Being Born Again and From Above
Yeshua did signs before the people, which were indeed signs from above for no one was able to do them unless he had been sent from heaven. When Nicodemus met Yeshua by night (for Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin), he referred to those signs. Yeshua addressed them saying, “Unless one is born again, he is unable to understand the signs of the kingdom”.
In the preceding article, we were faced with the dilemma of equal options, namely, as to what Yeshua must have said to Nicodemus. In it we explained that the phrase “I say to you, unless one is born again” is not the only way to translate and interpret the verse. Therefore, what did Yeshua say, “unless one is born עוֹד od again”, or born מֵעָל meial, from “above”, since in Hebrew there are two distinct words to express these concepts, which allows an alternative translation.
In this continuation to the subject of “Born again or born from above”, we would like to clarify certain misconceptions that have not been touched upon or perceived previously. Therefore, in order to clarify these issues in their entirety, we must initially make some inquiries about the matter of being born anew in the Hebrew Scripture. With that being said, we begin again our study, as this time we shall have more to say upon this point presently.
The Hebrew concept of “born again”
Being “born again” from the beginning is not a foreign but very Hebrew concept, as we shall explain below. Being born again in the Hebraic mindset means to be born as “In the beginning”, before sin entered the world. This is what Yeshua replied to Nicodemus in Joh 3:10: “You are a master of Israel and do not know this?”. What this rebuke means is this: “You are teacher and do not know that you were not born just once in the beginning of your life, but you are being born again and again in progression of having Ruach of Elohim (Joh 3:5-8) and His living Word, the Torah (1Pe 1:23). We read,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Ruach, he is unable to enter into the kingdom of Elohim. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Ruach is ruach … (Joh 3:5-8)
Note: It is the opinion of the present author, as argued in the article “Once saved always saved” Delusion, that salvation is a process, not a one-time act of saying a prayer. Every time one comes to the Father with words of repentance, his/her sins are forgiven, and life starts anew. It would be therefore advantageous for the reader to study the entire process of renewal of the universe and life itself explained in the article The World as a Constant Recreation – Time of Reckoning Ministry.
This new view of Yeshua’s words entirely shifts the focus from birth as an act of man done here on the earth to a rebirth of the soul being constantly born again and again from heaven through conversion.
Being born a new by the creative power of Elohim
The best way to describing the matter of “being born from above” is to explain the concept of having a new heart born from the life force that comes from above.
The Hebrew Scripture describes that when Israel casts away its transgressions and makes for itself “a new heart and a new breath”, thus will the nation be reborn. We read,
Cast away from you all the transgressions by which you have transgressed and make for yourselves a new heart and a new breath (ruach). For why should you die house of Israel? (Eze 18:31)
The appeal in Eze 18:31 points back to the promise YHVH made which Ezekiel duly wrote down,
And I shall give them one heart and put a new breath within you. And I shall take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, so that they walk in My laws and guard My judgements and shall do them. And they shall be My people and I shall be their Elohim. (Eze 11:19-20)
The parallelism here between “I shall put a new breath” and “they walk in My laws and guard My judgements and shall do them” helps determine the plain meaning of prophecy. Man comes to YHVH to receive a new heart and a new breath when he is being renewed by the Ruach (the Breath) of Elohim, i.e., by the creative power of Elohim (see also Gen 2:7 and Job 33:4).
Hence, we understand that Ruach haKodesh (commonly rendered “Holy Spirit”) is the power and the life force of the Most High in work. Through His power the world was made and through His life force life was created.
Note: For further knowledge of the matter, refer to what we have written in the articles The Hebrew Ruach HaKodesh vs the Roman Holy Spirit and Nephesh, Neshamah, and Ruach of the Soul. See also Eze 36:25-27, Eze 37:1-14, and Luk 1:35.
From the above promise expressed by the means of parallelism we understand that to be born of the Ruach means to walk in the Torah by doing His laws and guard His ordinances when He gives a new heart and a new ruach (breath) within man.
