Sabbath 9/1/38/120

Dear Friends,

The Hebrew language has been defined as a conceptual poetic language.  Hebrew expresses itself in symbolism and conceptual ideas.  There is no greater example of this than the Hebrew concepts expressed within the book, Song of Songs.  This book particularly is one of the least understood books in the Bible because the language is expressed in concepts and poetry to the extent that most theologians are unable to grasp the book’s meaning.

Bible study paper #145, Song of Songs, gives us the purpose and meaning of the book while illuminating its clear Messianic intent, and gives us an understanding of the nature of the Church and its relationship with the Messiah, as the introduction to this study paper states. 

In Song of Songs, the virgin Shulemite woman is symbolic of the Church and the Hebrew expressions about her when properly understood establishes her connection to Christ’s parables in Matt.25 to the 10 virgins, and in John 3 to her being born again.  The Shulemite woman’s conversion, receipt of the Holy Spirit and becoming the Temple (Naos) of God through the shepherd specifically relate to these two parables by Christ. 
The discussion of this Sabbath Message will focus on these two parables as they relate to:

There is good Scriptural reason why the Christian Churches of God focuses on God’s Temple and His Laws, including the Temple calendar and New Moons.  The 20th century Sabbatarian Churches of God, including the Worldwide COG (WCG), and its various off-shoots have become negligent and disconnected from this knowledge and the significance of God’s Temple.  They do not understand the purpose of His Temple system and its priesthood.  They seem to fail to grasp and discern that they are actually in breach of God’s Laws while professing to be His obedient servants.  They have become indolent much like the 5 foolish virgins of Christ’s parable in Matthew 25:1-13.

There is an important message encapsulated within the death and resurrection of the Messiah that is imperative to understand what God is accomplishing through the sacrifice of His son, and how this ultimate sacrifice is related to the building of God’s Temple system within the New Covenant. 

Inherent in the message of Christ’s sacrifice and the New Covenant is God calling a people to be living stones and builders in the spiritual Temple of God with the prophets, apostles, and the Messiah being the chief cornerstone.

This important message strikes at the very heart and core of what it means for those called by God to come into the body of the Shepherd/Messiah and become the Temple or Naos of the living God by the Holy Spirit to be partakers of God’s divine nature. This is one of the most compelling and important truths revealed by God through the Messiah’s sacrifice that one can come to know and deeply appreciate.  To truly grasp in one’s lifetime a calling to conversion by God through the Holy Spirit and being granted a new life as a son of God to be placed in His Temple to serve in the Melchisedek priesthood under the Messiah is an awesome privilege and a tremendous responsibility.

Mainstream Christianity utterly fails to understand this and the message of Christ’s sacrifice because they reject the One True God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for the false triune gods of the Greco-Roman worship system which celebrates holidays, not God’s Holy Days, and rejects His Laws to observe false pagan customs found nowhere in the Scriptures. 

It also becomes obvious by examining the fruits produced within the Sabbatarian Churches of God over the last 50-75 years or so, that they too do not understand this particular significant aspect of the Messiah’s sacrifice and how it relates to the building of God’s spiritual Temple.  There has been a disconnection and failure on the part of the Churches of God to comprehend and grasp the realityof God’s called out ones becoming the living stones, the temple builders and priests of the new Temple through the Messiah.
Failure to grasp this and the encompassing aspect of Christ’s sacrifice is the result of not fully comprehending the significance of what God is accomplishing in His Temple system, including not comprehending what it means for Christians to be “born anew”, and not understanding when this spiritual rebirth occurs, how it is related to the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, how God is building His spiritual temple, and why His called-out ones are to serve as its priests under the Messiah. Too few in Christianity, including the Churches of God, seem to understand what Christ meant by “born again”, as Nicodemus failed to understand Christ’s parable recorded in the gospel of  John, chapter 3. 

Those of mainstream Christianity who profess to be “born-again” Christians teach that a person is “born again” when they have “given their heart to the Lord”, or in some variation have accepted Christ into their life.  But, mainstream Christianity follows very little of the teachings of the Messiah, and they do not observe God’s Laws including the Sabbaths and Holy Days.  They also teach that man already possesses immortality in the form of an “immortal soul.”  If you are not “born again” according to their teachings, when you die your “immortal soul” will be condemned to torment in an ever-burning hellfire.  In other words, you either “receive” Christ now, or your soul will burn for eternity in hell.  Or, if you are “born again” as they profess it, your soul will go to heaven when you die, which is contrary to the Scriptures, as most of their doctrines and beliefs are steeped in the deception of the Triune Greco-Roman system which is the basis of Trinitarianism.    

