Bible Question:

Please explain what it means to be born again. It is used only once in the New Testament.

Bible Answer:

You are referring to the time that Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, came to Jesus at night. He did not want to be seen by anyone. Was he embarrassed? We do not know. Was he fearful of what other Jewish leaders would think? We can only guess. We just know that he came at night to see Jesus.

Jesus’ Question

When Nicodemus arrived, Jesus made a key statement to him.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (NASB) John 3:1-3

Nicodemus heard something new – “born again.” He did not know the meaning of those words.

Born Again

As a result Nicodemus asked Jesus to explain. Nicodemus could not understand how a person could be born after leaving the mother’s womb. How do you get back in?

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 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. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” (NASB) John 3:4-7

Then Jesus made it clear He was not talking about a physical birth – born of flesh is flesh – but a spiritual birth – born of the Spirit is spirit. What did Jesus mean by “born again?” The actual Greek word He used means “born from above.” Jesus was talking about the fact that Nicodemus was spiritually dead and he needed a spiritual birth from God. Obviously Nicodemus did have a physical birth. Now he needed a spiritual birth. That is the meaning of “born again.”


Every man and woman comes into this life physically born. But God warns us that even though we are physically alive we are walking around spiritually dead.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world . . . (NASB) Eph. 2:1-2

We need to be spiritually born too! Nicodemus wanted to know how to be spiritually born. Jesus went on to explain that a person needs to see the need for God’s forgiveness before God will give him/her a spiritual birth. But in order to have a spiritual birth – to be born of the Spirit – a person needs to believe in Jesus. Then a man or a woman will be born again.

Suggested Links:

Searching for God
Do you believe that baptism is a part of salvation?
What does born of water and the Spirit mean in John 3:5? – Regeneration
Nicodemus Comes To Jesus By Night
Can I be saved and never be baptized? — Mark 16:16
Is Baptism Required For Salvation?