Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?

There is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding Jesus' words in John 3. In verse 3 Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, and unfortunately what most people hear is "You must get yourself born again." I previously posted on the topic of whether or not we need to know Greek. Again, an English translation is sufficient for salvation, but if we are to get our doctrine correct, sometimes there is no way around it—knowing Greek will definitely help in this case.

Most of evangelical error comes as a result of people confusing indicatives with imperatives. Indicatives are statements of fact; imperatives are commands. There are two issues we must deal with in this verse if we are to interpret it correctly. First, I would like to point out that this verb, born, is in the third person. Second, it is not an imperative, so Jesus is not telling Nicodemus what he must do, He is stating facts about other, the elect, people and their condition. Jesus is saying all those who are saved are born again. He is not saying to be saved you must get born again.

6 comments:

BradyLee said...

God is teaching me a lot about Regeneration or being born again recently. Its interesting. I read a book called "Justification and Regeneration" by Charles Leiter. I recommend it. Its nice, short, and to the point.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Excellent pick up Alan. Not many going into seminary know the importance of differentiating imperatives from indicatives.

John D. Chitty said...

Benjamin,

You're right that not many going into seminary know the importance of differentiating imperatives from indicatives. That's probably because not many going to seminary know the importance of listening to The White Horse Inn.

Would that more in the "Christian Media" spoke of these things. Perhaps one day they will.

Rhea said...

Is the verb "born" in the third person singular or plural?

A friend of mine and I were joking about making a "Southern Translation" of the Bible so that we could you "ya'll" everytime it's third person plural so that there wouldn't be any misunderstandings :-)

Alan said...

singular

Tia Lynn said...

are you calvinistic in your thinking?