John's Gospel 3: Introduction

Salvation by Grace (Introduction)


The third chapter of John’s Gospel is a remarkable Chapter. It contains truths, that without, no man can be saved.

This chapter speaks of:

  • a man who came in the dark
  • remission (of sins)
  • purification (cleansing)
  • atonement
  • regeneration
  • rebirth
  • love of the Father
  • believing in the Lord Jesus Christ

John’s chapter three rightly starts at verse 23 of chapter 2, inasmuch as it contrasts the heart of the Perfect One, Christ, with the heart of man, and the belief of the head with the belief of the heart. Many believe (23), but these believed what they saw with their eyes, not in the Son of Man, which John portrays in John.

John 3 (1-10)

  • (1-2) Nicodemus comes by night. Note the singularity in the time of day being mentioned, for it is mentioned not once, but three times in Scripture John 3 1, 7 50 and 19 39.
  • Nicodemus epitomises a man who has tried absolutely every thing to be right with God, but seems to have had a conscience that suspects he has failed.
  • (3) "unless one is born again"
  • This has been called "Regeneration".

Man cannot change himself

  • Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots (Jem 13 23).
  •  That which is crooked cannot be made straight, And what is lacking cannot be numbered (Ecc 1 15).


  • [Man was]… only evil continually (Genesis 6 5).
  • There is none that doeth good, no, not one [not even one NIV]
    (Ps 14 2-3).
  • From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores (Is 1 6).
  • The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked
    (Jem 17 9)
  • There is none righteous, no not one (Rom 3 9).
  • The carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom 8 7).
  • Lost (Luke 15), Guilty (Rom 3 19), Alienated (Eph 4 18), Without strength (Rom 5 6), Evil only (Gen 6 5) etc. etc.

Regeneration (or being Born Again)

  • The basis of salvation, without it you cannot be saved (John 3 3).
  • The work is supernational (John 3 8).
  • It is impossible for man to do for himself.
  • It is NOT a work that:
  • Infuses a new principle
  • Which works in the heart
  • Which renews the soul
  • It is NOT a change in name (or attitude)
  • It IS the renewal of my nature.
  • It begin with an incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23)

"If I believe that regeneration is a certain change in my old nature, and that this change is gradual, in its operation, then, as a necessary consequence, I shall be filled with continual anxiety, apprehension, doubt and fear" (CHM).

On conversion you are BORN AGAIN. A WHOLE new NATURE is given you.

The old man is not being made new, but must be crucified

  • The Holy Spirit Himself dwells within the new man.
  • The old flesh must die, it is unsalvageable.
  • They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts [passions and desires] (Gal 5 24).
  • The old man is not being made new, but must be crucified, therefore:
  • Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6 11)


  • Is a new birth, imparting a new life, the formation of a new man.
  • The old nature remains in all its distinctions and has to be dealt with daily. Its citizenship is Worldly. (Hence Paul writes "I die daily" 1 Cor 15 31)
  • The new nature, has its own habits, desires, tendencies, affections (passions). Its citizenship is Heavenly.


A Biblical Illustration

The children of Abraham: Ishmael, was of the old covenant (born of a slave); Isaac, the new covenant, (born of a freewoman). Ishmael represents the old man, born of the flesh, Isaac the new, born of the Spirit. Ishmael was "cast out" to make way for Isaac. (Gen 16-25, Gal 4 21-31), so must our old nature be "cast out", to make room for the new.


David L Simon (CCC 2004) Ed 2012
Johns Gospel\The Gospel of John 3a.doc