James Trimm’s Nazarene Commentary on Yochanan Chapter 3
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Yeshua by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from Elohim: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except Elohim be with him.
“Nicodemus” (Jn. 7:45-52; 19:39) was almost certainly Nakdimon ben Gorion one of the three leading councilors in Jerusalem at the time of Yeshua. According to the Talmud Nakdimon was wealthy enough to feed the entire city of Jerusalem for ten years (b.Gittin 56a).
One rather lengthy Talmud story tells us that once, during a drought, Nakdimon made a deal with a Roman General so as to procure twelve wells of water for the Jewish people. According to the story, Nakdimon promised the General to repay him either twelve wells or twelve talents of silver (a tidy sum) before the expiration of one year. On the last day of the year it still had not rained, so Nakdimon went to the Temple to pray. His prayer was answered and it began to rain and refill the wells. The Roman General, however, demanded the silver, saying that the cloud-cover had caused the day, and thus the year, to expire prematurely. Nakdimon returned to the Temple and prayed again, this time the clouds removed and the sun shined out, thus the General was satisfied. (b.Ta’anit 19b-20a)
The Talmud also tells us that “Nakdimon” was only his nick-name and that his real name was Buni (b.Ta’anit 20a). The Talmud also relates that a certain Buni was a student of Yeshua and was himself martyred sometime after Yeshua’s death (b.San. 43a).
The Talmud suggests that the nickname Nakdimon was taken from NAKAD meaning “to shine” “because the sun shined out for him” (b.Ta’anit 20a). A more likely source is NAKI DAM “innocent of the blood” based upon his actions recorded in Jn. 7:45-52; 19:39. The Greek equivalent name Nicodemus has a meaning all of its own NIKOS DEMOS “victorious people”. There would be no reason for Buni to have this Greek name as a nickname, but the sound-alike Greek name may have been used by the Roman occupiers in there dealings with this very wealthy man, as the Talmud does record that he had dealings with the Roman General stationed at Jerusalem (b.Ta’anit 19b-20a). So now you know the rest of the story!
3 Yeshua answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Elohim.
4 Nicodemus said to 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?
The literal Aramaic is מתילד מן דריש “born from above” (compare Matthew 19:28 and 1Kefa 1:23)
The Talmud says “…a proselyte is like a newborn infant.” (b.Yevamot 62a; see also b.Yevamot 48b).
To best understand this phase “born again” it is important to understand that the Tanak teaches that the nation Israel was born, died, and will live again. Isaiah describes the birth of Israel as follows:
Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
and all the remnant of the House of Israel,
you who have been borne by Me from birth,
and have been carried from the womb…
But from Israel’s birth Israel rebelled by violating Torah:
and you have been called a rebel from birth…
…If only you had paid attention to My commandments!
Then your well-being would have been like a river,…
(Isaiah 48:8, 18)
4 And as for your nativity in the day you were born
your naval was not cut, neither were you washed in
water to supple you; you were not salted at all, nor
swaddled at all.
5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these unto you,
to have compassion upon you; but you were cast out
in the open field, to the lothing of your person, in the
day that you were born.
6 And when I passed by you, and saw you polluted
in my own blood, I said to you when you were in your
blood, Live; yes I said to you when you were in your
After Israel’s birth Israel died from rejection of Torah but would live again! Israel would be born again!
5 Yeshua answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Elohim.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Here Yeshua is referring to a Tanak passage (Ezekiel 36:24-28) which reads:
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your Elohim.
What does it mean to be “born of water”? Water represents Torah as Isaiah writes:
Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Had Israel not rebelled from Torah after its birth its well being would have been like “a river” and “like the waves of the sea” (Is. 48:8, 17-19)
What does it mean “born of spirit” and “born of flesh” ? The Tanak foretells that that when Israel casts away its transgressions and makes for itself “a new heart and a new spirit” its death will end (Ezek. 18:29-32) and thus will Israel be reborn. Ezekiel also writes:
And I shall give them one heart,
and shall put a new spirit within them.
and I shall take the heart of stone out of her flesh
and give them a heart of flesh,
When the Spirit of YHWH is received YHWH says:
I will put My Spirit within you
and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Enter the Kingdom of Elohim – the “Kingdom of Elohim” is a Tanak euphemism for the Kingdom of Israel (as in 1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron. 13:8). Thus in order to enter the kingdom and be regathered to the Land, the Jewish people would have to be born of water (made clean), born of flesh (receive a heart of flesh rather than stone) and receive the Spirit of Elohim so as to walk in the statutes.
The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
3:8 the wind blows – In the Aramaic this is a word play, as the word for Spirit RUCHA can also mean “wind” and is the word used for wind here. This gives the double meaning “The Spirit blows…”. The Spirit is like the wind in that both are invisible to the naked eye and can only be felt and discerned by their effects. Solomon wrote:
As you do not know what is the way of the RUACH,
or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
so you do not know the works of Elohim who makes all.
3:12 If I have spoken to you that which is on earth and you do not believe, how will you believe me if I speak to you that which is in heaven? An example of antithetic chiasmus as well as a clear kol v’chomer statement. This gives us the very important information that that which Yeshua has just spoken of, was earthly rather than heavenly information. Yeshua was speaking of an earthly Kingdom. Since most of John deals with heavenly things, this Gospel never returns to the subject of the Kingdom. John’s theme is Yeshua as the source of life and light (enlightenment), not his Kingdom offer.
However, Yeshua’s earthly PASHAT teaching of a Kingdom offer must be grasped before advancing to his heavenly SOD teachings on life and light. Mark, Luke and Mattitiyahu deal on an earthly level with the Pashat, Remez and Drash. They concentrate on Yeshua’s earthly message regarding the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. Yochanan is on the SOD level, it is completely different. It deals with light and life, with heavenly things.
3:13 And no man has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
The reference here is to Daniel 7:13-14:
In my vision at night I looked.
And there before me was one like a son of man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was led into his presence.
He was given authority, glory and sovereign power:
all peoples, nations and men of every language
This is alluded to in verses 31 and 35:
For he who has come from above is higher than all…
The father loves the son and has given everything
into his hands.
the Son of Man, who is in heaven – This is an example of the “Prophetic Perfect” a Hebrew/Aramaic idiom by which a prophetic statement speaks of future events in the perfect verb form.
For example Isaiah speaks of the Babylonian exile in the perfect form even though it was yet future:
Therefore my people are gone into captivity…
And as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
We read in the Torah:
 And YHWH sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against YHWH, and against thee; pray unto YHWH, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
 And YHWH said unto Moses, Make you a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live.
 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
In the Wisdom of Solomon we are told that this “fiery serpent” represented a “sign of salvation (Yeshua)” the “Savior of all”: (“Yeshua is Hebrew for “salvation”)
 For when the horrible fierceness of beasts came upon these, and they perished with the stings of crooked serpents, your wrath endured not for ever:
 But they were troubled for a small season, that they might be admonished, having a sign of salvation, to put them in remembrance of the commandment of your Torah.
 For he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by you, that are the Savior of all.
(Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-7)
In the Good News according to Yochanan , Messiah boldly identified himself as this “Savior” saying:
13 And no man has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven– the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
14 And as Moshe raised up the serpent in the wilderness, thus the Son of Man will be raised,
15 So that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
(John 3:13-15 NHRV)
28 Yeshua said to them again: When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He. And I did not do a thing of My own, but as My Father taught Me, so I speak.
(John 8:28 NHRV)
32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Me.
(John 12:32 NHRV)
Why was this serpent a type of Messiah? Because the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word for “serpent” (נחש) is 358 which is also the gematria of the word “Messiah” (משיח) 358 is also the gematria for the phrase “Shiloh comes” (יבא שילה) (Gen. 49:10). This is why the Talmud says that “Shiloh” is one of the names of Messiah (b.San. 98b) and why the Targums paraphrase the word “Shiloh” as “Messiah” in in Gen. 49:10.
For Elohim so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This verse is without a doubt this is the single most quoted passage from the “New Testament”. It has appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts and even Tim Tebo’s eye black. I have even seen a book about chess that had “Jn. 3:16” written in one corner.
John 3:16 is also one of the most misunderstood verses in the “New Testament”. Christians generally interpret this verse with no regard for the surrounding context. By their interpretation this verse has Yeshua teaching Nakdimon (Nicodemus) the doctrine of salvation through the crucifixion of Messiah when he had yet to be crucified. They characterize this verse as their “ticket to heaven”
However if we take this verse in context, we find that the following verses reveal, the phrase “believe in him” in John 3:16 refers not to simple acceptance of the fact of Yeshua’s existence, or his death (which had not even happened yet), but to belief or trusting faith in his words and teachings.
Verse 17 goes on to say:
For Eloah did not send his son into the world
to condemn the world
but to give life to the world through him.
(John 3:17 HRV)
The Messiah was the Torah incarnate and the original Torah giver. The Messiah gives life because he is the Torah incarnate and the Torah giver. In teaching us Torah he gives us life, as the Torah itself says:
Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this Torah. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you shall prolong your days in the Land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.
The next verse defines “he who believes” vs. “he who does not believe”:
He who believes in him is not judged,
and he who does not believe is already condemned
because he does not believe
in the name of the only begotten son of Eloah.
(John 3:18 HRV)
Here Yeshua clearly breaks all of mankind into two categories. Those who “believe” and are “not judged” and those who “do not believe” and are “condemned already”. The Aramaic word for “believe” here is the Aramaic equivalent of Hebrew EMUNAH . Emunah refers to belief in the sense of trusting faith. Torah is the “way of EMUNAH” as the Pslamist writes:
Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me your Torah.
I have chosen the way of faith (EMUNAH);
I have placed your ordinances before me.
“believe in him” from verse 16 becomes “believe in the name of the only begotten” in verse 18. This is an idiomatic way to say “believe in the reputation and teaching” of Messiah, which begins to becomes evident in the next two verses:
And this is the judgment,
because the light has come to the world,
and men loved darkness more than that light,
for their deeds are evil.
For everyone who does a hateful thing
hates the light and does not come to the light
lest his deeds be reproved.
(John 3:19-20 HRV)
This verse clarifies the two categories laid out in verse 18. Those who “believe” are “not judged” but those who “do not believe” are “condemned already”. These who “do not believe” love darkness more than light, hate the light, and do not come to the light lest their evil deeds be reproved. Note that the key word here is “deeds”. What is the light and what is the darkness? The answer to this question is to be found in the Tanak:
For the commandment is a lamp;
and the Torah is light…
Your word is a lamp to my feet,
and a light to my path.
To the Torah and to the testimony;
if they speak not according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them.
…for a Torah shall proceed from Me,
and I will make my judgment to rest
for a light of the people.
Elsewhere Yochanan speaks of those who “walk in darkness” (Jn. 8:12; 12:35; 1Jn. 1:6; 2:11). These who “do not believe” love darkness more than Torah, they hate the Torah, and do not come to the Torah lest their evil deeds be reproved.
The next verse says:
But he who does truth comes to the light
that his works may be known
that they are done in Eloah.
(John 2:21 HRV)
“he who does truth” This familiar phrase also appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the
Manual of Discipline in which members of the Qumran community were instructed to
“do truth” (Col. 1,5; col. 5, 3)
Who is “he who does truth”? What is “truth”? How is it that “truth” is something that one “does”? The Torah is truth; all of the commandments are truth (Ps. 119:142, 151). See more detailed information on truth in comments to Jn. 8:31-32. Note that “truth” here is something that one does. He who does truth comes to the light of Torah so that his works may be known that they are of Eloah.
From John 3:16-21, 36 we may construct the following chart that will help us to understand the meaning of John 3:16:
|“believe in him”||“do not believe”|
|“not judged”||“already condemned”|
“comes to the light
that his works may be known”
|“Loved darkness more than light”|
“their deeds are evil”
“does not come to the light
lest their deeds be reproved”
|[Obeys the son]||“does not obey the son”|
We can see that those who “believe in him” in John 3:16 are those who believe in him as the incarnate Torah and who accept the Torah which he taught. This is made clear in verse 36 in which it is clear that “believe in him” means “obey the son”. They accept the Torah of truth and walk by its light. They are set apart from Torah rejecters who reject the light of Torah:
He who believes in the Son has eternal life,
and he who does not obey the Son will not see life:
on the contrary, the wrath of Eloah will remain upon him.
(John 3:36 HRV)
Yeshua the Messiah is the Torah incarnate, and thus if we reject the Torah as bondage, we are rejecting the very substance of who the Messiah is. Is is not keeping Torah that is the key, it is accepting and embracing the Torah, keeping it simply naturally flows from that process.
You do not earn salvation any more than you get clean to take a bath.