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Bible Commentaries

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
John 3



Other Authors
Verse 1

There was = Now there was.

a man. With special reference to the last word of Joh 2.

man.Greek. anthropos. App-123.

of. Greek. ek. App-104.

Pharisees. App-120.

Nicodemus. Mentioned three times (here, 1, 4, 9; John 7:50; John 19:39). Rabbinical tradition makes him one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. See Lightfoot, vol. xii, p. 252.

ruler. A member of the Sanhedrin, or National Council. See on Matthew 5:22.

Verse 2

to. Greek. pros. App-104.

Jesus. App-98.

by night. See John 7:50; John 19:39.

Rabbi. App-98.

know. Greek. oida. App-132.

teacher. Compare John 3:10. Greek. didaskalos. App-98. John 3:4.

come from God. Render: "Thou art come from God as Teacher".

from. Greek. apo. App-104.

God. App-98.

no man = no one. Compound of ou. App-105.

miracles = signs. See note on John 2:11.

doest = art doing.

except = if . . . not. Greek. ean me. App-118and App-105.

with. Greek. meta. App-104.

Verse 3

answered and said. A Hebraism. See note on Deuteronomy 1:41. App-122.

Verily, verily. See note on John 1:51.

a man = any one.

born = begotten. See note on Matthew 1:2.

again = from above. Greek. anothen = from above: i.e. by Divine power, as in John 3:31; John 19:11, John 19:23. Matthew 27:51. Mark 15:38. Luke 1:3. James 1:17; James 3:15, James 3:17. The Talmud uses this figure, as applied to proselytes.

cannot = is not (Greek. ou. App-105) able to.

see. Greek. eidon. App-133.

the kingdom of God. App-114. Occurs in John only here and in John 3:5.

Verse 4

unto. Greek. pros. App-104.

How . . . ? Note other such questions, John 4:9. 1 Corinthians 15:35. All answered by "the gift of God "(John 3:16; John 4:10. 1 Corinthians 15:38). The question implies a negative answer,

be born. Nicodemus misunderstands, and uses the Verb gennao of the mother. The Lord uses it of the Father, as meaning begetting.

old. Applying it to his own case.

into. Greek. eis. App-104.

Verse 5

of water, &c. = of water and spirit. No Art. Figure of speech Hendiadys (App-6). Not two things, but one, by which the latter Noun becomes a superlative and emphatic Adjective, determining the meaning and nature of the former Noun, showing that one to be spiritual water: i.e. not water but spirit. It is to be rendered "of water-yea, spiritual water". Compare Ephesians 5:26, and See John 7:38, John 7:39 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 for the "earthly things" of John 3:12.

enter. Showing what the Lord meant by "see", in John 3:3.

Verse 6

That which is born = That (Neuter) which has been begotten. Note the difference between this Perfect here and in John 3:8 and the Aorists in verses: John 3:3, John 3:3, John 3:4, John 3:5, John 3:7.

flesh. See note on John 1:13.

the Spirit: the Holy Spirit (with Art.) See App-101.

is spirit. This is a fundamental law, both in nature and grace.

Verse 7

not. Greek. me App-105.

Verse 8

The wind = The Spirit. The word pneuma, Occurs 385 times, and is rendered "wind" only here. It should be translated Spirit, as at end of verse. "Wind" is anemos. Occurs 31 times, and is always so rendered.

bloweth = breatheth.

it listeth = He willeth. App-102. The

Eng. "listeth" is Old Eng. for Anglo-Saxon lusteth; i.e. pleaseth or desireth.

the sound thereof = His voice.

canst not tell = knowest not. Greek. oida. App-132.

not. Greek. ou. App-105.

is born = has been begotten, as in John 3:6.

the Spirit: completing the Figure of speech Epanadiplosis (App-6),

converting this verse into a most solemn and independent statement of facts.

Verse 9

these things. See Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:39. Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:25-27. Psalms 51:10.

be = come to pass. Reference to John 3:4.

Verse 10

Art thou . . . ? or Thou art, &c. Not irony.

a master = the (famous) teacher; referring to his official position. Greek. didaskalos. See App-98. John 3:4.

knowest not = hast not got to know; or perceivest not. Greek. ginosko. App-132. See note on John 1:10.

Verse 11

testify = bear witness to. Greek. martureo. See notes on John 1:7 and p. 1511.

seen. Greek horao. App-133. Compare John 1:18; John 14:7, John 14:9.

ye : i.e. ye teachers of Israel. witness. See note on John 1:7.

