Friday, March 10, 2017

Nicodemus as representative of Israel

Further to Derrick Olliff’s paper “The Eschatology of Being “Born Again””

“Descent from Father Abraham and membership of one of the twelve tribes of Israel will no longer count for membership in the people of God…. Easily missed is the fact that Jesus is actually addressing the nation of Israel in the person of this noted individual. This point emerges where we translate the Greek literally:

verse 7 Marvel not that I say unto thee,

            You (plural) must be born from above’.

verse 11 ‘… you (plural) do not receive our witness’.

In effect, Jesus is addressing Israel with an announcement that is at the same time bad news and good news. It is bad news because it declares that Israel is not the Kingdom of God, but it is good news because it points to the door into the Kingdom. That ‘door’ is through the one who now speaks to Nicodemus, Jesus himself.

In turn this bears on the meaning of the words, ‘born of water and the Spirit’ (verse 5). Most likely Jesus is referring to God’s promise to gather together his scattered people into their true homeland and to wash them with water and give them his Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-28). In other words, God promises to forgive those sins that caused them to be scattered and to give them his inner strength to please him from now on.” (p42)  

Paul Barnett, John: The Shepherd King Reading The Bible Today Series (Sydney, Aquila Press, 2005)

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