Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:1

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Cowardice;   Jesus, the Christ;   Nicodemus;   Pharisees;   Thompson Chain Reference - Discipleship;   Nicodemus;   Secret Discipleship;   The Topic Concordance - Jesus Christ;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Pharisees, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Pharisees;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John, gospel of;   Nicodemus;   Pharisees;   Teacher;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Disciple, Discipleship;   Pharisees;   Salvation;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bunni;   Jesus Christ;   John, the Gospel According to;   Nicodemus;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bible, Theology of;   Birth;   Conversion;   Disciples;   Holy Spirit;   Jews in the New Testament;   John, the Gospel of;   Nicodemus;   Spirit;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Appreciation (of Christ);   Discourse;   Example;   Individuality;   John the Baptist;   Manliness;   Mental Characteristics;   Nicodemus;   Property (2);   Ruler (2);   Teaching of Jesus;   Unbelief (2);   Woe;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Regeneration;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Nicodemus;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Nicode'mus;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Heart;   Nicodemus;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Tabernacle, the;   Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abstinence;   Baptismal Regeneration;   John, Gospel of;   Magistrate;   Nicodemus;   Ruler;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Love;   Nicodemus;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for December 4;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews - One of the members of the grand Sanhedrin; for such were ordinarily styled rulers among the Jews. A person of the name of Nicodemus, the son of Gorion, is mentioned in the Jewish writings, who lived in the time of Vespasian, and was reputed to be so rich that he could support all the inhabitants of Jerusalem for ten years. But this is said in their usual extravagant mode of talking.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A man of the Pharisees - A Pharisee. See the notes at Matthew 3:7.

Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews - One of the “Sanhedrin,” or great council of the nation. He is twice mentioned after this as being friendly to our Saviour; in the first instance as advocating his cause, and defending him against the unjust suspicion of the Jews John 7:50, and in the second instance as one who came to aid in embalming his body, John 19:39. It will be recollected that the design of John in writing this gospel was to show that Jesus was the Messiah. To do this he here adduces the testimony of one of the rulers of the Jews, who early became convinced of it, and who retained the belief of it until the death of Jesus.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

The proper understanding of this chapter begins with the final verses of John 2, where it was revealed that a great number of people "believed on" the Lord Jesus Christ, but whose discipleship was rejected by the Lord because they had "faith only." Commentators who have vainly tried to find something wrong with the faith of those people are frustrated by the fact that "believed on" in John 2:23 means exactly what it means everywhere else in the New Testament. See under John 12:42,43. The failure of those "believers on his name" to be accepted by Jesus was due to the fact that in all the history of redemption nobody was ever accepted upon the basis of faith alone. One of the things, in this dispensation of mercy, that one must have in addition to faith is the experience of the new birth. That was precisely the lack of those believers at the end of John 2; and, appropriately, John next recorded the Saviour's instruction regarding the new birth. This interview with Nicodemus with its teaching on the new birth (John 3:1-21) and the final witness of John the Baptist (John 3:22-36) form the subject matter of this whole chapter.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jew's; the same came unto him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:1-2)

Nicodemus ... means innocent blood, or victor over the people,[1] depending upon whether the name is Greek or Hebrew. He was a wealthy Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin, teacher of theology, and known as a "ruler of the Jews," a title reserved in Rabbinic literature "for a great man, or a prince."[2] For an article on the Pharisees, see my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 3:7.

The connection here with events of the preceding chapter is dramatic, Nicodemus clearly being one of those "believers" who did not obey the Lord. The omniscience of Jesus is evident in his answering the question of Nicodemus without his utterance of the question. Nicodemus is mentioned three times in this Gospel: (1) He came to Christ (John 3:2); (2) He spoke for Christ (John 7:45-52); and (3) He honored Christ (John 19:39,40); and in each instance the circumstance of his coming to Jesus by night is mentioned.

The same came unto him by night ... Some have supposed that the night interview resulted from Nicodemus' fear of his peers in the Sanhedrin, but the idea of secrecy must be imported into the text. It is just as reasonable to suppose that the night afforded the best opportunity. In the absence of certain knowledge, one conjecture is as good as another. Although Nicodemus spoke up on behalf of Jesus before the Sanhedrin (John 7:45-52), it is not recorded that he did so when that body condemned Jesus to death, hence, the inference that he was not present at that trial. After Jesus' death, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body for burial (John 19:39,40). One can hope that, after the resurrection, this sincere, fair-minded man became a loyal disciple.

Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God ... The words "we know" indicate the profound effect which the mighty signs of Jesus had produced in the very center of Judaism. These words admit that the whole Sanhedrin knew of the heavenly origin of Jesus and of the validity of his astounding miracles. Only one of the great signs John selected for this Gospel had been recorded at this point; but Nicodemus' words, along with John 2:23, show that many signs had been wrought.

For no one can do these signs ... See above paragraph. How amazing it is that with such evidence before them, so few, probably only this man and Joseph of Arimathea, were touched in their hearts sufficiently to lead them to Jesus.

[1] Herbert Lockyer, All the Men of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1958), p. 259.

