Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” - John 3:3, 5
In verse 3, the Lord says one cannot ‘see’ the kingdom of God if they are not born again. To ‘see’ is from the Greek transliteration: horaó, the definition is as follows, ‘I see, look upon, experience, perceive, discern, beware’ - from Strongs.
From HELPS Word-studies– properly, see, often with metaphorical meaning: "to see with the mind" (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).
Born again is literally ‘born from above’ in the original. Without this new birth, a sinner is not able to ‘see’, or discern/perceive the spiritual truths about God/Christ/His kingdom. Even though Nicodemus was very ‘religious’, he was not born from above, which is why Christ stated this to him. He was void of the ability to ‘see with the mind’ the great truths found in Scripture about man and God. Many today are ‘religious’, yet they are dead in trespasses and sin. They base their salvation upon their own ‘works’, yet haven’t eyes to see or ears to hear.
Moving on to verse five, our Lord reveals another pertinent truth, unless you are born of water and of the Spirit, you cannot ‘enter’ into the kingdom of God. Enter, from the transliteration: eiserchomai, defined by Strongs as ‘I go in, come in, enter’. From Helps word studies, ‘1525 eisérxomai (from 1519 /eis, "into, unto" and 2064/erxomai, "come") – properly, come into, go (enter) into; (figuratively) to enter into for an important purpose’. Take note of this last definition, ‘properly’, one simply cannot properly or rightly enter God’s eternal kingdom or understand spiritual truths without being born from above by God the Spirit and by ‘water’. Some think baptism is being referred to here, but I like Matthew Henry’s commentary on this, “ First, The regenerating work of the Spirit is compared to water, v. 5. To be born again is to be born of water and of the Spirit, that is, of the Spirit working like water, as (Mt. 3:11) with the Holy Ghost and with fire means with the Holy Ghost as with fire. 1. That which is primarily intended here is to show that the Spirit, in sanctifying a soul, (1.) Cleanses and purifies it as water, takes away its filth, by which it was unfit for the kingdom of God. It is the washing of regeneration, Tit. 3:5. You are washed, 1 Co. 6:11. See Eze. 36:25. (2.) Cools and refreshes it, as water does the hunted hart and the weary traveller. The Spirit is compared to water, ch. 7:38, 39; Isa. 44:3. In the first creation, the fruits of heaven were born of water (Gen. 1:20), in allusion to which, perhaps, they that are born from above are said to be born of water. 2. It is probable that Christ had an eye to the ordinance of baptism, which John had used and he himself had begun to use, "You must be born again of the Spirit," which regeneration by the Spirit should be signified by washing with water, as the visible sign of that spiritual grace: not that all they, and they only, that are baptized, are saved; but without that new birth which is wrought by the Spirit, and signified by baptism, none shall be looked upon as the protected privileged subjects of the kingdom of heaven. The Jews cannot partake of the benefits of the Messiah’s kingdom, they have so long looked for, unless they quit all expectations of being justified by the works of the law, and submit to the baptism of repentance, the great gospel duty, for the remission of sins, the great gospel privilege. “
I also share John Gill’s commentary on this verse, “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit: these are, , "two words", which express the same thing, as Kimchi observes in many places in his commentaries, and signify the grace of the Spirit of God. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, "the Holy Spirit", and so Nonnus; and who doubtless is intended: by "water", is not meant material water, or baptismal water; for water baptism is never expressed by water only, without some additional word, which shows, that the ordinance of water baptism is intended: nor has baptism any regenerating influence in it; a person may be baptized, as Simon Magus was, and yet not born again; and it is so far from having any such virtue, that a person ought to be born again, before he is admitted to that ordinance: and though submission to it is necessary, in order to a person's entrance into a Gospel church state; yet it is not necessary to the kingdom of heaven, or to eternal life and salvation: such a mistaken sense of this text, seems to have given the first birth and rise to infant baptism in the African churches; who taking the words in this bad sense, concluded their children must be baptized, or they could not be saved; whereas by "water" is meant, in a figurative and metaphorical sense, the grace of God, as it is elsewhere; see Ezekiel 36:25. Which is the moving cause of this new birth, and according to which God begets men again to, a lively hope, and that by which it is effected; for it is by the grace of God, and not by the power of man's free will, that any are regenerated, or made new creatures: and if Nicodemus was an officer in the temple, that took care to provide water at the feasts, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, and as it should seem Nicodemon ben Gorion was, by the story before related of him; See Gill on John 3:1; very pertinently does our Lord make mention of water, it being his own element: regeneration is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as in 1 Peter 1:3, and sometimes to the Son, 1 John 2:29 and here to the Spirit, as in Titus 3:5, who convinces of sin, sanctifies, renews, works faith, and every other grace; begins and carries on the work of grace, unto perfection;
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; and unless a man has this work of his wrought on his soul, as he will never understand divine and spiritual things, so he can have no right to Gospel ordinances, or things appertaining to the kingdom of God; nor can he be thought to have passed from death to life, and to have entered into an open state of grace, and the kingdom of it; or that living and dying so, he shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven; for unless a man is regenerated, he is not born heir apparent to it; and without internal holiness, shall not enter into it, enjoy it, or see God.”