Conversely, Herbert Armstrong and the ministers under him who formed the WCG system, including most of its off-shoots today teach that “born again” occurs at one’s resurrection when changed into a spirit being, and not when a person receives the Holy Spirit upon being called to repentance and baptism, and placed by God into the body of His son. 

Herbert Armstrong taught that at baptism a person is impregnated with God’s Holy Spirit, which is likened to sperm of the father entering the ovum of the mother, and the person becomes symbolically in a “begettal-not yet born”, embryonic state.  Growth as a Christian is then symbolically compared to gestation as a fetus in the womb tied to an umbilical cord of the mother-Church to be spiritually fed through the ministry for growth and to receive the protection of the “mother.”  Growth throughout one’s lifetime is to continue, as a developing fetus would develop while dependent upon the “mother”, until “born again” as a spirit being.  Or, in the words of Herbert Armstrong in his booklet, “Just What Do You Mean….Born Again?”, 1972 edition, on page 11 states, “Then, at the time of the resurrection, we in the Church -the spiritual mother- shall be delivered from her, and born into- brought forth into- the Kingdom- the spirit-composed family of God.”

Further, anyone who leaves the protection and feeding of the mother-Church is subject to being “aborted” by being severed from the mother’s umbilical cord, thus becoming cut off from God.  To Herbert Armstrong, the umbilical cord symbolized the Holy Spirit. So the umbilical cord is tied to the mother-Church, and unless the person repents and returns to God through a reattachment of the umbilical cord accessible through the “mother”, they can be “aborted” and will lose eternal life.  He states, “This compares to the unborn physical fetus, in the gestation period, it has human life – but only through the umbilical cord and FROM the mother – NOT independently of itself. And it can be aborted!” (ibid., pp. 15 & 16). 

The not so veiled threat is to never leave “mother” without regard to the consequences.  The “aborted” are consigned to damnation in the “third resurrection”, which, in WCOG’s belief system is a resurrection to physical life for sentencing to eternal death in the lake of fire (finality of being spiritually aborted – eternal death).  In the WCOG system, the “third resurrection” became a dominating, nonsensical doctrine much like the ever-burning hell-fire doctrine is in mainstream Greco-Roman Christianity (see the paper  The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection (No. 166)).

We will now focus on the Messiah’s response to Nicodemus’ inquiry that occurred in the darkness of night during Passover week while he was in Jerusalem with his disciples observing Passover at the Temple (cf. Jn. 2:23 and Jn. 3:2).  Christ’s Passover sacrifice pictured in Song of Songs 5:3 as the shepherd putting off his garment symbolizes Christ laying aside his life, and the question by the shepherd “how could I put it on” shows the miracle of the resurrection through the power of God. This is the pivotal message in understanding the building of God’s spiritual Temple, and his message will show that “born again” relates to one’s calling to Christ by God to participate in building the new Temple.

Once we understand what Christ meant in his response, then the “when” aspect of “born again” should become obvious as to whether it occurs upon receiving God’s Holy Spirit at baptism, or being “born again” at one’s resurrection.  How we comprehend the reality of Christ’s message to Nicodemus will determine how we will conduct our daily life with him.  We will see how our understanding and reaction to Christ’s message will relate to his parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-12.  All 10 virgins received the Holy Spirit at baptism, but only 5 became wise while 5 became foolish and had the door to the Kingdom shut on them.  More on that aspect will be discussed later.  

Christ’s entire message deals with different, yet related truths within Scripture that will require putting all the segments together to arrive at a correct understanding and conclusion of what it means, and most importantly, to what an individual must commit to be “born again”, which ultimately leads to be granted eternal life in God’s family by the Holy Spirit through the Messiah.  This must be a total commitment to God (Luke 9:62).  He requires an uncompromising spirit to “walk the walk”, and not just “talk the talk.”  Anything less is in vain.  God will not become all in all with any of His creation that are in a state of rebellion against Him.  And we will see that the 5 foolish virgins developed a spirit of rebellion and lawlessness against God’s Laws.

