That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Read Chapter 3
Augustine of Hippo
1. We observe, beloved, that the intimation with which we yesterday excited your attention has brought you together with more alacrity, and in greater number than usual; but meanwhile let us, if you please, pay our debt of a discourse on the Gospel Lesson, which comes in due course. You shall then hear, beloved, as well what we have already effected concerning the peace of the Church, and what we hope yet further to accomplish. For the present, then, let the whole attention of your hearts be given to the gospel; let none be thinking of anything else. For if he who attends to it wholly apprehends with difficulty, must not he who divides himself by diverse thoughts let go what he has received? Moreover, you remember, beloved, that on the last Lord's day, as the Lord deigned to help us, we discoursed of spiritual regeneration. That lesson we have caused to be read to you again, so that what was then left unspoken, we may now, by the aid of your prayers in the name of Christ, fulfill.
That which is born (produced), &c. Christ says this both to show the necessity of regeneration by water and the Holy Ghost, and at the same time to declare the reason for it, its excellence and its profit. His argument then is as follows: Flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God, for they are carnal, but the kingdom of God is spiritual. Since therefore of carnal generation only flesh is born, that Isaiah , the animal and carnal Prayer of Manasseh , bound under sin, and prone to sin, and so unfitted for the kingdom of God, it follows that if such an one would enter into God"s spiritual kingdom, he must be spiritually born again of water and the Spirit, that he may become a spirit, that Isaiah , spiritual, and so fitted for the kingdom of God. Wherefore you have no cause for wonder, 0 Nicodemus, at what I said, that thou must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost. For as flesh generates flesh, that Isaiah , corporeal and carnal substance, so does the Spirit generate spirit, ...
By another argument again He persuades him to mount up to a higher understanding, and on hearing of spiritual birth, not to think of the properties of bodies. For as it is altogether necessary, saith He, that the offspring of flesh should be flesh, so also is it that those of the Spirit should be spirit. For in things the mode of whose being is different, in these must surely the mode of generation also be not the same. But it is to be known that we call the spirit of a man the offspring of the Spirit, not as being of It by Nature (for that were impossible), but in the first place, and that in order of time, because that through Him that which was not was called into being, and in the second place and oeconomically, because of its being re-formed unto God through Him, He stamping His Own Impress upon us, and trans-fashioning our understanding to His own Quality, so to speak. For so I deem, you will understand aright that too which is said to some by Paul, My little children, of whom I ...
But what (is born) below is carnal, that is, he says, what is written. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.".
In sooth, have been put in trust to give the account of His generation after the flesh; and are you then so bold as to seek the account (of His generation) after the Spirit, which the Father keeps with Himself, intending to reveal it then to the holy ones and those worthy of seeing His face? Rest satisfied with the word spoken by Christ, viz., "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit"
1. Great mysteries are they, of which the Only-begotten Son of God has counted us worthy; great, and such as we were not worthy of, but such as it was meet for Him to give. For if one reckon our desert, we were not only unworthy of the gift, but also liable to punishment and vengeance; but He, because He looked not to this, not only delivered us from punishment, but freely gave us a life much more bright than the first, introduced us into another world, made us another creature; If any man be in Christ, says Paul, he is a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 What kind of new creature? Hear Christ Himself declare; Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Paradise was entrusted to us, and we were shown unworthy to dwell even there, yet He has exalted us to heaven. In the first things we were found unfaithful, and He has committed to us greater; we could not refrain from a single tree, and He has provided for us the delights above; we kept no...
And (we have a proof of the same conclusion in the fact) that the Lord Himself sententiously and distinctly pronounced, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh".
was not suitable to Him. And then He adds, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit".
Learn then, together with Nicodemus, that "that which is born in the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit."