John 3:1
New International Version
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.

New Living Translation
There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.

English Standard Version
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

Berean Study Bible
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.

Berean Literal Bible
And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

New American Standard Bible
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

King James Bible
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Christian Standard Bible
There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

Contemporary English Version
There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader.

Good News Translation
There was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

International Standard Version
Now there was a man from the Pharisees, a leader of the Jews, whose name was Nicodemus.

NET Bible
Now a certain man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council,

New Heart English Bible
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jewish people.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
One man of the Pharisees was living there; his name was Nicodemus. He was a leader of the Judeans.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish council.

New American Standard 1977
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

Jubilee Bible 2000
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a prince of the Jews;

King James 2000 Bible
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

American King James Version
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

American Standard Version
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Douay-Rheims Bible
AND there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

Darby Bible Translation
But there was a man from among the Pharisees, his name Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

English Revised Version
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Webster's Bible Translation
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Weymouth New Testament
Now there was one of the Pharisees whose name was Nicodemus--a ruler among the Jews.

World English Bible
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

Young's Literal Translation
And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus his name, a ruler of the Jews,
Study Bible
Jesus and Nicodemus
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.”…
Cross References
Luke 23:13
Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people,

John 7:26
Yet here He is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying anything to Him. Have the rulers truly recognized that this is the Christ?

John 7:48
"Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him?

John 7:50
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, and who himself was one of them, asked,

John 19:39
Nicodemus, who had previously come to Jesus at night, also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.

Treasury of Scripture

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:10
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

John 7:47-49
Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? …

δὲ (de)
Strong's Greek 1161: A primary particle; but, and, etc.

there was
Ἦν (Ēn)
Verb - Imperfect Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.

a man
ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 444: A man, one of the human race. From aner and ops; man-faced, i.e. A human being.

ἐκ (ek)
Strong's Greek 1537: From out, out from among, from, suggesting from the interior outwards. A primary preposition denoting origin, from, out.

τῶν (tōn)
Article - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Φαρισαίων (Pharisaiōn)
Noun - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 5330: Of Hebrew origin; a separatist, i.e. Exclusively religious; a Pharisean, i.e. Jewish sectary.

ὄνομα (onoma)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3686: Name, character, fame, reputation. From a presumed derivative of the base of ginosko; a 'name'.

Νικόδημος (Nikodēmos)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3530: Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin. From nikos and demos; victorious among his people; Nicodemus, an Israelite.

a leader
ἄρχων (archōn)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 758: Present participle of archo; a first.

of the
τῶν (tōn)
Article - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Ἰουδαίων (Ioudaiōn)
Adjective - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 2453: Jewish. From Iouda; Judaean, i.e. Belonging to Jehudah.

(1) There was a man.--Read, But there was a man. Our division of chapters breaks the connection, and the omission of the conjunction leads us to think of the visit of Nicodemus as quite distinct from what has gone before; whereas it really rises out of it (comp. John 3:2 with John 2:23).

The name Nicodemus was not uncommon among the Jews, but like Stephen, Philip, Jason, etc., was derived from their intercourse with the Greeks. (Comp. e.g., Demosth. 549, 23, and Jos. Ant. xiv. 3, ? 2.) Of this particular Nicodemus, we know with certainty nothing more than is told us in this Gospel (John 7:50; John 19:39). The Talmud mentions a Nakedimon, so called from a miracle performed by him, who was the son of Gorion, and whose real name was Bonai. It also gives the name Bonai as one of the disciples of Jesus. He was one of the three richest Jews when Titus besieged Jerusalem, but his family was reduced to the most abject poverty. So far the Talmud. The inference is that this change of fortune is connected with his becoming a Christian and with the persecution which followed, and he is himself identified with the Nicodemus of the Gospel. We can only say this may be so. The reader who cares for more on the subject will find full references in Lampe, and the extracts from the Talmud translated in Lightfoot. Others may be content to accept this latter writer's conclusion. "It is not worth while to take great pains in a question which is very involved, if we may not also call it useless." (For the "Pharisees," to which sect Nicodemus belonged, comp. John 1:24, and Matthew 3:7.)

Ruler of the Jews.--One of the Sanhedrin (comp. John 1:19, Note). This is made certain by the position of Nicodemus, in John 7:50.

(1) The word ?????? (pneuma) occurs some 370 times in the Greek New Testament, and of these, twenty-three times in this Gospel. It is nowhere rendered "wind" by our translators, except in this instance, and they have rendered the same word by "Spirit" in the same verse, and twice besides in the same context (John 3:5-6). There is another word for "wind" (??????), which occurs thirty-one times in the New Testament, and which John himself uses in John 6:18. It is not contended that ?????? may not mean "wind," "the breath of wind," but that this is not its New Testament use, where the word is restricted to its special meaning. (It is plural in Hebrews 1:7; see Note there.) It is admitted also that the Hebrew or Chaldee word which ?????? here translates has the two senses, but the sense in which it is here used is fixed by the translator.