[2] Brooks Foss Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), p. 248.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

There was a man of the Pharisees,.... The Syriac version adds, "there"; that is, at Jerusalem; and who was among those that believed in the name of Christ, upon seeing the miracles he did at the feast of the passover, in that place. This man was not a common and ordinary man, but a man of note and eminence, of dignity and figure; and who was of the sect of the Pharisees, which was the strictest sect for religion and holiness, among the Jews; and which, as corrupt as it was, was also the soundest; as having not only a regard to a Messiah, and to all the writings of the Old Testament, but also believed the doctrines of angels and spirits, and the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees denied; but yet they were implacable enemies of Christ; and therefore it is the more to be wondered at, that such an one should come to him, and desire a conversation with him:

named Nicodemus; frequent mention is made of נקדימון בן גוריון, "Nicodemon ben Gorion", the brother of Josephus ben GorionF16Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 19. 1. , the writer of the Wars and Antiquities of the Jews; and there are some things which make it probable, that he was the same with this Nicodemus; for the Nicodemon the Jews speak so much of, lived in this age; as appears, not only from his being the brother of Josephus, but also from his being contemporary with R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, who lived in this time, and until the destruction of the temple; since these two are saidF17Pirke Eliezer, c. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 23. 2. to be together at a feast, made for the circumcision of a child. Moreover, he is represented as very rich, and is said to be one of the three rich men in JerusalemF18T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 56. 1. , and who was able to have maintained מדינה, a city ten yearsF19Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 4. ; and they speak of his daughter, as exceeding rich: they say, that she had for her dowry a thousand thousand golden denarii, or pence; and that her bed was strewed with (i.e. the furniture of it cost) twelve thousand golden denarii; and that a Tyrian golden denarius was spent upon her every week, for a certain kind of soupF20Abot R. Nathan, c. 6. fol. 3. 2. ; and the wise men decreed her four hundred golden denarii, for a box of spices every dayF21T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2. ; and it is elsewhereF23Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 2. said, five hundred: and this our Nicodemus was very rich, as appears from his liberality at the funeral of our Lord, John 19:39. Moreover, the Nicodemon of the Jews, is said to be a counsellorF24Echa Rabbati, fol. 46. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 1. in Jerusalem; and so was this, as seems evident from John 7:32 and it may be further observedF25T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1. , that the right name of Nicodemon, was BoniF26T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. ; now Boni elsewhereF1Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 3. , is said to be one of the disciples of Jesus, as Nicodemus was secretly, and perhaps at, and after his death openly, as his associate Joseph of Arimathea was; to which may be added, the extreme poverty that his daughter is by them said to be reduced unto; for they report, that R. Jochanan ben Zaccai saw her gathering barley corns from under the horses' hoofs in AcoF2T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2. ; or as it is elsewhere said, out of the dung of the beasts of the Arabians; when she asked alms of him, and he inquired of her, what was become of her father's substance. Now to this low estate, the family of our Nicodemus might be reduced, through the persecution of the Christians by the Jews. The name is Greek, as at this time many Greek names were in use among the Jews, and signifies the same as Nicolas; but the Jews give an etymology of it, agreeably to the Hebrew language; and say, that he was so called, because the sun, נקדה, "shone out for his sake": the occasion and reason of it, they tell us, were thisF3T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1. ; Nicodemon, upon want of water at one of the feasts, agreed with a certain man for twelve wells of water, to be returned on such a day, or pay twelve talents of silver; the day being come, the man demanded the water, or the money; Nicodemon went and prayed, and a plentiful rain fell, and filled the wells with water; but meeting the man, he insisted on it that the day was past, the sun being set, and therefore required the money; Nicodemon went and prayed again, and the sun shone out; and they add, that there are three persons for whom the sun נקדמה, "was prevented", detained, or hindered in its course, (a word nearer his name than the former,) Moses, and Joshua, and Nicodemon ben Gorion; for the two former they produce Scripture, and for the latter tradition: hence it is elsewhere saidF4T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1. , that as the sun stood still for Joshua, so it stood still for Moses, and for Nicodemon ben Gorion: but to proceed with the account of our Nicodemus, he was

a ruler of the Jews; not a civil magistrate; for the civil government was now in the hands of the Romans; but an ecclesiastical ruler; he was a member of the sanhedrim, which consisted of the doctors, or wise men, and priests, Levites, and elders of the people; and so was a dignified person, and as afterwards called, a master in Israel.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(1) There are none sometimes more unlearned than the learned, but the learned as well as the unlearned must desire wisdom from Christ only.

(a) A man of great estimation and a ruler amongst the Jews.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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

[Nicodemus.] The Talmudists frequently mention Nicodemus. Now the Jews derive this name, not from the Greek original, but from this story:

"Upon a certain time, all Israel ascended up to Jerusalem to the feast, and there wanted water for them. Nicodemus Ben Gorion comes to a great man, and prays him, saying, 'Lend me twelve wells of water, for the use of those that are to come up to the feast, and I will give you back twelve wells again; or else engage to pay you twelve talents of silver': and they appointed a day. When the day of payment came, and it had not yet rained, Nicodemus went to a little oratory, and covered himself, and prayed: and of a sudden the clouds gathered, and a plentiful rain descended, so that twelve wells were filled, and a great deal over. The great man cavilled that the day was past, for the sun was set: Nicodemus goes into his oratory again, covers himself and prays, and the clouds dispersing themselves, the sun breaks out again. Hence that name given him Nicodemus, because the sun shone out for him."

