The Bible

 

John 3

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 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.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

5 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.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8 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.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 3      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 3

Verses 3:1, 2. That some in the perverted church, in consequence of the miracles which the Lord worked, seek conjunction with him, and acknowledge his doctrine to be divine.

Verse 3:3. To whom it is taught, that man cannot attain any perception of heavenly good and truth, except by regeneration.

Verses 3:4, 5. This however is understood by those of the perverted church, according to a natural idea, and not according to a spiritual idea, and therefore they are further instructed, that regeneration is effected by a reception of the truths of faith in man's understanding, and by a love and life in conformity with those truths.

Verses 3:6, 7. Because man is at first born merely natural, but has the capacity of afterwards becoming spiritual, by a life according to truths derived from the Word, and therefore he ought not to regard regeneration as a strange, or irrational operation.

Verse 3:8. Yet that scarcely any of the innumerable arcana of regeneration come to the knowledge and perception of man.

Verses 3:9, 10. This cannot be comprehended by those of the perverted church, who are in the knowledges of external truth, when yet those knowledges ought to have conducted them to the apprehension of internal truth.

Verses 3:11, 12. For the literal or external sense of the Word proceeds from, and is filled with, the interior things of the divine truth and wisdom, which things are rejected by those who remain in the love of mere natural things, and who, on that account, cannot comprehend celestial and spiritual things.

Verse 3:13. For celestial and spiritual things can only be comprehended by those who receive into their minds and lives the divine truth, inasmuch as the divine truth alone comes down from heaven, and therefore is alone capable of elevating any into the things of heaven.

Verses 3:14, 15. That this divine truth therefore assumed a sensual corporeal principle here on earth, to the intent that sensual corporeal men might have a divine object of faith presented to them, and being thus elevated to conjunction with that object, might be preserved from the defilement and death of merely sensual and corporeal life.

Verse 3:16. That this was effected from the divine love, to the intent that mankind might no longer continue immersed in mere natural love, but might be raised into the sphere of celestial and spiritual love.

Verses 3:17, 18. Wherefore God assumed the Human [nature] to the intent that mankind might conjoin goodness and truth in their minds and lives, since a right faith in the Divine Humanity of the Lord leads to such conjunction, whereas a want of that faith leads to separation.

Verses 3:19, 20. For the Divine Humanity of the Lord is divine truth, and if divine truth be rejected in consequence of evil love, then nothing appertains to man but the false principle of evil.

Verse 3:21. On the other hand, if divine truth be loved and obeyed, man is conducted to the Lord's Divine Humanity, because he is willing to acknowledge that all the good which he wills and does is from that divine source.

Verses 3:22, 23, 24. That when the Lord had finished these sayings, he instructs the perverted church in the truths of purification, which truths also were taught in abundance by those who were principled in charity and faith, whilst they were in a state of freedom.

Verses 3:25, 26, 27. Nevertheless these truths are received with doubt by those of the perverted church, and therefore it is taught that all purifying truth is from the Divine Truth, and thus that all wisdom, intelligence, reason, and science, are not of man, but of the Lord in his Divine Humanity.

Verses 3:28, 29. And that the design of all representative truth is only to prepare mankind for the reception of the Divine Truth, that thus good and truth may be conjoined in the church, and the church may rejoice in being instructed concerning the precepts of faith, and in receiving them in faith and obedience.

Verses 3:30, 31. Thus the Divine Truth becomes all in all in the church, as being inmost truth, and all other good and truth only administer externally.

Verses 3:32, 33. For the Divine Truth testifies concerning the Lord, both as to his divine wisdom and divine love, and notwithstanding its being rejected by the generality of mankind, brings conviction along with it to those who receive it.

Verses 3:34, 35. Which truth is from the Lord's Divine Humanity, whose intelligence and wisdom are infinite, being in eternal union with the divine good, and thus possessing the all of that good.

Verse 3:36. Whosoever therefore receives truth from that Divine Humanity with a right faith, is made partaker also of the divine good, but whoever rejects it, can have no apprehension of that good, but remains in his own natural evils.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 30, 38, 97, 124, 675, 1017, 1608, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 17, 20, 23, 49, 50, 60, 81, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 44, 101, 111, 120

Conjugial Love 82, 117, 525

Divine Providence 82, 88, 159, 173, 200, 230, 324

Doctrine of the Lord 1, 9, 19, 20, 25, 27, 31, ...

