RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT
CONT., page 8
BORN FROM ABOVE, VERSUS BORN AGAIN
In John 3:3, Yahshua stated: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And in verse 7, He reemphasized: “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ ” We have addressed here that in order to obtain our heavenly body, we must follow in the way both preceded by and prepared by Yahshua and ascend alive into heaven in this earthly body, it be transformed, and we be birthed into the heavenly. Clearly, this is what Yahshua is instructing us here; and what He told Nicodemus confirms this.
Stated between these two verses and following, Yahshua explained what being born from above truly is. Nicodemus did not understand His first statement, and like most people thought in the realm of the natural. Recorded in verse 4, he asked: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?” Yahshua’s reply sets up both the contrast and the essential inclusion of the natural birth and the heavenly birth:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [verses 5-6].
Thus, the contrast here is water and flesh, versus Spirit and Spirit. In light of Nicodemus’ question, obviously the water and the flesh speak of the birth of the natural body. So what is this birth of the Spirit? It is birth into a spiritual body. Thus we ask, what kind of body do we now have? It is a flesh body, birthed from below out of water. So do we yet have the second body, the spiritual body birthed from above of the Spirit? No.
What Yahshua said here is precisely what we have been seeing and saying regarding the necessity to ascend alive into heaven in the flesh. Why would He state that unless one is (1) born of water/flesh and (2) born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God? Every man is born of water, so was this even necessary to say? But on the other hand, was He saying something here that indeed specifically relates to the requirements of entering into the kingdom of God? He did not need to say that the first criterion is being born of water, unless something is obtained that is essential in order to enter into heaven. What is it here that is essential? The answer: What was it that was essential for Yahshua to come back for when He overcame death? His born-of-water body! If He too was to enter into the kingdom of God, the first criterion by His own words was that He had to have a flesh body that was born of water. As we have seen, He did indeed have a flesh body, which He proved by eating flesh—the fish. With that flesh body He ascended into heaven on First Fruits, and eight days later returned with the body that was born of the Spirit, such that Thomas could place his finger in His hand and his hand in His side. Therefore, as set forth here by Yahshua, BOTH criteria have to be met: born of water/flesh, and born of the Spirit.
This first criterion is confirmed in the first Remnant as well. If it was not essential to have a born-from-water body as Yahshua stated—“unless one is born of water … he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”—then why is there the first resurrection whereby the first Remnant follow Him and rise from the dead equally into their earthly bodies? You will recall, as we have seen, resurrection explicitly refers to coming out of death and reentering into one’s earthly body. And again, as stated here by Yahshua, possessing a born-of-water body is essential to entering into the kingdom of God. And remember as well, Yahweh sent Michael to get Moses’ body. (Again, read “Angels Will Bear You Up” for more regarding this.)
So, what is this kingdom of God that Yahshua speaks of entering into? We will be brief, but the kingdom of God/heaven is seen in two different ways or forms. First, it is heaven, even the perfect kingdom that Immanuel will set up in the Millennial Reign. But keep in mind that, on the other hand, the kingdom was also given to man early, and for two thousand years has been corrupted (Matthew 13:24-33). These two forms of the kingdom are attested to in Zion. On the one hand, Zion looks to heaven where Yahweh is (Jeremiah 31:6); but on the other hand, it is equally the kingdom that man corrupts (Micah 3:10). Zion attests to the kingdom of God/heaven in both forms—the perfect and the corrupt. In like manner the kingdom is the Garden, both the perfect and the corrupted. Thus, on the one hand the kingdom can be the perfect kingdom that Immanuel sets up; but on the other hand it can be the corrupted kingdom that man has possessed since Yahshua left. That which He speaks of regarding being born from above, will first find fulfillment in the Millennial kingdom; for unless one is born both of water and the Spirit, they will not enter into that kingdom so as to rule and reign with Him.
