John 3:1-7 (ESV):

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Jesus' declarations sound pretty universal to me, but then I found myself scratching my head: do they also apply to the Old Testament Saints? Did people in O.T. times also have to be born again in order to be saved? What is the temporal scope of Jesus' declarations in John 3:1-7?

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    yes, they are born again when they are resurrected
    – Steve
    Apr 11, 2021 at 1:37
  • @user48152 - I thought being born again was supposed to happen at some point during one's lifetime, not after.
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 1:39
  • This isn't traditional understanding but rather a simple reading of the text - which I suggest is much closer to the truth. This life we are given a deposit only - this is not being born again. Also John 7:39 Start here -hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/47874/…
    – Steve
    Apr 11, 2021 at 1:44
  • @user48152 Born 'from above' (anothen). Born 'anew' (anagennao). Born 'of God'. Born 'of water and of Spirit'. Born 'anew' (paligenesis). All are now, in this life. Else one is lost for ever.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 11, 2021 at 5:44
  • I'm not posting this as an answer, because I'm not sure what Bible verses back this up, but my denomination's doctrine is that this happened between Jesus's death and resurrection, when his spirit went to the afterlife and broke the chains of sin and death before coming back to Earth. The afterlife that the Israelites went to prior to Jesus wasn't Heaven.
    – nick012000
    Apr 13, 2021 at 6:42

13 Answers 13


Yes, surely, also the OT prophets should be born anew, in Holy Spirit, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which means that before Christ's crucifying and destroying the sin of humanity on Cross, the sin that has infected humanity since Adam's fall and His death and resurrection, the prophets are not yet in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet, we also definitely know that they will be there (cf. Matthew 8:11). That means that the deceased prophets' also participate in this totally novel opportunity for all mankind to be born anew in Christ and vanquish sin altogether, given the premise that exactly this vanquishing is the only means for entering the Kingdom of Heaven where only the righteousness rules (cf 2 Peter 3:13). Another question is whether the prophets will participate into this vanquishing of sin through Christ's grace only after their bodily resurrection or already their undying souls participate in it even before the general resurrection of all deceased at the second advent of Christ. I will not treat this question here, but for me it is clear and easily provable that already the prophets' undying personalities (I prefer this term to 'souls' now, but 'soul' is also possible if given a small caveat not to regard it in sheer Platonic terms) do participate, perfectly or not fully perfectly, in this totally novel vanquishing of sin through Christ's grace even before their bodily resurrection.

To give a helpful simile: if a football (I mean football which in another version of English is called "soccer", which is ugly) team, say Santos FC is weak and loses all the time to a stronger team Machos FC, because the latter team, being rich, plays with a proper sports' equipment, while the Santos FC players play barefoot; but as time passes, suddenly a rich businessman finances the Santos players to buy all the necessary equipment, and now, they are already apt to defeat the Machos FC, which they do! However, their fathers and grandfathers, the former players, watch them winning from the seats of the stadium and rejoice with them, so also participate in the victory, and they share the spoils of the victory, for unless their devoted play in the past, neither their children would be prepared for that glorious victory, for they, the fathers and grandfathers, also did their best, not in any lesser degree than their now-playing sons, against the rival team. However, the simile is not exactly precise, for in the case of the prophets of OT, they not only observe the real victory of their sons from outside and just have an ersatz-participation in victory, but they also actually participate in Christ's victory over death and are born anew through this, just like the apostles who touch and talk with the Incarnate Christ.