Christ’s parable on “born again” has many aspects that require consideration to understand the meaning of his response, and “born again” cannot be understood when isolated from the Law, Prophets, and Writings in the Old Testament.  Christ responds to Nicodemus’ lack of understanding in what he was trying to get through to him: “Yeshua answered him, “You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, and you don’t know this?” (Jn. 3:10 - from the Complete Jewish Bible – CJB) 

Nicodemus should have understood from Song of Songs ch.7 verse 2 that the reference to “O prince’s daughter” is referring to the Shulemite virgin as being “O born lady-Shulemite”, meaning she is to be “born again”.

First of all, we should understand that God did not set His Temple system in place through ancient Israel without a higher purpose.  God states to Israel in Lev.26: 11-12:  11) “I will place My residence (Temple) among you, and I will not reject you. 12) I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.”  The entirety of the OT Temple system with its priesthood and sacrifices foreshadowed Christ and his body, which are the elect to be the Temple or Naos of God (1Cor.3:16-17).  This is most important to comprehend.  There is symbolically a correlation between the Temple systems of the Old and New Covenants including the Ark of the Covenant, the death and resurrection of the Messiah, conversion and the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit through Christ thus entering into the New Covenant relationship with God and His Temple system, and being “born again.” 

To capture the essence of “born again” and when it occurs, we need to go back to when John the Baptist baptises Yahoshua (Jesus) in the river Jordan (Matt. 3:13-16).  John witnesses the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ, and proclaims him to be the son of God, who baptises with the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:29-34). It is important to note that it was after Christ was baptised that the Holy Spirit descended upon him (v. 32), and it is through him that the Holy Spirit is made available to those God is now calling and placing into the body of His son.  We are to be baptised (Acts 2:38), and Christ is our example (1Pet. 2:21).  We follow him.

In John 2 verse 13, Christ and his disciples travel to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. It was here that he declared the Temple in Jerusalem his Father’s House, and cleansed the Temple by driving out the money changers and animals (vv. 14-16).  Christ had a zeal for his Father’s house as John 2:17 quotes Psalm 69:9.  What follows next is extremely important in understanding the process and what it means to become “born again.”  Christ, in verse 21, refers to his body as the temple.  The physical structure in Jerusalem, the temple of the Old Covenant, is being replaced by the Messiah’s body, the coming spiritual temple of the New Covenant. 

John 2:13-21 - 13) It was almost time for the festival of Pesach in Y’hudah, so Yeshua went up to Yerushalayim.  14)  In the Temple grounds he found those who were selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, and others who were sitting at tables exchanging money.  15)  He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep and cattle as well. He knocked over the money–changers’ tables, scattering their coins;  16)  and to the pigeon–sellers he said, “Get these things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?”  17)  (His talmidim later recalled that the Tanakh says, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”)  18)  So the Judeans confronted him by asking him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove you have the right to do all this?”  19)  Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”  20)  The Judeans said, “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?”  21)  But the “temple” he had spoken of was his body. (CJB)

When he was resurrected by his Father, Christ becomes the Temple or the Naos (SGD # 3485) of God. God is laying the foundation of the New Covenant Temple system built upon the Messiah as its chief cornerstone, along with the prophets, and the apostles included in its foundation. Eph 2:17-22

17) Also, when he came, he announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby, 18) news that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  19)  So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow–citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family. 20)  You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries (apostles) and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself. 21)  In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple(Naos – SGD #3485) in union with the Lord.  22)  Yes, in union with him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling–place for God!(CJB)

In the New Covenant, the elect who are called by God to repentance and who have received His Holy Spirit through baptism are placed within the body of the Messiah to become God’s Temple.  Here again in Song of Songs 5:2 the reference to “I slept, but my heart was awake. Hark! my beloved is knocking." refers to the resurrected Messiah coming in and eating with those who hear the call and open to him.

As Christ’s body became God’s Temple, so too it is with the elect who are repentant, converted, and baptised, and who have received God’s Holy Spirit.  Their physical bodies become part of the new temple.  They are placed within God’s New Covenant Temple system through the Messiah. Here is its reality:

1Corinthians 6:19-20 (RSV)
19) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20) you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

2Corinthians 6:16-18 (RSV)
16) What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17) Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, 18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."  (Note: verse 16 is quoted from Lev. 26:11-12, verse 17 from Isa. 52:11, and verse 18 is reference to 2Sam. 7:14.)

From the Complete Word Study Dictionary of NT, the Greek word for Temple is: “SGD 3485.  naós; masc. noun from ‎naíœ ‎(n.f.), to dwell.  The inner sanctuary. Symbolically, of the temple of God in heaven to which that of Jerusalem was to correspond (cf. Rev 3:12; 7:15; 11:1,2,19; 14:15,17; 15:5,6,8; 16:1,17; 21:22).  Metaphorically, it is of persons in whom God or His Spirit is said to dwell or act, e.g., the body of Jesus (John 2:19, 21); of Christians (1Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; 2Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21).”

Once baptised, Christians enter into the New Covenant Temple system, the spiritual dwelling place of God, they are placed into service under the Messiah in the Melchisedek priesthood which is an atoning role tied with sacrifices to serve and assist in doing the God-given work of building the Temple, just as those physical Jews who were tasked to leave Babylon under King Cyrus to build the second Temple.  Those now being called out of spiritual Babylon by God are to assist the Messiah in the Melchisedek priesthood to sacrifice in building God’s new spiritual Temple. 

1Peter 2:4-5, 9:  (RSV) 
4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; 5) and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…….9)  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Everyone placed in the body of the Messiah, whether male or female (Gal. 3:28), has a talent to serve in building God’s new Temple.  Our God-given talents to offer daily service and sacrifice to God as priests under the Messiah are not to be buried or neglected, for judgment is now upon the House of God (1Pet. 4:17), and He is measuring His Temple, the altar and those who worship there (Rev. 11:1).

It is most important to understand what the Messiah is saying in Luke 6:46-48 and Matthew 7:21-23:

Luke 6:46) "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?  47) I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48) That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. (NRSV) -

Matthew 7: 21) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants.22) On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 23) Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! ’Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (CJB)

Quoting from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993, “The word lawlessness used in verse 23 of Matthew 7 above isSGD 458 anomía; from ‎ánomos ‎(459), and means “lawless” or “Lawlessness.” In most cases in the NT it means not the absence of the Law, but the violation of Law, i.e., transgression or lawlessness. In the NT, it places stress, not in a subjective law that we ourselves create for our convenience, but chiefly in a divinely instituted Law.” 

From the Messiah’s own words, we must understand that once we enter into the New Covenant Temple system through him, we are notat liberty to establish our own ways independently from God’s Word and His divine Laws in our priestly service and commitment to God.  This is obvious from the Messiah’s parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25.  We must comprehend what is the process and commitment to become “born again”, and we must come to grips with the reality that only 5 of the 10 virgins were wise and acceptable to the Messiah.

Matt 25:1-13 (from GOD'S WORD Translation)

  1. "When the end comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids. They took their oil lamps and went to meet the groom.
  2. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
  3. The foolish bridesmaids took their lamps, but they didn't take any extra oil.
  4. The wise bridesmaids, however, took along extra oil for their lamps.
  5. Since the groom was late, all the bridesmaids became drowsy and fell asleep.
  6. "At midnight someone shouted, 'The groom is here! Come to meet him!'
  7. Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready.
  8. "The foolish ones said to the wise ones, 'Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.'
  9. "But the wise bridesmaids replied, 'We can't do that. There won't be enough for both of us. Go! Find someone to sell you some oil.'
  10. "While they were buying oil, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went with him into the wedding hall, and the door was shut.
  11. "Later the other bridesmaids arrived and said, 'Sir, sir, open the door for us!'
  12. "But he answered them, 'I don't even know who you are!'
  13. "So stay awake, because you don't know the day or the hour.

This parable relates to the first resurrection and entering the millennial system with the Messiah.  All ten virgins started out in the beginning from their baptism with the Holy Spirit.  They all had oil in their lamps. But as time progressed, the 5 foolish virgins ran low of oil, that is, they were losing the Holy Spirit. When they realize their spiritual condition, they attempt to enter into the wedding supper on the coat-tails of the 5 wise virgins.  But it doesn’t work that way.  They have become disconnected from the Messiah and God through their indolence, and consequently the Messiah tells them that he never knew them.  They became disconnected from their covenant relationship with God and His Temple.  How did they become so disconnected from the Messiah?

