The Gospel of John
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
The Gospel of John – Text Based Studies
John, Chapter 3:1-36, Nicodemus, Jesus and John concerning Regeneration
3:1-3 Nicodemus recognizes Jesus as “Coming from God”
A. Nicodemus Introduced, 3:1
B. The Secret Meeting, 3:2a
C. Nicodemus recognizes Jesus as “Coming from God”, 3:2b
D. This is the Truth, 3:3a
E. To Enter Heaven you must be born from Heaven, 3:3b
E. You must have Heaven citizenship to enter the Kingdom of God, 3:3c
3:4-8 Nicodemus misunderstands.
A. Nicodemus’ earthly question, 3:4
B. Jesus, This is the Truth, 3:5a
C. Jesus redirects: There are 2 births, 3:5b
1. Physical birth
2. Spiritual birth
D. Both are necessary to enter the Kingdom of God, 3:5c
E. Jesus restates: Physical is Physical, Spiritual is Spiritual, 3:6
E. Jesus: “Stop being amazed at this!”, 3:7
F. Jesus’ example: Spiritual people – Like the wind, 3:8
3:9-15 Eternal Life requires a rebirth by God, and Jesus, the
Messiah, is the Salvation Object.
A. Nicodemus’ spiritual ignorance, 3:9
B. Nicodemus “The Nation’s Teacher,” is ignorant of Spiritual things, 3:10
C. Jesus tells the truth, 3:11a
D. Jesus & Disciples speak from knowledge and personal experience, 3:11b
E. Nicodemus (as a representative of the Jews) does not believe their testimony, they are spiritually devoid, 3:11c.
F. Jesus continues: Their lack of spiritual understanding, 3:12
G. Jesus continues: No man enters Heaven (they are flesh) except Jesus who came down from Heaven (until the Cross and Resurrection), 3:13
H. Illustration of Faith: Moses and the Serpent Sign, 3:14
I. Purpose of Faith: Belief (Faith) in Christ produces Eternal Life, 3:15
3:16-21 Jesus explains Himself and His Salvation
KEY VERSE: Requirement for Eternal Life, 3:16
Belief (Faith) in the Begotten Son
A. Benefits of Salvation by Faith
1. Recipient of the Love of God, 3:16a
2. Recipient of God’s only begotten Son, 3:16b
3. Freedom from Perishing, 3:16c
4. Membership in God’s “World” of Salvation, 3:17
5. Freedom from Judgment based upon Faith, 3:18-20
6. Recipient of the benefits of God’s Truth and Light, 3:21
B. Facts of Salvation by Faith
1. God loved the world in such a way
2. God gave His Only Begotten Son
3. “Whoever” may believe
4. “Belief” must be based upon The Son
5. Without Salvation men perish
6. With Salvation men have Eternal “Life”
7. The purpose of the Son is to “Save”
8. Salvation comes “Through” the Begotten Son
9. The Believer is spared the Judgment of Faith
10. Judgment is concurrent with a lack of “Belief”
11. Judgment is a “fixed given” regarding mankind
12. Judgment is based upon reception of God’s Revelation
13. Mankind loves “anything but God”
14. Mankind’s love is shown through their evil deeds
15. There is evil in the world
16. Evil actions dwell in the darkness
17. Evil actions can be seen in the light
18. Mankind lives in the fear of exposure
19. He who practices the truth comes to the light
20. The believer’s works manifest the work of God in the world
3:22-24 Jesus and John, Ministries of Repentance
A. Jesus & Disciples move South to Judea
1. Jesus spends time with Disciples
2. Jesus’ repentance ministry yields baptisms
3. Foreshadowing – John not yet thrown into prison
4. John The Baptist’s repentance ministry still yielding baptisms
3:25-30 Jesus’ and John’s ministries begin their crossover in
A. John’s followers have questions concerning ritual baptism
B. They also ask about Jesus and the baptisms there
C. Questions arise as to Jesus' ministry
D. Jesus’ ministry becomes “popular”, “all are coming”
E. John TB explains His diminishing roll as the “preceder”
F. John TB explains that he is the Friend of the Bridegroom – not the Bridegroom
G. John TB rejoices greatly that Jesus has come
H. John TB’s joy has been made full
I. Importance shifts from John TB to Jesus
3:31-36 John’s Testimony concerning Jesus confirms Jesus’ deity.
A. John TB places Jesus as above all as He has come down from Heaven
B. John TB speaks of himself as “earthly”
C. John TB speaks of Jesus as “heavenly”
D. John TB, perhaps speaking of himself hearing Jesus’ testimony, places his seal that God is true in that testimony
1. Jesus speaks the Word of God
2. Jesus is able to “give the Spirit” without measure
3. The Father Loves the Son
4. The Father has given ALL THINGS into Jesus’ hand
5. He who believes in the Son has eternal life
6. He who does not, abides under the wrath of God
As is the case with Lazarus, Nicodemus (an Israelite) does not belong to the tradition of the Synoptic Gospels and is only mentioned by John, who devotes more than half of Chapter 3 of his gospel, a few verses of Chapter 7 and lastly mentions him in Chapter 19.
All that we know of Nicodemus in the Bible is from the Gospel of John. In John 3:1, he is described as a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group of Jews who were fastidious in keeping the letter of the Law and often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. Jesus often strongly denounced them for their legalism (see Matthew 23). Saul of Tarsus (who became the apostle Paul) was also a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5).