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    @Downvoter O dear my, o my anonymous! Vast majority on this noble site would not cast a down-vote without substantiating by a comment or an argument; guess why? Because it is wrong to do so. It is not immoral or unlawful, but it is indiscreet and ugly, not befitting to a gentleman. Apr 11, 2021 at 9:33
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    "Vast majority on this noble site would not cast a down-vote without substantiating by a comment or an argument; guess why? Because it is wrong to do so." Try posting pro-unitarian answers to various questions. Apr 12, 2021 at 5:27
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    @levan The site discourages honest evaluation of trinitarian answers. If they are roundly fictitious and un-hermeneutic the DV is probably given quietly so as not to invoke a ban. The answer provides so much to disagree with, it is best left alone.
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2021 at 5:38
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    @LevanGigineishvili I'm with you 100%. I think down votes should be disabled for H SE. Much better to give a substantive, concise criticism or post a competing answer. But I'm speaking as someone who has given a significant number of pro-unitarian answers - I assure you, the down votes are more likely than for answers that are compatible with trinitarianism. Apr 12, 2021 at 14:33
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    @OneGodtheFather It is not Trinitarians, but it is a general human frailty of being afraid of getting exposed to the unexpected, out of comfort zone of habitual convictions. But beyond human wills, fears etc. is divine truth that precedes the very reality of humans, and this truth is, partially, achievable through unprejudiced dialectics. Man loving his own self more than truth is afraid of Truth, while man who will "hate" himself for love of Truth, will find himself in Truth, for real homeland of human soul is divine Truth, and that's why "who loves lie, hates his own soul" (Psalm 11:5). Apr 13, 2021 at 15:09

The simple answer is "yes" in the sense that Jesus is discussing. The problem is the preposition usually translated "again" which is ἄνωθεν (anóthen) in John 3:3, 7. It occurs just 13 times in the NT and mostly means either:

  • "from the beginning", Luke 1:3, Acts 26:5
  • more often "from above", Matt 27;51, Mark 15:38, John 3;31, 19:11, 23, James 1:17, 3:15, 17.

In just two cases it is disputed in John 3:3, 7 - does it mean "from above" or "again"?

There has been much ink spent in debating this question and I do not believe it needs to be resolved at all. Jesus chose His words carefully and John recorded them under divine inspiration - Jesus was essentially saying (my paraphrase):

You must be born again from above. ... Flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to spirit - you must be born of the Spirit which is being born from above and being born again.

This will be true of every person that enters the kingdom of God/heaven. In our natural sinful human state, we cannot and should not enter the kingdom of God without a complete renewal. Paul states this same idea another way in 2 Cor 5:16, 17 -

So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

What this means might be the subject of another question but the intent is clear - conversion to Christ involves a complete re-creation of the person, their nature and character. Peter described it this way in 2 Peter 1:3, 4 -

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

In 2 Cor 3:18 we find:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Note the way David states this transformation of character in Ps 51:10 -

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Again, this is true of all people who have ever lived who become members of the kingdom of heaven. Water baptism is an outward symbol of the inner change/recreation that should have already taken place.

APPENDIX - OT "Heart Religion"

In the OT, sevice to God was a matter of the “heart” (Deut 6:5, 10:12, 16, 11:18, Ps 40:8, Jer 24:7, 31:33, 34, 32:38-40, Eze 11:19, 18:31, 26:36) and NOT mere regulations (1 Sam 15:22, Ps 40:6-8, 51:16, 17, Prov 15:8, 21:3, Isa 1:10-17, Jer 6:3-6, 20, Hos 6:6, Micah 6:6-8). This required a true conversion and NOT a mere adherence to rituals.

  • So O.T. Saints had to have been born again from above too, right?
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 1:57
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - absolutely. Look at the psalms such as Ps 51 and David's experience - he needed true conversion which is the same as being born of the Spirit or being born again, or being born from above.
    – Dottard
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:04

One’s understanding of being ‘born again’ will depend on the foundation of your theology. There are doctrinal answers. What follows is for consideration - as some will definitely have a different view.

Believers being ‘born again’, ‘reborn’ is something that some take allegorically, or metaphorically. But it is something that is literal. Not ‘physical’, but spiritual. A believers ‘spirit’ is literally made anew.

2 COR 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Adam (spirit) died the day he ate. He was separated from God. Jesus came to restore that broken relationship. All are ‘born’ under (‘in’) Adam. Separated. The solution is to have your spirit reunited. So the ‘old’ dies, and is replaced by the ‘new’.