In Matthew 7:21 quoted above, Christ deals with those who call him Lord, Lord but who are workers of lawlessness.  It is for this reason that he states that he never knew the 5 foolish virgins because of their lawlessness.  When you break the Law of God in one point, it is as though you break it in all points (James 2:10). It gives meaning to the Scripture: many are called (to the 1st resurrection), but few are chosen.  The vast majority of the WCG system will end up in the 2nd resurrection because of a failure to grasp the commitment to conversion and being born again into the Temple of the living God thru the Messiah.

There is an example of lawlessness of the 5 foolish virgins within the WCG offshoots today.  A number of their ministers understand and a few have even admitted that New Moons should be observed as Sabbaths, yet they fail to keep New Moons and fail to teach their congregations to keep New Moons.  The ministry under Herbert Armstrong understood that the 4th Commandment of God consists of a system of Sabbaths and they used Col. 2:16 as proof that the Sabbath and Holy Days are to be observed.  Yet, these WCG ministers have conveniently ignored New Moons.  They will have to answer to Christ for this lawlessness, and for teaching others to disobey God by using the Hillel calendar with its non-biblical postponement rules.  They refuse to observe God’s Temple calendar, and there will be gnashing of teeth as they realize they have missed out in the wedding supper and the first resurrection when they are resurrected in the second general resurrection (see the paper Great White Throne Judgment and the Second Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143B).

The 5 wise virgins will be doing today what they will be teaching others in the Millennium under the Messiah.

Rev 20:6 (God’s Word Translation)

" Blessed and holy are those who are included the first time that people come back to life. The second death has no power over them. They will continue to be priests of God and Christ. They will rule with him for 1,000 years."

The virgin Shulemite woman/Church will continue on into the Millennium teaching others to observe New Moons (Isa.66:23) as she does today (Col.2:16).

In God’s Temple system, the Ark of the Covenant is placed in the holy of holies.  This Ark is present in both the old and new Temple systems (see Rev.11:19).  Consider what is placed within the Ark:   
Hebrews 9:3-4 (NIV) - 3) Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4) which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

The manna in the Ark of the Old Covenant Temple system symbolizes the Messiah, the bread of life.

John 6:31-35 (CJB) - 31) Our fathers ate man(na) in the desert––as it says in the Tanakh, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’  32) Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you it wasn’t Moshe who gave you the bread from heaven. But my Father is giving you the genuine bread from heaven; 33) for God’s bread is the one who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” 34) They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on.” 35) Yeshua answered, “I am the bread which is life! Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in me will never be thirsty.

Aaron’s staff or rod placed in the Ark is symbolic of the Sceptre of the Old Covenant.  The Messiah is now our High Priest and intercessor, thus he takes up Aaron’s rod, which becomes the Sceptre, strength, and authority of the New Covenant Temple system.

Hebrews 5:8-10 (NRSV) - 8) Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9) and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10) having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

The stone tablets in the Ark are the 10 Commandments, which are integral to both Covenants.  False teachers who say that the commandments are no longer to be kept within the New Covenant disqualify themselves and their followers from the process to become “born again.”

Hebrews 10:15-20 (RSV) - 15) And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16) "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17) then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more."  18)  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.  19) Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,  20)  by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  21)  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (Also read: Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Therefore, when we are called to repentance and have our bodies washed with the pure water of Baptism (Heb.10:22), this symbolizes the waters of the wells of salvation (the Holy Spirit) promised by God through His prophets (Isa.12:3).  We then are: recipients of God’s Spirit and clearlybecome in this physical life His sons (Rom.8:14-17) to:

In John 3:3 the Greek word for “born” is SGD #1080:
Gennáo.  From The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993, gennáœ; from ‎génos ‎(1085), generation, kind, offspring.  “To beget as spoken of men; to bear as spoken of women; pass., to be begotten or be born. Spoken of God begetting in a spiritual sense which consists in regenerating, sanctifying, quickening anew, and ennobling the powers of the natural man by imparting to him a new life and a new spirit in Christ (1 John 5:1). Hence, Christians are said to be born of God and to be the sons of God (Rom 8:14; Gal 3:26; 4:6).”

Also, in John 3:3, the word “again” in the Greek can correctly be translated “from above.”  In other words, John 3:3 can read “born from above.”  The Greek word “again” isánœthen, SGD #509.  “Gennáo” and “ánœthen” are rendered in the various Bible translations of verse 3 as: born again, born from above, born again from above, born anew, and begotten anew.

