There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
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Augustine of Hippo
He had said above that, when He was at Jerusalem many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did. Of this number was Nicodemus, of whom we are told; There was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Nicodemus was one of the number who believed, but werenot as yet born again. Wherefore he came to Jesus by night. Whereas those who are born of water and the Holy Spirit, are addressed by the Apostle, You were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord.
What the ground of his belief was, is plain from what immediately follows: For no one can do these miracles that You do, except God be with him. Nicodemus then was one of the many who believed in His Name, when they saw the signs that He did.
Those then are the persons to whom Jesus commits Himself, those born again, who come not in the night to Jesus, as Nicodemus did. Such persons immediately make profession.
His rank is given, A ruler of the Jews; and then what he did, This man came to Jesus by night: hoping, that is, by so secret an interview, to learn more of the mysteries of the faith; the late public miracle shaving given him an elementary knowledge of them.
s14,15.—And as Moses, &c. Christ proceeds to instruct Nicodemus; (for as in the verses preceding He has taught him that He is God, so now He teaches him that He has been made man), that being crucified for man"s redemption He will merit that every one who believeth in Him, and trusts for salvation to the merit of His death, shall obtain it. For thus Christ is wont, when speaking concerning Himself, to unite things human to things Divine, and things lowly to things glorious. As though He said, "Whosoever is bitten by the serpents of sins, let him look to Christ, and he shall have healing by the remission of sins," as Pope Adrian I. says in his first epistle to Charles the Great. The same proves that the use of images is lawful from this serpent. He adds, The figure afforded temporal life; the thing itself, of which it was the figure, life eternal."
Christ refers to the history of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, which is given in the21chapter of Numbers. Upon this history S. Augus...
y appropriately, moreover, was water ordained by Christ in baptism for this spiritual regeneration1. Because water excellently represents inward regeneration. For out of water at the beginning of the world were the whole heavens and all other things born and produced2. Because moisture, such as is in water, is a chief agent in the production of offspring, as physicists teach. Again, because justification is a cleansing of the soul from the filth of sin it is well figured by water. As S. Chrysostom says upon this passage, "Like as it were in a tomb our heads are submerged beneath the water: our old man being buried is hidden beneath the water, and then the new man ariseth in its stead." Lastly, the commonness and abundance of water makes it to be convenient matter for the necessity of this sacrament. For it is everywhere easily procurable.
You may ask why Christ says, except a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, and did not rather say, of water and the form of baptism? For water i...
There was a Prayer of Manasseh , &c. Nicodemus means in Greek the conqueror of the people. Such was this man; who, overcoming the fear of the people, the Pharisees, and the priests, believed in Christ. Wherefore Lucian thus writes concerning him in "The Invention of the Body of S. Stephen," from the mouth of Gamaliel: "The Jews, knowing that Nicodemus was a Christian, removed him from his office and cursed him, and drove him out of the city. Then I Gamaliel, inasmuch as he had suffered persecution for Christ"s sake, took him to my estate, and fed and clothed him to the end of his life; and when he died I buried him honourably beside the loved Stephen."
Wherefore Nicodemus is enrolled among the saints in the Roman Martyrology on the3d of August; where we read as follows, "Invention of the body of S. Stephen, Protomartyr; also of the bodies of SS. Gamaliel, Nicodemus, Abibo, &c, in the reign of Honorius.
The same came, &c, by night, for he was ashamed to approach the lowly Jesus by day...
Or, well may it be said that he came in the night, enveloped, as he was, in the darkness of ignorance, and not yet come to the light, i.e. the belief that our Lord was very God. Night in the language of Holy Writ is put for ignorance. And said to him, Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God. The Hebrew Rabbi, has the meaning ofMagister in Latin. He calls him, we see, a Master, but not God: he does not hint at that; he believes Him to be sent from God, but does not see that He is God.
This man appears also in the middle of the Gospel, making defense for Christ; for he says, Our law judges no man before it hear him John 7:51; and the Jews in anger replied to him, Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. Again after the crucifixion he bestowed great care upon the burial of the Lord's body: There came also, says the Evangelist, Nicodemus, which came to the Lord by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. John 19:39 And even now he was disposed towards Christ, but not as he ought, nor with proper sentiments respecting Him, for he was as yet entangled in Jewish infirmity. Wherefore he came by night, because he feared to do so by day. Yet not for this did the merciful God reject or rebuke him, or deprive him of His instruction, but even with much kindness conversed with him and disclosed to him very exalted doctrines, enigmatically indeed, but nevertheless He disclosed them. For far more deserving of pardon was he th...
As yet however he was withheld by Jewish infirmity: and therefore he came in the night, being afraid to come in the day. Of such the Evangelist speaks elsewhere, Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
He did not however conceive any great idea of them from His miracles; and attributed to Him as yet only a human character, speaking of Him as a Prophet, sent to execute a commission, and standing in need of assistance to do His work; whereas the Father had begotten Him perfect, self-sufficient, and free from all defect. It being Christ’s design however for the present not so much to reveal His dignity, as to prove that He did nothing contrary to the Father; in words He is often humble, while His acts ever testify His power. And therefore to Nicodemus on this occasion He says nothing expressly to magnify Himself; but He imperceptibly corrects his low views of Him, a...