3:1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”
3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

It is a curious expression, “born from above”. The challenge in understanding what Jesus meant in this strange saying, is made even greater by the unfortunate translation in the Authorized Version of the Bible. For some reason, the translators of the King James Bible translated John 3:3 to read,

Except a man be born again. (KJV)

The expression “born again” got deeply lodged in the Christian psyche with its implication that we need to undergo a second experience after our first birth in order to qualify to “see the Kingdom of God”. The Greek word is anothen. It only appears thirteen times in the New Testament. Curiously, expect in John 3:3, the KJV follows the more accurate translation “from above”. So, in “The Letter of James”, the KJV has James write,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (anothen) (James 1:17).

There is no reason that anothen in John 3:3 should be translated as “again”.  There is no indication that Jesus was suggesting here that we need to undergo a second “born again” experience. Rather, Jesus was pointing to a reality of the human condition that Paul articulated in I Corinthians when he wrote,

If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:44)

The entire exchange with Nicodemus hinges on this insight. Jesus speaks “from above”, Nicodemus responds from below. He is fixated on the physical dimension.  This same dynamic plays out in John chapter four in Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, where Jesus speaks of the spiritual realm and the Samaritan woman responds from the material.


The central human problem is that we allow the “physical body” to take over; we lose our awareness of the “spiritual body.”  Jesus came to restore an awareness of the spiritual dimension in the midst of the physical time-bound material realm. He came to open human beings to a more whole vision of life in which body and spirit are seen to be one.

What are the obstacles in my life that cause me to lose sight with the awareness of my true nature as a being who is created both physical and spiritual?