Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:2

this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Cowardice;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Miracles;   Nicodemus;   Opinion, Public;   Rabbi;   Sign;   Thompson Chain Reference - Discipleship;   Miracles Testify;   Nicodemus;   Secret Discipleship;   Teacher, Divine;   The Topic Concordance - Jesus Christ;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ, the Prophet;   Miracles;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John, gospel of;   Nicodemus;   Rabbi;   Teacher;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Disciple, Discipleship;   Education in Bible Times;   Salvation;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Offices of Christ;   Regeneration;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Rabbi;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jeremiah;   Jesus Christ;   Miracles;   Nicodemus;   Rabbi;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bible, Theology of;   Birth;   Disciples;   Holy Spirit;   Miracles, Signs, Wonders;   Nicodemus;   Rabbi;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Faith;   Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Master;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Rabbi;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Assumption of Moses;   Attraction;   Ave Maria;   Discourse;   Divinity of Christ;   Doctor (2);   Humility;   Individuality;   Influence;   Justification;   Mental Characteristics;   Miracles;   Mission;   Night (2);   Popularity ;   Property (2);   Sign ;   Teacher (2);   Teaching of Jesus;   Truth (2);   Unbelief (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Deuteronomy, Book of;   Nicodemus ;   Rabbi;   1910 New Catholic Dictionary - names of our lord;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Christ;   Regeneration;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Rabbi;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Heart;   Rab;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Tabernacle, the;   Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Baptismal Regeneration;   John the Baptist;   Master;   Miracle;   Nicodemus;   Teach;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abba;   Nicodemus;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for December 4;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Came to Jesus by night - He had matters of the utmost importance, on which he wished to consult Christ; and he chose the night season, perhaps less through the fear of man than through a desire to have Jesus alone, as he found him all the day encompassed with the multitude; so that it was impossible for him to get an opportunity to speak fully on those weighty affairs concerning which he intended to consult him. However, we may take it for granted that he had no design at present to become his disciple; as baptism and circumcision, which were the initiating ordinances among the Jews, were never administered in the night time. If any person received baptism by night, he was not acknowledged for a proselyte. See Wetstein. But as Jews were not obliged to be baptized, they being circumcised, and consequently in the covenant, he, being a Jew, would not feel any necessity of submitting to this rite.

Rabbi - My Master, or Teacher, a title of respect given to the Jewish doctors, something like our Doctor of Divinity, i.e. teacher of Divine things. But as there may be many found among us who, though they bear the title, are no teachers, so it was among the Jews; and perhaps it was in reference to this that Nicodemus uses the word διδασκαλος, didaskalos, immediately after, by which, in John 1:38, St. John translates the word rabbi. Rabbi, teacher, is often no more than a title of respect: didaskolos signifies a person who not only has the name of teacher, but who actually does teach.

We know that thou art a teacher come from God - We, all the members of the grand Sanhedrin, and all the rulers of the people, who have paid proper attention to thy doctrine and miracles. We are all convinced of this, though we are not all candid enough to own it. It is possible, however, that οιδαμεν, we know, signifies no more than, it is known, it is generally acknowledged and allowed, that thou art a teacher come from God.

No man can do these miracles - It is on the evidence of thy miracles that I ground my opinion of thee. No man can do what thou dost, unless the omnipotence of God be with him.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The same came to Jesus - The design of his coming seems to have been to inquire more fully of Jesus what was the doctrine which he came to teach. He seems to have been convinced that he was the Messiah, and desired to be further instructed in private respecting his doctrine, It was not usual for a man of rank, power, and riches to come to inquire of Jesus in this manner; yet we may learn that the most favorable opportunity for teaching such men the nature of personal religion is when they are alone. Scarcely any man, of any rank, will refuse to converse on this subject when addressed respectfully and tenderly in private. In the midst of their companions, or engaged in business, they may refuse to listen or may cavil. When alone, they will hear the voice of entreaty and persuasion, and be willing to converse on the great subjects of judgment and eternity. Thus Paul says Galatians 2:2, “privately to them which are of reputation,” evincing his consummate prudence, and his profound knowledge of human nature.

By night - It is not mentioned why he came by night. It might have been that, being a member of the Sanhedrin, he was engaged all the day; or it may have been because the Lord Jesus was occupied all the day in teaching publicly and in working miracles, and that there was no opportunity for conversing with him as freely as he desired; or it may have been that he was afraid of the ridicule and contempt of those in power, and fearful that it might involve him in danger if publicly known; or it may have been that he was afraid that if it were publicly known that he was disposed to favor the Lord Jesus, it might provoke more opposition against him and endanger his life. Since no bad motive is imputed to him, it is most in accordance with Christian charity to suppose that his motives were such as God would approve, especially as the Saviour did not reprove him. We should not be disposed to blame men where Jesus did not, and we should desire to find goodness in every man rather than be ever on the search for evil motives. See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. We may learn here:

1.That our Saviour, though engaged during the day, did nor refuse to converse with an inquiring sinner at night. Ministers of the gospel at all times should welcome those who are asking the way to life.

2.That it is proper for men, even those of elevated rank, to inquire on the subject of religion. Nothing is so important as religion, and no temper of mind is more lovely than a disposition to ask the way to heaven. At all times men should seek the way of salvation, and especially in times of great religions excitement they should make inquiry. At Jerusalem, at the time referred to here, there was great solicitude. Many believed on Jesus. He performed miracles, and preached, and many were converted. There was what would now be called a revival of religion, having all the features of a work of grace. At such a season it was proper, as it is now, that not only the poor, but the rich and great, should inquire the path to life.

Rabbi - This was a title of respect conferred on distinguished Jewish teachers, somewhat in the way that the title “Doctor of Divinity” is now conferred. See the notes at John 1:38. Our Saviour forbade his disciples to wear that title (see the notes at Matthew 23:8), though it was proper for Him to do it, as being the great Teacher of mankind. It literally signifies great, and was given by Nicodemus, doubtless, because Jesus gave distinguished proofs that he came as a teacher from God.

We know - I know, and those with whom I am connected. Perhaps he was acquainted with some of the Pharisees who entertained the same opinion about Jesus that he did, and he came to be more fully confirmed in the belief.

Come from God - Sent by God. This implies his readiness to hear him, and his desire to be instructed. He acknowledges the divine mission of Jesus, and delicately asks him to instruct him in the truth of religion. When we read the words of Jesus in the Bible, it should be with a belief that he came from God, and was therefore qualified and authorized to teach us the way of life.

These miracles - The miracles which he performed in the Temple and at Jerusalem, John 2:23.

Except God be with him - Except God aid him, and except his instructions are approved by God. Miracles show that a prophet or religious teacher comes from God, because God would nor work a miracle in attestation of a falsehood or to give countenance to a false teacher. If God gives a man power to work a miracle, it is proof that he approves the teaching of that man, and the miracle is the proof or the credential that he came from God.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The same came to Jesus by night,.... Through fear of the Jews, of being reproached or turned out of his place by them; or through shame, that such a doctor as he was, should be known to go to Jesus of Nazareth, to be instructed by him; or lest he should offend any of his brethren of the sanhedrim: though some things may be said in favour of this conduct of Nicodemus; for since Christ would not trust himself with those that believed in him upon seeing his miracles, John 2:23, among whom Nicodemus seems to be; or would not admit them into his company, and enter into a free conversation with him; it was necessary, that if he would have any discourse with him, that he should take this method; and if it was the same night, in which he had seen his miracles in the day, as is probable, he took the first opportunity he could, and which shows great readiness and respect; add to which, that it was very common with the Jewish doctors, to meet and converse together, and study the law in the night.