If there be any thing of truth in this part of the story, it should seem Nicodemus was a priest, and that kind of officer whose title was a digger of wells; under whose peculiar care and charge was the provision of water for those that should come up to the feast. His proper name was not Nicodemus, but Bonai; as Taanith in the place above quoted. Now in Sanhedrim, Bonai is reckoned amongst the disciples of Jesus, and accounted one of the three richest men amongst the Jews at that time, when Titus besieged Jerusalem. "There were three the most wealthy men in Jerusalem, Nicodemus Ben Gorion, Calba Sabua, and Zizith Hakkeesoth." But in Echah Rabbathi, "There were then in Jerusalem four counsellors, Ben Zizith, and Ben Gorion, and Ben Nicodemon, and Ben Calba Sabua; men of great wealth," &c.

There is mention also of a "daughter of Nicodemus Ben Gorion, the furniture of whose bed was twelve thousand deniers." But so miserably was she and the whole family impoverished, that "Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccahi saw her gathering barleycorns out of the dung of the Arabs' cattle: saith he to her, 'Who art thou, my daughter?' 'I am (saith she) the daughter of Nicodemus Ben Gorion.' 'What then (saith he) is become of all thy father's wealth?'" &c.

I leave it with the reader to determine with himself whether the Nicodemus mentioned amongst them be the same with this of ours or no. It is not much for the reputation of that Nicodemus (whatever may be supposed in the affirmative), that these authors should all along make so honourable mention of him. However, some passages look as if it might be the same man, viz., the name Bonai, by which he went for a disciple of Jesus; the impoverishment of his family, which may be conceived to fall upon them in the persecution of Christianity, &c.: but it is not tanti that we should labour at all in a thing so very perplexed, and perhaps no less unprofitable.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus is named three times by John, and not elsewhere; here; in John 7:50-51, where he protests against condemning Jesus unheard; and in John 19:38-39, where he aids Joseph of Arimathæa in the burial of Jesus. He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrim (a ruler), and a rabbi (John 3:10).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 3:1". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-3.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Now (δεde). So often in John δεde is explanatory and transitional, not adversative. Nicodemus is an instance of Christ‘s knowledge of men (John 2:25) and of one to whom he did trust himself unlike those in John 2:24. As a Pharisee “he belonged to that party which with all its bigotry contained a salt of true patriotism and could rear such cultured and high-toned men as Gamaliel and Paul” (Marcus Dods).

Named Nicodemus (Νικοδημος ονομαNikodēmos onoma). Same construction as in John 1:6, “Nicodemus name to him.” So Revelation 6:8. It is a Greek name and occurs in Josephus (Ant. XIV. iii. 2) as the name of an ambassador from Aristobulus to Pompey. Only in John in N.T. (here, John 7:50; John 19:39). He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and wealthy. There is no evidence that he was the young ruler of Luke 18:18 because of αρχωνarchōn (ruler) here.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

A man

With a reference to the last word of the previous chapter. The interview with Nicodemus is, apart from the important truth which it embodies, an illustration of Christ's knowledge of what was in man. Godet truthfully observes that John reminds us by the word ἄνθρωπος (man ), that Nicodemus was a specimen of the race which Jesus knew so well.

Named Nicodemus

Literally, Nicodemus, the name unto him. The name means conqueror of the people ( νὶκη , victory, and δῆμος , people ), though some give it a Hebrew derivation meaning innocent blood.

A ruler

A member of the Sanhedrim.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

A ruler - One of the great council.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus1, a ruler of the Jews2:
    JESUS ATTENDS THE FIRST PASSOVER OF HIS MINISTRY. (Jerusalem, April 9, A.D. 27.) B. JESUS TALKS WITH NICODEMUS. John 3:1-21

  1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus. Nicodemus is mentioned only by John. His character is marked by prudence amounting almost to timidity. At John 7:50-52 he defends Jesus, but without committing himself as in any interested in him; at John 19:38,39 he brought spices for the body of Jesus, but only after Joseph of Arimathea had secured the body.

  2. A ruler of the Jews. A member of the Sanhedrin.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Был некто. В лице Никодима Евангелист показывает нам, сколь немощной и непостоянной была вера тех, кто пришел ко Христу, подвигнувшись Его чудесами. Ибо этот человек, будучи фарисеем и занимая в народе своем место начальника, обязан был превосходить других в разумении. Ведь в народе преимущественно царит легковесность. Этому же, выделявшемуся ученостью и опытом, несомненно надлежало быть основательным и мудрым человеком. Но из ответа Христа явствует: он был готов лишь к тому, чтобы учиться начаткам благочестия. Если же первый из народа несмысленнее младенца, что же думать об обычных людях? Хотя замысел Евангелиста состоял в том, чтобы показать, сколь мало было в Иерусалиме людей, расположенных принять Евангелие, история эта полезнее нам в другом отношении. А именно: она учит нас о порочной человеческой природе. А это – как бы вступление в школу Христову, и начатки сии нам непременно надлежит усвоить для преуспеяния в небесном учении. Итог сказанного Христом таков: чтобы быть Его истинными учениками, нам надобно стать новыми людьми. Однако прежде чем идти дальше и рассматривать рассказ Евангелиста, полезно будет понять, какие препятствия мешали Никодиму полностью предаться Христу.