The new birth is NOT brought about by any work, such as baptism, participating in the RCC mass, or free will decisions/invitations, etc. The new birth is solely the ministerial work of God the Spirit, as John 3:8 testifies to, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
“The wind bloweth where it listeth,.... For ought any mortal can say, or do to the contrary: and so the Spirit of God is a free agent in regeneration; he works how, and where, and when he pleases; he acts freely in the first operation of his grace on the heart, and in all after influences of it; as well as in the donation of his gifts to men, for different purposes; see 1 Corinthians 12:11; and this grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; it carries all before it; there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan's strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruptions of a man's heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can let?
and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; as the wind, though its sound is heard, and its force felt, it cannot be seen; nor is it known certainly, from whence it comes, and where are the treasures of it; from whence it begins, and where it ends; so is the grace of the Spirit of God in regeneration to a natural man; it is imperceptible, indiscernible, and unaccountable by him, 1 Corinthians 2:14.
So is every one that is born of the Spirit: he is regenerated by grace, that is, as free and sovereign, as powerful and irresistible, and as secret and imperceptible, as the wind is: and seeing so ordinary a thing as the blowing of the wind is of such a nature, and so little to be accounted for; regeneration by the Spirit of God, who is comparable to the wind, and whose name so signifies, need not be thought so marvellous and astonishing, though the natural man discerns it not, and cannot account for it. The beauty and propriety of this simile will more appear by observing, that the same Hebrew word, is used both for the wind, and for the Spirit of God; it is used for the "wind", in Genesis 3:8; and in other places, and for the Spirit of God, in Genesis 1:2, and elsewhere: and so likewise the Greek word is used for them both, for the wind in this place, and often for the Holy Ghost: and it may be observed, that the Holy Spirit, because of his powerful, comfortable, and quickening influences, is compared to the wind, especially to the south wind, in some passages of the Old Testament, which Christ might have in view, Sol 4:16. What our Lord here says, concerning the wind, is confirmed by all experience, and philosophical observations; the rise of winds, from whence they come, and whither they go, cannot be ascertained; the treasures of them are only with God, and known to him; see Ecclesiastes 11:5.” - John Gill
As previously stated, there are multitudes who are running around claiming to be Christian, yet know nothing of the new birth. Instead, they rely upon a work they have done and believe themselves to be saved as a result. Their understanding of salvation and the truths found in the bible is clouded by their human wisdom/view. They twist God’s holy word and make it to say/mean something it simply doesn’t say/mean; they do so because they are void of the the work of the Spirit in regenerating the mind,opening the understanding, and making the truths of the bible known. They piece together their beliefs based on certain bible verses, pulling them out of context and forcing a meaning upon them that God never intended. This is rampant in America, and as a result, multitudes are on the broad road and charlatans are spoken and thought highly of. Billy Graham comes to mind, for he was a deceiver and a liar. Yet, the ‘world’ spoke very highly of him because his message was man centered and from the Devil.
Only God can grant the new birth, only God can save the soul of a sinner, all by His grace. It starts with the regenerating work of the Spirit, without this starting point, no one will ever, ever see/ understand the bible or rightly enter into God’s kingdom….period.