"R. Aba rose, בפלגות ליליא, "in the middle of the night", and the rest of the companions, to study in the lawF5Zohar in Exod. fol. 84. 1. .'

And it is oftenF6Ib. fol. 8S. 2. in Lev. fol. 5. 3, 4. & 10. 1. & passim. said of R. Simeon ben Joehal, and Eleazar his son, that they sat in the night and laboured in the law; and it was reckoned very commendable so to do, and highly pleasing to God: it is saidF7T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 3. sect. 13. ,

"whoever studies in the law in the night, the holy blessed God draws a thread of mercy upon him in the day:'

and likewiseF8T. Bab. Tamid. foi. 32. 2. , that

"every one that studies in the law in the night, the Shekinah is over against him.'

But it seems, the Babylonian Jews did not study in the law in the nightF9T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 9. 2. : it might seem a needless question to ask, whether Nicodemus came alone, or not, were it not that according to the Jewish canonF11T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 91. 1. Piske Tosephot Pesach, art. 12. & Maimon. Hilch, Deyot. c. 5. sect. 9. a scholar might not go out in the night alone, because of suspicion:

and said unto him, Rabbi; a title which now greatly obtained among the Jewish doctors, and of which they were very fond; See Gill on Matthew 23:7. It comes from a word, which signifies great and large; and was used by them, to suggest the large compass, and great plenty of knowledge they would be thought to have had; and best becomes and suits with our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are: salutations among the Jews, were forbidden in the nightF12T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 1. & Megilla, fol. 3. 1. & Piske Tosephot Megilla, art. 4. & in Yebamot, art. 238. ;

"says R. Jochanan, it is forbidden a man to salute his neighbour in the night, lest it should be a demon:'

but here was no such danger; nor was this salutation made in the street, and in the dark, which the canon seems to respect:

we know that thou art a teacher come from God; the Jews expected the Messiah as a teacher, which they might learn from many prophecies, as from Isaiah 2:2. Upon the first of which, and on that passage in it, "he will teach us of his ways", a noted commentatorF13R David Kimchi in loc. of theirs has this remark;

המורה, "the teacher", he is the King Messiah.'

And the Targum on Joel 2:23 paraphrases the words thus:

"O ye children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the word of the Lord your God, for he will return ית מלפכון, "your teacher" to you.'

And Nicodemus acknowledges Jesus as such; and as one that did not come, or was sent by men, as their doctors were; nor did he come of himself, as false teachers did; but he came from God, and had his mission and commission from him: and this was a known case, a clear point, not only to himself, but to many of the Jews; and even to some of his brethren, the members of the sanhedrim; who upon hearing of, and seeing the miracles done by Christ, might meet and converse freely together about him; and give their sentiments of him; and might then agree pretty much in this at that time, that he was at least a prophet, and some extraordinary teacher, whom God had sent among them; and Nicodemus coming directly from them, repeats his own sense and theirs, supported by the following reason:

for no man can do these miracles that thou dost, except God be with him: referring to the miracles he had done at the passover in Jerusalem, very lately; see John 2:23. And which, though they are not particularly mentioned, may be concluded to be such, as the dispossessing of devils, the curing of all manner of diseases by a word, or touch, from what he at other times, and elsewhere did. Miracles were expected by the Jews, to be wrought by the Messiah, and many believed in Jesus on this account; see John 6:14; though the modern Jews deny it to be necessary, that miracles should be done by the MessiahF14Maimon. Hilch. Melacim, c. 11. sect. 3. ; but Nicodemus, and other Jews, thought otherwise, and considered the miracles of Christ as such, as could never be done by man, nor without the presence and power of God; and concluded that he was with God, and God with him, and was the true Immanuel, who is God with us.

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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 3:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(b) We know that you are sent from God to teach us.

(c) But he in whom some part of the excellency of God appears. And if Nicodemus had rightly known Christ, he would not only have said that God was with him, but in him, as Paul does in (2 Corinthians 1:19).

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

came to Jesus by night — One of those superficial “believers” mentioned in John 2:23, John 2:24, yet inwardly craving further satisfaction, Nicodemus comes to Jesus in quest of it, but comes “by night” (see John 19:38, John 19:39; John 12:42); he avows his conviction that He was

come from Godan expression never applied to a merely human messenger, and probably meaning more here - but only as “a teacher,” and in His miracles he sees a proof merely that “God is with Him.” Thus, while unable to repress his convictions, he is afraid of committing himself too far.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-3.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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.

[We know.] It may be a question whether Nicodemus, using the plural number [we know], does by that seem to own that the whole Sanhedrim (of which himself was a member) acknowledge the same thing. I am apt to think the fathers of the Sanhedrim could not well tell how indeed to deny it: which will be more largely discussed upon chapter 11:48. But we know may either be the plural or the singular, which in the first person is most commonly used in all languages. Or else, we know, may signify as much as, it is commonly owned and acknowledged.

[Thou art a teacher come from God.] Nicodemus seems to have reference to the long cessation of prophecy which had not been known in that nation for above four hundred years now past; in which space of time there had been no masters or teachers of the people instituted but by men and the imposition of hands; nor had there in that appeared any one person that would pretend to teach them by a spirit of prophecy:--But we see that thou art a teacher sent from God.

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Bibliographical Information
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:2". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

The same came to Jesus by night. He probably chose the night in order to escape observation. He did not dare encounter the hostility of the priests, filled with rage over the cleansing of the temple, and yet he wished to know more of one whom he believed to be sent from God.

Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God. Nicodemus confesses, not only his belief, but that of his fellow Pharisees and rulers. The miracles of Jesus convinced them, even if they would not admit it, that he was a teacher sent from God. He came for information, and Jesus recognized it in what follows.

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 3:2". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-3.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The same (ουτοςhoutos). “This one.”

By night (νυκτοςnuktos). Genitive of time. That he came at all is remarkable, not because there was any danger as was true at a later period, but because of his own prominence. He wished to avoid comment by other members of the Sanhedrin and others. Jesus had already provoked the opposition of the ecclesiastics by his assumption of Messianic authority over the temple. There is no ground for assigning this incident to a later period, for it suits perfectly here. Jesus was already in the public eye (John 2:23) and the interest of Nicodemus was real and yet he wished to be cautious.

Rabbi
(αββειRabbei). See note on John 1:38. Technically Jesus was not an acknowledged Rabbi of the schools, but Nicodemus does recognize him as such and calls him “My Master” just as Andrew and John did (John 1:38). It was a long step for Nicodemus as a Pharisee to take, for the Pharisees had closely scrutinized the credentials of the Baptist in John 1:19-24 (Milligan and Moulton‘s Comm.).

We know
(οιδαμενoidamen). Second perfect indicative first person plural. He seems to speak for others of his class as the blind man does in John 9:31. Westcott thinks that Nicodemus has been influenced partly by the report of the commission sent to the Baptist (John 1:19-27).