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 51, 87, 114

Doctrine of Life 2, 17, 24, 39, 50

Heaven and Hell 5, 129

Interaction of the Soul and Body 6

True Christian Religion 2, 8, 85, 92, 107, 111, 113, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 154, 173, 181, 186, 204, 209, 282, ...


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 70, 71, 84, 102, 126, 130, ...

Canons of the New Church 18, 31, 43

Charity 170, 201

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 21, 25, 54, 59

Spiritual Experiences 479

Marriage 2, 8, 85, 92, 107, 111, 113

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 7, 14, 25, 70, 88

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



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2 Kings 17:9

Job 14:4, 24:13, 17, 36:22

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Ecclesiastes 11:5

Ezekiel 8:12, 36:25, 26

Daniel 7:14

Bible Word Meanings

pharisees
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish church at the time of the New Testament. The name comes from a root that means "separate",...

jews
It would be simple to think that when the Bible mentions "Jews" it is simply talking about the descendants of the tribe of Judah, the...

To
'To jubilate' or 'make a joyful noise' signifies worship from the delight of good.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

miracles
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

answered
To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

saith
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

spirit
'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

marvel
Used as nouns, "marvels" and "wonders" are generally synonymous with miracles, which are expressions of the Lord's power in the world. In particular, the Lord...

tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

whence
According to Swedenborg, time and space are physical realities which do not exist in the spiritual realm. Instead, people in the spiritual world experience differences...

goeth
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

Every one
The phrase “Every one,” where it occurs in Genesis 20:7, signifies every thing or all things.

speak
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

believe
The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

son of man
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

moses
Moses's name appears 814 times in the Bible (KJV), third-most of any one character (Jesus at 961 actually trails David at 991). He himself wrote...

serpent
'Serpents,' in the Word, signify sensory principles, which are the extremes of a person’s life. This is because all animals signify affections of people, which...

life
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

world
The term "world" has both general and more specific meanings in the Bible, including the relatively literal sense of the natural, physical world. In more...

might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

saved
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

believed
The meaning of "believe" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but runs deeper than what appears on the surface. When in the Old Testament people...

son of god
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to the...

truth
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

disciples
A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

john
Jesus as a man in the Bible represents Divine Truth, the pure and perfect expression of the Lord's infinite love. That truth is contained within...

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

prison
'A hold,' 'a den,' or 'dungeon,' as mentioned in Revelation 18:2, signifies hell, because people who are there are in confinement.

christ
Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

bride
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

bridegroom
On a human level, a bride represents the affection for what is true, and the bridegroom represents the affection for what is good. Most references...

friend
A friend, as in John 15:14, 15, signifies the spiritual man.

rejoiceth
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

joy
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

fulfilled
When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

speaketh
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

measure
The Bible uses a somewhat dizzying array of unfamiliar measurement, leaving translators a choice between being accurate and confusing or inaccurate and clear. Since they...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


What Does it Mean to Be Born of Water and Spirit? - Swedenborg & Life Live

We unpack the correspondences of water and spirit to learn the true nature of spiritual rebirth.


What Is Spiritual Rebirth? - S&L Short Clips

Many religions teach that we must be spiritually "reborn," or born a second time. But what does that actually mean?


Regeneration: How Radical Love is Born - Swedenborg and Life

We're all born into our life on earth, but our development doesn't stop once we're here. Swedenborg learned that we are regenerated or "born again" as we progress spiritually.


Regeneration: How Radical Love is Born - Swedenborg and Life

We're all born into our life on earth, but our development doesn't stop once we're here. Swedenborg learned that we are regenerated or "born again" as we progress spiritually.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Food for Thought: Baptism - A Doorway to Eternal Life
Baptism creates an introductory link between a person and the Lord.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Man Who Visited the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Memory Verse: Jacob's Ladder
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 New Beginnings
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Nicodemus
Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus reveals important insights into Jesus' mission on earth.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Prayers for Teens: Water and Baptism
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 The Lord and Nicodemus
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Lord and Nicodemus (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord and Nicodemus (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord and Nicodemus (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Meaning and Purpose of Baptism
Explains how baptism creates an inner link to the Lord through the angels and an outer link via the Word and the church. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Power of the Lord’s Word
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Visit of Nicodemus
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

Commentary

 

Explanation of John 3      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 3

Verses 3:1, 2. That some in the perverted church, in consequence of the miracles which the Lord worked, seek conjunction with him, and acknowledge his doctrine to be divine.