Romans 5 outlines this ‘new creation’. It’s all about righteousness. We need Gods. Ours simply doesn’t meet the standard. (Which is outlined by the Law.). Adam had Gods - while untitled, but lost it when separated. He then only had his own righteousness to rely on - which would never meet the ‘mark/standard’. (Definition of ‘sin’ = missing the mark.). So essentially man was ‘sin’ - except many doctrinal definitions of ‘sin’ distort all of this simplicity.

Man needed righteousness. THE component of/for salvation. And, Jesus gives us this (righteousness, I.e. salvation.), by recreating our spirit, ‘re-joining’ us back to the source of this righteousness. We are born again ‘under’ (‘in’) Him.

ROMANS 5: 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous

So now let’s consider Old Testament ‘saints’. Could they be born again? Without Jesus having come as a man, crucified, resurrected to be able to ‘give’ us that righteousness? No - well, not yet, not until after the cross. In the mean time, their unrighteousness had to be covered in order to protect them from the consequences of that unrighteousness. (Or ‘sin’ for those who hold a traditional view of sin.)

However I need to clarify something here. Old Testament ‘saints’ were not (could not be) born again - but they were ‘saved’. Just as ‘saved’ as any N.T. believer. It’s just that these O.T. saints needed to ‘wait’ (Abrahams bosom/paradise) until Jesus had redeemed them.

So that’s why Nicodemus didn’t have an understanding of ‘being born again’. Even though Jeremiah had prophecied about a coming time when God would give his people a ‘new heart’.

Footnote: the word ‘heart’ actually [mostly] has a different meaning in many of Paul’s letters. Heart = ‘spirit’, whereas in the O.T. ‘heart’ was the essence of man, that is, his ‘soul’. His ‘soul’ was pre-eminent because his spirit was ‘dead’ (separated.), whereas in Paul’s letters, that ‘heart’ had been ‘reborn’. So in the N.T. the believers ‘soul’ now had a new ‘source’ (mans spirit) to guide/teach him. Hence being ‘lead by the spirit’, or ‘living in the spirit - not the ‘flesh’ (Old nature).

  • Then how did people get saved in O.T. times?
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:27
  • I feel you need to refine this to make it more accessible. When do/did OT saints get 'reborn'?
    – Steve
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:28
  • @Spirit Realm Investigator O.T. Saints were ‘saved’ by being ‘seen’ as righteous. And were righteous the same way believers today are - by faith. The issue with your Q is over being ‘reborn’. We have our righteousness by being ‘reborn’. They (O.T.) had to ‘wait’ until Jesus came before their ‘spirit’ could be reborn. They ‘waited’ [were ‘held’] in Abraham’s bosom until that time. We see pictures of this in Luke 16.
    – Dave
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:53
  • @user48152 I’ve answered this in another answer. As I said, this outline may not sit comfortably with those who have a traditional doctrinal view of ‘born again’. But .... 2 Corinthians 5:17 is quite explicit (in the original Greek) - a believer is a brand new, never before existed creation. Whatever‘theology’ you hold needs to be able to explain that verse.
    – Dave
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:59
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    I have upvoted this answer specifically because the downvote it recieved is from a point of view of disagreeing with doctrine rather than disagreeing with the research from which the principle is derived. (this forum should be above throwing mud but clearly it isnt. Downvote authors should be not be anonymous.)
    – Adam
    Apr 11, 2021 at 22:05

Post Resurrection

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESV)
b. Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7

As the ESV translator states, the Greek ἄνωθεν means either again or above and is purposely ambiguous. It is purposely ambiguous since either ἐπάνω (cf. 3:31) or ἄνω (cf. 8:23), "above" could have been used; similarly πάλιν (cf. 4:13), "again" would have been unambiguous.

Jesus' choice of words is purposeful since being "born again" is a process involving more than one step. First one must see the kingdom of God (John 3:3) and then one must choose to enter (3:7).