Thou art a teacher come from God
(απο τεου εληλυτας διδασκαλοςapo theou elēluthas didaskalos). “Thou hast come from God as a teacher.” Second perfect active indicative of ερχομαιerchomai and predicative nominative διδασκαλοςdidaskalos This is the explanation of Nicodemus for coming to Jesus, obscure Galilean peasant as he seemed, evidence that satisfied one of the leaders in Pharisaism.

Can do
(δυναται ποιεινdunatai poiein). “Can go on doing” (present active infinitive of ποιεωpoieō and so linear).

These signs that thou doest
(ταυτα τα σημεια α συ ποιειςtauta ta sēmeia ha su poieis). Those mentioned in John 2:23 that convinced so many in the crowd and that now appeal to the scholar. Note συsu (thou) as quite out of the ordinary. The scorn of Jesus by the rulers held many back to the end (John 12:42), but Nicodemus dares to feel his way.

Except God be with him
(εαν μη ηι ο τεος μετ αυτουean mē ēi ho theos met' autou). Condition of the third class, presented as a probability, not as a definite fact. He wanted to know more of the teaching accredited thus by God. Jesus went about doing good because God was with him, Peter says (Acts 10:38).

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 3:2". "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

To Jesus

The best texts substitute πρὸς αὐτὸν , to him.

By night

Through timidity, fearing to compromise his dignity, and possibly his safety. The fact is noticed again, John 19:39(see on John 7:50). By night, “when Jewish superstition would keep men at home.” He could reach Jesus' apartment without being observed by the other inmates of the house, for an outside stair led to the upper room.

Rabbi

The teacher of Israel (John 3:10) addresses Jesus by the title applied by his own disciples to himself - my master (see on John 1:38). “We may be sure that a member of the sect that carefully scrutinized the Baptist's credentials (John 1:19-24) would not lightly address Jesus by this title of honor, or acknowledge Him as teacher” (Milligan and Moulton).

We know ( οἴδαμεν )

Assured conviction based on Jesus' miracles (see on John 2:24).

Thou art a teacher

According to the Greek order, that thou art come from God as teacher.

From God

These words stand first in the sentence as emphatic. It is from God that thou hast come.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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

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.

The same came — Through desire; but by night - Through shame: We know - Even we rulers and Pharisees.

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 3:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

the same came unto him by night1, and said to him, Rabbi, we know2 that thou art a teacher come from God3; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him5.

  1. The same came unto him by night. Thus avoiding the hostility of his colleagues, and also obtaining a more personal and uninterrupted interview with Jesus. That his coming by night revealed his character is shown by the fact that John repeats the expression when describing him at John 19:39. But, in justice, it should be said that Nicodemus was the only one of his order who came at all during our Lord's life.

  2. And said to him, Rabbi, we know. Nicodemus uses the plural, to avoid committing himself too much. Nicodemus would assert nothing but that which was commonly admitted by many. We learn from John 12:42,43 that late in the ministry of Christ, when hostility towards him was most bitter, many of the rulers still believed in him. No doubt, when Nicodemus said "we" he used the word advisedly and conscientiously.

  3. That thou art a teacher come from God. The rulers knew that Jesus was not the product of any of the rabbinical schools, and his miracles marked him as a prophet and distinguished him from all who were guided merely by reason, no matter how learned.

  4. For no man can do these signs that thou doest. See John 2:25.

  5. Except God be with him. These words show the effect of Christ's miracles. Miracles arrest attention and challenge investigation, and prove that he who works them is from God (Acts 10:38).

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 3:2". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

By night; secretly, for fear of his associates and friends.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-3.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Он пришел к Иисусу ночью. Из того, что он пришел ночью мы заключаем о его боязливости. Собственная слава как бы затмила ему очи. Возможно, ему мешал и стыд, поскольку мнительные люди считают для себя унизительным спускаться с вершины учительства до уровня ученика. Несомненно, он также превозносился глупым притязанием на всезнание. Посему, возвышая себя, он не хотел ни в чем унижаться. Однако же в нем было некое семя благочестия, поскольку, услышав о появлении пророка Божия, он не презрел и не пренебрег небесным учением, но возымел желание о нем узнать. А это желание рождается только от страха и почтения к Богу. Многими обуревает глупое любопытство, и они жадно стремятся узнать о чем-то новом. Но не подлежит сомнению: к более близкому знакомству с учением Христовым Никодима толкали его благочестие и совесть. Хотя это семя долго скрывалось в нем и казалось мертвым, после смерти Христа оно принесло такой плод, о котором никто не мог бы и мечтать.

Равви! мы знаем. Эти слова означают то же, как если бы Никодим сказал: Учитель, мы знаем, что Ты пришел как Учитель. Однако, поскольку тогда ученые люди часто назывались учителями, Никодим, назвав

Христа учителем первый раз, приветствовал Его по общему обычаю, а называя второй раз, утверждает, что Он послан от Бога. От этого зависит авторитет всех учителей Церкви. Ведь, поскольку нам надлежит учиться только у Слова Божия, следует слушать лишь тех, чьими устами вещает Сам Бог. И надо отметить: несмотря на то, что религия у иудеев была сильно испорчена и почти что уничтожена, они всегда придерживались одной важной аксиомы: лишь тот является законным учителем, кого послал Сам Бог. Впрочем, поелику никто не хвалился так надменно и самоуверенно своим богопосланничеством, как хвалились им лжепророки, необходимо было обладать способностью различения духов. Посему Никодим добавляет, что Христос несомненно послан от Бога, ведь Бог настолько мощно явил в Нем Свою силу, что невозможно отрицать Его присутствие.

Здесь Никодим считает само собой разумеющимся: Бог, как правило, действует через Своих служителей, дабы запечатлеть возложенную на них миссию. Это весьма правдоподобно, поелику Господь восхотел, чтобы чудеса служили печатью Его учения. Так что Никодим справедливо делает Бога единственным автором всех чудес, говоря, что никто не может творить такие знамения, ежели не будет с ним Бог. Он как бы говорит: здесь царит и открывается не человеческое старание, а всемогущая сила Божия. В итоге, поскольку плод чудес двояк: они приготовляют нас к вере, и подтверждают веру, уже зачатую от Слова Божия, – в начале своей речи Никодим говорил весьма уместно, признавая во Христе истинного пророка Божия. Однако, кажется, утверждение это не столь уж справедливо. Ведь лжепророки не иначе обманывают неопытных, как прежде доказав свое служение Богу истинными знамениями. Как же нам различать между истиной и обманом, ежели вера зависит от чудес? Более того, как красноречиво заявляет Моисей, этим искушением как раз и проверяется наша любовь к Богу (Втор.13:3). Известно также предостережение Христа и апостола Павла, дабы верующие остерегались ложных знамений, коими антихрист затуманит очи многих (Мф.24:24). Отвечаю: по праведному попущению Божию уловками сатаны обманываются те, кто этого достоин. Однако это не мешает, чтобы избранным сила Божия также являлась в чудесах, представляющих для них достойное подтверждение истинного учения. Так Павел хвалится тем, что его апостольство подтверждается знамениями и явлением силы (2Кор.12:12). Посему, как бы сидящий по тьме сатана ни обезъянничал, передразнивая Бога, там, где очи людей открыты и сияет свет духовной мудрости, чудеса надежно свидетельствуют о присутствии Божием, о чем и говорит в этом месте Никодим.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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. 2. "He came to him by night and said: Master, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him."