Между Фарисеями. Среди иудеев это делало честь Никодиму, но Евангелист упоминает о фарисействе не для того, чтобы его почтить. Скорее он указывает на его звание как на препятствие, мешающее свободно и решительно придти ко Христу. Отсюда мы научаемся, что люди, превосходящие других в этом мире, как правило удерживаются в сетях неверия. Более того, мы видим, что многие из них вынуждены всю жизнь сдерживать желание стремиться к небесам. Откуда пошло слово «фарисей» мы узнаем из другого места. Фарисеи говорили, что знают сердцевину Писания и ведают его тайный смысл, претендовали на то, что являются единственными толкователями закона. По этой причине они и звались פרושים. Наряду с ними были известны и ессеи, о святости жизни которых ходила широкая молва. Однако они, уподобившись пустынникам, отличались по образу жизни от других, и поэтому люди больше ценили секту фарисеев. Кроме того, Евангелист не только говорит о том, что Никодим носил титул фарисея, но и что в народе своем он был начальником.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 1. "There was a man of the Pharisees, whose name was Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Jews."

The name Nicodemus, though of Greek origin, was not unusual among the Jews. The Talmud mentions several times a person of this name (Nakedimon), called also Bounai, reckoned in the number of Jesus" disciples. He was one of the four richest inhabitants of the capital. His family fell into the greatest destitution. He must have been alive also at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. This last circumstance, connected with the great age of Nicodemus at the time of Jesus" ministry, renders the identity of the latter with the personage of whom the Talmud speaks, doubtful. Stier saw in the word ἄνθρωπος, a man, an allusion to John 2:25; John would remind us thereby that Nicodemus was an example of that human type which Jesus knew so well; this is far-fetched. Before naming him, John points out his quality as Pharisee. This characteristic signifies much more, indeed, than his name, for the understanding of the following conversation. The most narrow and exalted national particularism had created for itself an organ in the Pharisaic party. According to the ideas of that sect, every Jew possessing the legal virtues and qualities had a right of entrance into the Messianic kingdom. Universo Israeli est portio in mundo futuro, said the Rabbis. The Messiah Himself was only the perfect and all-powerful Jew, who, raised by His miracles to the summit of glory, was to destroy the Gentile power and place Israel at the head of humanity. This Messianic programme, which the imagination of the Pharisaic doctors had drawn out of the prophecies, was that which brought with it Nicodemus to the presence of Jesus. The title ἄρχων, ruler, denotes, undoubtedly, one of the lay members of the Sanhedrim (John 7:50), in contrast to the ἀρχιερεῖς, chief priests (John 7:50; Luke 23:13).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

NICODEMUS

‘There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.’

John 3:1

The accounts given us in Holy Scripture of Nicodemus are, in many respects, of peculiar interest.

I. A night visitor.—Of the early years of Nicodemus we know nothing. We first hear of him in this third chapter of John. It may be asked, Why did Nicodemus go to our Lord by night? The answer, no doubt, is, He was afraid to go by day. We are not told how long the visit lasted, but we may be sure that the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth could never be forgotten by Nicodemus. Very precious in after years must have been the memory of that personal and private converse at such a time, and in such a place, with the Son of God Most High.

II. A defender of Christ.—Now let us turn to the next occasion on which we read of Nicodemus (John 7:50). The time soon came when the Pharisees and Chief Priests became so jealous of our Lord’s power and influence that they determined to silence Him. For this purpose officers were sent to apprehend Him; but they did not, for, said they, ‘Never man spake like this Man.’ Then do we read of Nicodemus making a stand on our Lord’s behalf. We notice that he is still timid and cautious, but he does try to throw His shield over our Lord, and appears to stand alone in so doing, thereby exposing himself to the taunts of the most blind and ignorant prejudice.

III. A lover of Christ.—Once more do we read of Nicodemus. After the sad scene was ended at Mount Calvary, Joseph of Arimathea came and begged the body of Jesus and took it and laid it in his own new tomb in the adjacent garden. ‘And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night.’ How careful John is to identify Nicodemus and prevent our mistaking him for anybody else! ‘And brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pound weight.’ There is something very touching in this pious act of Nicodemus. All His disciples had forsaken Him in the hour of His deepest need. And now the faithful women and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus gather round the sacred remains and perform the last sad offices of love. The humiliation and reproach of the Cross had intensified rather than lessened their feeling of reverence and love, and so to them was allowed the holy privilege, never to occur again, of committing the Sacred Body to the tomb.

We know nothing more of Nicodemus, but we may gather from his simple story that our Lord does not reject a weak faith, provided it is sincerely directed towards Himself, and gives proof of its vitality by its growth.

Illustration

‘If Christ reveals to Nicodemus great fundamental truths, it must have been because He saw in His hearer some fitness to receive these thoughts. “He knew what was in man,” and He recognised in His visitor one upon whom transcendental conceptions would not be thrown away, but in whose mind they would rest and germinate and “bring forth fruit.” We have here the introduction of the Gospel to a religious philosopher, who was certainly no stranger to the remoter depths of theological thought, who well understood the use of figurative language, who could see the substance behind the metaphorical drapery, and could himself use such drapery to veil his meaning. He was no fisherman upon the Sea of Galilee, no country peasant, no publican called straight from a dishonourable seat of custom, but one of the religious élite, trained in a famous school of interpretation, occupying a high position.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 3:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 1. A ruler of the Jews] Either a chieftain of the Pharisees, as he was, Luke 14:1; or one of the Sanhedrim, one of the 70 seniors, whose learning hung in their light, 1 Corinthians 2:8. Yet was neither learned Nathanael, nor Nicodemus, a master of Israel, excluded from Christ’s discipline (saith Joan. de Turrecremata), lest if he had admitted simple men only, it might have been thought they were deceived through their simplicity. {a}