Christ speaks literally of being born "from above," which means "from God." "Above" was a Jewish roundabout expression for God.

From the Complete Word Study Dictionary referenced above, we also learn: NT: (509) ánœthen; adv. from ‎áno ‎(507), above, and the suffix ‎-then ‎denoting from. From above.  (I) Of place, the meaning is from God, implied in the "from above."  Both meanings are correct (born again and born from above) since this is a birth from God and it is a new birth. In John 3:4, Nicodemus clearly takes it to mean to be born a second time (‎deúteron ‎[1208]).”

Metaphorically, in John 3:3 the word “see” in the Greek (eidon, SGD 1492) also has many connotations.  To “see” the Kingdom also means to be aware of through perception, to perceive, to know, to discern, to experience, to see and enjoy the divine privileges, to be acquainted with, to understand. 

A.E. Knoch’s Concordant Literal New Testament translates verse 3 as:

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Verily, verily, I am saying to you, If anyone should not be begotten anew, he cannot perceive the kingdom of God." 

The Living Oracles (LO) reads as:

John 3:3  Jesus answering, said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a man be born again, he cannot discern the Reign of God.

The Murdoch translation:

John 3:3  Jesus replied, and said to him: Verily, verily, I say to thee, That, unless a man be born anew, he cannot behold the kingdom of God.

The RSV rendering of John 3:4 reads, “Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" 

E.W. Bullinger, in his footnote to John 3:4, states, “The question implies a negative answer. Nicodemus misunderstands, and uses the Verb gennᜠof the mother.  The Lord uses it of the Father, as meaning begetting.”  Greek scholars agree with Bullinger in this understanding. 

Jewish teachers spoke of Gentile converts to Judaism as starting life anew like newborn children; just as adopted sons under Roman law relinquished all legal status in their former family when they became part of a new one.  Christ is talking about conversion, a spiritual regeneration, and Nicodemus should have understood him.  The requirement for someone Jewish to be converted to the true faith of Israel through the Messiah never enters Nicodemus’ thought process.
John 3:5 is very interesting.  It reads in the CJB: Yeshua answered, “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” 

Some interpret this verse to mean the “water” is the mother’s amniotic fluid developed during gestation.  But does it really mean that?  The most credible, authoritative sources that explain this verse don’t agree.  For example, the commentary from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern states:
“John 3:5 Born from water and the Spirit. Immersion in water is connected with ritual cleansing of the body (see John 1:26-34, and Mt. 3:1-17), while the Holy Spirit gives power for turning from sin and living a holy life; both bespeak aspects of purification. This is why “born from water” does not mean ordinary human birth; moreover, since everyone is “born from water” in that sense, it would be silly for Yeshua to make a condition out of it with the word ‘unless’.” (Emphasis mine)

E.W. Bullinger adds more important information in defining water and spirit in this verse.  He states that this verse contains a figure of speech known as a “‘Hendiadys’ (two for one), which is two words used, but one thing is meant; not two things, but one, by which the latter Noun (spirit) becomes a superlative and emphatic Adjective, determining the meaning and nature of the former Noun (water), showing that one to be spiritual water: i.e. not water but spirit.  It is to be rendered ‘of water – yea, spiritual water’.”

In verse 5, to “enter” the Kingdom relates to verse 3 and gives meaning to what is meant by “see” the Kingdom.  Metaphorically one who has received God’s Spirit discerns and becomes acquainted with the divine privileges of the Kingdom by entering it through Christ:
Colossians 1:12 “… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13) He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (RSV)

The New Living Translation (NLT) captures the essence of John 3:6 “Humans can reproduce only human life, but theHoly Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.”  God’s Holy Spirit, accessible through Christ, produces a new heart and spirit in sinful man. “Whatever is born (SGD #1080) of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” (1Jn. 5:4 - RSV)

John 3:8 in the Philips translation reads: “The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from or where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit."

The Rotherham Bible translates John 3:8: “The spirit, where it pleaseth, doth breathe, and, the sound thereof, thou hearest; but knowest not, whence it cometh and whither it goeth: Thus, is every one who hath been born (SGD #1080) of the spirit.”