What was the purpose of this visit? These first words of Nicodemus are only a preamble; it would be idle to seek here the revelation of the purpose of his procedure. Koppe has supposed that he came to act as a spy on the Lord. But Jesus treats him as an honest person, and Nicodemus shows himself sincere during the course of the conversation, and also afterwards. Meyerhas supposed that he came to inquire about the way to be saved. But as a good Jew and pious Pharisee, he by no means doubted as to his own salvation. We must, rather, suppose that he had discerned in Jesus an extraordinary being, and as he must have known the answer of the forerunner to the deputation of the Sanhedrim, he asked himself seriously whether Jesus might not be the Messiah announced by John as already present. In that case he would try to sound His plans respecting the decisive revolution which His coming was to involve. This supposition appears to me more natural than that of Weiss, who, because of the title of teacher with which Nicodemus salutes Jesus, thinks that he wished to question Him concerning what new teaching He had just given. But Nicodemus evidently could not salute Jesus by any other title than that of teacher, even if, as he must have had from the testimony of John the Baptist and in consequence of the expulsion of the traders, he had a presentiment that there was in Him something still greater. The plural οἴδαμεν, we know, proves that He did not take this step solely in his own name, but that a certain number of his colleagues entertained the same thoughts with himself.—He comes by night.

This circumstance, noticed expressly in John 19:39 and perhaps also in John 7:50, is easily explained by the fear which he had of compromising himself before the other members of the Sanhedrim, and even before the people. Perhaps, also, he wished to avoid further increasing, through a step taken in broad daylight, the reputation of the young teacher. Nicodemus gives Him the title of ῥαββί, Master; this is saying very much on his part; since Jesus had not passed through the different degrees of rabbinical studies which gave a right to this title. Comp. John 7:15 : "The Jews were astonished, saying: How does this man know the Scriptures, not being a man who has studied?" It is precisely this extraordinary course of the development of Jesus which Nicodemus characterizes by saying: a teacher come from God. ᾿απὸ θεοῦ, from God, is placed at the beginning as the principal idea, opposed to that of a regular doctorate. The same contrast is found in John 7:16 in the mouth of Jesus Himself. This designation: from God, depends neither on the verb, come, nor on the word teacher, separately, but on the complex phrase; the sense is: "come as a teacher from God." The argument is consonant with theocratic precedents (Exodus 4). Miracles prove divine assistance, and this proves the divine mission. But this formal demonstration, intended to prove to Jesus a truth which he does not doubt, is somewhat pedantic and must have shocked the ear of Him to whom it was addressed. So Jesus cuts short the discourse thus commenced by a sudden apostrophe, intended rather to answer the inmost thoughts of His interlocutor than his spoken words.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 2. We know] But will not know. Hence they became sinners against the Holy Ghost, Matthew 12:23, &c. The devil that commits this sin every day, is full of objective knowledge, and thence hath his name. {a}

No man can do these miracles] Those magicians of Egypt, Jannes and Jambres, did but cast a mist, and beguile the sight of Pharaoh and his followers. How Tyndale hindered the magician of Antwerp, that he could not do his feats, see Acts and Monuments, fol. 985.

{a} δαιμων quasi δαημων. Plato. Miracula a diabolo edita sunt praestigiae, imposturae, phantasmata, ludibria. Bacholcer.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 3:2. The same came to Jesus by night, Lest any offence should be taken at his conversing openly with Jesus, by his brethren of the council, who from the very beginning were Christ's enemies, he came secretly, by night, in order to have a private conference with him at his own lodgings; and with the greatest reverence and respect said to him, in his own name, as well as in the name of several of his brethren, Rabbi,—a very remarkable appellation from a person of so great dignity, to one, who, in regard to his education and rank in secular life, made so low an appearance as our blessed Lord: We know, &c. Christ's miracles left Nicodemus no room to doubt of his mission from God; yet they did not fully prove him to be the Messiah, because he had not as yet called himself by that name, at least in the hearing of Nicodemus. Wherefore, when he told Jesus that he believed him to be a teacher come from God; he insinuated, that at present he did not believe in him as the Messiah; but that he would believe, if he assumed that character; and by these insinuations modestly requested Jesus to explain himself with regard to his pretensions. We may just observe, upon the foundation of that strong assertion which Nicodemus makes, No man can do these miracles, &c. that the miracles ascribed to Christ and his apostles recommend themselves to us, on the following account, exclusive of theirbeing always esteemed among the Jews as credentials and proofs of the divine mission of those who claimed to themselves the authority ofprophets and teachers: they were wrought by persons who solemnly appealed to God; they were wrought in a public manner, before enemies and unbelievers; in a learned age and civilized country; not with any air of pride, vanity, and ostentation; not for the sake of lucre, or for worldly advantage; in confirmation of doctrines good and useful for mankind; at a time when men wanted neither power nor inclination to expose them, if they were impostures, and were in no danger of being called atheists and heretics, of being insulted by the populace, and persecuted by the civil magistrate, if they ridiculed and exposed them: theywere various and numerous; of a permanent nature, and might be reviewed and re-examined; had nothing fantastical and cruel in them, but were acts of kindness and beneficence: they ceased for a long time before Christ appeared, and therefore would raise the attention of men. They were the means of converting multitudes to the faith; were attested by proper witnesses; foretold by prophets; were such as the Jews expected from the Messiah, and were acknowledged even by adversaries. Nicodemus, therefore, had great reason to be swayed by them, and to acknowledge their force.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2.] νυκτόςfor fear of the Jews: see ch. John 12:42. The discourse seems to have taken place between Jesus and Nicodemus alone,—and may have been related by our Lord to the Evangelist afterwards. If this be deemed improbable (though I do not see why it should),—of the two other alternatives I would rather believe that John was present, than that Nicodemus should have so minutely related a conversation which in his then position he could not understand.

οἴδαμεν] This plural may be merely an allusion to others who had come to the same conclusion, e.g. Joseph of Arimathea; or it may express that Nicodemus was sent in the name of several who wished to know the real character of this Person who wrought such miracles. It is harsh, in this private conversation, to take the plural as merely of singular import, as Lightfoot seems to do. His other rendering, “vulgo agnoscitur,” is better,—but not satisfactory; for the common people did not generally confess it, and Nicodemus, as an ἄρχων, would not be likely to speak in their name (see ch. John 7:49). I would rather take it to express the true conviction respecting Jesus, of that class to which Nicodemus belonged—the ἄρχοντες: and see in it an important fact, that their persecutions and murder of the Prince of Life hence found their greatest aggravation, that they were carried on against the conclusions of their own minds, out of bitter malice, and worldly disappointment at His humble and unobtrusive character, and the spiritual purity and self-sacrifice which He inculcated. Still this must not, though undoubtedly it has truth in it, be carried too far: cf. Acts 3:17 note, and Acts 13:27; 1 Corinthians 2:8. Some degree of ignorance there must necessarily have been in all of them, even Caiaphas included, of our Lord’s Office and Person. Stier (iv. 11 ff., edn. 2) seems to think that Nicodemus, by using the plural, is sheltering himself from expressing his own conviction, so as to be able to draw back again if necessary.