{a} Ne si solos simplices vocasset, credi possit quod fuissent ex simplicitate decepti.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 3:1. There was a man of the Pharisees, &c.— Nicodemus was a member of the great council, and, as some suppose, a ruler of a synagogue; for αρχων, the title here given him, is often used in this sense by the evangelists: compare Matthew 18:23 with Luke 8:41. Accordingly, John 3:10 on this very occasion, Jesus calls him a master, or teacher of Israel. He might possess both dignities, many of the members of the council being rulers of synagogues. It is however certain, that he was one of the council; for we are told so expressly, ch. John 7:50. This doctor had heard our Lord's miracles often mentioned, perhaps had seen some of them; and, like many of his countrymen, conceived some notions, that he whoperformed such things must be the Messiah: on the other hand, the meanness of our Lord's appearance occasioned scruples which he could not remove. In this state of doubtfulness he resolved to wait on Jesus, that by conversing with him personally, he might find out the truth. See the next note.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The former part of the chapter acquaints us with that famous conference which our blessed Saviour had with Nicodemus. This man was by sect a Pharisee; which signifies a person separated and set apart for the study of the law of God, and to teach it unto others; and by calling or profession a ruler of the Jews, that is probably one of the Jews' Sanhedrin, a chief person in their ecclesiastical court and council.

Consider we Nicodemus first as a Pharisee, which sort of men were filled with inveterate prejudice and enmity against Christ: yet from hence we may gather, that such is the efficacy of divine grace, that it sometimes convinces and converts also those that are the greatest enemies to Christ, and fiercest opposers of him. No such bitter enemies to Christ as the Pharisees; yet behold Nicodemus, a Pharisee, coming to him, convinced and converted by him!

Consider him, secondly, as a ruler of the Jews, as a person of place and power, making a figure in the world. Though they were generally the poor which followed Christ, yet some of the great and rich men of the world, as Nicodemus, a master of Israel, and Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, are called to Christ, and received by him: lest, if he had admitted illiterate and simple men only, the world might have thought that they were deceived through their simplicity.

Observe farther, The time when Nicodemus came to Christ: It was by night, partly out of shame, lest the world should think that such a knowing man as he was, wanted instruction; and partly out of fear; he had something to lose, and therefore durst not own Christ publicly.

However, our dear Lord upbraids him not with his timorousness, but graciously condescends to instruct him in the fundamental principle of Christianity, the great doctrine of regeneration. Such is the tenderness of our compassionate Saviour, that he will not extinguish the least spark of holy fire, nor quench the smoking flax.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-3.html. 1700-1703.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

Christ hath a conversation with Nicodemus. The Lord discourseth on the New-birth; and declares its absolute Necessity, for an Entrance into his Kingdom. Some further Account of John the Baptist.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/john-3.html. 1828.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1.] We have in the Talmud (see Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in loc.) a Nicodemus ben Gorion, who was properly called Bonai, and said to have been a disciple of Jesus: but he is found living at the destruction of Jerusalem. This might certainly have been; still it must be quite uncertain whether he be the same with this Nicodemus.

He is mentioned again ch. John 7:50; John 19:39. He was a member of the Sanhedrim ( ἄρχων, see reff.), and, besides, a νομοδιδάσκαλος (John 3:10).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:1. ἦν δέ, Now there was) Eleven conversations of Jesus are recounted in full detail by John: the first of these now begins.— ἄνθρωπος, a man) one of those, concerning whom see ch. 2, towards the close: but one considerably better than many.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JOHN CHAPTER 3

John 3:1-13 Christ, in a conference with Nicodemus, teacheth him

the necessity of regeneration,

John 3:14,15 the efficacy of faith in his death.

John 3:16,17 God’s great love to mankind in sending his Son for

their salvation,

John 3:18-21 and the condemnation for unbelief.

John 3:22 Jesus baptizeth in Judea,

John 3:23,24 as doth John in Aenon.

John 3:25-36 John’s doctrine concerning Christ.

The particle there being put in only to fit our idiom to the Greek, where is nothing but the verb, signifies nothing to prove that what we read in this chapter was done at Jerusalem. It is a dispute amongst some interpreters, whether he was there or no. It should seem by John 7:50, that Nicodemus’s chief residence was there. He was one of the Pharisees, who were a sect (as we have showed before) which had their name either from a Hebrew word, which signifieth to explain, (because they were expounders of the law), or from another word, which signifieth to divide, because they were separate from others: the opinions have both learned patrons. This man’s name in Greek signifies, The victory of the people. He was either the head of a family among the Jews, or a ruler of the synagogue, or one of the sanhedrim: it seemeth most probable he is here called a ruler upon the last account, if we consider John 7:50.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

фарисеями См. пояснение к Мф. 3:7. Слово «фарисей», вероятно, происходит от еврейского глагола «отделить» и поэтому, возможно, значит «отделенные». Они не были сепаратистами, т.е. изоляционистами, но они отделяли себя в строгости, чрезвычайно ревнуя об обрядовой и религиозной чистоте в соответствии не только с законом Моисея, но и со своими собственными традициями, которые они добавили к ветхозаветным законам. Хотя их происхождение неизвестно, по-видимому, они появились во время эпохи Маккавеев как ответвление «хасидов», или «благочестивых». Как правило, они были из среднего класса иудеев и в основном состояли из мирян, а не из священников или левитов. Они представляли ортодоксальную ветвь иудаизма и оказывали очень сильное влияние на израильский народ. По утверждению Иосифа Флавия, во времена Ирода Великого их было 6 тысяч. Иисус осуждал их за их чрезмерную сосредоточенность на внешнем проявлении религии и на нормах, а не на внутреннем духовном изменении (ст. 3, 7).

