“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
King James Version (KJV)
3:3 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.
Joh 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee. This form of expression was often upon the lips of Jesus to give emphasis to an unusually solemn and weighty declaration. It occurs twenty-five times in John. See PNT "Mt 5:18". Except a man be born again, etc. The Greek term "anothen", translated "again", is rendered "anew" in the Revised Version, which is better. It is the great doctrine, so fundamental in the Gospel, of Regeneration, a new birth, being made a new creature, the same doctrine spoken of in Joh 1:12,13. Nicodemus, like all Jews, supposed that all who were born as children of Abraham would, as Abraham's seed, be citizens of the kingdom, but Jesus shows him that no one can be a new creature in Christ Jesus unless he is born anew. We are born naturally into the kingdom of nature, to live the natural life; if we enter the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of grace, it must be by a new birth. The doctrine that a man can bury his old sinful life, and begin a new one with the freshness of youthful hope, is foreshadowed in the Old Testament (Isa 1:18 Jer 31:33 Eze 11:19 36:26), and taught in the New Testament (Ro 6:8 8:3 12:2 2Co 5:17 Ga 6:15,16).