The Greek word for “wind” at the beginning of verse 8 is actually pnuema and is translated “spirit” at the end of this verse.  In verse 8 Christ is not saying that physical human beings become spirit beings when born anew.  This interpretation is a total misunderstanding of Christ’s message.  When a person receives the Holy Spirit it is not physically discernable, but it is discernable by the fruit of the Spirit produced in one’s life.  The individual now produces fruit of the Holy Spirit which is no longer hostile to God or to the Laws of His Kingdom (Gal.5:22-25). 

In summary, it is through the Passover sacrifice and the resurrection of the Messiahthat makes it possible for a truly converted baptised Christian to become born anew (1Pet.1:3-5).  The transformation from living carnally to being born anew requires the Holy Spirit to work with an individual to lead him/her to repentance.  It is a calling to Christ from God, the Father,to repent and be converted and be given a spiritual birth from above.  The repentant individual is then brought to baptism, which symbolizes (1) a death in the watery grave and burial of the “old carnal rebellious self”, and (2) a resurrection to literally walk in the newness of a spiritual life within the body of the Messiah.  The baptised person receives the Holy Spirit after having the laying on of hands(Acts 8:14-17). The Holy Spirit now works in the individual who now possesses the power of God to overcome human nature, faults, and rebellion against Him, and to partake in the divine nature in submission to the Laws of His Kingdom, to live a new life in Christ through faith, thus being born anew from above.  It is a spiritual regeneration and placement into the body of the Messiah by the Holy Spirit upon repentance and baptism.

The time element of “when” a person is “born from above” becomes obvious from Scripture that it occurs during one’s physical life and upon being given the Holy Spirit. This is the truth of being born again as revealed by God thru the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah. Nicodemus should have understood it, but he did not grasp the reality of the Messiah’s message and the ultimate purpose of the spiritual intent of the Passover.

Being in the Temple of God, the truly converted Christian becomes a priest under the Messiah taking up the rod and authority of the New Covenant.  He/she becomes symbolically the Ark in the New Covenant containing and upholding the laws of the Kingdom of God (Heb. 10:16-17) with the Messiah, and the Father abiding within the temple of the converted Christian (Jn. 17:23-26). God requires us to “walk the walk” in the newness of spiritual life, governed by His Divine Laws as the Messiah did walk, who is our example (1Pet.2:21-22).  

That inheritance is eternal life in the first resurrection to serve as priests during the Millennium under the Messiah (Rev.1:6, 5:10, and 20:6.

The redemption of our bodies and adoption into God’s family as spirit-sons occurs upon the return of the Messiah to establish God’s rule of Law on this earth.  Those alive upon the Messiah’s return who are the living stones and priests of God’s Temple will have their physical bodies redeemed after the dead united in him are first resurrected and have had their bodies redeemed (1Thes.4:15-17).  Then the adoption into God’s family occurs.  See Romans 8:15,23 and 9:4, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5.

Herbert Armstrong’s entire analogy of a baptised person becoming in a “begettal-not yet born” state like a fetus in the gestation cycle to be fed by a “mother-Church” hierarchal ministry was convenient, but it is a deception and a total misapplication of the Scriptures and message Christ was conveying to Nicodemus.  In actuality, it created within the WCOG system a priest/laity structure similar to the Catholic Church.  It, in effect, formed a rule by distinction and abuse peculiar to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which created a rule by power and knowledge of the priest-class over that of a non-priest class who are in some sort of a spiritual fetal position. 
Allwho are in the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit become priests with him (1Pet. 2:4-5) and are given talents to serve in different capacities (Eph. 4:10-12).  These talents are not to be buried by an oppressive Nicolaitan priest/laity structure. Herbert Armstrong’s analogy makes it meaningless for all who are given God’s Holy Spirit to become living stones and priests within His Temple, and blinds one to the reality of what God is accomplishing in building His spiritual Temple. We are given the Holy Spirit as a mustard seed on our baptism and it grows into a mighty tree during our conversion through the power the Holy Spirit as we see from the paper Born Again (No. 172).
Let us be faithful to our calling to be the living stones and priests in the spiritual Temple our Father Eloah is building through the sacrifice of His son, the Shepherd/Messiah.  It is from Him by the Holy Spirit that we are converted and born from above in the newness of spiritual life in the body of His son and called into the New Covenant Temple system, the Naos of God. The virgin Shulemite woman/church who is “leaning upon her beloved” in Song of Songs 8:5 is the virgin church who finally joins the Messiah at his return and continue to be priests of God.


Tom Schardt, Coordinator Southern California
Ed. Wade Cox