Greek Study John 3:1-17
3:1 ανθρωπος εκ των Φαριαιων "a man of the Pharisees" - An unusual designation, possibly prompted by the point made in v25.
αρχων των Ιουδαιων "a member of the Jewish ruling council" - a ruler/ member of the Sanhedrin."
v2 νυκτος (νυξ τος) "at night" – night - John liked the symbolism of darkness and light, night and day, the realm of evil and the realm of light..... Judas leaves the light and goes out the night/dark, Nicodemus comes out of the night/dark and into the light.
οιδαμεν (οιδα) perf. "we know" - the Pharisees often spoke as one, an ancient example of ‘group think’.
τα σημεια (οϖ) "the miraculous signs" - the proof that convinces/creates the knowing
v3 γεννηθη/ (γενναω) pas. "is born" in the passive also "begotten" identifying the function of the male in conception rather than the female in birth.
ιδειν (οραω) aor. inf. "see" - to behold; here in the sense of "experience", "encounter", or "participate in", to whit “Unless a person is born from above they cannot participate in the kingdom of God."
v4 γεννηθηναι (γενναω) aor. pas. inf. "be born" - Nicodemus has misunderstood Jesus to mean "born again" when he is saying "born from above." It John has employed this play on the meaning of the word to underline the truth that regeneration is a spiritual renewal from God not something achieved by human effort.
v5 εξ υδατος και πνευματος "born of water and the Spirit" - explanations for this phrase are endless, all seem unconvincing and move beyond the text. A meaning something like "washing of the Spirit" although grammatically tenuous, is more likely the intended meaning. There is some textual support ( Brown) that "water and" was addition.
v6 της σαρκος "of the flesh” for John it is not "sinful flesh" as often with Paul, but rather just "fleshly existence."
το γεγεννημενον (γενναω) perf. pas. part. "[flesh] gives birth to [flesh]" - This phrase is often aligned with "born of water", but it more likely addresses Nicodemus' confusion of "born again" with "born from above."
v7 υη θαυμασης (θαυμαζω) aor. subj. "you should not wonder/ marvel at/over” – an unusual grammatical formation; a subjunctive of prohibition. Bultman said this term was a typical Rabbinic statement. "Do not be surprised when I say…"
v8 το πνευμα (α ατος) "the wind/breath/spirit “ equivalent of the Hebrew word 'ruach', the wind/breath /spirit of God. Either the word here means "wind" and is used to describe the experience of a person who is born from above by the Spirit of God (spiritual birth, birth from above, is mysterious and invisible as is the wind), or the word means Spirit. The vulgate (Latin Bible) translates the word here as "Spirit" and therefore, the verse directly describes spiritual birth. Brown argues that the blowing of the wind is used as a simile for born of the Spirit.
πνει (πνεω) pres. "blows"
v9 πως δυναται ταυτα γενεσθαι "how can this come to be"
v10 ταυτα ου γινωσκεις (γινωσκω) "do you not know these things" - Bultmann argues that Jesus is not critical of Nicodemus' failure to understand but rather is critical of the inability of Rabbinic scholarship to understand what he is talking about – except in v12 he says "'Are you the famous teacher of the famous Israel?'
v11 λαλουμεν (λαλεω) "we speak" – is the “we” the royal we/ Or is it the collection (Rabbinic) ‘we” 9I,.e. Jesus identifies himself as part of the club) or this the Evangelist using the NT phrase someetiems used of communicating the gospel; "we proclaim."
ο εωρακαμεν (οραω) perf. "what we have seen" – the word for “see”, “know” “light and dark” and “become/born” are as common to John as the word ιυθυσ (immediately) is to Mark – they are literary/theological flourishes.
v12 τα επιγεια pl. adj. " the things belonging to or on the earth” does this refer to Jesus' teachings about the birth from above which he has tried to explain to Nicodemus in earthly terms, if so then but what are the "heavenly things"? At least we can say that the
τα επουρανια (ος) " things that belong to heaven" are things yet to be revealed.
v13 αναβεβηκεν (αναβαινω) perf. "has ascended” implies that Jesus has already ascended to heaven, hence some argue that this reflects a ‘post ascension’ preaching.
καταβας (καταβαινω) aor. part. "having descended” Scriptural references to the Son of Man are always to his his ascending, rather than his descending; he comes/ascends to reign. Yet, the point being made here is of Jesus' origin, namely, heaven,
v14 υψωσεν (υψοω) aor. "lifted up" - The lifting up of the serpent on a pole by Moses serves as a sign to the people of salvation, not as some future reality but as a p[resent one. This seems to point once again to the sacramental nature off John’s story. Jesus’ power and presence is for this world, now.
υψωθηναι (υψοω) pas. inf. "be lifted up" The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb δει, "is necessary."
v15 ο πιστευων (πιστευω) pres. part. "[everyone] who has faith" - the faithful ones
εν αυτω/ .... εις αυτω/ "in him" the idea here may simply be of relying on Jesus for salvation, but may also convey the meaning of some kind of mystical union with Christ (once again a sacramental imagery).
ινα + subj. "so that" forming a purpose clause; i.e. the purpose of the lifting up of Christ on the cross is that the believer may have.
ζωην αιωνιον "eternal life"
v16 ηγαπησεν (αγαπαω) aor. God "loved" - John is focused on this word, using this verb 36 times in the gospel. He notes the Father's love for the Son and the Son's love for the Father, the Son for disciples and disciples for the Son. The particular meaning is dictated by the context, the common thread involving a relational process rather than just expressing feelings.
τον κοσμον (ος) "the world" - Not creation as such, but rather the world of humanity and human activity.
εδωκεν (διδωμι) aor. ind. act. "he gave" - in the sense of "sent”.
τον μονογενη adj. "the one and only Son" - only begotten, unique. John is stressing Christ's unique relationship with the Father. John only uses the word "son" of Jesus - never of his disciples.
ινα + subj. "that" – another purpose clause.
ο πιστευων (πιστευω) pres. part. "[all the ones] who believe/ believing ones”.
αποληται (απολλυμι) "destroy/perish” the natural state of humanity is death. Only God possesses life, and by extension, those who believe in Christ.
v17 γαρ "for" - Expressing cause/reason.
ου απεστειλεν (αποστελλω) aor. "did not send" (from whence the word “apostle” derives). -. Used of an authoritative sending and therefore constantly used of Christian mission. So God's mission, in the sending of Christ, is not the condemnation of mankind, but its salvation.
κρινη (κρινω) aor. subj. "decision/judgment/condemnation" either sense is possible. Technically the word is used to offset salvation which is the purpose of Christ's coming. God sent Christ in order to save, not to condemn, although a consequence of Christ's coming is the reiteration of the condemnation already hanging over humanity. Note, the agent of judgment remains God, not Christ.