ἐλήλυθας] Stier (and Schleiermacher, cited by Stier, iv. 12, edn. 2, note) thinks that there is involved in this word a recognition by Nicodemus of the Messianic mission of Jesus:—that it expresses His being ὁ ἐρχόμενος (Matthew 11:3 alli(42).). It is never used of any but the Messiah, except by the Lord Himself, when speaking of John the Baptist as the subject of prophecy (see Matthew 11:14 alli(43).).

διδάσκαλος] In this and the following words, Nicodemus seems to be cautiously withdrawing from his admission being taken as expressing too much. For who of the Jews ever expected a teacher to come from God? They looked for a King, to sit on David’s throne,—a Prophet, to declare the divine will;—but the Messiah was never designated as a mere teacher, till the days of modern Socinianism. So that he seems trying to qualify or recall his ἐλήλυθας by this addition.

The following words exhibit the same cautious inconsistency. No one can do, &c. unless—we expect some strong expression of the truth, such as we had from Nathanael in ch. John 1:50, but the sentence drops to merely—‘God be with him,’ which is a very poor and insufficient exponent of ἀπὸ θ. ἐλήλυθας. Against this inconsistency,—the inner knowledge that the Kingdom of God was come, and He who was to found it, on the one hand,—and the rationalizing endeavour to reduce this heavenly kingdom to mere learning, and its Founder to a mere teacher, on the other,—is the following discourse directed.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:2". 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 3:2. νυκτός, by night) There is never a time that Christ does not receive comers to Him.— οἴδασμεν, we know) I, and those like me: the rulers rather than the Pharisees, ch. John 12:42. To this plural answers the plural, John 3:7, “Ye must be born again.” The Antecedent is put by Nicodemus as the consequent: For this reason I wished to confer with Thee. He wished to hear as to heavenly things and as to sublime things, John 3:12 [but Jesus brings him up to first principles.—V. g.]—(49) σημεῖα, signs) ch. John 2:23, “At the passover, on the feast day, many believed on Him when they saw the miracles which He did.”

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:2". 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

He came by night to Christ, not, as some (too charitably) possibly may think, that he might have the freer and less interrupted communion and discourse with him; but either through fear, or possibly shame, being a master in Israel, to be looked upon as a scholar going to learn of another. He saluteth him by the name they usually gave to their teachers, (as we showed, John 1:49), and saith,

we know, by which he hints to us, that not only he, but others of the Pharisees also, knew that he was a teacher sent from God in a more extraordinary manner; and he giveth the reason of this their knowledge, because of those miraculous operations which he had wrought. God hath his number among all orders and sorts of men; and those that are his shall come unto Christ. There was a weakness in the faith and love of this Nicodemus; (his station amongst the Jews was a great temptation to him); but yet there was a truth of both in him, which further discovered itself, John 7:50, and more upon Christ’s death, John 19:39. But here ariseth a greater question, viz. How Nicodemus could conclude that Christ was a teacher sent from God, by his miracles.

Answer. It is to be observed, that he doth not say, in the general, that no man does signs or wonders of any kind, unless the power and favour of God be with him. But he speaks particularly and eminently of those things which Jesus did; they were so great in their nature, so real and solid in their proof, so Divine in the manner of performing them by the empire of his will; so holy in their end, to confirm a doctrine most becoming the wisdom and other glorious attributes of God, and that were the verification of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, whose coming it was foretold should be with miraculous healing benefits; that there was the greatest assurance, that none without the omnipotent hand of God could do them; for it is clear by the light of reason and Scripture, that God will not assist by his almighty power the ministers of Satan, to induce those who sincerely search for truth to believe a lie. The magicians indeed performed divers wonders in Egypt, but they were outdone by Moses, to convince the spectators that he was sent from a power infinitely superior to that of evil spirits. Real miracles, that are contrary to the order and exceed the power of nature, can only be produced by creating power, and are wrought to give credit to those who are sent from God. And when God permits false miracles to be done by seducers, that would thereby obtain authority and credit amongst men, the deception is not invincible; for it is foretold expressly to give us warning, that the man of sin shall come with lying wonders, by the working of Satan, 2 Thessalonians 2:9; and the heavenly doctrine of the gospel has been confirmed by real miracles, incomparably greater than all the strange things done to give credit to doctrines opposite to it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:2". 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

пришел к Иисусу ночью Хотя некоторые думают, что ночное посещение Никодимом Иисуса было какой-то метафорой духовной тьмы его сердца (ср. 1:5; 9:4; 11:10; 13:30) или что он решил прийти в это время для того, чтобы он мог подольше побеседовать с Иисусом и не торопиться, но самое логическое объяснение, возможно, кроется в том, что, будучи начальником иудейским, Никодим боялся быть причастным к общению с Иисусом открыто, в беседе. Он предпочел лучше тайно встретиться с Иисусом ночью, чем рисковать потерять расположение таких же, как он, фарисеев, среди которых Иисус был, как правило, непопулярен.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:2". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.By night—Night studies of the law were a great merit with the rabbis. “Around him who studies by night,” was their maxim, “God draws a thread of mercy by day.” But fear for the Jews and a regard for his reputation no doubt were the cause of this nightly visit. Compare notes on John 19:38-39. He had a head conviction, but little of the martyr spirit. He could not trust God, because he feared man.

Rabbi—Nicodemus addresses him as a teacher, yea, a God-sent teacher, but not as the Messiah.

We know—This we includes the class of thinkers to which he belonged, namely, the many specified in John 2:23. See notes.

Come from God— Not as the scribes and doctors, with mere human authority; but with a commission fresh from Jehovah, and so at least a prophet, if not the Messiah.

Miracles’ except God be with him—For these miracles are too great to be done by man, and too good to be done by devils.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘The same came to him by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these signs except God be with him”.’

This Pharisee acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher ‘come from God’ and that ‘God was with Him’ because he was impressed by the ‘signs’ that He had done. In other words while not being a recognised teacher of the schools Jesus had in Nicodemus’ eyes satisfactorily demonstrated that He was in the prophetic mould. But Nicodemus had not rightly interpreted the signs, for he had come short of a recognition that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. Furthermore the good opinion of his compatriots was so important to him that he ‘came by night’. He was still in darkness. He was one of those who had ‘believed’ but to whom Jesus was not willing to trust Himself (John 2:23-25). To put it in the best light, he wanted to make sure of Jesus before he committed himself. Later he will help in the decent burial of the body of Jesus and will at that stage be remembered by the fact that previously he had come at night (John 19:39).

‘Came to him by night’. ‘By night’ suggests that he did not want to be observed. But for John it probably has another meaning, that the man who was in darkness was approaching the light of the world. John draws out these nuances, compare John 13:30 where Judas the betrayer goes out ‘and it was night’.

‘A teacher come from God.’ This in contrast with teachers of the recognised kind who had received their training through the Rabbinic schools.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John probably would not have mentioned that Nicodemus called on Jesus at night if that fact was insignificant. Probably the prominent Pharisee made his call at night to keep his visit private and uninterrupted (cf. John 19:39). The Pharisees generally were antagonistic toward Jesus, and he apparently wanted to avoid unnecessary conflict with his brethren. Nighttime probably promised a greater chance for uninterrupted conversation as well. Whenever else John referred to night in his Gospel the word has moral and spiritual connotations of darkness (cf. John 9:4; John 11:10; John 13:30). Nicodemus was in spiritual and intellectual darkness as well as natural darkness when he came to Jesus (cf. John 3:10). [Note: E. W. Hengstenberg, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 1:157-58; R. H. Lightfoot, St. John"s Gospel: A Commentary, p116.]

