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1 Pet 1:23 (NDLT, bold highlights word in question)

having been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, by the living and abiding word of God

Peter uses a word that seems to be used nowhere else. ἀναγεγεννημένοι [anagegennēmenoi]

And a similar word here in same chapter (v3). ἀναγεννήσας [anagennēsas]

1 Pet 1:3-5 (NDLT, bold highlights word in question)

By His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Not looking for a theological perspective, but a language response. (Perry?;)

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  • ὁ ἀναγεννήσας is a participle that must be adjectival, because it has an article. It could be an attributive adjective (one that modifies a nearby noun) or a substantival adjective (one that stands on its own without a nearby noun to modify). This participle modifies both θεός and πατήρ. Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 5:33

2 Answers 2

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Both words are Strong's 313...

Peter's words

From Bible Hub Strong's 313:

[313 (anagennáō) "does not occur in classical or Septuagintal Greek. Any use elsewhere (i.e. outside the NT) is disputed (cf. Moulton-Milligan; Selwyn, First Epistle of St. Peter, 122)" (CBL). This underlines the importance of its two occasions in the NT (1 Pet 1:3,23).]

So, it's not just that Peter used it only twice. The word in question appears only twice in the Bible, probably only twice ever in all Greek lit.

Here are the verses with NASB and full Greek...

1 Pet 1:3 (bold highlights word in question)

(NASB)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

(SBLGNT)

Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι’ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν,

Then again a few verses later...

1 Pet 1:23 (bold highlights word in question)

(NASB)

for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

(SBLGNT)

ἀναγεγεννημένοι οὐκ ἐκ σπορᾶς φθαρτῆς ἀλλὰ ἀφθάρτου, διὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ καὶ μένοντος ·

Essentially, ἀναγεννάω [anagennaoe] (313) is a compound word of ἀνά [ana] (303) and γεννάω [gennaoe] (1080).

Also from Bible Hub Strong's 313:

(from 303 /aná, "up, again," which intensifies 1080 /gennáō, "give birth")

So, it plainly means "born again" or possibly "reborn".

Beyond the basics that this is 1. rare and otherwise non-existant and 2. a compound word with an apparent lexical meaning, we won't get much theology or much more meaning from the word itself.

My words

From my own experience in Bible translation, I would tend to translate it as one word in English, just as it was one word in Greek: reborn.

That would make my own translation something like:

v3 (Jesse Steele)

...made us reborn unto living hope...

v23 (Jesse Steele)

...having been reborn not of...

John's words

As an extra, I like the Reformer's (Calvin, Luther, Cromwell) hermeneutic of cross-reference to interpret Scripture with Scripture. So, be sure to check out where the idea of "birth" first appears in the history of Bible-Christian teaching...

John 3:3, 5-6 (bold highlights words in question)

(NASB)

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born [from above] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(SBLGNT)

3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ · Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

5 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς · Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 6 τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν.

John quotes Jesus using "born" from "γεννάω" [gennaoe] (1080) and "above" from "ἄνωθεν" [anoethen] (509). (NASB reads 'again', but notes 'above' also.)

If Peter leaves you hungry, go chew on John.

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  • Thx for that. The problem that looms is that the 'reborn' concept is not definitely a past tense event. (the case could be made for a future event) based on the "a living hope", "unfading, reserved in heaven for you". Was hoping for some light on this from the text used. born? begotten?, etc
    – Steve
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 4:58
  • "begotten" is not always clear every time it appears in the KJV; I never develop theology based on it. The Christological Ontology has much more basis found deeper in Scripture than just asking "begoggen" or not, and the conclusions can all be the same, just stronger. Still, it always needs substantial evidence to back up "begotten" or not. As for "reborn" vs "born again", both use "born" which has the same morphologies as "reborn", so the same English syntax dilemmas would exist with both. So, the job of the translator would be to structure the rest of the sentence to clear up any such doubt.
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 5:02
  • So . . . . . what does 'reborn mean, then ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 10:39
  • It etymologically means the same thing as “born again”, and it’s prefix-root construction is identical to the Greek. Any other meaning would be connotative, not lexical.
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 10:41
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ἀναγεγεννημένοι means, "having been born again" which is a Verb - Perfect Participle Middle or Passive - Nominative Masculine Plural.

The word only occurs twice in the NT, 1 Peter 1:3, 23; however it is possible to see a connection to John 3 where a closely related word and adverb provide a similar concept:

  • John 3:3 - Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
  • John 3:7 - Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’

The extended discussion with Nicodemus defines what being "born again" is all about. It is essentially about (John 3:5) being born of the Spirit - being motivated and controlled by the Holy Spirit as per Rom 8:

5 Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Thus, both Peter and Paul describe a new life, or being reborn. For the unconverted this is a future event. For the converted Christian, this is a completed past event, hence the tense of the verb in 1 Peter 1:23 - the perfect (completed) tense.

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