As a result of Jesus coming to earth some saw the Kingdom firsthand:

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17)

We are not to speculate on another's salvation, but, given what the Gospel records, it is likely some Pharisees who saw the Kingdom of God in their midst did not choose to enter by belief in Jesus:

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10)

One is born "again" when one is able to see the Kingdom of God and yet one does enter the Kingdom unless one is born from above. Simply hearing or seeing the Gospel does not assure entry to the Kingdom: one must still choose to enter. So now one is born again when hearing the Gospel; one is born from "above" when one believes the Gospel.

John has the specific teaching of Jesus which is applicable after His death and anyone who rejects Jesus has seen the Kingdom of God but will not enter. Therefore, it is misleading to conflate a process by focusing on the final result "born again." The post Resurrection terminology should be "born again from above."

A New Creation
What John describes specifically, Paul gives generally:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17; cf. John 1:12-13)

Those who died before the Resurrection are not disqualified from becoming a new creation. The exact process by which that takes place is not given, and yet there must be a way:

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Roman 10)

Assuredly there was, or will be, an opportunity for those who died before the Resurrection to call upon the name of Jesus in order to be saved:

...Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Genesis 18:25 ESV)

  • So, the concept of being born again from above only applies post-resurrection? No born-again experiences for O.T. people in the past?
    – user38524
    Apr 12, 2021 at 4:23
  • 'Presumably there will be. or has been, an opportunity for those who died before the Resurrection to call upon the name of Jesus'. 'Presumably' is most correct! How on earth could that happen, he didn't exist yet? There is no 'Jesus' named in OT. 'Presumably' the rest who did not call on this fictitious Jesus are lost forever?
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2021 at 4:23
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator The end result must be the same but the OT experiences of necessity must be different from NT. It is impossible for them to be "born again from above" before they die as can those in the NT. So I think the better terminology is if they are in Christ, they are a new creation. Apr 12, 2021 at 5:53

John 3:3

Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

The kingdom of God is referred to as the kingdom of Heaven in the gospel of Matthew 31 times. Jesus is the first person who clearly articulates the concept of the kingdom of God. In the OT, they only have types or shadows of this concept.

Jesus also defines the concept of being born-again. In the OT, they only have a rather vague concept of salvation.

Jesus used the phrase "truly truly" or "amen amen" to declare a sure spiritual reality that is difficult to believe horizontally without spiritual insight.

Jesus is saying here: I'm telling you the truth even though it is difficult for you to believe. No person can see the reality of the kingdom of God in real-time unless they are born again, i.e., they have been saved for eternal life as I have defined it.

If you interpret the verse this way, then Jesus' declarations do sound absolutely universal.

Did people in O.T. times also have to be born again in order to be saved?

OT people had only partial understandings of born again and full salvation. When they are resurrected, some will be given the born-again status and saved for eternity by grace.

In case of doubts, Jesus repeats the same concept only one verse after.

John 3:5

Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

There is no doubt in Jesus' mind or my mind about this.

  • OT people had only partial understandings of born again and full salvation. When they are resurrected, some will be given the born-again status and saved for eternity by grace. - Do you mean O.T. Saints never had a born-again experience during their lifetimes on Earth? They will only get to have this experience after the resurrection?
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 14:01
  • Good question. The OT people had some type of born-again experience, not exactly the true type defined by Jesus.
    – user35953
    Apr 11, 2021 at 14:04
  • And what is the biblical basis for that assertion? How do we know OT people had a different type of born-again experience?
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 14:06
  • They didn't have Jesus walking in their midst. Are you familiar with biblical typology?
    – user35953
    Apr 11, 2021 at 14:09
  • To some extent, but I wouldn't consider myself an expert by any means.
    – user38524
    Apr 11, 2021 at 14:11

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” - Is John 3:3 a universal statement, O.T. Saints included?

Jesus taught his followers to pray (The Lord's Prayer - Matthew 6:10) "Your kingdom come.Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven".

1/ "What is God's will for the earth? "Do all Christians have hope for heavenly life in the New Testament? Do O.T. faithful servants have hope for heavenly life? "What do the following scriptures indicate?

