21st January 2022


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIVUK)

If you search ‘popular Bible verses’ on your computer most search engines have John 3:16 somewhere on the list. Some would say of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, it may be the most popular single verse used in evangelism. It is celebrated as a powerful and succinct declaration of the gospel.

But why would Nicodemus, a highly educated member of the ruling Sanhedrin, struggle to accept what was being said here? We read about his encounter with Jesus in John 3:1-15.

Jesus was asking him to embrace a new way of seeing the world and to step outside of his identity as ‘a man of the Pharisees’ and ‘ruler of the Jews’. (John 3:1 NKJV).

Jesus was inviting him to be born into a new family: ‘…born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’ (John 1:13 NIVUK). Jesus shattered Nicodemus’ long held assumption that his racial identity, that of being a Jew, guaranteed him a place in God’s Kingdom. Instead, Jesus told him the only way to salvation was to be born again. The word ‘again’ – Greek anothen, can be translated ‘from above’. To be born from above is essentially to be born again.

Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus that he needed to be born of water and the Spirit, in other words to be spiritually reborn. Nicodemus wanted to know how this could happen. He was told it was not something he could do for himself. It was a gift from God. The Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven to those who believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

John goes on to say in John 3:16 that ‘God so loved the world’ and that ‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned’ (v.18). The Jews of that day rarely thought that God loved the world. Many believed that God only loved Israel. The universal offer of salvation and life in Jesus was mind blowing to them. There was a lot to take in.

We are not told conclusively in John 3 whether Nicodemus believed Jesus, but the signs are he did. He reappears a few chapters later advocating, among his peers, that Jesus be given a fair trial. Then along with Joseph of Arimathea, he collects the body of the crucified Christ. (John 19:38-39).

Our heavenly Father, We thank you for your plan of salvation for all mankind. Help us to rid ourselves of those cherished beliefs that hold us back from accepting your truth fully and without reserve. Open our hearts and minds so that we might see our Saviour Jesus Christ more clearly. We pray that he will return soon. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Study by Jackie Mill


About the writer:
Jackie Mill is a Minister in Grace Communion International and
Regional Co-Pastor for Scotland and Ireland.

Local congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local congregational contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

Word of Life contact: