by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
Yeshua answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot SEE the Kingdom of YHVH." 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?" Yeshua answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot ENTER the Kingdom of YHVH. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again'. The Spirit blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8
Words mean things - but most often, the culture we live in dictates how we interpret the meaning of words. To properly understand the text of scripture, we need to know what the words would have meant to the people who first heard them. Most people read the Bible as if it were written to them out of their present culture and context. Therefore, as seen in the last article To Be Free (click on highlighted words to view content), words like freedom and liberty are given meanings based in present culture and traditional context. As a result, without realizing it, the text becomes redefined in our minds to fit a contemporary view of what we think those words mean. In so doing, the meaning of the Hebrew perspective these words were originally written from becomes lost in translation (Mark 7:13). What is it, then, that Yeshua really means when He uses the word "born" - and, more specifically, the term "born again"? The reason Yeshua chastened Nicodemus for being a rabbi and not understanding what He was talking about is because the same words He was using to explain what it means to be born again are to be found in Ezekiel 36:25-27 - a passage from the Tanakh (OT) that, as a rabbi, Nicodemus should have been as well acquainted with as Yeshua was. Notice that the end result of the Ezekiel passage Yeshua was quoting is the ability "…to walk in My (YHVH's) statutes and be careful to obey My (YHVH's) rules". To belong in the Kingdom of YHVH's Family is to receive YHVH for Who He says He Is - not who we want Him to be and that means keeping His 10 Words (with emphasis on verse one). "Doing His Will" does not mean one is "automatically" keeping His Words, it is the other way around - by keeping His Words, we find ourselves doing what YHVH would have us to do (see what it means to be in the Father's Will).
Yeshua did not speak these words in Greek, Latin or English. When we consider that all of the books of the bible were written by Hebrews and, among other Hebrews, the language they mostly conversed in was Hebrew; by recognizing the person Yeshua was speaking to in the verses above was the Hebrew rabbi, Nicodemus, then the most common Hebrew word for "born" used by Yeshua would have been yalad - and that word means to "bring forth". The mistake most often made with this passage concerning what it means to be "born again" is the same one Nicodemus made - attempting to correlate what Yeshua was saying to some physical experience involving a "new birth" of our spirit, like a new baby being birthed into the world. But Yeshua immediately corrected that thought with the explanation that what is "brought forth" is determined by the choice of action of a person - the actions of the flesh bring forth or produce the nature of flesh, the actions of Spirit bring forth or produce the Nature of Spirit. Yeshua reduces the requirement of being "born again" to a choice as to which actions are engaged in. It is from this foundation He goes on to define what happens with those choices of action (deeds) made of the flesh (darkness) in John 3:17-21. The Greek word translated as the English "condemnation" or "judgment" is krisis and means "separation". Those fleshly choices result in a separation from ruach ha kodesh (reading right to left is Hebrew for the holiness of spirit - not "Holy Spirit"). For those who think being "born again" creates some sort of an exclusionary zone from which any further actions have no consequence, Yeshua further clarifies His meaning of "bringing forth" by the linkage of water and Spirit in John 3:5 - and He is not referring to a physical immersion. In John 4:24, Yeshua declares YHVH IS Spirit and those that worship Spirit do so in Spirit and in Truth - the actionable Truth of the Nature of Spirit found in the Words of YHVH, Who IS Truth (Deuteronomy 32:4). Since Yeshua's words are those of His Father's, we are made clean by the immersion of our actions into the Truth of His Father's Words (John 15:3, John 14:23-24). Ephesians 5:26 also tells us we are cleansed by the washing of the water of the Words of Spirit. Our spirit is cleansed and, thereby, changed into the Nature of His Spirit as we practice YHVH's Words (see what it means To Believe).
"…but the goal of our instruction is love from a
heart and a good conscience|
and a sincere FAITH ." 1Timothy 1:5
The real translation of the word used for "pure" in this verse is "clean." It comes from the Greek word katharos, meaning to "purge or cleanse." The Hebrew word for "pure", barar, carries the same meaning (as used in Psalm 18:26 and its derivative, bar, used in Psalm 19:8 to declare YHVH's commandments, His Words, to be pure). Of course, what is cleansed is pure, thus, katharos is the same word Kiefer (the apostle Peter) uses in 1Peter 1:22 telling us HOW our lives are cleansed and made pure - by obedience to the Truth through Spirit. That Truth is contained in YHVH's Words, Who IS Spirit (Exodus 20:1-17 with emphasis on verse 1). The practice of the Words of Spirit "brings forth" the Kingdom of Spirit into this earthly realm (Matthew 6:10). Now we can have a look at what it means to have a sincere FAITH.
|"So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word…" Romans 10:17|
Some English translations end this verse with the words "…of God", others end it with the words, "...of Messiah" ("Christ" is a Greek alteration of the Hebrew "Messiah", see What's In A Name? for explanation). However, since Yeshua stated in John 14:23-24 that His words WERE the words of His Father, it makes little difference which way it is ended – the Word being spoken of IS the Nature of YHVH, the LIFE of Spirit (John 1:4, see Who Is the Word).
|the Spirit goes where it wills|
There are only two places where the term "born again" is referenced in English in the Messianic Writings, John 3:3-5 and 1Peter 1:22-23. The phrase in 1Peter comes from the single Greek word, anagennao meaning "to have one's mind changed so that he lives a new life conformed to the will of YHVH", speaking of to how to conduct ourselves after having our souls purified by becoming obedient to the Truth found in this Life (hm-m-m - let's see now, just how is it this scripture says our souls are purified?). This is different from the single time the Greek phrase gennao anothen is translated into the English "born again" is used in John 3 - and here, Yeshua uses it in chastisement of a rabbi who should have known better. Here, in the only passage recorded where Yeshua expounded on being "born again", is a two-word phrase beginning with the Greek word gennao (born) which means "of men who fathered children". It is a variation of genos meaning born into a family and, in a Hebraic sense; it means "to bring one to a way of life". The Greek word anothen (again) means "from a higher place, of YHVH". Thus, to be "born again" is more appropriately translated to be brought into a family of YHVH that maintains a higher standard of life. The phrase, "born again", is not referenced in the Hebrew. Why is that? - because Israel IS the family of YHVH. In fact, when answering Nicodemus in John 3:9-10, Yeshua chastened Him for being a Rabbi, a teacher of Israel, and NOT understanding what it means to be born of that higher place - to be the embodiment of the Living Breath only found in two places in scripture where Spirit breathed upon man, Genesis 2:7 and John 20:21-23. What Yeshua was saying to Nicodemus was that the family of YHVH KNOWS the Source of Life because it is through the people of Israel that Breath of Life has been bequeathed. The Essence of the Life of the Father has been revealed to His Family in Torah through His Words. The religious traditions embraced by the leaders of Judaism separated them from the Source of the Spirit and thus necessitated a re-alignment into the proper orientation and awareness of Who He is in Truth. (see One Spirit, One Name).
Does this mean I have to convert to Judaism? No - Judaism is as much a man-made traditional religion as is Christianity. To be adopted into YHVH's Hebrew family, however, does mean one is expected to uphold the standards of the family just as someone adopted into your family today would be expected to uphold the standards set by your words. In like fashion, the standards set by the Father and exampled by the elder Son are contained in His Words. To be a member of YHVH's family, one must first recognize that the term "adoption" does not carry the same meaning as the word "supplant". When a branch is grafted into a tree, it draws its sustenance from the life flowing out of the root of that tree - not the other way around. The branch does not bring life to the root (John 4:22). To cut away the root from the rest of the branches condemns that tree to death. Yeshua said those who try to enter the Father's Kingdom by any other means are considered thieves and robbers (John 10:1, see what it means to be a Gatekeeper). The distinction Yeshua makes to ENTER the Kingdom is between the practices (what is born or "brought forth") out of flesh and the practices (what is born or "brought forth") out of Spirit. Revelation 22:14 speaks of those who have washed their robes (do His Words or commandments) as those who have the right to the tree of Life, entering the gates of the city, His Kingdom (see also Zechariah 3:3-5). In Galatians 5:19-21 Sha'ul (the apostle Paul), speaks plainly about what the works (practices, deeds) of the flesh are. And just where, pray tell, are each and every one of these behaviors listed in Galatians defined as sin? From Exodus to Deuteronomy! The Torah! Sha'ul is teaching Torah! Again, in Romans 6:21-22, Sha'ul says that the end of those practices is death, but the end of the practices of Spirit is eternal Life - exactly what Yeshua said in Matthew 19:17-19. (see what it means to be Under the Law).
|the Life in the Nature of YHVH|
YHVH wants us to be like Him, to be One with Him just as, in the same manner Yeshua became One with Him (see Just As-Even So for an in-depth look into this dynamic), but in accordance to His Standards found in His Words, in Spirit and in Truth - not through a myogenic caricature of Him (see what it means To Be Made Manifest). Nowhere is there scripture found saying to NOT keep the words of Spirit - Yeshua said He did not come, was not sent, to do away with Torah (Matthew 5:17). Even Sha'ul says that the Words of Torah are good and righteous and holy in Romans 7:12 and that he keeps the ways of the Patriarchs in his testimony before Felix (Acts 24:14). This statement was made after his Damascus road experience. Scripture is found to be consistent in what it says from cover to cover of the Book IF we are courageous enough to view the words for what they actually mean from the perspective of the Hebrews who wrote them.
|"And having been perfected (made holy), He became the author (the cause) of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…" Hebrews 5:9|
Please feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to share with you what the Spirit is uncovering.