Jesus said the humble will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5 NET“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Psalms 37:10-11 The meek shall inherit the earth and live in abundance of peace.

A little while and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

God blessed Adam to multiply, fill and subdue the earth.

Genesis 1:28 NET

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”

God said He did not create the earth “simply for nothing.” he formed it to be inhabited.

Isaiah 45:18 ASV

For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else.

God's residence is among humans- God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death.

Revelation 21:3-4 NET

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”

2/ Do O.T. faithful servants have hope for heavenly life?

John 14:2-3 NET

2 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be.

Jesus here shows that his faithful apostles, to whom he was speaking, would, in time, be in his Father’s “house,” in heaven, with Jesus. He promises to reward them with a place in heaven, but he does not say how many others would also go to heaven. And what will they do in heaven?

After the Passover Jesus instituted the "Memorial of his death" with his eleven faithful apostles,(Judas departed after the Passover). With them, the ones that have remained by him in his trials, Jesus prayed and covenanted a Kingdom.( Luke 22:28-30). He prayed to his Father to be made holy and requesting that " “where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold the glory that you have given me.” (Luke 17:24)

Luke 22:28-30 NASB

“You are the ones who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as
My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

John 17:24 NASB

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

It is those that conquer or stood in His trails that Jesus gives permission to sit with him on his throne, Revelation 3:21 NET states: " I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." This obviously rules out any O.T. faithful servants of God going to heaven, simply there is no provision for anyone that died prior to Jesus ascending to heaven,(John 3:16) to be a partaker of the Heavenly calling.(Hebrews. 3:1 NASB)

Similarly, Jesus' words about John the Baptist leave no doubts that those to be "born again" do not include any faithful servants of God like John Baptist or any other before Jesus opens the way to heaven. Jesus explains:( Matthew 11:11 NET) “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is!

By saying that a lesser one in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than John, Jesus is showing that John will not be in the heavenly Kingdom. John prepared the way for Jesus but dies before Christ opens the way to heaven. (Hebrews 10:19, 20) John is, though, a faithful prophet of God and will be an earthly subject of God’s Kingdom.

3/ "Do all Christians have hope for heavenly life in the New Testament?

DO ALL good people go to heaven? Many think so, but Jesus Christ did not agree. Speaking to the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, who came to him secretly at night, Jesus said: “No man has ascended into heaven.”(John 3:13).

Further, a careful reading of Jesus’ words shows that Jesus did not teach that it is up to man to choose whether to experience the new birth or not. Why do we say this? The Greek expression translated “is born again” can also be rendered “should be born from above.”* Thus, according to that alternate rendering, the new birth originates “from above”​,that is, “from heaven,” or “from the Father.” (John 19:11; James 1:17) Yes, it is caused by God.​1 John 3:9.

The words “unless” and “cannot”(Vs 3:3) highlight the necessity of the new birth. The Greek expression, "genethe anothen" ( γεννηθη ανωθεν ) translated "born again" may also be correctly translated, "born from above" (C.E. Version)

John 3:3 NASB

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

Contemporary English Version John 3:3

John 3:3 C.E.V. Jesus replied, "I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom!"

So according to this alternate translation, the new birth originates from the Father above.(James 1:17)

James 1:17 NASB

17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [a]shifting shadow.

Yes, it is caused by God. (1 John 3:9).

1 John 3:9 NASB

9 No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin continually, because he has been born of God.

Invitations to a Meal​—Whom Does God Invite and How Many?

The parable of the great banquet. Luke 14:16-24 NASB (Recommend reading at the link below)


The man giving the dinner is God (Vs16)

The man send his slave (Vs17). The slave is Jesus.

The Banquet, the opportunities to be in line for the Kingdom of the heavens.

The first call (Vs17) is especially by Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders, they were the first to be invited. They turn the request down using lame excuses. The second call (Vs21) by the apostles to the Jewish nation and the proselytes. There was still room. The third call (Vs23) to the uncircumcised non Jews.