With the above in mind and in keeping with the rules of parallelism, we may now understand the statement in Joh 3:3-5,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again (i.e., anew), he is unable to perceive the kingdom of Elohim. … unless one is born of water and the Ruach, he is unable to enter into the kingdom of Elohim. (Joh 3:3-5)
The repetition of a Hebrew word, as in “truly, truly” is an intensive whose interpretation is “it is indeed true”. Hence, what follows is intensified and the parallel reading of the phrases “unless one is born again” and “unless one is born of water and the Ruach” indicates that to be “born again” is the same as being “born of water and the Ruach from above”.
Therefore, we see that being “born from above” or being “born again” from the beginning is not a phrase foreign to the Hebraic mindset. “Born from above” means to be born from the beginning, i.e., being born as before sin entered the world. For indeed, the Hebrew word רֵאשִׁית reishit, as in Gen 1:1 bereishit “in the beginning” means first in place, time, order or rank (specifically a first fruit). It is derived from the word רֹאשׁ rosh which means “head”, “height”, “chief” or “beginning”, as the head is the highest and chief point of the body.
Hence, the righteous is not born just once but is being born from above, from the highest again and again by the Breath of Life of Elohim. Therefore, being born from above, i.e., from heaven, is the primary focus of the progression into a renewed creature. This process indeed begins on the earth with a genuine prayer for repentance but continues in heaven. Hence, one is born from above, when he or she is being born anew, sinless as Adam was created sinless in the beginning of the world.
The phrase “born again” appears in the writing of the apostle concerning those who have been born twice by the Ruach of Elohim through His Living Word, as in a rebirth to a new life. We read,
having been born again – not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible – through the Living Word of Elohim, which remains forever, (1Pe 1:23)
Here too the apostle echoes the parallelism in Ezekiel, namely, that being born again and from above is through the Living Word of Elohim, that is, the everlasting Torah.
Thus, with the words “having been born again through the Living Word of Elohim” the apostle reminds us of the question he asked Yeshua: “We have left all and followed you. What then shall we have?” And Yeshua said,
Truly I say to you, when the son of mankind sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed Me in the rebirth, shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mat 19:28)
In an analogous way anyone who returns to YHVH Elohim is like being revived. This idea is condensed into Psalm 119,
Revive me according to Your Word. I have recounted my ways and You answered me. Teach me Your laws. Make me understand the way of Your orders. (Psa 119:25-27)
We will conclude with a remarkable statement found in the Babylonian Talmud. All sages are in agreement that repentance from sins renews the soul and makes the sinner reborn. And indeed, in the Jewish thought, a convert is like a new creation, when all his previous sins are forgiven, and he becomes like a child newly born.
Rabbi Jose made in Babylonian Talmud: Yevamoth 48b and Yevamoth 62a a remarkable statement that surprisingly closely echoes the words of Yeshua. He wrote, “One who has become a proselyte is like a child newly born”.
Yet, Rabbi Jose’s comment should not come as a surprise to us since a well-known Pharisee made the same statement, namely, that one who is in Mashiach is like a new creation—recreated and renewed after the image of Elohim.
Therefore, if anyone is in Mashiach, he is a renewed creation. The old things have passed away, see, all things have become renewed! (2Co 5:17)
We will now return to complete what we commenced to explain in the beginning. When we reflect on what we have written above, we will find that born once is born with the ruach below but born again is born with the Ruach from above—born anew by the life force of Elohim.
Yeshua did signs, which were signs from above no one was able to do unless he had indeed been sent from above. Yeshua replying to the perplexed Nicodemus said, “Unless one is born again and from above (like I was), he is unable to perceive the secrets and wonders of the kingdom” (which I did).
We must therefore view this verse as telling us that as Yeshua was born from above, so should we be born again and from above in order to perceive the kingdom of Elohim. Thus, translated and interpreted in the correct context, Yeshua addressed the perplexed Nicodemus.
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!
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