Verse 12

If Ihave. Assuming it as a fact. App-118.

earthly things. Ezekiel 36:25-27. 1 Corinthians 15:40. Colossians 3:2. 2 Corinthians 5:1. Philippians 1:2, Philippians 1:10; Philippians 3:19.

believe. App-150. i. See note on John 1:7.

if I tell. Supposing I tell. App-118.

heavenly = Plural of epouranios. Occurs only here and Matthew 18:35 in the Gospels. See Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12. Philippians 2:10, &c.

Verse 13

And, &c. The kai (= And) here is a Hebraism, and does not mark the actual transition. There is nothing whatever in the context to show where the Paragraph breaks should be in this chapter; either in the MSS., or in the Versions. The Authorized Version varies in its different editions. The Authorized Version text in the Revised Version Parallel Bible has a at John 3:14 and John 3:16. The Camb. Paragraph Bible (Dr. Scrivener) has no break either at verses: John 3:3, John 3:14 or 16. The Revised Version has a break only at John 3:16, with WI and Scrivener"s Greek Text. The Companion Bible makes the important break at John 3:13, (1) because the Past Tenses which follow indicate completed events; (2) because the expression "only begotten Son "is not used b y the Lord of Himself; but only by the Evangelist (John 1:14, John 1:18; John 3:16, John 3:18; 1 John 4:9); (3) because "in the name of" (John 3:18) is not used by the Lord, but by the Evangelist (John 1:12; John 2:23. 1 John 5:13); (4) because to do the truth (John 3:21) Occurs elsewhere only in 1 John 1:6; (5) because "Who is in heaven "(John 3:13) points to the fact that the Lord had already ascended at the time John wrote; (6) because the word "lifted up" refers both to the "sufferings " (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32, John 12:34) and to "the glory which should follow" (John 8:28; John 12:32. Acts 2:33; Acts 5:31); and (7) because the break at John 3:13 accords best with the context, as shown by the Structure B, above.

hath ascended = hath gone up (of himself). It does not say: "hath been taken up by God, "as Enoch and Elijah. But Christ had "gone up" when the Evangelist wrote these words. ascended. Greek. anabaino. As in John 1:51, John 2:13; John 5:1; John 7:8, &c. Matthew 20:17. Mark 6:51. Romans 10:6.

to = into. Greek. eis. App-104. Compare Deuteronomy 30:12. Proverbs 30:4. Acts 2:34. Romans 10:6. Ephesians 4:10.

heaven = the heaven. See note on Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:10.

but = except, literal. if not. Greek. ei me.

came down. Greek katabaino. The opposite of "gone up".

from = out of. Greek. ek. App-104. Not the same word as in John 3:2.

the Son of Man. See App-98.

Which is, &c = Who is, &c., and was there when John wrote. This clause is in the Syriac, but is omitted by WI, and put by Revised Version in the margin. Omit "even".

in. Greek. en. App-104.

Verse 14

as = even as. Reference to Numbers 21:9.

Moses. See note on John 1:17 and Matthew 8:4.

must = it behoved to, in order to fulfil the prophetic Scripture. See Luke 24:26, Luke 24:46. Acts 3:18; Acts 17:3, and compare Hebrews 2:9, Hebrews 2:10.

be lifted up. See note on John 3:13.

Verse 15

whosoever = every one who. As here defined. believeth in. See App-150. (See note on John 1:7.) L reads epi; Lm T Tr. A WI and R read en. but have. Figure of speech Pleonasm (App-6), for emph. The phrases "bath", "have eternal life", are the usual expressions in this Gospel for "live for ever "(App-151. a). Compare verses: John 3:16, John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:40, John 6:47, John 6:54; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:11.

eternal. Greek. aionios. App-151. i: i.e. in Him. Compare 1 John 5:12.

life. See note on John 1:4. App-170.

Verse 16

loved. Greek agapao. App-135. A word characteristic of this Gospel. See p. 1511.

world. Greek. kosmos. App-129. See note on John 1:9. only, &c. See John 1:14.

Son. App-108.

everlasting. Same as "eternal" in John 3:15. See App-151.

Verse 17

sent. Greek. apostello. App-174.

to condemn = to judge. Greek krino. App-122. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See note on p. 1511.

through. Greek. dia. App-104. John 3:1.

Verse 18

the name: i.e. Him. See note on Psalms 20:1.

Son of God. See App-98.

