“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
King James Version (KJV)
3:8 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.
Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, etc. Most commentators have held that this means: "As the wind moves mysteriously, so does the Spirit, and it breathes upon whom it will, effecting the inward change called the birth of the Spirit arbitrarily". This view I believe due to a wrong translation, sanctioned, not by Greek, but by current theology. Let it be noted that: (1) Exactly the same Greek term "pneuma" is rendered "wind" and "Spirit" in this verse. It is a violation of all law that the same word should experience so radical a change of meaning in the same sentence. (2) That the word "pneuma" is not translated "wind" elsewhere, although it occurs scores of times in the New Testament, but is always rendered "Spirit". (3) Another word in the Greek, "anemos", is usually used to represent "wind". (4) The erroneous idea creates a confusion of figures. It makes Christ to say: "The wind bloweth where it listeth; so is (not the Spirit, but) every one born of the Spirit". It affirms of him who is born just what is affirmed of the wind, a thing the Savior never did. These facts are sufficient to show that the rendering "wind" is wrong. All we have to do is to translate "pneuma" here, as is done in the latter part of the verse and elsewhere in the New Testament. The verse then reads: "The Spirit ("pneuma") breathes where it pleases and thou hearest the voice thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes nor whither it goes. So (by hearing its voice) is every one born of the Spirit" ("pneuma"). The meaning is: The Spirit breathes where it wills and you recognize its manifestation by its voice; by the words spoken by men of God as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance. You cannot tell whence the Spirit comes to whither it goes, but you can hear its voice when it does come. "So", by hearing the voice of the Spirit is every one born of the Spirit. He who receives by faith the communications of the Spirit is born of the Spirit. The birth of the Spirit is not the same thing as the gift of the Spirit. To those who are born of the Spirit is given. "'Because' ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Ga 4:6). Hence, in harmony with the above view, Peter says, "Being born again, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1Pe 1:23).