“Jesus answered, 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.”
King James Version (KJV)
3:5 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.
Joh 3:5 Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, etc. Jesus does not reply directly to the question of Nicodemus, but proceeds to give more explicit statement concerning the new birth. One must be born of water and of the Spirit. Whatever this may mean, it will be admitted by all (1) that no one is a member of the kingdom of God until he is born again; (2) that the Savior declares the impossibility of one entering who is not born of water and of the Spirit. All agree that the birth of the Spirit refers to the inward, or spiritual change that takes place, and all candid authorities agree that "born of water" refers to baptism. So Alford, Wesley, Abbot, Whitby, Olshausen, Tholuck, Prof. Wm. Milligan, the Episcopal Prayer Book, the Westminister Confession, the M. E. Discipline, and M. E. Doctrinal Tracts, and also the writers of the early Church all declare. Alford says: ``All attempts to get rid of this have sprung from doctrinal prejudices.'' Abbott says: ``We are to understand Christ as he expected his auditor to understand him. John the Baptist baptized both Jew and Gentile as a sign of purification by repentance from past sins. Nicodemus would then have certainly understood by the expression, "born of water", a reference to this rite of baptism.''