Urge people to come in so that my house will be filled.

23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled.

Jesus revealed to the apostle John the number of persons that would fill the house, and who would be co-rulers with him over the earth​ was 144,000. These spiritual sons of God "born from above "now have the prospect of inheriting what Christ Jesus was going to inherit​, kingly power in heaven.

The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion

Revelation 14:3-4 NASB

3 And they *sang [a]a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth.

Revelation 5:9-10 NET

9 They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. 10 You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Footnotes NET Bible Luke 14;24

Luke 14:24 . None of those individuals who were invited. This is both the point and the warning. To be a part of the original invitation does not mean one automatically has access to blessing. One must respond when the summons comes in order to participate. The summons came in the person of Jesus and his proclamation of the kingdom. The statement here refers to the fact that many in Israel will not be blessed with participation, for they have ignored the summons when it came.


This is from the biblical text. It is not a traditional understanding. The breadcrumbs are all there, please consider the verses and allow time to join them together to form the whole story.

We are only saved by our acceptance of Jesus' payment for our sin, there is no other way to salvation - regardless of when you lived and/or died.

1 Cor 15:49 ‘Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly’

God is creating holy righteous character through His son Jesus in us in this life. It will not be finished in this life. When we are raised (or transformed) into spirit life, finally bearing the heavenly image in incorruptible new bodies, then we are made in God’s image.

1 Pet 3:19 For Christ also suffered once for sins ... that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

We are given the spirit as a down-payment, deposit or as the NASB puts it, 'pledge'. This is our entry into the new life with God's gift of His spirit at baptism. We are not yet born again, or 'born from above' until we are no longer flesh and blood - just as it was for Jesus.

1 Cor 15:50 flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

2 Cor 1:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

If we are flesh and blood and we still are, we have not been born from above yet!

Notice two things here - we are ONLY 'established', and 'sealed', set apart, God is actively working in us in a way that He wasn't before and we are now able to work in concert with Him. We are His, but for us it is still by faith, and a hope not yet realised.

John 3:3 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again (or from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God

Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Wait for what?

He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you Rom 8:11

When we don't have 'mortal bodies' anymore, the salvation will be complete and we will be wholly within God's kingdom with spirit life eternal - not just with the 'gift' or 'deposit' of spirit.

Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

When do we truly become a son? When we are born of the spirit - as Christ now is.

2 Corinthians 5:5 And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.

What is to come is our new spirit life.

Ephesians 1:14 ...having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 which is a first instalment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

We are set aside to be inheritors with Christ - we have not yet taken possession of the glory that awaits us at the end of this age when we are 'born from above' by God, of the spirit.

The process is underway and God is in charge of bringing us to fruition - being the many brethren and first fruits of creation following Christ. Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren Rom 8:29 When did he become so? At his resurrection to new life in the spirit. Some other verses that show when we are 'born from above'.

If we are still flesh and blood - we have not yet entered. If we have not yet entered the kingdom fully and permanently as spirit- alive persons, we are not 'born again'.

John 3:5 no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

The OT faithful will also be changed at their resurrection at Christ’s return. Together we will meet the Lord in the air 1 Thes 4

Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified John 7:39

Presently David, Moses, Abraham etc are dead and decayed and awaiting their change and new life.

They are however under a promise of salvation, through the one to come. Abraham saw Jesus day...(John 8:56) so they are saved in anticipation of what would be when Jesus cries out, 'It is finished!' Not to a mortal physical body, but an eternal spirit enlivened one. This is their rebirth, their being 'born from above' - the new body, new life, new kingdom. They died in the flesh. They cannot enter the kingdom in that body, neither can we, as we are still flesh too and are all granted entry in one name only.

This is the reality of Jesus' salvation which reaches back to the beginning and forward to the last day, and forward further to the end after the resurrections.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me John 14:26

for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved Acts 4:12

ALL who enter the Kingdom since Adam will be born from above and gain a new spirit life. The first-fruits - those who Christ will gather at his return, including OT saints, NT saints and those presently living will all be born from above together.


