.

KJV : 

John 3:5 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

NIV : 

John 3:5 Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The "the" before "Spirit" is added to make this appear as though it refers to the Holy Spirit, but in Greek, there's no "the" there. Nor does the "water" clearly refer to baptism. The phrase might be heard to refer two of the four classical elements, water and wind.  These are the elements of the "sky."

Wordplay: 

 The Greek refers being born of two key elements of classical science, "water" and "wind." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν [91 verses](exclaim)" Verily " is 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 [264 verses](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."

σοὶ [81 verses](pron 2nd sg dat) "You" is soi which is the singular, second-person pronoun, "you."

ὰν [162 verses](conj) "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.

μὴ [447 verses](partic) "Except" is 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 [252 verses](pron sg masc/fem nom)"A man" is 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 [10 verses](3rd sg aor subj pass) "Be born" is 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."

ἐξ [121 verses] (prep) "From" is ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from;" 6) cause, instrument, or means "by."

ὕδατος [12 verses](noun sg neut gen) "Water" is hydor, which means "water", "spring water", "drinking water", "rain water", "rain", "time running out" (from the water clocks used in courts), "liquid," the constellation Aquarius, the winter solstice, and a place with mineral waters.

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv)  "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

πνεύματος [40 verses](noun sg neut gen)"Spirit" is pneuma, which means "blast", "wind", "breath", "the breath of life," and "divine inspiration."

οὐ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is from ou "Not" is from  ou ( οὒ ) 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 [61 verses](3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities," "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

εἰσελθεῖν [68 verses](verb aor inf act) "Enter" is from eiserchomai.which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

εἰς [325 verses](prep) "Into" is from eis (eis), which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὴν [821 verses]([821 verses](article sg fem dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

βασιλείαν [98 verses](noun sg fem dat) "The kingdom" is  basileia, which means "kingdom," "dominion," "hereditary monarchy," "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θεοῦ [144 verses](noun sg masc gen) "God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

KJV Analysis: 

Verily, verily, -- The word translated as "verily" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

say -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

thee,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is singular and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

Except -- (WW) "Except" is from the Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

missing "doesn't want"  -- (MW) The untranslated negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. "When he doesn't want" does not mean "except."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

man -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "man" in the singular means "anyone," "someone,"  "something," and "anything." In the plural, it means "some," "they," and "those."

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

born  - 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 an action at some point of time, past, present, or future.

of  -- (CW) The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a proposition for the types of phrases usually use with "of."

water  -- "Water" is the noun that means "water," "spring water," "drinking water," "rain water," "rain," "time running out" (from the water clocks used in courts),  "liquid," the constellation Aquarius, the winter solstice, and a place with mineral waters.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, this form more likely issued because this is the object of the "from" preposition above.

the -- (IW) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

Spirit, -- The word translated as "spirit" primarily means "breath," "wind," a "non-material being," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' It also means the "breath of life," from which we get to "spirit" and "spiritual."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

can- (CW) This word "can" has more the sense of having a specific ability or power rather than the kind of helping verb "can" is in English. Jesus 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.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly."

enter  - -- "Enter" is a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind."

into  -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

kingdom  - 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.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God. - -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "except" should be "when."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not want" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "man" is not the common word usually translated as "man."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "spirit" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "very" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Very --  (CW) The word translated as "very" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

truly-- The word translated as "truly" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

tell -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

no -- The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly."

one -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

can- (CW) This word "can" has more the sense of having a specific ability or power rather than the kind of helping verb "can" is in English. Jesus 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.

enter  - -- "Enter" is a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind."

missing "into"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

kingdom  - 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.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God. - -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

Unless -- (WW) "Unless" is from the Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

missing "doesn't want"  -- (MW) The untranslated negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. "When he doesn't want" does not mean "except."

they -- (WN) The Greek word translated as "they" in the singular means "anyone," "someone,"  "something," and "anything."

are -- This helping verb "are" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

born  - 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 an action at some point of time, past, present, or future.

of  -- (CW) The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a proposition for the types of phrases usually use with "of."

water  -- "Water" is the noun that means "water," "spring water," "drinking water," "rain water," "rain," "time running out" (from the water clocks used in courts),  "liquid," the constellation Aquarius, the winter solstice, and a place with mineral waters.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, this form more likely issued because this is the object of the "from" preposition above.

the -- (IW) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

Spirit, -- The word translated as "spirit" primarily means "breath," "wind," a "non-material being," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' It also means the "breath of life," from which we get to "spirit" and "spiritual."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "very" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "into" before "the kingdom" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "God" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "unless" should be "when."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not want" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "they" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "spirit" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Jan 12 2022