This contrast of what the believer has possessed for two thousand years, versus that which is to come from above, is noted by Paul as well. In Philippians 3:20-21 he wrote:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Yes, for two thousand years men have had citizenship in heaven; but this does not mean they have been born from above yet. As Paul specifically stated, we still await that birth when our humble state will be transformed into conformity with the body of His glory. Yes, we have the earnest of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5), but our body is not yet born of the Spirit. This is most obvious. Until we possess a body like Yahshua went on to describe to Nicodemus in John 3:8, it is obvious we have not yet been born from above:
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
For two thousand years, no believer has fulfilled this where you do not know where they are coming from or where they are going; but in a spiritual body which is not bound by the three dimensions of space, this will be possible. This born-from-above body, as expressed here, will be able to appear and disappear at will. It can be at one location at one time, and a far distance away the very next moment. As it is written here, people will not know where we come from or where we are going. In verse 12, Yahshua continues to contrast these two distinctly different bodies—one that is from the earth, and one that is from heaven:
If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
He then clearly reaffirms what must take place in order to receive this born-from-above body—we must ascend alive into heaven:
No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man [verse 13].
In other words, no one has been born from above yet. Why would Yahshua draw these continual contrasts between a natural birth into earthly flesh, versus a heavenly birth into a body that is born of the Spirit upon ascending into heaven, but that He was indeed speaking of the very transformation Paul spoke of—the transformation of “the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory”? This is the birth we must all have; not this struggling existence in earthly flesh solely with the earnest of the Spirit, not this “wretched man” that Paul loathed (Romans 7:24). Though essential as this present body is, it will be wonderful to follow in the way prepared by Yahshua and ascend into heaven with it and it be transformed into the heavenly. And again, as demonstrated and taught by Him, the only place a heavenly body can be obtained is, quite obviously, in heaven. “You must be born from above.” Let us address some other matters regarding this.
Briefly, some translations of John 3:3 and 7 say “born again” or “anew,” instead of “born from above.” But the only time the Greek word used here—anothen—is translated “again” in the NAS or the NKJ is in these two verses. In every other case it is translated “above” or “top” or the like. Young’s Literal Translation correctly translates this “born from above,” and even the NAS notes that the literal translation is in fact “born from above.” “Anothen” comes from the Greek word “ano,” which means “up” or “above.” “Again” is thus an erroneous and misleading translation. But even so, use of this word would not change whatsoever the purpose of this event in birthing our heaven-born body.
There is another place in the New Testament that uses this term “born again”—in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23, which we read here:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you [verses 3-4].
… for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God [verse 23].
You will notice that these two passages state that this “born again” experience is something the believer has already experienced—“has caused us to be” and “you have been.” So what does this mean, and does it conflict with that which is being stated in John 3:3 and 7?
First, in both of these verses in 1 Peter 1, a Greek word is used for “born again” that is different from those used in John 3:3 and 7. In John 3:3 and 7, the statement “born from above” is in fact two Greek words: “gennao,” or “born,” and “anothen,” or “above.” On the other hand, in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23, the respective phrases marked here in bold in fact come from one Greek word: “has caused us to be born again” and “you have been born again.” That one Greek word is “anagennao.” However, this word is actually composed of two words: “ana” and “gennao.” First, you will notice that “gennao” is the same Greek word used in John 3, which means “born.” So, a birth is in fact once again the subject here. Furthermore, we find that the prefix “ana” here means “again.”
Undoubtedly the best definition of “anagennao” is from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon which translates it as: to “beget anew, regenerate.” Zondervan’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament likewise translates these two verses: “having regenerated us to a living hope,” and “having been regenerated not of seed ….” Therefore, the translation “born again” would indeed be accurate.
We noted that “gennao,” meaning “born,” is the Greek word common to both John 3:3 and 7, and 1 Peter 1:3 and 23. Therefore, a birth process is in fact the subject of both sets of passages. However, as you will see, that which is being birthed in John 3 and 1 Peter 1 are distinctly and most importantly different.