Никодим Несмотря на то, что Никодим был фарисеем, его имя имеет греческое происхождение и означает «победитель над людьми». Он был известным фарисеем и членом синедриона («начальником Иудейским»). О происхождении его семьи ничего не известно. В итоге он уверовал в Иисуса (7:50-52), и, рискуя своей жизнью и репутацией, помогал Иосифу достойно похоронить тело Иисуса (19:38-42).

начальников Иудейских Это – ссылка на Синедрион (см. пояснение к Мф. 26:59), главный руководящий орган иудеев в Палестине. Он являлся иудейским «верховным судом» или руководящим советом того времени и возник, вероятнее всего, при персидском владычестве. Во времена Нового Завета синедрион состоял из возглавляющего всех первосвященника, первосвященников, старейшин (глав семейств) и книжников – всего 71 человек. Порядок назначения был как наследственный, так и политический. Согласно иудейскому закону он исполнял и гражданское, и уголовное правосудие. Однако в случаях смертной казни требовалась санкция римского прокуратора (18:30-32). После 70 г. по Р.Х. и разрушения Иерусалима Синедрион был упразднен и заменен судом («беф-дином»), составленным из книжников, которые имели власть на решение только моральных и религиозных вопросов.

(3:1-21) Рассказ об Иисусе и Никодиме подкрепляет апологетическую тему Иоанна, что Иисус – Мессия и Сын Божий, и евангелическую тему, что Он пришел предложить спасение всем людям. Фактически, стихи 23, 24 второй главы служат введением к повести о Никодиме, так как третья глава представляет ясные свидетельства способности Иисуса знать человеческие сердца и, таким образом, также доказывает Божью природу Иисуса. Иисус также разъяснил Никодиму Божий план спасения, показывая, что Он был Божьим Посланником, Чье дело искупления служит обещанному спасению Его народа (ст. 14). Главу можно разделить на две части: 1) беседу Иисуса с Никодимом (ст. 1-10) и 2) разъяснение Иисусом Божьего плана спасения (ст. 11-21).

(3:1-10) Эта часть беседы Иисуса с Никодимом может быть поделена на три подчасти: 1) Никодим расспрашивает Иисуса (ст. 1-3); 2) Иисус постигает самую суть сердца Никодима (ст. 4-8); 3) Иисус предъявляет обвинение Никодиму (ст. 9, 10).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:1". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

A ruler; a member of the Sanhedrin or great Jewish council.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

§ 21. JESUS’S DISCOURSE WITH NICODEMUS 1-21.

1.There was a man—John now proceeds to give a specimen of the many mentioned at the close of the last chapter (see our note John 2:23) who were converted by Jesus’s miracles, but not trustworthily converted at heart, in order to show how Jesus would deal with such a case. Thereby a believer by logic is guided to a faith of the heart.

Nicodemus—Josephus, the historian, had a brother named Nicodemus Ben Gorion, (as the tradition reports,) who was a member of the Sanhedrim, and counted one of the three richest men of Jerusalem. He was able, say they, to have maintained the city for ten years; and marvelous account are given of the dowry of his daughters. But it is said he afterwards became poor; and his daughter was seen by another rabbi gathering barley corns for food from under the horses’ feet. Some have conjectured that this was the result of the persecutions he received for having embraced Christianity. This Nicodemus, it was said, was found living at the destruction of Jerusalem.

A ruler of the Jews—He was one of the Sanhedrim, which consisted of priests, Levites, elderly men, and rabbis.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews’.

Not long after the commencement of His ministry Jesus was approached by a man named Nicodemus, who was a very important man. He was a Pharisee and a member of the governing Jewish council (the Sanhedrin). Possibly this was why he came ‘at night’ (v. 2). He probably did not want to jeopardise his position. He was prepared to give Jesus a hearing in private, but did not wish to commit himself publicly.

He was one of those who demonstrated that not all the Pharisees opposed Jesus, and that when ‘the Pharisees’ were spoken of in derogatory terms, not all were to be seen as included. The Pharisees were a small minority (probably around 6000 to 7000 in all), probably descendants of the Hasidim, those who had kept themselves ‘pure’ during the persecutions of 2nd century BC and had been faithful to the Law and the Prophets. In order to maintain this position they had gradually built up a system of over six hundred extra laws which explained in detail the meaning of God’s laws in the Torah (‘the Instruction’ - the first five books of the Bible). Among other things they required constant washings in order to preserve purity, and a strict regime of ritual cleanliness. But because of this many of them had begun to look down on the common people and to have a high opinion of their own goodness. Many of them had become self-righteous and self-opinionated, and, as such men will, some had begun to twist the Law to suit their own religious purposes. These were the ones Jesus described as ‘hypocrites’.

‘There was a man’. This connects directly with John 2:25. ‘He knew what was in man, now there was a man ---’, and Jesus can read that man like an open book.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John introduced Nicodemus (lit. conqueror of or victor over the people) as a Pharisee who was a ruler of the Jews, namely, a member of the Sanhedrin (cf. John 7:50-51). As a Pharisee, Nicodemus had respect for the Jewish Scriptures and was nationalistic politically. He would have stressed the careful observance of Israel"s laws and the traditions of the elders. This was the way of salvation for Pharisees.

"In its own way this chapter does away with "works of the law" every bit as thoroughly as anything in Paul.

