Monday, September 29, 2014

ANOTHER LOOK AT CHRISTIANITY’S MOST CHERISHED PASSAGES (II)


By Ed Cardwell


“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” NAS JOHN 3:16

To get a sense of the importance of studying the original languages of Scripture and to understand the great benefits derived from such, I refer the reader to the introductory paragraphs in my previous article ‘ANOTHER LOOK AT CHRISTIANITY’S MOST CHERISHED PASSAGES(I)’.

In this article we take a look at John 3:16 – probably THE most cherished passage of the New Testament. We will begin by first examining the second half of that verse. “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” In a subsequent article we intend to examine the first half.

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Whosoever/whoever vs Everyone Who

‘Whoever/Whosoever’ implies an unknown or unspecified person or persons. It refers to someone whose identity is not necessarily known. It is non-inclusive.

Everyone’ is inclusive; it refers to All the people in a group. It counts noses! 

To illustrate the specificity of God’s inclusiveness please note the words of Jesus:

"All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  NAS John 6:37

"I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me.  NAS John 10:14

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”   NAS John 10:27-29

Both the KJV and the NAS use ‘whosoever’ and ‘whoever’ respectively here in both John 3:15 and 16. Checking a total of 21 translations, 13 out of those 21 use ‘whosoever’ or ‘whoever’.  But 8 out of those 21 translations use ‘everyone who’ or ‘every person who’. So which would be the better translation?  A closer look at the original text reveals that the majority translations are imprecise, or simply inaccurate. No surprise there. Again tradition apparently has won the day for John 3:15 and 16.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at the Greek text:

i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avllV e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nionÅ

The phrase pa/j o` pisteu,wn is the phrase in question. pa/j  means ‘all’;  o  means ‘the one who’; and  pisteu,wn is a participle of the verb ‘to believe’ and means ‘believes’ or ‘believing’. This exact wording in Greek appears six times in the NT:  Jn. 3:15,16; 12:46; Acts 13:39; Rom. 10:11; and 1 Jn. 5:1. To show the inconsistency of the KJV, the NAS, the NAU, and the ESV we look at how each has translated that phrase in those verses.

Jn 3:15                
KJV          whosoever believeth
NAS         whoever believes
NAU         whoever believ
ESV          whoever believes

Jn 3:16 
KJV           whosoever believeth
NAS          whoever believes
NAU         whoever believes
ESV          whoever believes

Jn 12:46              
KJV           whosoever believeth
NAS          whoever believes
NAU          everyone who believes
ESV           whoever believes


Acts 13:39          
KJV            all that believe
NAS           everyone who believes
NAU          everyone who believes
ESV           everyone who believes


Rom 10:11         
KJV            Whosoever believeth
NAS            Whoever believes
NAU            whoever believes
ESV             Everyone who believes


1 Jn 5:1               
KJV            Whosoever believeth
NAS           Whoever believes
NAU           Whoever believes
ESV            Everyone who believes


[It should be noted that the NAU is a 1995 update version of the NAS of 1977.]


One might wonder whether it really matters – ‘whoever’ or ‘everyone/all who’. The inconsistencies beg the question. Yes, it does matter. ‘Whosoever’ implies that the identities are not specified, even unknown. And there are many Bible teachers, pastors included, who affirm that God doesn’t know who will be saved – that it is a universal struggle between God and Satan tugging at the souls of men to see who will win, and God is clueless as to the final outcome. This gives the erroneous impression that God is not omniscient, totally contrary to the revelation about His nature, and further it implies that He and Satan are equal in power and influence. And that leads to all kinds of heresies. The nebulous language of the translators may encourage this line of thinking. But a detailed study of the Word of God clearly shows such theology is a perversion of this precious truth:


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”   NAS Ephesians 1:3-


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Wishing to continue the illustration of inconsistencies of translations of this phrase we take a look at ALL the verses throughout the NT where pa/j o  is followed by any verb with the same form where it is translated as ‘whosoever’ or ‘everyone who’. For example,  pisteu,wn in John 3:15 and 16 is a present active nominative masculine singular verb participle and should be translated ‘believe’ or ‘believing’. That’s a mouthful, but serious students of Greek will understand this. There are 30 appearances in 28 verses in the NT of a verb with this exact condition. Notice how the KJV and the NAS translate them, especially the inconsistencies (the GNT, Greek New Testament, is included):

Matthew 5:28
KJV    whosoever looketh
NAS    everyone who looks
GNT   pa/j o` ble,pwn

Matthew 5:32
KJV    whosoever shall put
NAS    everyone who divorces
GNT   pa/j o` avpolu,wn

Matthew 7:21
KJV    every one that saith
NAS    everyone who says
GNT   pa/j o` le,gwn

Matthew 7:26
KJV    every one that heareth
NAS    everyone who hears
GNT   pa/j o` avkou,wn

Luke 14:11
KJV    whosoever exalteth
NAS    everyone who exalts
GNT   pa/j o` u`yw/n

Luke 16:18
KJV    Whosoever putteth away
NAS    Everyone who divorces
GNT   Pa/j o` avpolu,wn

Luke 18:14
KJV    every one that exalteth
NAS    everyone who exalts
GNT   pa/j o` u`yw/n

Luke 20:18
KJV    Whosoever shall fall
NAS    Everyone who falls
GNT   pa/j o` pesw.n

John 3:15
KJV    whosoever believeth
NAS    whoever believes
GNT   pa/j o` pisteu,wn

John 3:16
KJV    whosoever believeth
NAS    whoever believes
GNT   pa/j o` pisteu,wn

John 4:13
KJV    Whosoever drinketh
NAS    Everyone who drinks
GNT   Pa/j o` pi,nwn

John 6:40
KJV    every one which seeth
NAS    everyone who beholds
GNT   pa/j o` qewrw/n

John 8:34
KJV    Whosoever committeth
NAS    everyone who commits
GNT   pa/j o` poiw/n


John 11:26
KJV    whosoever liveth
NAS    everyone who lives
GNT   pa/j o` zw/n

John 12:46
KJV    whosoever believeth
NAS    everyone who believes
GNT   pa/j o` pisteu,wn

John 18:37
KJV    Every one that is
NAS    Everyone who is
GNT   pa/j o` w'n

Acts 13:39
KJV    all that believe
NAS    everyone who believes
GNT   pa/j o` pisteu,wn

Romans 2:1
KJV    whosoever thou art that judgest
NAS    every man of you who passes judgment
GNT   pa/j o` kri,nwn

Romans 10:11
KJV    Whosoever believeth
NAS    Whoever believes
GNT   Pa/j o` pisteu,wn

2 Timothy 2:19
KJV    every one that nameth
NAS    everyone who names
GNT   pa/j o` ovnoma,zwn

1 John 2:29
KJV    every one that doeth
NAS    everyone also who practices
GNT   pa/j o` poiw/n

1 John 3:3
KJV    every man that hath
NAS    everyone who has
GNT   pa/j o` e;cwn

1 John 3:4
KJV    Whosoever committeth
NAS    Everyone who practices
GNT   Pa/j o` poiw/n

1 John 3:6
KJV    Whosoever abideth; whosoever sinneth
NAS    No one who abides; no one who sins
GNT   pa/j o` me,nwn; pa/j o` a`marta,nwn  [The phrase ‘in him’ (evn auvtw/|) appears here between pa/j o` and me,nwn.]

1 John 3:15
KJV    Whosoever hateth
NAS    Everyone who hates
GNT   pa/j o` misw/n

1 John 4:7
KJV    every one that loveth
NAS    everyone who loves
GNT   pa/j o` avgapw/n

1 John 5:1
KJV    Whosoever believeth; every one that loveth
NAS    Whoever believes; whoever loves
GNT   Pa/j o` pisteu,wn; pa/j o` avgapw/n

2 John 1:9
KJV    Whosoever transgresseth
NAS    Anyone who goes too far
GNT   pa/j o` proa,gwn

One could easily conclude that the inconsistencies in the various translations are simply an arbitrary matter. But arbitrariness has no place when ‘dividing rightly’ the word of God. Suspicion arises, however, that here in one of Christianity’s favorite passages, namely John 3:15 and 16, one’s theology has had a great part in determining the choice of wording.

In our passage in John 3:16 no other translation than that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal lifeseems justifiable.

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Notes:  1. There is a Greek phrase which is appropriate to translate ‘whosoever’ or ‘whoever’. It is oj a'n, and its variations  o]j eva.n and  o]j dV a'n appearing some 52 times in 49 verses. It is always* used with the main verb in the subjunctive mood. Students of grammar will recall that the subjunctive is the mood of possibility/uncertainty. That is not the condition nor tenor of the participial verbs in the phrases in question in John 3:15,16.