Nicodemus addressed Jesus as "Rabbi," a respectful title that recognized Him as a teacher. One rabbi was coming to another for discussion. However, this title also indicated the extent of this man"s faith. He did not address Jesus as the Messiah or the Son of God or his Lord. Moreover he expressed belief that Jesus had come from God, in contrast to Satan (cf. John 8:48; John 8:52), in view of the miracles that He was performing (cf. John 2:23; John 20:30; John 21:24-25). This suggests that Nicodemus may have wanted to determine if Jesus was a prophet as well as a teacher. To the Jews of Jesus" day, no unusual teaching would have been acceptable without the evidence of miracles. [Note: Edersheim, 1:380.]

"We" could be a way of saying himself (cf. John 3:11). Alternatively Nicodemus could have been representing others on the Sanhedrin beside himself such as Joseph of Arimathea (cf. John 19:38). Note Nicodemus" courtesy and lack of hostility. These qualities mark him as a non-typical Pharisee.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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 3:2. The same came to him by night. Chap. John 19:38-39, seems clearly to show that the motive of Nicodemus in thus coming by night was the same as the cause of Joseph’s secret discipleship—the ‘fear of the Jews.’ That he himself was one of ‘the Jews’ only makes this explanation more probable. We cannot doubt that he came alone; whether Jesus also was alone, or whether John or other disciples were present at the interview, we cannot tell.

And said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art come from God, a teacher. Every word here is of importance. On Rabbi see the note, chap. John 1:38. We may be sure that a member of the sect that carefully scrutinised the Baptist’s credentials (chap. John 1:19-24) would not lightly address Jesus by this title of honour, or acknowledge him as Teacher. But the words ‘Thou art come from God’ will appear even more significant, if we keep in mind that the most familiar designation of the Messiah was ‘the coming One,’ He that should come. The appearing of the Baptist quickened in the minds of ‘all men’(Luke 3:15) the recollection of God’s great promise; and the signs lately wrought by Jesus in Jerusalem may well have excited in the mind of this Pharisee hopes which find a hesitating expression in his words. No ordinary prophet would have been thus acknowledged as one ‘come from God.’ At the very least, the confession assigns to Jesus a supreme authority as Teacher. The confession of Nicodemus was made in the name of others besides himself. ‘We know;’—others amongst the Pharisees, perhaps already others amongst the rulers (chap. John 12:42), had reached the same point. No doubt the number was but small, too small to make confession easy, or to banish the very natural fear of the Jews which brought Nicodemus to Jesus by night.

For no one can do these signs that thou doest except God be with him. Nicodemus acknowledges the works to be ‘signs’(not so the Jews, chap. John 2:18), and he shows that in him the signs had precisely answered the designed end. The faith indeed which rested on these alone was imperfect, but it was faith; more could be gained; the faith could be educated, raised higher, and made more complete. How truly this faith has been educated will be shown when (chap. John 19:39) it shall come forth in honour of that crucified Redeemer who is here to be proclaimed (John 3:14). Such education, however, can be effected only by the word of Jesus, leading to fellowship with Himself. For this word Nicodemus now comes. In reading the following verses we must bear in mind that, as Jesus would train and strengthen the faith of Nicodemus, it is the weak side of this faith that is kept in view; but the Saviour’s acceptance of the faith as real is plainly to be seen in the openness and unreservedness of the teaching He vouchsafes. Many have pointed out the contrast between this discourse and those related in the other Gospels; but had there been no difference between discourses delivered to the half-instructed excitable multitudes of Galilee and those intended for a ‘teacher of Israel,’ the apparent agreement would have been a discord which no argument could explain away (see Introduction).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:2. . The pronoun instead of the name Jesus, as Holtzmann remarks, shows the close connection with the closing verses of the last chapter. Nicodemus came to the fountain head, dissatisfied with the way in which his colleagues were dealing with Jesus, and resolved to judge for himself. Nothing could be more hopeful than such a state of mind. When a man says, I will see for myself what Jesus is, not influenced by what other men say; before I sleep I will settle this matter, the result is fairly certain to be good. See chap. John 7:50, John 19:39. He came , certainly with the purpose of secrecy, and yet for a man in his position to come at all was much. No timidity is shown in John 7:50. In John 19:39 John still identifies him as “he that came to Jesus by night,” but adds “at the first” in contrast to the courage he afterwards showed. Similarly, as Grotius tells us, Euclid of Megara visited Socrates by night when Athens was closed by edict against the Megarians. Modestly and as if not presuming to speak as an individual but as representing a party however small (John 3:2), he says, , “Rabbi, we know that Thou art come from God as a teacher”. We need not see in the words anything either patronising or flattering, but merely the natural first utterance of a man wishing to show the state of his mind. He was convinced that Jesus was a divinely commissioned teacher. He came to hear what He had to teach. His teaching, in the judgment of Nicodemus, was divinely authenticated by the miracles; but to Nicodemus at any rate the teaching was that for which the miracles existed. They were , and though not recorded, they must have been of a kind to strike a thoughtful mind , the emphatic pronoun, as if other miracles might not have been so convincing. At the same time the reply of Jesus shows that behind this cautious designation of “teacher” there lay in the mind of Nicodemus a suspicion that this might be the Messiah. Nicodemus may have taken to heart the Baptist’s proclamation. Grotius supposes the conversation is abridged, and that Nicodemus had intimated that he wished to learn something about the kingdom which formed the subject of our Lord’s teaching. “Responsio tacite innuit, quod adjectum a Nicodemo fuerat, nempe, velle se scire, quandoquidem Jesus Regni coelestis inter docendum mentionem saepe faceret, quae ratio esset eo perveniendi.” But with the introduction to this incident (John 2:23-25) in our mind, it seems gratuitous to suppose that part of the conversation is here omitted. Jesus speaks to the intention and mental attitude of His interlocutor rather than to his words. He saw that Nicodemus was conceiving it as a possible thing that these miracles might be the signs of the kingdom; and in this visit of Nicodemus He sees what may be construed into an overture from the Pharisaic party. And so He cuts Nicodemus remorselessly short. As when the Pharisees (Luke 17:20) demand of Him when the Kingdom of God should come, He replied: The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation, not with signs which the natural man can measure, it comes within you; so here in strikingly similar language He says, , . This allusion to the kingdom, which is not a favourite idea of John’s, is one of the incidental marks of his historical trustworthiness.— is sometimes local = , from above; sometimes temporal = , de novo. The former meaning is advocated here by Baur, Lücke, Meyer, and others. But the use of and the difficulty stated by Nicodemus in John 3:4 rather indicate that the Syriac and Vulgate [nisi quis renatus fuerit], Augustine, Calvin, and among many others Weiss are right in adopting the temporal meaning and rendering with R.V[38] “anew”. [Wetstein, in proof of this meaning, quotes from Artemidorus, who tells of a father who dreamt that there was born to him a child exactly like himself; “he seemed,” he says, “to be born a second time,” . And in the touching story which gave rise to the Domine quo vadis Church at Rome where Peter met Christ, the words of the Lord, as given in the Acta Pauli, are .] The answer of Nicodemus might seem to indicate that he had understood as equivalent to his own . But it is impossible to determine with certainty which is the correct meaning. A man must be born again, says our Lord, because otherwise . Is here to be taken in the sense of “seeing” or of “enjoying,” “partaking”? Meyer and Weiss, resting on such expressions as (Luke 2:26, Hebrews 11:5), (Acts 2:27), (1 Peter 3:10), understand that “participation” is meant. So Calvin, “videre regnum Dei idem valet ac ingredi in regnum Dei,” and Grotius, “participem fieri”. Confirmation of this view is at first sight given by the of John 3:5. But it is of “signs” Nicodemus has been speaking, of observing the kingdom coming; and Christ says: To see the kingdom you must be spiritual, born anew, for the signs are spiritual. In this language there should have been nothing to stumble Nicodemus. All Jerusalem was ringing with the echoes of the Baptist’s preaching, the essence of which was “ye must be born again”. To be children of Abraham is nothing. There is nothing moral, nothing spiritual, nothing of the will, nothing related to the Kingdom of God in being children of Abraham. As regards your fleshly birth you are as passive as stones and as truly outside the kingdom. In fact John had excommunicated the whole nation, and expressly told them that they must submit to baptism, like Gentile proselytes, if they were to be prepared for the Messiah’s reign. The language may not have puzzled Nicodemus. Had our Lord said: “Every Gentile must be born again,” he would have understood. It is the idea that staggers him. His bewilderment he utters in the words:

[38] Revised Version.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:2". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

By night. Nicodemus was at this time weak in faith, and therefore did not wish to endanger himself by coming to our Saviour in open day, when the enemies of Christ could see him. For many (as this evangelist informs us in chap. xii. ver. 42,) of the chief men also believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess, that they might not be cast out of the Synagogue. (St. John Chrysostom) --- It appears from this verse that Jesus Christ wrought many miracles, even in the first year of his preaching: though not very publicly, and amidst the crowd. However, few of those which he performed in Judea are noticed by the evangelist.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

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.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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

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.

The same came to Jesus. The true text here clearly is 'to Him' [ pros (Greek #4314) auton (Greek #846)]; this being regarded as but a continuation of the same subject with which the preceding chapter closed. The word "Jesus" no doubt came in first in those Church Lessons which began with John 3:1-36, and so required it; just as many in the public reading of the Scriptures insert the name of the person instead of "he" or "him," for clearness' sake. So all recent critical editors agree.

By night - "for fear of the Jews," as is evident from all we read of him: see the notes at John 7:50-52; and at John 19:38-39.

And said unto him, Rabbi, [ = didaskalos (G1320)], we know - meaning, probably, that a general conviction to that effect had been diffusing itself through the thoughtful portion of the worshippers with whom Jerusalem was then crowded, though much yet remained for anxious inquiry regarding His claims, and that as the representative of this class he had now come to solicit an interview with Him.

That thou art a teacher come from God, [ apo (Greek #575) Theou (Greek #2316) eleeluthas (Greek #2064)] - not "sent from God," as is said of the Baptist, John 1:6. Stier and Luthardt call attention to this, as expressing more than a conviction that Jesus was divinely commissioned, as were all the prophets. Certain it is that the expression "come from God" is nowhere used of any merely human messenger, while this Gospel of ours teems with phraseology of this kind applied to Christ. It is possible, therefore, that Nicodemus may have designed to express something indefinite as to Christ's higher claims; though what follows hardly bears that out.

For no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. See the note at John 2:23. From all these particulars about Nicodemus, we may gather that sincerity and timidity struggled together in his mind. The one impelled him, in spite of his personal and official position, to solicit an interview with Jesus; the other, to choose the "night" time for his visit, that none might know of it. The one led him frankly to tell the Lord Jesus what conviction he had been constrained to come to, and the ground of that conviction; the other, so to measure his language as not to commit himself to more than a bare acknowledgment of a miraculously attested commission from God to men.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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

2. One night he went to Jesus. He did this at night, either because of the hostility toward Jesus [of the Council], or to have a more personal interview with Christ. That you are a teacher sent by God. The Council knew that Jesus had not been to their theological schools; and the miracles he was performing identified him clearly as a prophet. He wanted information, and Jesus gave it to him in the conversation which follows.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 3:2". "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

(2) The word for “bloweth,” “breatheth,” is of the same root as πνεῦμα. It is used in the New Testament with “wind,” but naturally has the meaning of its cognate substantive. The Vulgate can exactly render it by “Spiritus ubi vult spirat,” but we have in English no verb cognate with “Spirit.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
came
7:50,51; 12:42,43; 19:38,39; Judges 6:27; Isaiah 51:7; Philippians 1:14
Rabbi
26; 1:38; 20:16
we know
Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14
for
5:36; 7:31; 9:16,30-33; 11:47,48; 12:37; 15:24; Acts 2:22; 4:16,17; Acts 10:38
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 17:24 - Now by this;  Proverbs 29:25 - fear;  Jeremiah 38:16 - sware;  Matthew 10:7 - preach;  Matthew 11:5 - blind;  Matthew 23:7 - Rabbi;  Mark 10:17 - Good;  Luke 7:40 - Master;  Luke 20:21 - Master;  Luke 24:19 - Concerning;  John 1:24 - were of;  John 2:11 - did;  John 2:23 - many;  John 4:45 - having;  John 7:13 - spake;  John 7:28 - and I;  John 9:33 - were;  John 10:25 - the works;  John 10:38 - believe the;  Romans 12:7 - or he;  1 John 5:18 - whosoever

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

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

Ver. 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 which Thou doest, except God be with him."

That John ascribes importance to the circumstance that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, and perceives in this a characteristic memorial of the state of his heart at that time, is evident from the repeated reference to this circumstance in John 7:50; John 19:39. The reason of his coming by night we derive, with probability, from the parallel designation of Joseph of Arimathea, in that second passage—"being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews." Any other reason can scarcely be thought of, if the coming by night was not a chance one. Cf. John 12:42 also; according to which, many of the rulers believed on Christ, "but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [their belief], lest they should be put out of the synagogue." We perceive the root of this fear of man partly from John 2:23-25, partly from Christ's conversation with Nicodemus itself. The fear of man can be overcome only where there is a living faith in Christ as the very Son of God, and Saviour of the world; and the foundation of such faith is a thorough knowledge of one's own misery, which impels one to seek in Christ the healing of the deep wounds of conscience. The fear of man is often falsely condemned,—that being taken for ordinary cowardice and dread of suffering, which is only a result of the lower stage of faith. So long as this remains, reserve is quite in order. When Nicodemus had taken to heart the contents of this conversation, he came forward as a confessor.