Did people in O.T. times also have to be born again in order to be saved?

Change the auxiliary verb "Did" to "Will", and the answer is yes.

Copying from my answer to What is the biblical basis for interpreting "born again", "baptized in the Holy Spirit" and "filled with the Holy Spirit" as different experiences?:

Born again:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” — John 3:6–8

Being "born again" in this case does not refer to the "I feel like a new man!" emotion that many people experience when they discover a new way of looking at things.

Jesus literally meant what he said; born again Christians will no longer be physical beings. They will be able to move anywhere, freely, not being constrained by physical obstacles.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. — Colossians 1:18

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. — Romans 8:29

Following his Resurrection, Jesus became the firstborn from the dead of many spiritual beings, the literal sons of God.


Our human spirits (what we think of as "ourselves") were combined at baptism with God's holy spirit, in a manner similar to physical conception. That combined spirit not only guides us, it also grows and develops within us like a human fetus, destined to eventually be born as a child of God.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. — 1Corinthians 15:52–53

When Christ returns, Christians, both dead and still alive, will lose their physical bodies and their embryonic spirits will be reborn as one of Jesus's siblings, no longer in the physical image of God, but now in the spiritual image of God.

Even in pre-Christian times, a few people were individually chosen to receive salvation. And they all died without receiving their reward, King David for example:

Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. … For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;
— Acts 2:29, 13:36

When Jesus returns, they too will be resurrected and born again as a spirit beings, teaching and ruling in the Kingdom of God, here on Earth.


All believers are born again at the moment they believe. The O T saints believed from the understanding they had at the time. They looked forward to a future messiah. We look back at a historical messiah. All came to salvation the same way. Saved by grace through faith. Faith is the EVIDENCE of things not seen, even a future Christ.


Jesus promised salvation to the thief on the cross. Paul told the jailer at Corinth, " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Salvation is an instant action the moment you believe, regardless of which testament you are in.


John 3:3 – unfortunately, has a number of problems. Apart from not knowing who wrote it and when it was written, there is a translation issue of ‘born again’

John did not use the phrase "born again". The Greek text reveals, the phrase used by John is born from above. The Greek word used by John is anothen' (ano' + then'). ano' means above' and the suffix then' denotes `from'.

Jesus said was "unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And, that sounds logical. Since none of the living creature is "born from above", no one can see the kingdom heaven during his life time. The concept of being "born again" to see the kingdom of heaven is an innovation to instill the concept of Baptism.

The same word `anothen' appears in the same Gospel and in the same chapter in verse 31. Here the editors have translated the word as "from above" and not "again".

John 3:31-36 (NIV) 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.

This further supports the logic of Jesus having said; "born from above". To enter the Kingdom of Heaven one has to keep the Commandments. God's distinguished Command known as the `Covenant of Circumcision' (physically, "in the flesh of your foreskin") was an everlasting Covenant (Compact,Treaty) between God and man.

See - Genesis 17:10-14 (NIV) 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Can an everlasting Treaty be abrogated or revoked unilaterally? Did Jesus abrogate it? No. Jesus was circumcised in the flesh (Luke 2:21).

"Whoever then annuls (discards) one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:19).


I think this statement is confusing the state of being born again with the mechanism of salvation, which is faith (Romans 4.3).

As a result of faith, we are born again. Asking how one can be born again as if there was some other path than faith is exactly like Nicodemus inquiring about crawling up his mother's birth canal. Any approach other than faith is both absurd and offensive, as it attributes to the flesh the ability to climb up to God. The idea that works of the flesh can cause us to be born again is gross.

It is faith that saves, and that faith was available as much to Abel (Heb 11.4) or Abraham as to those in the present. Their faith led them to look forward to the cross (and our faith leads us to look back to the cross), but everyone who sees the cross lives.

