John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh;

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. They discuss the nature of man's origin.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The one having been born out of this flesh, flesh is, also the one having been born out of this spirit, spirit is.

My Takeaway: 

Matter comes from matter. Our consciousness of information comes from a higher consciousness.

KJV : 

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

NIV : 

John 3:6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[fn] gives birth to spirit.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The use of the word "born" here is misleading since the Greek word means "begetting," that is, the original source of the physical body and the separate source of the life that animates it. The NIV translation here is very misleading, clearly not liking Jesus's words and wanting to teach against them. The "the one having been born" is a neuter form here, not matching the masculine of the pronoun of the previous verse.

The word translated as "flesh"  is used generally to refer to the physical world, especially when it is in contrast with the word for the "spirit." In using these terms, Jesus is moving the discussion from the world of classical elements (water and air) in the previous verse, to the separation of reality into matter and information. This parallels the reference to "water" in the last verse as a reference to the physical or "flesh" in this verse. Of course, our physical flesh is mostly water. While our conscious thought is something else. Jesus makes this clear by the use of the preposition "out of" both here and in the last verse, but its use was erased in both cases. Here, water is the source of our physical nature. This means that the previous verse does not necessarily refer to baptism as it is usually assumed. Baptism is a spiritual rebirth not a physical one.

Notice that Jesus uses the conjunction "and" here, connecting these contrasting ideas not a "but" contrasting them as opposites as we see in the NIV. The Greek word can also be translated as "also." What is born of the flesh is also born of the spirit. We have two births, one from below and one from above referring us back to John 3:3.

The capitalization of "spirit" to make it seem as though it refers to the Holy Spirit is an artifact of translation having nothing to do with the original Greek. In the previous verse, a "the" was added before "spirit" to reinforce the same idea that does not appear in Greek. However, Jesus is more clearly referring to the "breath of life." Life does not come from matter, but from the information in the cell. The information must have a higher, conscious source since consciousness is the only source of information we know.

Remember, in Jesus's time, the more traditional Judeans, the Sadducee of the Temple, did not accept the concept of spiritual existence. Even those that believed in the resurrection of the dead (and this was not necessarily a majority), believed in a physical resurrection, not a spiritual one. The idea of people having both a physical birth and a spiritual birth was a new idea for Christ's time.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τὸ [821 verses](article sg neut nom)  "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

γεγεννημένον [10 verse](part sg perf mp neut nom) "Which is 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."

ἐκ [121 verses] (prep) "Of" is from ek, which means "out of", "from", "by," and "away from."

τῆς  [821 verses](article sg fem gen)  "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

σαρκὸς [19 verses](noun sg fem gen) "The flesh" is sarx, which means "flesh", "the body", "fleshy", "the pulp of fruit", "meat," and "the physical and natural order of things" (opposite of the spiritual or supernatural).

σάρξ [19 verses](noun sg fem nom) "Flesh" is from sarx (sarx), which means "flesh", "the body", "fleshy", "the pulp of fruit", "meat," and "the physical and natural order of things" (opposite of the spiritual or supernatural).

ἐστιν .[614 verses](3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

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."

τὸ [821 verses](article sg neut nom)  "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

γεγεννημένον (part sg perf mp neut nom) "That which is 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."

ἐκ [121 verses] (prep) "Of" is from ek, which means "out of", "from", "by," and "away from."

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

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

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

ἐστιν .[614 verses](3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

KJV Analysis: 

That   -- The word translated as "that" 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. 

which -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "which" in the Greek source. It was added because the previous verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

is -- (WT) This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. However, the tense is not the present, but the past perfect, "having been."

born - (WF) "Born" is a word that means "to beget," "to bring forth," "to produce from oneself," "to create," and "to engender." It is not an active verb, but a verbal adjective, a participle, "having been born."

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

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. 

flesh -  -- The Greek word translated as "flesh" means "flesh," "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the latter sense.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

flesh; -- The Greek word translated as "the flesh" means "flesh," "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the latter sense.

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

hat   -- The word translated as "that" 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. 

which -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "which" in the Greek source. It was added because the previous verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

is -- (WT) This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. However, the tense is not the present, but the past perfect, "having been."

born - (WF) "Born" is a word that means "to beget," "to bring forth," "to produce from oneself," "to create," and "to engender." It is not an active verb, but a verbal adjective, a participle, "having been born."

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

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. 

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."

is --  This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. However, the tense is not the present, but the past perfect, "having been."

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."

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "is" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "having been."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "born" is not an active verb but a participle, "having been born."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "is" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "having been."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "born" is not an active verb but a participle, "having been born."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

NIV Analysis: 

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "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. 

Flesh -  -- The Greek word translated as "flesh" means "flesh," "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the latter sense.

missing "the one"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "the one" 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.

gives -- (WW, WT, WV) This should be the helping verb "been" that indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. However, the tense is not the present, but the past perfect, "having been." There is no "gives" here and it is the wrong voice, active. Jesus did not talk about those giving birth, but those being born.

birth - (WF) "Birth" is a verb that means "to beget," "to bring forth," "to produce from oneself," "to create," and "to engender." It is not a noun, but a verbal adjective, a participle, "having been born."

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

missing "is"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

flesh; -- The Greek word translated as "the flesh" means "flesh," "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the latter sense.

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

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. 

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."

missing "the one"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "the one" 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.

gives -- (WW, WT, WV) This should be the helping verb "is" that indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. However, the tense is not the present, but the past perfect, "having been." There is no "gives" here and it is the wrong voice, active. Jesus did not talk about those giving birth, but those being born.

birth - (WF) "Birth" is a verb that means "to beget," "to bring forth," "to produce from oneself," "to create," and "to engender." It is not a noun, but a verbal adjective, a participle, "having been born."

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

missing "is"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

 - 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: 

14
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "flesh" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" before "having been born" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "gives" should be "having been."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "gives" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "having been."
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as active but it is passive.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "birth" is not a noun but a participle, "having been born."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "out of."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" should be "and."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" before "having been born" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "gives" should be "having been."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "gives" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "having been."
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as active but it is passive.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "birth" is not a noun but a participle, "having been born."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "out of."

Front Page Date: 

Jan 13 2022