Verse 19

this is = this is what it consists in; viz:

condemnation = judging: i.e. the process rather than the result. Greek. krisis. App-177.

light = the light. App-130. See note on John 1:4.

men = the men. As a class. App-123.

darkness = the darkness.

deeds = works. Plural of ergon. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See note on p. 1511.

evil. Greek. poneros = active evil. App-128.

Verse 20

doeth = practises, or (habitually) does. Greek. prasso

evil. Greek. phaulos = worthless, base. Occurs only here; John 5:29. Titus 2:8. James 3:16, in Rec. Text, but in Romans 9:11. 2 Corinthians 5:10, in most texts for kakos. Here, plural worthless things.

neither = and . . . not. Greek. ou. App-105.

reproved = brought home to him. Compare John 16:8 (convince).

Verse 21

doeth. Actively produces, having regard to the object and end of the action. Greek. poieo. Compare the two verbs, prasso and poieo, in a similar connexion in John 6:29.

truth = the truth. Greek aletheia. App-175. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See note on John 1:14.

made manifest. Greek phaneroo. App-106.

are = have been, and still continue to be.

wrought in God: i.e. in His fear, or in His strength.

Verse 22

After = After (Greek. meta. App-104.) these things. A note of time, frequent in John. See John 21:1.

the land of Judaea: literally the Judan land. Phrasehere.

land. Greek. ge. App-129.

baptized = was (engaged in) baptizing. See John 4:2 and App-115.

Verse 23

AEnon = Springs. Now Farah. The springs near Umm al `Amdan, 7.5 miles below Beisan.

Salim. Still so called; east of Shechem.

much water = many waters (i.e. springs).

Verse 24

was = had been.

not yet. Greek. oupo, compound of ou.

prison = the prison. Compare Matthew 4:12.

Verse 25

Then = Therefore: i.e. on account of the facts stated in verses: John 3:22-24.

question = questioning.

between some of = [on the part] of. Greek ek. App-104.

and = with. Greek. meta. App-104. the Jews. All the texts read "a Jew". Greek. Ioudaion, with Syriac. But it has been suggested that Iou was the primitive abbreviation for Iesou (= of Jesus), and being repeated (by inadvertence) led to the reading Iou[daion] (= a Jew). This would agree better with verses: John 3:22-24; with "Therefore" in John 3:26, and with the action of John"s disciples, and John"s answer. See the Structure H2 above.

about = concerning. Greek. peri. App-104.

purifying = purification. Compare John 2:6. Luke 2:22; Luke 5:14.

Verse 26

barest witness = hast borne witness. See note on John 1:7.

behold. Greek ide. App-133. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6.

all. This was the gravamen.

Verse 27

receive = take [upon himself].

nothing. Greek. ou ouden. A double negative.

be given = have been given.

Verse 28

the Christ = the Messiah. App-98.

sent. App-174.

Verse 29

the friend, &c. He played a very important part in the wedding ceremonies.

rejoiceth greatly. Figure of speech Polyptoton (App-6). Greek. chara chairei = joyeth with joy.

because of. Greek. dia. App-104. John 3:2.

Verse 31

from above. Greek anothen, same as "again" in John 3:3. earth. Greek. ge. App-129.

earthly = of the earth.

Verse 32

heard. Not "hath heard".

testimony. Greek. marturia. See note on "witness", John 1:7.

Verse 33

true. App-175. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See p. 1611.

Verse 34

words. Greek. Plural of rhema. See note on Mark 9:32.

for God, &c. Greek."for the Spirit giveth not [the words of God] by measure [unto Him]".

God. [L] T [Tr. ] A WH R., not Syriac, omit "God" here.

the Spirit. With Art. the Giver, not the gift. App-101. This was by measure unto John, but not unto the Lord. Compare John 15:26; Matthew 11:27. What John saw and heard was limited (verses: John 3:27-30).

by. Greek. ek. App-104.

Verse 35

The Father. See note on John 1:14,

into. Greek en. App-104.

Verse 36

believeth not = obeyeth not. Greek. apeitheo. Compare App-150. See note on John 1:7. Only here in John.

shall not see = will not see. Note the future here, in contrast with "hath".

see. App-183.

wrath = [permanent] wrath. Greek orge; as in Matthew 3:7. Luke 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, &c. Not thumos, which = [temporary] wrath.

abideth. Present tense. See note on John 1:32.

on = upon. Greek. epi. App-104.


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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