John 3:1 also describes Nicodemus as a leader of the Jews. According to John 7:50–51, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body of the Jews. Each city could have a Sanhedrin, which functioned as the “lower courts.” Under Roman authority in the time of Christ, the Jewish nation was allowed a measure of self-rule, and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters regarding Jewish law and religion. This was the body that ultimately condemned Jesus, yet they had to get Pilate to approve their sentence since the death penalty was beyond their jurisdiction under Roman law. It appears that Nicodemus was part of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.
John reports that Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night. Many have speculated that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to visit Jesus in broad daylight, so he made a nighttime visit. This may very well be the case, but the text does not give a reason for the timing of the visit. A number of other reasons are also possible. Nicodemus questioned Jesus. As a member of the Jewish ruling council, it would have been his responsibility to find out about any teachers or other public figures who might lead the people astray.
In their conversation, Jesus immediately confronts Nicodemus with the truth that he “must be born again” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus seems incredulous, Jesus reprimands him (perhaps gently) that, since he is a leader of the Jews, he should already know this (John 3:10). Jesus goes on to give a further explanation of the new birth, and it is in this context that we find John 3:16, which is one of the most well-known and beloved verses in the Bible.
The next time we encounter Nicodemus in the Bible, he is functioning in his official capacity as a member of the Sanhedrin as they consider what to do about Jesus. In John 7, some Pharisees and priests (presumably with authority to do so) sent some of the temple guard to arrest Jesus, but they return, unable to bring themselves to do it (see John 7:32–47). The guards are upbraided by the Pharisees in authority, but Nicodemus presents the opinion that Jesus should not be dismissed or condemned until they have heard from Him personally: “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (John 7:51). However, the rest of the Council rudely dismisses Nicodemus’s suggestion out of hand—they appear to have already made up their minds about Jesus.
The final mention of Nicodemus in the Bible is in John 19 after Jesus’ crucifixion. We find Nicodemus assisting Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’ burial. Joseph is described in John as a rich man and in Mark 15:43 as a member of the Council. He is also described in John 19:38 as a disciple of Jesus, albeit a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews. Joseph asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Nicodemus brought 75 pounds of spices for use in preparing the body for burial and then assisted Joseph in wrapping the body and placing it in the tomb. The sheer amount of burial spices would seem to indicate that Nicodemus was a rich man and that he had great respect for Jesus.
The limited account in John’s Gospel leaves many questions about Nicodemus unanswered. Was he a true believer? What did he do after the resurrection? The Bible is silent on these questions, and there are no reliable extra-biblical resources that give answers. It would appear that Nicodemus may have been similar to Joseph of Arimathea in that perhaps he, too, was a disciple of Jesus but had not yet mustered the courage to declare his faith openly. Perhaps Nicodemus’s final recorded act was his declaration of faith—although we are not told how public it was. His presentation in the Gospel of John is generally favorable, which suggests that his faith was indeed genuine.
The Baptism of John The Baptist
First, some historical observations. The ministry of John the Baptist was ordained by God to provide a “forerunner” for the Messiah. This “forerunner” was to be modeled after the man and ministry of Elijah the prophet. God brought forth Elijah during an important time in Israel’s history to oppose a wicked king and bring revival to the land. Elijah’s ministry marked the beginning of the end of Baal worship in Israel.
We should see John the Baptist as one ordained by God, brought forth just before the entry of Jesus into His public ministry, in order to start the process of the repentance of the Nation of Israel in preparation for her messiah. We should also not miss the importance that John performs most of his ministry in the far North of the land of Israel, even to the extent of “Galilee, the land of the Gentiles.” Galilee was far distant from Jerusalem and the core states of the nation. It was on the boundaries of the Phoenicians, Damascus, and the land of Bashan. As a result we find John the Baptist leading both Jews, Proselytes, and Gentiles to repentance and ritual water baptism as a symbolic statement of that repentance. He was literally making them ready for the Messiah’s message and ministry of salvation. Obviously, the land of the Gentiles was from the very start part of God’s plan of salvation.
Question: "What was the
meaning and importance of the baptism of John the Baptist?"
Answer: Though today the word baptism generally evokes thoughts of identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, baptism did not begin with Christians. For years before Christ, the Jews had used baptism in ritual cleansing ceremonies of Gentile proselytes. John the Baptist took baptism and applied it to the Jews themselves—it wasn’t just the Gentiles who needed cleansing. Many believed John’s message and were baptized by him (Matthew 3:5–6). The baptisms John performed had a specific purpose.
In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist mentions the purpose of his baptisms: “I baptize you with water for repentance.” Paul affirms this in Acts 19:4: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” John’s baptism had to do with repentance—it was a symbolic representation of changing one’s mind and going a new direction. “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6). Being baptized by John demonstrated a recognition of one’s sin, a desire for spiritual cleansing, and a commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival.
There were some, like the Pharisees, who came to the Jordan to observe John’s ministry but who had no desire to step into the water themselves. John rebuked them sternly: “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance’” (Matthew 3:7–8). Even the religious leaders needed to repent of their sin, although they saw no need of it.
Christian baptism today also symbolizes repentance, cleansing, and commitment, but Jesus has given it a different emphasis. Christian baptism is a mark of one’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is representative of a cleansing that is complete and a commitment that is the natural response of one who has been made new. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross completely washes away our sins, and we are raised to new life empowered by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Romans 6:1–11). With John’s baptism, a person repented of sin and was therefore ready to place his faith in Jesus Christ. John’s baptism foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish, much as the Old Testament sacrificial system did.
John prepared the way for Christ by calling people to acknowledge their sin and their need for salvation. His baptism was a purification ceremony meant to ready the peoples’ hearts to receive their Savior.
 Baptism of John, GotQuestions.org, https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-of-John.html