Those after Adam were comforted with the Promise of "the seed of the woman" (Gen 3.15) and those after Abraham were comforted with even more information that this seed would be of the line of Abraham (Gen 22.18), and thereafter there was even more comfort provided that the Promise would be of the line of Isaac (Gen 21.12) and Jacob (Gen 28.14), and after that there was even more revelation about the Promise given in the law of Moses:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. John 5.39

After Moses even more revelation about the Promise was provided by Isaiah and the other prophets. All through history more and more revelation about the Promise was given, but it is faith in the Promise that saves, and that faith was available even to those who had less revelation than we do. Indeed, if more revelation is available, then even more is required of our faith (Luke 12.38), so while it was enough for Abraham to believe God's promise without having detailed information about what form it would take, only that it would be fulfilled, we are required to believe that Christ is our salvation.

But in all generations even though some have had more revelation about the Promise than others, it is faith in the Promise that causes someone to be born from above.


Yes. First, consider where the action was coming from, or who was doing the begetting - God, the Father.

?"12 but as many as did receive him to them he gave authority to become sons of God -- to those believing in his name, 13 who -- not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but -- of God were begotten." (John 1:12=13, YLT)

John, the immerser (baptizer) declared the Son.

"15 John doth testify concerning him, and hath cried, saying, `This was he of whom I said, He who after me is coming, hath come before me, for he was before me;' 16 and out of his fulness did we all receive, and grace over-against grace;

17 for the law through Moses was given, the grace and the truth through Jesus Christ did come; 18 God no one hath ever seen; the only begotten Son, who is on the bosom of the Father -- he did declare." (John 1:15-18, YLT)

Only begotten, or monogenes (Strong's Gr 3439) which is one of a kind, unique as in having no brothers or sisters of the same parent(s). (1)

Christ's birth was unique, the only one ever where God's Spirit generated the fleshly seed. All others are adopted sons and daughters through our obedience to His commands (Eph. 1:5). When we stand up - are resurrected- out of the water we are then counted for the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29), and become brothers and sisters to the uniquely created Son of God.

Under the new covenant, a new system was put in place (Heb 8:9ff). As Christ's bodily sacrifice became the only sacrifice that would ever more be acceptable to God for forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:28), then the animal sacrificial system under the patriarch system (those outside Israel) and the Mosaic covenant (those of the circumcision) were no longer effective. It was annulled (Heb. 7:18).

Second, consider where Christ went after He died on the cross - to Paradise.

"43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43, KJV)

The souls who were in Paradise - that section of the grave (Hades) which was also called Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:23ff) - were the righteous who had died under the old covenant animal sacrificial system. They had been judged worthy at their bodily deaths (Heb. 9:27) and been placed in the appropriate section of Hades waiting for the atoning sacrifice and work of Christ.

Christ went to preach to those souls in prison (1 Pet. 3:19) after His death. Preaching to those who were already in the righteous section of Hades? Did they need to be converted? They had already been judged worthy or they would not have been assigned to that section of the prison of Hades.

Certainly Christ was there to tell them the same things He had told His disciples... that the kingdom was at hand, and that they were not going to have to wait much longer to be released as Christ held the keys to the gates of Hades (Rev. 1:18). He was going to release them, separate out all of those in Hades (Matt. 25:31-32)) when He came in His glory to destroy that old animal sacrificial temple in Jerusalem - which He did in AD 70.

Those who were obedient to the law under the old covenant were forgiven and became adopted sons and daughters and brothers and sisters unto Christ at their resurrection out of Hades.

"34 `Then shall the king say to those on his right hand, Come ye, the blessed of my Father, inherit the reign that hath been prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

35 for I did hunger, and ye gave me to eat; I did thirst, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye received me; 36 naked, and ye put around me; I was infirm, and ye looked after me; in prison I was, and ye came unto me." (Matt. 25:34-36, YLT)

They inherited life eternal, and son-ship with the Father in the kingdom of God as we do also today, for all who remain faithful unto death (Rev. 14:13).


  1. Strong's Gr 3439, monogenes Biblehub

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