"The Pharisees had no vested interest in the Temple (which was rather the domain of the Sadducees). A Pharisee would, accordingly, not have been unduly perturbed by the action of Jesus in cleansing the Temple courts. Indeed, he may possibly have approved it, partly on the general principle that anything that put the Sadducees down a peg or two was laudable and partly in the interests of true religion." [Note: Morris, p186.]

The Sadducees, in contrast, were more liberal in their theology and were more politically accommodating. In one sense the Sadducees were more liberal, in that they denied the existence of angels and the resurrection. But in another sense they were more conservative, in that they accepted as authoritative only the Old Testament and rejected much of the tradition that the Pharisees regarded as more authoritative than the Old Testament. Later Jesus mentioned that Nicodemus was a prominent teacher in Israel ( John 3:10). John also recorded that he was fair-minded ( John 7:50-51).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 3:1. And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. That this verse does not begin a new section is clearly shown by the first word ‘And,’ which links it with the last chapter; another indication of the same kind is seen when the true reading is restored in John 3:2 (‘to Him ‘for’ to Jesus’). A closer examination will show that the connection thus suggested is really very close and important. In chap. John 2:24-25, a very marked emphasis is laid on ‘man;’ the same word and thought are taken up in this verse. John 3:2 of this chapter brings before us a belief agreeing in nature and ground with that spoken of in chap. John 2:23-24. The last thought of chap. 2 is powerfully illustrated by the answers which Jesus returns to the thoughts of Nicodemus. Clearly, then, John means us to understand that out of the many who ‘believed in the name’ of Jesus was one deserving of special attention, not merely as representing a higher class and special culture, but chiefly because, brought by the signs to a degree of faith, he was desirous of knowing more; and our Lord’s dealings with Nicodemus show how He sought to lead all who were so prepared to a deeper knowledge and higher faith. The name Nicodemus is found in the Talmud, as a Hebrew surname borne by a Jew, a disciple of Jesus, whose true name was Bonai. There is nothing to show that the persons are identical, and on the whole it is more probable that they are not. It is most natural to regard the name Nicodemus as Greek, not Hebrew; compare ‘Philip’ (chap. John 1:43). Nicodemus is described as a Pharisee (see notes on chaps, John 1:24, John 7:32), and as ‘a ruler of the Jews,’—i.e., a member of the Sanhedrin (comp. chap. John 7:50), the great council of seventy-one which held supreme power over the whole nation. In other passages John uses ‘ruler’ in this sense (see John 7:26; John 7:48, John 12:42); here only does he join with it the words ‘of the Jews.’ The added words (see chap. John 1:19) show that Nicodemus stood connected with that body which was ever present to John’s thought as the assemblage of those who represented the self-seeking and formalism which Jesus came to subvert. The elements of hostility already existed, though the open conflict had not yet begun (see chap. John 2:18). It is not easy always to define the relation between ‘the Pharisees ‘and’ the Jews,’ as the two terms are used by John; for under the latter designation the leaders of the Pharisees would certainly be included. The former perhaps usually brings into prominence teaching and principles; the latter points rather to external action. The Pharisees took alarm at the new doctrine, the Jews resented the new authority. Nicodemus is not free from the externalism and prejudices of his class, but his candour and his faith stand out in wonderful contrast to the general spirit evinced by the Pharisees and the Jews.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: See introductory remark at the commencement of this section.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The connecting particle [ de (Greek #1161)] with which the original introduces this scene should not have been omitted, as the Evangelist is now going to show, in continuation of his subject, that all the accessions to Christ during this His first public visit to Jerusalem were not like those of whom he had spoken at the close of the preceding chapter. It should have begun thus: 'But (or 'Now') there was a man,' etc. Nicodemus is a purely Greek name, of frequent occurrence among the later Greeks, whose names were often appropriated by the Jews, especially those of foreign extraction. This Nicodemus, besides being of the stricter sect of the Pharisees, was a "ruler" [ archoon (Greek #758)], or one of the Sanhedrim. In John 3:10 he is called a "master," or 'doctor' of the law. It is useless attempting, as Lightfoot has done, to identify him with a rabbi of this name who lived at the destruction of Jerusalem.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

1. There was a man named Nicodemus. Only John tells us about this man. He was a Pharisee; a teacher of the Law [rabbi]; a member of the Council [Sanhedrin]. He and Joseph of Arimathea, both members of the Council, believed the claims of Jesus (John 3:2). He protested against condemning Jesus without a hearing (John 7:51); and he helped Joseph bury the body of Jesus (John 19:38-39).

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) The word πνεῦμα (pneuma) occurs some 370 times in the Greek New Testament, and of these, twenty-three times in this Gospel. It is nowhere rendered “wind” by our translators, except in this instance, and they have rendered the same word by “Spirit” in the same verse, and twice besides in the same context (John 3:5-6). There is another word for “wind” ( ἄνεμος), which occurs thirty-one times in the New Testament, and which John himself uses in John 6:18. It is not contended that πνεῦμα may not mean “wind,” “the breath of wind,” but that this is not its New Testament use, where the word is restricted to its special meaning. (It is plural in Hebrews 1:7; see Note there.) It is admitted also that the Hebrew or Chaldee word which πνεῦμα here translates has the two senses, but the sense in which it is here used is fixed by the translator.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
10; 7:47-49
Reciprocal: Luke 14:1 - chief;  John 1:24 - were of;  John 7:50 - he that;  John 19:39 - Nicodemus;  Ephesians 2:3 - by

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 1. "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews."

