The New Creation -- By: Thomas A. Howe
CAJ 10:1 (Spring 2012) p. 101
The New Creation
The opening verses of John 3 have been the topic of much discussion and debate, particularly as it focuses on the enduring statement by Jesus in 3:5: “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’” (NASB). The context of this statement goes back to John 2:23, which states that “many believed into His name [εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, eis to onoma autou], beholding the signs which He did.”1 The question often raised with reference to this verse is, were these people true believers? According to the use of this phrase in 1:12–13 and especially John 3:18, we are forced to conclude that these were in fact true converts.
Some commentators have concluded that these people exercised an inadequate. For example, Herman Ridderbos states, “At the same time it is clear that not all ‘believing’ or ‘believing in his name’ could
CAJ 10:1 (Spring 2012) p. 102
be equated with the faith mentioned in 1:12, where the link is made—as it will be in the conversation with Nicodemus—with ‘being born of God.’”2 One reason that many have seen these as not yet having exercised saving faith is because the text states that they believed “seeing the signs [σημεῖα, semeia] which he was doing.” Leon Morris takes this approach: “Yet we should probably not regard them as having a profound faith. They believed because they saw the ‘signs’. . . . While such faith is better than none (see 6:26) it is not the deepest faith (cf. 20:29). It is not more than a beginning.”3 On the contrary, John himself asserts that the signs were employed for the purpose of engendering faith. The disciples in John 2:11 believed in Jesus because of the miracle (“sign,” σημείων, semeiõn) at the wedding feast.4 In 12:37, John even finds fault with those who refused to believe in light of the signs that Jesus did: “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.”5And the statement in
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