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1: A ruler - One of the great council.
2: The same came - Through desire; but by night - Through shame:
We know - Even we rulers and Pharisees.
3: Jesus answered - That knowledge will not avail thee unless thou
be born again - Otherwise thou canst not see, that is, experience
and enjoy, either the inward or the glorious kingdom of God.
In this solemn discourse our Lord shows, that no external
profession, no ceremonial ordinances or privileges of birth,
could entitle any to the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom: that
an entire change of heart as well as of life was necessary for
that purpose: that this could only be wrought in man by the
almighty power of God: that every man born into the world was by
nature in a state of sin, condemnation, and misery: that the free
mercy of God had given his Son to deliver them from it, and to
raise them to a blessed immortality: that all mankind, Gentiles
as well as Jews, might share in these benefits, procured by his
being lifted up on the cross, and to be received by faith in him:
but that if they rejected him, their eternal, aggravated
condemnation, would be the certain consequence. Except a man be
born again - If our Lord by being born again means only reformation
of life, instead of making any new discovery, he has only thrown
a great deal of obscurity on what was before plain and obvious.
4: When he is old - As Nicodemus himself was.
5: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit - Except he
experience that great inward change by the Spirit, and be
baptized (wherever baptism can be had) as the outward sign and
means of it.
6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh - Mere flesh, void of
the Spirit, yea, at enmity with it; And that which is born of the
Spirit is spirit - Is spiritual, heavenly, divine, like its Author.
7: Ye must be born again - To be born again, is to be inwardly
changed from all sinfulness to all holiness. It is fitly so
called, because as great a change then passes on the soul as
passes on the body when it is born into the world.
8: The wind bloweth - According to its own nature, not thy will,
and thou hearest the sound thereof - Thou art sure it doth blow,
but canst not explain the particular manner of its acting. So
is every one that is born of the Spirit - The fact is plain, the
manner of his operations inexplicable.
11: We speak what we know - I and all that believe in me.
12: Earthly things - Things done on earth; such as the new birth,
and the present privileges of the children of God. Heavenly
things - Such as the eternity of the Son, and the unity of the
Father, Son, and Spirit.
13: For no one - For here you must rely on my single testimony,
whereas there you have a cloud of witnesses: Hath gone up to
heaven, but he that came down from heaven. Who is in heaven
- Therefore he is omnipresent; else he could not be in heaven
and on earth at once. This is a plain instance of what is
usually termed the communication of properties between the
Divine and human nature; whereby what is proper to the Divine
nature is spoken concerning the human, and what is proper to
the human is, as here, spoken of the Divine.
14: And as Moses - And even this single witness will soon be taken
from you; yea, and in a most ignominious manner.(Nu 21:8,9).
15: That whosoever - He must be lifted up, that hereby he may
purchase salvation for all believers: all those who look to him
by faith recover spiritual health, even as all that looked at
that serpent recovered bodily health.
16: Yea, and this was the very design of God's love in sending
him into the world. Whosoever believeth on him - With that faith
which worketh by love, and hold fast the beginning of his
confidence steadfast to the end. God so loved the world - That is,
all men under heaven; even those that despise his love, and will
for that cause finally perish. Otherwise not to believe would be
no sin to them. For what should they believe? Ought they to
believe that Christ was given for them? Then he was given for
them. He gave his only Son - Truly and seriously.
And the Son of God gave himself,(Ga 4:4), truly and seriously.
17: God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world
- Although many accuse him of it.
18: He that believeth on him is not condemned - Is acquitted, is
justified before God. The name of the only - begotten Son of God
- The name of a person is often put for the person himself. But
perhaps it is farther intimated in that expression, that the
person spoken of is great and magnificent. And therefore it is
generally used to express either God the Father or the Son.
19: This is the condemnation - That is, the cause of it.
So God is clear.
21: He that practiseth the truth (that is, true religion) cometh
to the light - So even Nicodemus, afterward did. Are wrought in
God - That is, in the light, power, and love of God.
22: Jesus went - From the capital city, Jerusalem, into the land of
Judea - That is, into the country. There he baptized - Not himself;
but his disciples by his order, (Joh 4:2).
23: John also was baptizing - He did not repel them that offered,
but he more willingly referred them to Jesus.
25: The Jews - Those men of Judea, who now went to be baptized by
Jesus; and John's disciples, who were mostly of Galilee: about
purifying - That is, baptism. They disputed, which they should be
27: A man can receive nothing - Neither he nor I. Neither could
he do this, unless God had sent him: nor can I receive the title
of Christ, or any honour comparable to that which he hath received
from heaven. They seem to have spoken with jealousy and resentment;
John answers with sweet composure of spirit.
29: He that hath the bride is the bridegroom - He whom the bride
follows. But all men now come to Jesus. Hence it is plain he is
the bridegroom. The friend who heareth him - Talk with the bride;
rejoiceth greatly - So far from envying or resenting it.
30: He must increase, but I must decrease - So they who are now,
like John, burning and shining lights, must (if not suddenly
eclipsed) like him gradually decrease, while others are
increasing about them; as they in their turns grew up, amidst
the decays of the former generation. Let us know how to set, as
well as how to rise; and let it comfort our declining days to
trace, in those who are likely to succeed us in our work, the
openings of yet greater usefulness.
31: It is not improbable, that what is added, to the end of the
chapter, are the words of the evangelist, not the Baptist. He
that is of the earth - A mere man; of earthly original, has a
spirit and speech answerable to it.
32: No man - None comparatively, exceeding few; receiveth his
testimony - With true faith.
33: Hath set to his seal - It was customary among the Jews for the
witness to set his seal to the testimony he had given. That God
is true - Whose words the Messiah speaks.
34: God giveth not him the Spirit by measure - As he did to the
prophets, but immeasurably. Hence he speaketh the words of God
in the most perfect manner.
36: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life - He hath it
already. For he loves God. And love is the essence of heaven.
He that obeyeth not - A consequence of not believing.