We have already noted that in John 3, Yahshua clearly spoke of the birth that takes place in and from heaven when we are born from above in an immortal, incorruptible body. What then do we find is being born again, or regenerated, in 1 Peter 1? Quoting verses 3-5, let us concentrate on what this born again experience affords the believer:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope … to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
To begin with, “hope” is looking for something that does not yet exist. So, this new birth spoken of here in fact affords the hope of receiving something that is yet to come. And whatever this is, it is reserved in heaven for us, and will not be received until the last time. Thus, this new birth in 1 Peter 1 initiates hope for something which is to come.
This is quite different from that which Yahshua spoke of in John 3. In that passage, there is no mention of hope, and verse 8 tells us the outcome of that birth: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Has anyone yet been born from above? Only Yahshua. Every believer since Him has been operating solely under the experience of 1 Peter 1: being “born again” or “regenerated,” but not yet being born from above.
Thus we see testified two separate works: the new-birth experience of the one who believes into Yahshua, and the eventual outcome of that faith leading to being born from above into an immortal, incorruptible body. Looking at the big picture, what do we see truly taking place? When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they died. But as we addressed in section three titled “The Lake of Fire,” that death was in fact a two-step outcome. In Genesis 2:17 we read: “… but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it, [lit.] to die you will die.” When Adam and Eve sinned, they first died in their communion and relationship with Yahweh; and thereupon, they later died with the loss of their natural bodies. So, in dying spiritually, they later died physically.
Realizing the two works that are set forth in 1 Peter 1 and John 3—being born again and being born from above—do you see the parallel and even reversal of this two-step demise? We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that “in Adam all die.” In other words, regarding this first step in our relationship with Yahweh God, we are dead. But, in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 we are told that by believing into Yahshua we are regenerated, born again. In other words, through Yahshua we are made alive in our relationship with Yahweh. Thus, one problem is solved. But, there remains another problem. If the believer is no longer dead in their relationship with Yahweh, then why is it that they still die in the flesh? If in dying in their relationship with Yahweh one dies in the flesh, then the opposite should be true: in being regenerated/rebirthed in that relationship, one should be regenerated/rebirthed in their flesh and not die! Despite two thousand years of the born-again experience, no one has yet been born from above into an immortal, incorruptible body. Instead, they have all died. Let us restate this:
If in dying we died, then it is equally true that in being regenerated we will be regenerated!
Thus we see that complete regeneration is a two-step work, and its fulfillment is attested to in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23, and John 3:3 and 7. In the former, we find the promise that through the work of Yahshua we are born again, or regenerated, in our formerly broken relationship with Yahweh God. However, as we read in those verses, that rebirth is aptly with a hope for that which is “reserved in heaven” and “to be revealed in the last time.” Thus, the application of 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 is a critical beginning; however, it in fact looks to that which must be fulfilled in John 3:3 and 7: the rebirth/regeneration of our bodies which can ONLY take place in heaven—that which is “reserved in heaven.” And again, this does not and cannot take place when one dies, for then one sleeps and awaits resurrection back into earthly flesh. The born-from-above body that we are promised and all await, is received by following Yahshua and ascending alive into heaven in that body born of water, and there receive one’s born-of-the-Spirit body.
Another encouraging item for the Bride is that this message of regeneration is recorded in second Remnant 1 Peter. As addressed in “Rightly Dividing the Word: The Deceitfulness of Sin,” the books of the New Testament follow the pattern of the church: first Remnant—from Matthew through Acts 8; Christianity—from Acts 9 through Philemon; and the second Remnant—from Hebrews through Jude. Therefore, 1 Peter affords not only the hope that the second Remnant will fulfill the promise of being born again in our spirits, but that we will be born from above “in the last time.” As we have seen, the second Remnant are the stated first fruits of mankind who enter into our born-from-above bodies.
We have thus seen that in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 and John 3:3 and 7, Yahweh has provided a clear testimony to and description of this two-step regeneration of man. But wonderfully and equally clear, He has provided yet another testimony as well, a comparable second witness. Let us begin considering this by reading Titus 3:4-7, paying special attention to the word “regeneration”:
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of age-during life.