Verse 3:3. To whom it is taught, that man cannot attain any perception of heavenly good and truth, except by regeneration.

Verses 3:4, 5. This however is understood by those of the perverted church, according to a natural idea, and not according to a spiritual idea, and therefore they are further instructed, that regeneration is effected by a reception of the truths of faith in man's understanding, and by a love and life in conformity with those truths.

Verses 3:6, 7. Because man is at first born merely natural, but has the capacity of afterwards becoming spiritual, by a life according to truths derived from the Word, and therefore he ought not to regard regeneration as a strange, or irrational operation.

Verse 3:8. Yet that scarcely any of the innumerable arcana of regeneration come to the knowledge and perception of man.

Verses 3:9, 10. This cannot be comprehended by those of the perverted church, who are in the knowledges of external truth, when yet those knowledges ought to have conducted them to the apprehension of internal truth.

Verses 3:11, 12. For the literal or external sense of the Word proceeds from, and is filled with, the interior things of the divine truth and wisdom, which things are rejected by those who remain in the love of mere natural things, and who, on that account, cannot comprehend celestial and spiritual things.

Verse 3:13. For celestial and spiritual things can only be comprehended by those who receive into their minds and lives the divine truth, inasmuch as the divine truth alone comes down from heaven, and therefore is alone capable of elevating any into the things of heaven.

Verses 3:14, 15. That this divine truth therefore assumed a sensual corporeal principle here on earth, to the intent that sensual corporeal men might have a divine object of faith presented to them, and being thus elevated to conjunction with that object, might be preserved from the defilement and death of merely sensual and corporeal life.

Verse 3:16. That this was effected from the divine love, to the intent that mankind might no longer continue immersed in mere natural love, but might be raised into the sphere of celestial and spiritual love.

Verses 3:17, 18. Wherefore God assumed the Human [nature] to the intent that mankind might conjoin goodness and truth in their minds and lives, since a right faith in the Divine Humanity of the Lord leads to such conjunction, whereas a want of that faith leads to separation.

Verses 3:19, 20. For the Divine Humanity of the Lord is divine truth, and if divine truth be rejected in consequence of evil love, then nothing appertains to man but the false principle of evil.

Verse 3:21. On the other hand, if divine truth be loved and obeyed, man is conducted to the Lord's Divine Humanity, because he is willing to acknowledge that all the good which he wills and does is from that divine source.

Verses 3:22, 23, 24. That when the Lord had finished these sayings, he instructs the perverted church in the truths of purification, which truths also were taught in abundance by those who were principled in charity and faith, whilst they were in a state of freedom.

Verses 3:25, 26, 27. Nevertheless these truths are received with doubt by those of the perverted church, and therefore it is taught that all purifying truth is from the Divine Truth, and thus that all wisdom, intelligence, reason, and science, are not of man, but of the Lord in his Divine Humanity.

Verses 3:28, 29. And that the design of all representative truth is only to prepare mankind for the reception of the Divine Truth, that thus good and truth may be conjoined in the church, and the church may rejoice in being instructed concerning the precepts of faith, and in receiving them in faith and obedience.

Verses 3:30, 31. Thus the Divine Truth becomes all in all in the church, as being inmost truth, and all other good and truth only administer externally.

Verses 3:32, 33. For the Divine Truth testifies concerning the Lord, both as to his divine wisdom and divine love, and notwithstanding its being rejected by the generality of mankind, brings conviction along with it to those who receive it.

Verses 3:34, 35. Which truth is from the Lord's Divine Humanity, whose intelligence and wisdom are infinite, being in eternal union with the divine good, and thus possessing the all of that good.

Verse 3:36. Whosoever therefore receives truth from that Divine Humanity with a right faith, is made partaker also of the divine good, but whoever rejects it, can have no apprehension of that good, but remains in his own natural evils.


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