Verse 1. - But there was a man of the Pharisees. Is this narrative introduced, as Baur thinks, to give a specimen of wrongly directed faith, to which Christ did not entrust himself? and was the evangelist busy at once on his great mission of undervaluing the Jewish parties and nation? Certainly not. We have a clear proof that, in the case of the genuine inquirer, Christ did open His very heart; and to a "ruler of Jews," to a "Pharisee," to a "teacher of Israel," he deigned (because he knew what was in the man, and required nobody's help) to unveil the deepest realities of the kingdom of God and of the salvation of man. Baur is not correct in making Nicodemus out to be a specimen of unbelieving Judaism and unsusceptible Pharisaism, seeing that the later notices of this Sanhedrist show that he became a disciple of Jesus, if secretly, Nicodemus was attracted, as others had been, by the "signs" which Jesus had wrought; but he had gone further and deeper than they, and Jesus "knew it." A controversy has arisen on the point - Did our Lord, by these penetrative glances, manifest his Divine nature, assume a Divine prerogative, or exercise a lofty, penetrative human gift? Westcott, on the philological ground of the contrast in meaning between γινώσκειν and εἰδέναι, urges that the former word, used here, represents knowledge acquired by processes of inquiry and perception, as distinct from the latter, which is reserved for absolute and settled knowledge. Godet, on theological grounds, urges that the phrase refers to the human faculty of observation rather than to the Divine prerogative of heart-searching. There are, however, many other indications of this same thought-mastery, which the evangelists appear to regard as proofs of Divine power; so that I think the real significance of the passage is an ascription to Jesus of Divine power. The supernatural in mind, the superhuman mental processes of Jesus, are part of the proof we have that, though he was Man, he created the irresistible impression that he was more than man. Thus Nathanael and Thomas found these to be the most irresistible proofs of the supreme Divine perfections of their Master (cf. John 1:49; John 4:17; John 6:61; John 11:4, 14; John 13:11; John 21:17; and also Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, etc.). "The man of the Pharisees" furnishes (Godet) a test for determining the authenticity of the narrative. If the lines of the following discourse, which move from the first fundamental conditions of admission into the kingdom of God to the deepest principles of Divine character, and the grounds and consequences of reconciliation with God, are such as meet the standpoint and correct the deductions of the Pharisee, we have, then, all but demonstrative evidence that this conversation did not evolve itself out of the consciousness of the second century. The Pharisaic party was excited by the ministry of John (ch. John 1:24), and throughout the early ministry of Jesus in Galilee followed him, with suspicious, malicious suggestions, even plans for his suppression. The name Nicodemus, if Hebrew in etymology from dam and naki, may have meant "innocent blood;" it Greek, as is more probable, seeing that the plan of bearing Greek as well as Hebrew names was not uncommon, it would signify "Conqueror of the people." Tradition says that he was baptized by Peter and John, and deposed from his position in the Sanhedrin, but supported by his kinsman, Gamaliel. Each reference to him (John 7:50 and John 19:39) implies a certain timidity, and perhaps unworthy reticence. These are relative terms. Much moral courage must have been required for a ruler of the Jews (a phrase only applicable to a man of high ecclesiastical rank) to have dreamed of doing what he is reported to have done here and elsewhere. The Talmud mentions a Nicodemus ben Gotten, who was also called Bonai, a disciple of Jesus, of great wealth and piety, who survived the destruction of Jerusalem, and therein lost nil his fortune (Lightfoot, in loc.; Delitzsch, 'Zeitsch. Luth. Theol.,' 1854). The hint that he was an old man in this year (A.U.C. 781, or A.D. ) renders his survival till A.D. improbable, but not impossible by any means. The identification is not complete. The Talmud does not speak of him as a Sanhedrist, though it gives curious details, which imply that he must have been a priest in the temple, and had the charge of providing the water supply for the pilgrims (Geikie, 1:584; Winer, 'Real.,' 2:152). 3:1-8 Nicodemus was afraid, or ashamed to be seen with Christ, therefore came in the night. When religion is out of fashion, there are many Nicodemites. But though he came by night, Jesus bid him welcome, and hereby taught us to encourage good beginnings, although weak. And though now he came by night, yet afterward he owned Christ publicly. He did not talk with Christ about state affairs, though he was a ruler, but about the concerns of his own soul and its salvation, and went at once to them. Our Saviour spoke of the necessity and nature of regeneration or the new birth, and at once directed Nicodemus to the source of holiness of the heart. Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again, is to begin to live anew, as those who have lived much amiss, or to little purpose. We must have a new nature, new principles, new affections, new aims. By our first birth we were corrupt, shapen in sin; therefore we must be made new creatures. No stronger expression could have been chosen to signify a great and most remarkable change of state and character. We must be entirely different from what we were before, as that which begins to be at any time, is not, and cannot be the same with that which was before. This new birth is from heaven, ch. 1:13, and its tendency is to heaven. It is a great change made in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It means that something is done in us, and for us, which we cannot do for ourselves. Something is wrong, whereby such a life begins as shall last for ever. We cannot otherwise expect any benefit by Christ; it is necessary to our happiness here and hereafter. What Christ speak, Nicodemus misunderstood, as if there had been no other way of regenerating and new-moulding an immortal soul, than by new-framing the body. But he acknowledged his ignorance, which shows a desire to be better informed. It is then further explained by the Lord Jesus. He shows the Author of this blessed change. It is not wrought by any wisdom or power of our own, but by the power of the blessed Spirit. We are shapen in iniquity, which makes it necessary that our nature be changed. We are not to marvel at this; for, when we consider the holiness of God, the depravity of our nature, and the happiness set before us, we shall not think it strange that so much stress is laid upon this. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is compared to water. It is also probable that Christ had reference to the ordinance of baptism. Not that all those, and those only, that are baptized, are saved; but without that new birth which is wrought by the Spirit, and signified by baptism, none shall be subjects of the kingdom of heaven. The same word signifies both the wind and the Spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth for us; God directs it. The Spirit sends his influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree, he pleases. Though the causes are hidden, the effects are plain, when the soul is brought to mourn for sin, and to breathe after Christ. Christ's stating of the doctrine and the necessity of regeneration, it should seem, made it not clearer to Nicodemus. Thus the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man. Many think that cannot be proved, which they cannot believe. Christ's discourse of gospel truths, ver. 11-13, shows the folly of those who make these things strange unto them; and it recommends us to search them out. Jesus Christ is every way able to reveal the will of God to us; for he came down from heaven, and yet is in heaven. We have here a notice of Christ's two distinct natures in one person, so that while he is the Son of man, yet he is in heaven. God is the HE THAT IS, and heaven is the dwelling-place of his holiness. The knowledge of this must be from above, and can be received by faith alone. Jesus Christ came to save us by healing us, as the children of Israel, stung with fiery serpents, were cured and lived by looking up to the brazen serpent, Nu 21:6-9. In this observe the deadly and destructive nature of sin. Ask awakened consciences, ask damned sinners, they will tell you, that how charming soever the allurements of sin may be, at the last it bites like a serpent. See the powerful remedy against this fatal malady. Christ is plainly set forth to us in the gospel. He whom we offended is our Peace, and the way of applying for a cure is by believing. If any so far slight either their disease by sin, or the method of cure by Christ, as not to receive Christ upon his own terms, their ruin is upon their own heads. He has said, Look and be saved, look and live; lift up the eyes of your faith to Christ crucified. And until we have grace to do this, we shall not be cured, but still are wounded with the stings of Satan, and in a dying state. Jesus Christ came to save us by pardoning us, that we might not die by the sentence of the law. Here is gospel, good news indeed. Here is God's love in giving his Son for the world. God so loved the world; so really, so richly. Behold and wonder, that the great God should love such a worthless world! Here, also, is the great gospel duty, to believe in Jesus Christ. God having given him to be our Prophet, Priest, and King, we must give up ourselves to be ruled, and taught, and saved by him. And here is the great gospel benefit, that whoever believes in Christ, shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and so saving it. It could not be saved, but through him; there is no salvation in any other. From all this is shown the happiness of true believers; he that believeth in Christ is not condemned. Though he has been a great sinner, yet he is not dealt with according to what his sins deserve. How great is the sin of unbelievers! God sent One to save us, that was dearest to himself; and shall he not be dearest to us? How great is the misery of unbelievers! they are condemned already; which speaks a certain condemnation; a present condemnation. The wrath of God now fastens upon them; and their own hearts condemn them. There is also a condemnation grounded on their former guilt; they are open to the law for all their sins; because they are not by faith interested in the gospel pardon. Unbelief is a sin against the remedy. It springs from the enmity of the heart of man to God, from love of sin in some form. Read also the doom of those that would not know Christ. Sinful works are works of darkness. The wicked world keep as far from this light as they can, lest their deeds should be reproved. Christ is hated, because sin is loved. If they had not hated saving knowledge, they would not sit down contentedly in condemning ignorance. On the other hand, renewed hearts bid this light welcome. A good man acts truly and sincerely in all he does. He desires to know what the will of God is, and to do it, though against his own worldly interest. A change in his whole character and conduct has taken place. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, and is become the commanding principle of his actions. So long as he continues under a load of unforgiven guilt, there can be little else than slavish fear of God; but when his doubts are done away, when he sees the righteous ground whereon this forgiveness is built, he rests on it as his own, and is united to God by unfeigned love. Our works are good when the will of God is the rule of them, and the glory of God the end of them; when they are done in his strength, and for his sake; to him, and not to men. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a subject to which the world is very averse; it is, however, the grand concern, in comparison with which every thing else is but trifling. What does it signify though we have food to eat in plenty, and variety of raiment to put on, if we are not born again? if after a few mornings and evenings spent in unthinking mirth, carnal pleasure, and riot, we die in our sins, and lie down in sorrow? What does it signify though we are well able to act our parts in life, in every other respect, if at last we hear from the Supreme Judge, Depart from me, I know you not, ye workers of iniquity?
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