That Nicodemus is mentioned as a representative of those who are spoken of in John 2:23-25, the striking; accordance of the address of Nicodemus to Christ with the declaration, "Many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did," leaves no room for doubt. And it is no contradiction to this, that we afterwards find Nicodemus among the number of the genuine disciples of Christ. For the Lord ascribed real faith even to them; and even if He did not commit Himself to them, the reason for this was probably not their insincerity, but their indecision—their dualism, according to which their decision might result either for one side or the other. In Nicodemus the good side obtained the superiority. Only in consequence of the conversation with Christ did he come forward in the number of those to whom Christ could commit Himself.

The fact, that Nicodemus was a Pharisee, is of significance in this matter. It is the very characteristic of Pharisaism, that it knows no regeneration, but only a sanctity appropriated by fragments, in which the man has the primas partes, and God, in the main, only the regarding and the rewarding thereof. It was Pharisaism which had made the temple in a spiritual sense a house of merchandise, in which a profitable trade was carried on with God. Josephus says, that according to the doctrine of the Pharisees, it is for the most part ( κατὰ τὸ πλεῖστον) in the power of man to do right or wrong; and they taught further, that it depends on mans will, to act virtuously or criminally. They enveloped themselves entirely in a self-made holiness.

His position also as a "ruler of the Jews," must have hindered, rather than promoted, the connection of Nicodemus with Christ. "When a man," says the Berleburger Bibel, "is in great estimation, and all eyes are directed towards him, he has very great difficulty in becoming little, and in subjecting himself to others." But this is not the only thing. In eminent positions, there is danger of one's anxiously striving to preserve himself in harmony with the disposition of the circle over which he is, from fear of otherwise losing "the praise of men," John 12:43,—to enjoy which, soon becomes a need to those in high positions. Popularity easily becomes the idol of rulers. Since the pharisaic spirit then governed the masses of the people, it must have been very difficult for the rulers decidedly to confess Christ, who opposed this spirit from the beginning. Cf. John 12:42.— ἄρχοντες are, in general, those who exercise any authority. The word is used in this general sense of chief men; e.g., in John 12:42; Luke 14:1; Matthew 9:18, where the more particular intimation is given by Luke (Luke 8:41), that he was a president of the synagogue. But here it is not merely ἄρχων, but ἄρχων τῶν ἰουδαίων, which could be said only of a member of the Chief Council of the nation. So also the phrase, "master of Israel," in ver. 10. Even the mere phrase, οἱ ἄρχοντες, stands repeatedly of the members of the Sanhedrim, but only where the connection, or the case itself, renders the more particular definition unnecessary. So in Luke 23:13, the ἄρχοντες, according to their juxtaposition with the ἄρχιερεῖς, are the lay associates of the Chief Council. So also in Luke 24:20. In Acts 13:27, the ἄρχοντες can only be the members of the Sanhedrim; for it was these who condemned Christ. In John 7:26, also, the ἄρχοντες are the Synedrists. To the rulers of the Jews here, correspond the ἄρχοντες τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ πρεσβύτεροι, in Acts 4:8, and the rulers of those who dwell in Jerusalem, in Acts 13:27. Nicodemus first appears as a member of the Chief Council in John 7:50.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:1". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Now there was a man of the Pharisees. In the person of Nicodemus the Evangelist now exhibits to our view how vain and fleeting was the faith of those who, having been excited by miracles, suddenly professed to be the disciples of Christ. For since this man was of the order of the Pharisees, and held the rank of a ruler in his nation, he must have been far more excellent than others. The common people, for the most part, are light and unsteady; but who would not have thought that he who had learning and experience was also a wise and prudent man? Yet from Christ’s reply it is evident, that nothing was farther from his design in coming than a desire to learn the first principles of religion. If he who was a ruler among men is less than a child, what ought we to think of the multitude at large? Now though the design of the Evangelist was, to exhibit, as in a mirror, how few there were in Jerusalem who were properly disposed to receive the Gospel, yet, for other reasons, this narrative is highly useful to us; and especially because it instructs us concerning the depraved nature of mankind, what is the proper entrance into the school of Christ, and what must be the commencement of our training to make progress in the heavenly doctrine. For the sum of Christ’s discourse is, that, in order that we may be his true disciples, we must become new men. But, before proceeding farther, we must ascertain from the circumstances which are here detailed by the Evangelist, what were the obstacles which prevented Nicodemus from giving himself unreservedly to Christ.

Of the Pharisees. This designation was, no doubt, regarded by his countrymen as honorable to Nicodemus; but it is not for the sake of honor that it is given to him by the Evangelist, who, on the contrary, draws our attention to it as having prevented him from coming freely and cheerfully to Christ. Hence we are reminded that they who occupy a lofty station in the world are, for the most part, entangled by very dangerous snares; nay, we see many of them held so firmly bound, that not even the slightest wish or prayer arises from them towards heaven throughout their whole life. Why they were called Pharisees we have elsewhere explained; (54) for they boasted of being the only expounders of the Law, as if they were in possession, of the marrow and hidden meaning of Scripture; and for that reason they called themselves פרושים (Perushim.) Though the Essenes led a more austere life, which gained them a high reputation for holiness; yet because, like hermits, they forsook the ordinary life and custom of men, the sect of the Pharisees was on that account held in higher estimation. Besides, the Evangelist mentions not only that Nicodemus was of the order of the Pharisees, but that he was one of the rulers of his nation.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.