We all have likely heard people mock the idea of someone being born again. The term has been used to distinguish responses to the good news of the gospel even among those who claim to be Christians. That means it invariably creates a distinction between those who believe without being born again (as is true of the devil, his demons, and many religious folks), and those who believe because they are born again.
In this next scene of John’s account of the “good news of great joy”, we are invited to consider how Jesus helped a religious leader grapple with the mind-boggling concept of being “born again”. As we enter the stage with our own story, we can hear the Savior address this need to our lives just as a man named Nicodemus received Jesus’ ministry then.
The crucial issue is that Jesus makes being “born again” an absolute, non-negotiable prerequisite to becoming part of the kingdom of God. For that reason, we are urged to first consider deeply what Jesus was teaching Nicodemus then, and open our hearts to receive this amazing gift as it is offered to us now.
If you want to load a Word document version of this study onto your computer for prayer-journaling, you can find it here: If you want a PDF version to print out, you can find it here: If you have suggestions to improve this study, please send me an email. I would love the input! And, if you need assistance attaching to the Savior with the faith this section of God’s Book reveals, I would love to help!
John Bible Study ~ John 3:1-15 ~ Jesus Introduces “Born Again”
When reading God’s word, we often find references to things we haven’t read yet. We are also introduced to concepts that may not make sense to us because they speak of things to do with God, the greatest person in every way. The aim of this Bible study is not to try to understand every word and meaning, but to get the sense of what Jesus was teaching. There is always room for deeper study of the Bible, but reading to understand the basic sense of a passage also helps us to get to know what Jesus was teaching back then, and how that continues to speak to us today.
Part 1: Introducing the Need for the New Birth
John the Baptist had already announced that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Now this gospel account clarifies that for Jesus to take away someone’s sins, they must experience a new birth.
1. What do you think is the connection between Nicodemus being a ruler of the Jews and him coming to Jesus “by night”?
2. How far has Nicodemus journeyed in his belief about Jesus?
3. What does Jesus say is absolutely essential to entering the kingdom of God?
4. What does this mean about your relationship to God’s kingdom?
Jesus now clarifies why we should not be surprised that the new birth is necessary to enter his kingdom.
1. What are the two births that Jesus contrasts?
2. What has the gospel of John revealed about Jesus’ kingdom that would make sense of the necessity of being born again?
3. What characteristic of the spiritual life helps us accept the parts of it we do not yet understand?
4. Everyone alive today has been “born of the flesh,” meaning, we all have physical life. What is your present standing in relation to the spiritual life that is only experienced by those who are “born of the Spirit”?
Part 3: The New Birth and Eternal Life
We all know how the first birth connects us to physical life. Jesus now leads us to see how the new birth connects us to eternal life.
1. How much does Nicodemus’s question compare to your response to Jesus’ teaching about being born again?
2. What does Jesus explain is the reason that Nicodemus doesn’t understand (and how does this compare to you)?
3. When Jesus speaks of the serpent image Moses lifted up in the wilderness, it was an historical event Nicodemus understood very well. When his people were in trouble from a plague of poisonous serpents (snakes), an image of a serpent was lifted up as a rally call to those who wanted to trust God, and whoever looked to that serpent lived. How does this illustrate what Jesus will do for the people?
4. If being born again gives us eternal life, what is the key issue for anyone to be born again?
Conclusion: Hearing, Seeing, Joining
After seeing how Jesus dialogued with Nicodemus regarding being born again:
1. What do you hear God speaking to you about?
2. What do you see God doing in you through this part of his word?
3. How are you going to join God in his work?
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)