*The singular apparent exception is in Mark 8:35 where the indicative mood is used, but in closer inspection we find there is a textual variation among manuscripts where the Koine class of Greek manuscripts use the subjunctive.

2. It will be observed that the main verbs in the 2nd half of John 3:16 are in the subjunctive, but that is because the clause is introduced by the conjunction i[na, meaning ‘in order that’. i[na always introduces a purpose clause and requires the subjunctive (or the optative in a very few cases) for the main verb/s in that clause.]

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Evolution is a Lie

I recently posted the following on Facebook as a response to someone’s post about the Ken Ham / Bill Nye debate.
 
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Bill Nye the alleged "science guy" has bought into the ridiculous idea of evolution, which immediately casts doubt on his “science.” There can be nothing scientific about evolution. The truth is that the data is the same for everyone, and those who believe in evolution approach the data with no less bias than those who believe in the creation model. Of course, the evolution model is absurd on many levels, and it requires a great leap of faith in the power of natural processes to produce new information as new species come into being over millions of years. Information cannot come from non-information, and intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence. The creation model requires faith in a miracle working God, while the evolution model requires faith in the ability of nothing and no one to do millions of accidental miracles in the right order and at the right time to produce all we see in the universe today.

If one just looks at reality – such as the complexity of the human body and all living things – the only sensible conclusion is that there is a Creator. Even if one doubts the Bible, which is not a wise position to take, good sense needs to come to the forefront. Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Some Common Sense Reasons to Believe in Creation and Reject Evolution,” which is found here.

Evolution is nothing more or less than a lie spoken by the father of lies, Satan himself, to turn people away from the true and living God. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4, NKJV).

Satan (Lucifer) first spoke this lie when he said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14, NKJV). In other words, “I, a created being, will EVOLVE into God.” He has been telling this lie ever since, trying to convince mankind that becoming like God is a real possibility. The idea of evolution has “evolved” from his lie. Even though he has deceived many with his lie, he ultimately cannot even deceive himself, because God’s response to Lucifer’s rant is, “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol (Hell), to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Satan hates the human race, at least partially because God has provided redemption for humans but not for fallen angels, and he wants to drag as many humans as possible to Hell with him.

Not everyone who teaches evolution is intentionally lying. I believe many, if not most, have simply been deceived. Either way, the impact of this lie is devastating to the human soul.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Luther on Christian Schools

“When schools prosper, the Church remains righteous and her doctrine pure…. Young pupils and students are the seed and source  of the Church.  If we were dead, whence would come our successors, if not from the schools?  For the sake of the Church, we must have and maintain Christian schools.” (Martin Luther)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ANOTHER LOOK AT CHRISTIANITY’S MOST CHERISHED PASSAGES (I):

By Ed Cardwell
 
John 3:3

What is fascinating and thrilling about delving into the original languages of the Bible is that it illuminates the Scriptures in a way and to a degree that any one translation is not able to do.  Being able to see the Scriptures in the environment of the original Greek and Hebrew is like being able to peer through and beyond the veil of the temple gazing, as it were, into the inner Holy of Holies.  There are precious nuggets of truth just lying there waiting for discovery.
 
Greek is the language of specificity.  Greek words are intended to convey a mental picture from the speaker to the hearer.  All language should have this innate ability, but as we can see, English is an agglomeration of languages with words whose meanings have been so obfuscated and diversified that clear communication is almost impossible.  The answer for the serious Bible student is to go to the numerous works available that elucidate the original words and their contextual meanings throughout Scripture.  There is even a better way – study and master the original languages.
 
There is however a supreme prerequisite for any serious Bible student, a tool absolutely necessary for deep inquiry into the mind and heart of the author: an unshakeable adherence to the immutable unchanging word of the living God.  It has to do with one’s understanding of Biblical inspiration.  Paul used this word ‘inspired’ when he wrote to Timothy, his fellow worker in the Gospel, in 2Tim 3:16:

“All Scripture is inspired by God.”

The Greek word for ‘inspired’ is qeo,pneustoj (theopneustos).  It means ‘God-breathed’ – in other words ‘straight from the heart and mouth of God’.  That is essentially the meaning of all the terms used to describe the orthodox view of inspiration: verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant.

The following is an excellent working definition of Biblical inspiration that has served well when searching out the true meaning of the word of God:

Inspiration is a special act of the Holy Spirit in which He guided the writers of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was exactly what He wanted and thus they are free of error of fact, doctrine, and judgment.  (This definition refers only to the original writings, not copies, translations, or commentaries.)

Only with the full confidence that every word in the original is the intent of the Holy Spirit is one able to mine the infinite treasures of the Scriptures.

Of course one might be accused of heresy if he were to alter revered translations.  Some might even consider it desecration of the highest order.  But I suggest that looking beyond the musty curtain of the ‘Authorized’ version(s) sometimes allows us to penetrate the limitations that these versions have proscribed to reconsider the intent of the author.

How much deeper our understanding of the Gospel might be if only we would lay aside the tradition of men (and the bias of the translators) and discover the intent of the true author of Scripture.  How much richer would be our appreciation for the heart and mind of the living God.

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So, let us look at one of the most quoted and revered passages of Scripture:  JOHN 3:3.  The KJV and NAS versions are listed first, followed by the original Greek.

John 3:3

KJV Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

NAS Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

GNT avpekri,qh VIhsou/j kai. ei=pen auvtw/|( VAmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi( eva.n mh, tij gennhqh/| a;nwqen( ouv du,natai ivdei/n th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou/Å

 The phrase translated ‘born again’ in both the KJV and the NAS are the English translation for the Greek words ‘gennhqh/| a;nwqen(gennêthêi anôthen) - in bold and underlined above.
 
A review of these two words in reverse order will prove useful:
 
a;nwqen
 
The word ‘again’ in John 3:3 is translated in the KJV and the NAS from the Greek word a;nwqen (anôthen).  a;nwqen is an adverb of location meaning specifically ‘from above’ – the basic stem is a;nw (ano) meaning ‘up’, or ‘above’ - and the adverb suffix –qen signifies ‘from where/whence’.   a;nwqen does not mean a repetition.
 
There is a common Greek word for ‘again’, meaning ‘repeated action’.  It is pa,lin (palin).   This word appears 141 times in 136 verses in the NT and is translated ‘again’ on every occasion.   However, pa,lin does not appear here in John 3:3.  But regrettably this is the meaning commonly accepted by the casual reader of many of the English translations.  Such a translation is unspecific and causes one’s mind to default to an English unspecific picture, one of simply a repeated action. But the word a;nwqen is very specific, emphasizing the source of this new life in our verse here.  Thankfully the NRS (New Revised Standard), the NAB (New American Bible), and the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) translate it correctly – ‘from above’. 
 
a;nwqen appears 13 times in the New Testament.  To visualize how improbable it is to translate a;nwqen as ‘again’, all of the following New Testament passages where it occurs appear below.  First are listed the verses from the KJV, then the verses from the NAS.  The translation of a;nwqen is given in bold, underlined, and italicized:

KJV Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

KJV Mark 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

KJV Luke 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

KJV John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

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

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

KJV John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

 23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

KJV Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

KJV Galatians 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? *

KJV James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

KJV James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

*[Note:  Gal 4:9 needs some explanation.  The regular Greek word for ‘again’ (pa,lin) , meaning ‘repeated action’, is used twice in this verse.   The word  a;nwqen, meaning ‘from above’ appears here also but is not actually translated in the KJV by itself.  It has been incorporated with the 2nd  pa,lin to mean ‘all over again’, which is exactly the translation given in several other versions, including the NAS.]

Now we look at those 13 verses in the NAS (New American Standard):

NAS Matthew 27:51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split,

NAS Mark 15:38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

NAS Luke 1:3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

NAS John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

31 "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

NAS John 19:11 Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin."

23 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.*

NAS Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

NAS Galatians 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

NAS James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

NAS James 3:15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

*[Note:  For Gal 4:9 see note above.  For John 19.23 the NAS loosely translates the Greek phrase ‘evk tw/n a;nwqen u`fanto.j diV o[lou’ as ‘woven in one piece’, but it is literally ‘woven from the top throughout’.  The ESV translates it:  ‘woven in one piece from top to bottom.’]

To expand this visualization of the specificity of a;nwqen one can check the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) where this word appears 23 times.  In each case the English translation is ‘above’, ‘from above’, and is true to the context.  To save space those verses are omitted here.