But we must not rest content with supposing that, in mentioning the coming of Nicodemus by night, John wished to refer only to his fear of man. It is quite in accordance with the manner of John, to perceive in this a symbol of the darkness which still enveloped the mind of Nicodemus, and which made itself known in this very circumstance. The Lord Himself appears gently to hint at this in the close of the conversation, in ver. 19, where He speaks of darkness in the ethical sense. Night also occurs as the emblem of spiritual darkness in the word of the Lord in John 11:10; and when in John 13:30, John says of Judas the traitor, "He went out, and it was night," he evidently recognised in the external night a symbol of the spiritual night, where the light of grace does not shine, and in which begins the power of darkness. In such spiritual interpretation of the night, the Apocalypse of John coincides with his Gospel. Cf. besides, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, where the condition of those who live out of Christ is represented as darkness and night, but the condition of believers as light and day. Anton well remarks, "He would not himself have known that there was still so much darkness in him, if he had not in this conference come to the light."

That Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, does not necessarily imply that the disciples of Jesus, especially the three most intimate, were not with Him. It was not these, but the Jews, that Nicodemus had to fear. It seems probable that, at a strange place like this, the disciples would assemble around Jesus in the evening. On a later occasion, Jesus spent the night with the disciples at Bethany, Matthew 21:17 sq., Mark 11:11. Ver. 11 seems to intimate distinctly the presence of the disciples. By this remark is answered the question. From whence did John obtain so accurate a knowledge of the conversation? If we think of any one of the disciples as inseparable from Jesus, it is this one, especially in Jerusalem, where he had no business connected with his earthly calling.

Nicodemus says, We know. Light is thrown on this plural by chap. John 2:23-25. Nicodemus appears as the representative of those who had believed on Jesus because they saw the miracles which He did. We are led to a real plurality also by the parallel use of οἴδαμεν in John 9:24-30. Anton renders the plural too ideally when he paraphrases it: "By right we ought to know it, and by right we might all know it; and thus then I will address the conscience of the others." Yet there is in this an element of truth. Nicodemus certainly does not anxiously stop with those, of whom he knew by experience that they shared his point of view.

Behind the acknowledgment of Jesus as a teacher come from God, there is concealed the request to Jesus, that lie would manifest Himself to him as a teacher—that He would impart to him the precepts, by following which he might attain to the Messianic kingdom. Only when this is perceived does the answer of Christ seem appropriate. That which here is only intimated, appears in a more developed form in Matthew 19:16 (Luke 18:18): "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" From the same analogous case, we perceive also what kind of teaching it was that Nicodemus expected from Jesus: the application of certain extraordinary performances, whereby he might increase the already existing treasure of his holiness, and thus render himself a worthy candidate for the kingdom of heaven.

It was a good beginning, when Nicodemus, on the ground of His miracles, acknowledged in Jesus a teacher come from God. He did this not in the sense of Rationalism, which exalted the teacher in order to set aside the king and the high priest, and in truth rejected not less the teacher. He recognised in the teacher one of absolute authority. The Messiah appears as the "Teacher of righteousness" in Joel 2:23;] and in Isaiah 4:4 it is said, "Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people." But when Nicodemus remained content with Christ as the teacher, especially the moral teacher, this was an unsatisfactory point of view, from which he could not solve the particular problem appointed for the members of the kingdom of God, viz., of regeneration.

That in Christ Nicodemus recognised the Messiah, cannot well be doubted. He was one of those who believed in the name of Christ, John 2:23; and John would hardly have attributed such a faith to those who had not yet found the right answer to the fundamental question. When he salutes Christ as the Teacher (concerning the address Rabbi, which elsewhere proceeds from those who were perfectly convinced of the Messiahship of Jesus, see the remarks on John 1:39), only that side of the nature of Christ is rendered prominent, in harmony with his personal need, which had relation to the hearts of the covenant-people. Viewed from without, he may be at the same time Judge, Ruler, Lawgiver, and He who wholly reverses the relation of Israel to the heathen world.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:2". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.He came to Jesus by night. From the circumstance of his coming by night we infer that his timidity was excessive; for his eyes were dazzled, as it were, by the splendor of his own greatness and reputation. (55) Perhaps too he was hindered by shame, for ambitious men think that their reputation is utterly ruined, if they have once descended from the dignity of teachers to the rank of scholars; and he was unquestionably puffed up with a foolish opinion of his knowledge. In short, as he had a high opinion of himself, he was unwilling to lose any part of his elevation. And yet there appears in him some seed of piety; for hearing that a Prophet of God had appeared, he does not despise or spurn the doctrine which has been brought from heaven, and is moved by some desire to obtain it, — a desire which sprung from nothing else than fear and reverence for God. Many are tickled by an idle curiosity to inquire eagerly about any thing that is new, but there is no reason to doubt that it was religious principle and conscientious feeling that excited in Nicodemus the desire to gain a more intimate knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. And although that seed remained long concealed and apparently dead, yet after the death of Christ it yielded fruit, such as no man would ever have expected, (John 19:39.)

Rabbi, we know. The meaning of these words is, “Master, we know that thou art come to be a teacher. ” But as learned men, at that time, were generally called Masters, Nicodemus first salutes Christ according to custom, and gives him the ordinary designation, Rabbi, (which means Master, (56)) and afterwards declares that he was sent by God to perform the office of a Master. And on this principle depends all the authority of the teachers in the Church; for as it is only from the word of God that we must learn wisdom, we ought not to listen to any other persons than those by whose mouth God speaks. And it ought to be observed, that though religion was greatly corrupted and almost destroyed among the Jews, still they always held this principle, that no man was a lawful teacher, unless he had been sent by God. But as there are none who more haughtily and more daringly boast of having been sent by God than the false prophets do, we need discernment in this case for trying the spirits. Accordingly Nicodemus adds:

For no man can do the signs which thou doest, unless God be with him. It is evident, he says, that Christ has been sent by God, because God displays his power in him so illustriously, that it cannot be denied that God is with him He takes for granted that God is not accustomed to work but by his ministers, so as to seal the office which he has entrusted to them. And he had good grounds for thinking so, because God always intended that miracles should be seals of his doctrine. Justly therefore does he make God the sole Author of miracles, when he says that no man can do these signs, unless God be with him; for what he says amounts to a declaration that miracles are not performed by the arm of man, but that the power of God reigns, and is illustriously displayed in them. In a word, as miracles have a twofold advantage, to prepare the mind for faith, and, when it has been formed by the word, to confirm it still more, Nicodemus had profited aright in the former part, because by miracles he recognizes Christ as a true prophet of God.

Yet his argument appears not to be conclusive; for since the false prophets deceive the ignorant by their impostures as fully as if they had proved by true signs that they are the ministers of God, what difference will there be between truth and falsehood, if faith depends on miracles? Nay, Moses expressly says that God employs this method to try if we love him, (Deuteronomy 13:3.) We know also, the warning of Christ, (Matthew 24:14,) and of Paul, (2 Thessalonians 2:9,) that believers ought to beware of lying signs, by which Anti-Christ dazzles the eyes of many. I answer, God may justly permit this to be done, that those who deserve it may be deceived by the enchantments of Satan. But I say that this does not hinder the elect from perceiving in miracles the power of God, which is to them an undoubted confirmation of true and sound doctrine. Thus, Paul boasts that his apostleship was confirmed by signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, (2 Corinthians 12:12.) To whatever extent Satan may, like an ape, counterfeit the works of God in the dark, yet when the eyes are opened and the light of spiritual wisdom shines, miracles are a sufficiently powerful attestation of the presence of God, as Nicodemus here declares it to be.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.