Born of Water and The Spirit-John 3.5

Jason Engwer over at Triablogue has a post contra baptismal justification by the likes of later Christian Theologians, specifically, Tertullian. It is clear that the bible affirms justification by faith like Abraham and not baptismal regeneration by infant sprinkling. If John 3.5 speaks of Baptism, it refers to Spirit Baptism as a result of faith, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (ESV)

In 1Cor. 10.1-4, Paul may refer to the same idea that is the background for Jesus’ biblical reference to Nicodemus: For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (ESV).

While they were baptized into Moses, Moses wasn’t the spiritual source of their blessing as the text clearly states, it was Christ, the Eternal Son. The Son gave both the physical water from the rock and was The Rock itself, metaphorically, as 1 Cor. 10 affirms. The Israelites’ sustenance in the clothes not wearing out and provision of Manna along with protection from their enemies shows spiritual blessing from Christ and not Moses. These tangible blessings (water and Manna) were given spiritually by Christ. Also, the sea passage shows the idea of submergence as a mode and not sprinkling.

The rescued Israelites were also baptized into Moses in the cloud that protected them from the pursuing Egyptians. Hence, in whatever sense they were baptized into God’s visible representative (Moses), the protection came from God’s provision of the supernatural cloud. To what could this cloud refer that came from God? A good solution seems to view this cloud/fire as the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit was sent on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the physical indication was the sound of wind and appearance of tongues of fire.

So, could Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus in Jn. 3.9 (Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?) signal that this Rabbi should have known what Jesus was saying when indicating the need for water and Spirit birth? A new birth (starting over by becoming spiritual children-Mt. 18.3) is what the Israelites, rescued from Egypt, experienced also. It can also be argued that Abraham and all the patriarchs went through a new birth in a sense when God redeemed them; Jacob becoming “Israel” is perhaps the most obvious case. Therefore, Nicodemus had plenty of biblical examples to see what being born of water and the Spirit referred.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.