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In all of the NT only in John 3:3 and John 3:7, a companion and follow-up text, both of which are crucial in comprehending the nature of this new life of which Jesus speaks, is the word  a;nwqen translated ‘again’, as if a repeated action was the point of Jesus’ words.  The original language makes it clear that this new life comes ‘FROM ABOVE’.  The obvious distinction is that this is not a repeated action, but a whole new creation - the source of this new life is ‘out of this world’.   Based upon the clear meaning of the original, no other conclusion seems reasonable.
 
One wonders what bias the translators must have had to make such a departure.  Even Vine in his Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words mentions that the NRV makes the correction in translation.  He points out also the inconsistency of both the KJV and the NAS by their correct translation of   a;nwqen in verse 31 of the same chapter.
 
It must be emphasized that the word ‘again’ is misleading where a;nwqen is used.  Yes, ‘again’ does imply another event in this context, but if that had been all that was implied, pa,lin, meaning a repetition, would have sufficed.  But the Greek is specific.  This life comes not out of the flesh, but from heaven above.  The Greek says it clearly.  The translators have regrettably obscured the meaning and clear intent of the author.

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Now we look at the word gennhqh/| translated ‘born’ in both the KJV and NAS in the phrase gennhqh/| a;nwqen (‘born again’) in John 3:3:

gennhqh/|

There are several Greek words that in some way relate to conception, regeneration, birth, the birth process, the birth event, and the general concept of bringing a human being into the world.
 
1. ti,ktw  (tikto)  appears 19 times in the NT in 18 verses.  This word focuses on the actual event of birth, the delivery, and often includes the accompanying pain and sorrow.  It means ‘to produce fruit from the seed’, ‘to bring forth’, ‘to deliver’, specifically of women giving birth.  This word does not appear in our text.
 
2.  avpokue,w (apokueo) appears 4 times in the NT in 2 verses.  This word means ‘to bring forth’, as in ‘produce’.  This word does not appear in our text.
 
3.  sullamba,nw (sullambano) appears 16 times in the NT in 16 verses.  Dr. Luke uses this word eleven out of the 16 times in the N.T.  He alone in the N.T. has it for conceiving offspring.  It is translated in the KJV as:  arrest(3), arrested(4), became pregnant(1), conceive(1), conceived(3), help(2), seized(1), taken(1).  This is a compound word meaning literally ‘to take or receive together.  This word does not appear in our text.
 
4.  genna,w  (gennao) appears 105 times in the NT in 65 verses.  On almost half of those occasions it is translated ‘begat’ and a third are translated ‘be born’.  It is also translated on few occasions as ‘bear’, ‘gender’, ‘bring forth’, ‘be delivered’.  This word is associated with our English words ‘gene’, ‘genetic’, ‘generate’, ‘generation’, ‘engender’, etc.  Its precise meaning in the NT is best determined by the context.  This is the word translated ‘born’ throughout the passage from John 3:3-8. 
 
As we know that life begins at the very time of conception, not at the time of the actual delivery of the child, we can understand why this word was used instead of ti,ktw, #1 above.  As has been stated before - that the Greek language is specific - it seems logical, therefore, that this word in John 3:3 through John 3:8 would be better translated as ‘begotten’, or ‘conceived’.
 
In John 3:4 Nicodemus, using the same word genna,w, interprets the ‘conception’ of which Jesus speaks as a repeated event – one involving the flesh - since he is ignorant of the spiritual birth.  Jesus then goes on to explain the true nature of this life ‘from above’ using somewhat cryptic language (to Nicodemus, at least) about ‘water’ and the ‘spirit’ and distinguishes between the life that is out of the flesh from the life that is from the Spirit.  Other Scriptures help to clarify His meaning:
 
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” NAS Titus 3:5
 
NAS Ephesians 5:26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
 
NAS John 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
 
NAS Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again (avnagenna,w)[ avna + genna,w] {upwards + begotten} unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  KJV 1 Peter 1:3
 
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It must be admitted that interpreting the words of Jesus in John 3:3,7 has always proved somewhat difficult, but the task would have been made far easier if the words had been translated more accurately.
 
The term ‘born again’ has been hijacked by an ignorant media and has come to be meaningless through the whims of overuse and misuse.  Perhaps it has served the godless community well through the vagueness of the translations.  If the translation had been accurate, at least the hearers would be directed toward the nature and source of this ‘rebirth’ – conceived from above.  It would be difficult to avoid the clarity of that truth.
 
ecardwells6@gmail.com

Ed Cardwell is my friend and former co-worker at Baptist Christian School in Hemet, CA.