Thus, we find the same message found in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23—a personal regeneration leading to justification, restoring our relationship to Yahweh God, and equally providing hope for that which is to come. But of course in John 3:3 and 7 we saw a distinctly different message, a work that provides our being born from above into a born-of-the-Spirit body. So, what then is the second testimony that Yahweh now provides in this additional witness?
In Matthew 19:16-30, we read the account regarding the rich young ruler, followed by a question from Peter, and then Yahshua’s reply. You might recall that Yahshua told the rich man that there was one thing he still lacked in his deeds: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (verse 21). Of course the man walked away, and afterwards Peter said to Yahshua, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” Yahshua’s answer was the promise of being born from above and reigning with Him. Note the word “regeneration” once again.
“Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” [verse 28].
You will notice that this account has nothing to do with having a regeneration experience that looks with hope to the fulfillment of a promise that is yet to come. Instead, once again it has to do with being made complete, the very purpose of this second work—(1) in being regenerated (2) you will be regenerated. Thus, we see that this latter regeneration in Matthew 19:28 is specific to the Millennial Reign and the great white throne judgment when the Bride will be in their regenerated born-from-above bodies.
What do we find in the Greek regarding this word, “regeneration”? First, in both accounts the same Greek word is used, and in fact are the only two places in the New Testament where this word is found. Also, it is an entirely different word from those used in either 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 or John 3:3 and 7. Here, we find the word “paliggenesia,” which is once again a combination of two words: “palin,” meaning “again,” or the prefix “re”; and “genesis,” meaning “origin, source, beginning,” and can even mean an “age” (Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon). Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon states regarding this word: “The word often used to denote the restoration of a thing to its pristine state, its renovation, as a renewal or restoration of life after death.” Thus the word means “regenesis, rebirth,” or as we read here from the NAS, “regeneration.”
Looking outside of the Scriptures, we find another helpful example of the use of paliggenesia. Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish philosopher at the time of Yahshua, as well as when the New Testament began to be written. Thus, his use of any Greek words should certainly be like in meaning and usage to those in the Scriptures. In “On the Life of Moses, II,” section 65, Philo addresses the account regarding Noah. Here we read that when Noah’s family and the animals were emerging from the ark, they “became leaders of the regeneration [paliggenesia], inaugurators of a second cycle, spared as embers to rekindle mankind ….”
This regenesis is certainly seen in part with our “washing of regeneration” in hope, but even more specifically in our “regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne.” There is a clear parallel between the regenesis that took place after the flood that came at the end of one hundred and twenty years as promised by Yahweh (Genesis 6:3), and the regenesis that takes place at the end of one hundred and twenty Jubilee waiting periods. Even as at the flood there was a lifting up of the preacher of righteousness and his family that brought a regenesis on the earth, so there must be the lifting up of the Elijah and the Bride with the flood of Yahweh’s Spirit and the regenesis spoken of here in Matthew 19:28. Granted, Philo is not in any way Scripture, but the comparison is revealing and confirming as to what this word “paliggenesia” means, and can and does relate to.
Thus we complete this section on “born from above” and “born again” with assurance and wonder that Yahweh has provided not just one, but two testimonies, two witnesses, of this two-step regenesis or regeneration of man. First are the two testimonies of a regeneration in our relationship with Yahweh that was lost in the Garden attested to in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 and Titus 3:4-7. Second are the two testimonies of a regeneration of our bodies whereby we are born from above into bodies born of the Spirit, so as to be able to rule and reign with Immanuel as attested to in John 3:3 and 7 and Matthew 19:28.
These two separate and complete witnesses are wonderful to see, and frankly have never before now been seen or understood. Once again we find that Yahweh is giving insight and understanding to His Bride—truth that continually evidences to be a seamless garment. For this we are most grateful, and look to Him to fulfill His word in these last days of immense culmination.
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