John 1:13 "children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" NIV.

Also: NET Bible "a husband's desire".

Weymouth N.T. "the will of a human father".

I think "husband" or "human father" suggests human physical birth.

However those that "did receive him" were already born in the physical realm. If they were already in the physical realm then denying that they became children of God through a physical act seems redundant. The physical act has already taken place.

The ESV puts "the will of man", stressing that spiritual birth comes not from the will of man but from the will of God.

How might the NIV justify translating "andros" as husband in this verse?

  • 1
    Interpretative to render it with respect to the parents of the child, so the will of the husband. The word is also translated as husband, sometimes in context. But it is a bad translation as if husband alone is responsible in procreation.
    – Michael16
    Jul 30, 2021 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


John 1:

13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s [G435] will, but born of God.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 435: ἀνήρ

  1. with a reference to sex, and so to distinguish a man from a woman; either
    a. as a male: Acts 8:12; Acts 17:12; 1 Timothy 2:12; or
    b. as a husband: Matthew 1:16; Mark 10:2; John 4:16ff; Romans 7:2ff; 1 Corinthians 7:2ff; Galatians 4:27; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6, etc.; a betrothed or future husband: Matthew 1:19; Revelation 21:2, etc.

The same Greek word is in Matthew 1:16

and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband [G435] of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Here translating G435 as "husband" is clearly justified.

Now, let's get back to John 1:

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The first birth is of human decision. Denying that they became children of God through a physical act seems redundant. Indeed, as the OP states: since the physical act has already taken place. However, verse 13 is not talking about the first birth. It is not denying the first birth. It focuses on the second birth: born of God. It is saying that being born of God is not a decision of the husband.

It is a bit confusing, so I prefer English Standard Version:

who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

This brings out the contrast between (horizontal) man and (vertical) God much better.

  • I don't think it's really justified as it's not only husbands that will the birth of children. It's just an unnecessary narrowing of the range of meaning for no reason.
    – Austin
    Jul 30, 2021 at 21:07
  • You need to distinguish the process of translation from the process of interpretation.
    – user35953
    Sep 30, 2021 at 16:51

The Koine Greek word ἀνήρ (aner), ἀνδρός (andros) is used for BOTH "man/male" and "husband". For example:

  • "Man/male" in Matt 7:24, 26, 12:41, 14:21, 35, 15:38, Mark 6:20, etc.
  • "husband" in Matt 1:16, 19, Mark 10:12, Luke 2:36, 16:18, John 4;16, 17, 18, etc.

Thus, in a properly constituted household (as distinct from an illicit relationship) it is entirely expected that children are born by the agreement and consent of the husband, not just any man.

In John 1;13 we have (BLB):

who were born not of blood, nor of will of flesh, nor of will of man [ or "a husband"], but of God.

Either "man" or "husband" is consistent with the vocabulary and semantics of the word (aner)/ἀνδρός (andros). It is also true that John is contrasting spiritual birth with biological/literal birth and again, either translation does not violate that central idea in John 1:13.

The amplified Bible has this:

who were born, not of blood [natural conception], nor of the will of the flesh [physical impulse], nor of the will of man [that of a natural father], but of God [that is, a divine and supernatural birth—they are born of God—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].

Here, the natural [ie, biological] father is the husband of the wife who bares the child.

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