John 3:4

Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Read Chapter 3

Alcuin of York

AD 804
Therefore, You know not whence it comes, or whither it goes; for, although the Spirit should possess a person in your presence at a particular time, it could not be seen how He entered into him, or how He went away again, because He is invisible.

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
It is the Spirit that speaks, whereas he understands carnally; he knew of no birth save one, that from Adam and Eve; from God and the Church he knows of none. But do you so understand the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus did the birth of the flesh; for as the entrance into the womb cannot be repeated, so neither can baptism. As if He said, You understand me to speak of a carnal birth; but a man must be born of water and of the Spirit, if he is to enter into the kingdom of God. If to obtain the temporal inheritance of his human father, a man must be born of the womb of his mother; to obtain the eternal inheritance of his heavenly Father, he must be born of the womb of the Church. And since man consists of two parts, body and soul, the mode even of this latter birth is twofold; water the visible part cleansing the body; the Spirit by His invisible cooperation, changing the invisible soul. Because He does not say, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not have s...


AD 735
The question put thus sounds as if a boy might enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born. But Nicodemus, we must remember, was an old man, and took his instance from himself; as if he said, I am an old man, and seek my salvation; how can I enter again into my mother’s womb, and be born? It is the Holy Spirit therefore, Who blows where He lists. It is in His own power to choose, whose heart to visit with in His enlightening grace. And you hear the sound thereof. When one filled with the Holy Spirit is present with you and speaks to you.

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
Nicodemus saith, &c. "He knew," says S. Augustine, "but of one birth, that from Adam and Eve."

Cyril of Alexandria

AD 444
Faith consisteth not, O Nicodemus, in what thou thinkest. Speech sufficeth not unto thee for righteousness, neither wilt thou achieve piety by mere words. For not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father Which is in Heaven. But the will of the Father is, that man be made partaker of the Holy Ghost, that the citizen of earth reborn unto an unaccustomed and new life, be called a citizen of Heaven. When He calls the new birth of the Spirit from above, He sheweth clearly that the Spirit is of the Essence of God the Father, as indeed Himself too saith of Himself, I am from above. And the most wise Evangelist again saith of Him, He that cometh from above is above all. But that the Spirit is of the Essence of God the Father we shall speak more largely in its proper place.

Haymo of Faversham

AD 1244
But Nicodemus being unable to take in so great and deep mysteries, our Lord helps him by the analogy of our carnal birth, saying, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. For as flesh generates flesh, so also does spirit, spirit. Or, You can not tell whence it comes; i.e. you know not how He brings believers to the faith; or whither it goes, i.e. how He directs the faithful to their hope. And so is every one that is born of the Spirit; as if He said, The Holy Spirit is an invisible Spirit; and in like manner, everyone who is born of the Spirit is born invisibly.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Nicodemus coming to Jesus, as to a man, is startled on learning greater things than man could utter, things too lofty for him. His mind is darkened, and he does not stand firm, but reels like one on the point of falling away from the faith. Therefore he objects to the doctrine as being impossible, in order to call forth a fuller explanation. Two things there are which astonish him, such a birth, and such a kingdom; neither yet heard of among the Jews. First he urges the former difficulty, as being the greatest marvel. Nicodemus, said to him, How can a man be born when be is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? . You call Him Rabbi, and say that He comes from God, and yet receive not His sayings, but use to your master a word which brings in endless confusion; for that how, is the inquiry of a man who has no strong belief; and many who have so inquired, have fallen from the faith; some asking, how God became incarnate? others, how He was born? Nicodemus h...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Callest thou Him Master, do you say that He is come from God, and yet do you not receive His words, but usest to your Teacher a manner of speaking which expresses much perplexity? For the How, is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief, but who are yet of the earth. Therefore Sarah laughed when she had said, How? And many others having asked this question, have fallen from the faith. 3. And thus heretics continue in their heresy, because they frequently make this enquiry, saying, some of them, How was He begotten? others, How was He made flesh? and subjecting that Infinite Essence to the weakness of their own reasonings. Knowing which, we ought to avoid this unseasonable curiosity, for they who search into these matters shall, without learning the How, fall away from the right faith. On this account Nicodemus, being in doubt, enquires the manner in which this can be, (for he understood that the words spoken referred to himself,) is confused, and dizzy, and in perpl...

Theophilus of Antioch

AD 184
This completely refutes Macedonius the impugner of the Spirit, who asserted that the Holy Spirit was a servant. The Holy Spirit, we find, works by His own power, where here He will, and what He will.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

App Store LogoPlay Store Logo