BORN OF GOD
BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL
10. It was (He was, and continued being) within the world (ordered system), and the world (ordered system) came to be (was birthed) through It (or: Him), and the world (ordered system) did not have intimate, experiential knowledge of It (or: did not recognize Him).
11. It (He) came into Its (His) own things (possessions, or people), and It’s own (His own) people did not receive It (Him) and take It (Him) to their side.
12. Yet, as many as receive It (or: took Him) to (by; in; for) the ones habitually believing (trusting) into It’s Name (His Name) It gives (or: He gave) to them (in them) authority ([the] right; privilege) to be birthed (to become) God’s children (born ones),
13. who are born (were given birth) not out of bloods [e.g., ancestry], neither forth from the will of flesh (or: from the intent of a flesh [ceremony]) , nor yet out of the will (purpose; intent) of an adult male, but to the contrary, from out of God!
I have chosen to use the word “It” in the above passage, as the verbs have no personal pronoun in the text although I have indicated that “He” is also correct and I have wanted to carry through the thought that the subject is still “The Word,” which in the English language is normally without gender (but in Greek is masculine). I am not here saying that the Word is not the “Person” which became Jesus, on earth, but I’m emphasizing what I see as being the continuation of the thought which John began in vs. 13, continuing to show that the Word was the source of Life, and was the Light of mankind in vs. 45, and then expanding the concept of this Word being “the Light” in vs. 812.
Now what I want to look at is vs. 1213.
Here we have what I think are two concepts that are related, but not identical:
1. coming to be God’s children
2. being born from out of God
In vs. 13 the verb “born” is in the aorist, passive. It is a simple past tense, but also a simple statement of fact: these were born from out of God.
Why, then, did John say, in vs. 12, that these same ones were given the right, the privilege, the authority, “to become” (or, it would seem: to be birthed; to come into existence being) “God’s children”?
Vs. 13 is an explanatory qualifier of the same ones “who received” It (the Word), or Him. These were those who had been born of God. And it did not count that they were of any particular blood line (or ancestral heritage), nor if they had been circumcised in the flesh, nor if THEY (or any other “man”) had done this of his own will!
In Rom. 9:25–26, Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 and 1:10. He here combines the thoughts of Israel being God’s people, and their being God’s children (specifically, sons, in vs. 26 and Hos. 1:10). In Hos., Israel is being spoken of as a whole, not as individuals. It is as “a people” that they are being referred to. They were to be called “not my people” in Hos. 1:9, but then would be called “sons of the living God” (vs. 10).
In Hos. 11:1, God says, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.” Now Matthew sees in this also a prophecy about Christ. But here is another witness of Israel, as a corporate people, being called God’s son, His children.
In Rom. 9:4 Paul tells us that “sonship” and the covenants (becoming God’s people) belonged to Israel.
Now in John 3:58, we see that being “born of God” is being called “born of the Spirit.” and is set in contrast to being “born of water,” or “born of the flesh.”
[Now I suggest here that being born of water not only speaks of a natural birth, on one level, but would refer to Jewish ritual washings and baptisms, including the baptism of John. The being born of the flesh would refer both to being born an Israelite, and to becoming a son of Israel via circumcision, which could be also done by a Gentile convert to Judaism. These were things that Nicodemus, a (lit. “the”) teacher of Israel should have known. (vs. 10)]
If my thinking is correct, here, then in John 1:12, where he says that the Word (of the covenant?) gives those who receive that Word (whether Israel, from Sinai to Christ, or whether believers, from Christ, on) the rights, privileges and authority to become “God’s children,” John means that they have become the true Israel, figuratively called “children of God” to whom pertain the “sonship” and the things listed by Paul in Rom. 9:4). Or, it is like those in Rom. 11, who, being now born of God (of the Spirit) are grafted into the olive tree and have the right and authority to produce oilbearing fruit (the fruit of the Spirit).
But now let’s look at what John said in his first letter: “Everyone habitually (continuously) believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born and is now a born one from out of God.” (1 John 5:1) Here, the being born of God is antecedent to believing, the believing being evidence of the birth.
Likewise, “… everyone habitually doing (practicing) fair and equitable dealing (justice; righteousness; that which accords with the Way pointed out) has been born from out of Him (with Him as the Source).” (1 John 2:29)
And, “… everyone continuously loving [including loving God] has been born from out of God…” (1 John 4:7)
1 Pet. 1:23, “being ones having been born again (regenerated; given birth back up again), not from out of a corruptible seed, but rather of an incorruptible one: through God’s continually living and permanently remaining Word (or: through a word of [the] continuously living and constantly abiding God).”
None of these verses say that we chose to be born. The ones who actually receive the Word are those who “were born” from out of God (John 1:12, 13). From this act of God springs all else within us. The life implanted within us then elicits a response, like the baby’s first breath or cry, and we say “Yes!” to our Father.
BORN OF GOD [Jonathan Mitchell] 1