John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Knowing the 120 were born of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost and that no one can enter into the Kingdom without a new birth, and aware that His disciples had no commission to baptize until after the Resurrection, where were the disciples born of the Water?


6 Answers 6


A couple of points about your last paragraph. First, the recorded commissioning of the disciples to baptize was not at the Resurrection (that is, Easter Day), but at the Ascension some 40 days later. But since the Ascension preceded the day of Pentecost, by the time the 120 were born of the Spirit, the disciples had the commission to baptize. But the answer to the question, "where were the disciples baptized" is answered in proxy by the last verse of the Gospel of John:

But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (RSV)

Is it not reasonable that the disciples would have been baptized before they were commissioned to tasks like the preaching mission in Matthew 10:5-15

These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor′rah than for that town. (RSV)


Born of water here is not necessarily referring to baptism, but when considering the context of the surrounding verses would seem to be referring to the natural birth. In other words, We are first born a natural birth and then those who receive the Holy Spirit are born a second time with a spiritual birth. It follows then that every human is born of water, but those who have been born again are not only born of water, but also the Spirit. Not everyone is born again, but only those who are born of the Spirit.

When looking at any verse in the scriptures it is important to consider the context in which it is written. Verse 5 is talking about two births and it is further explained in verse 6 when it says: "That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Again, there are two births mentioned here, not just one. The first birth is a fleshly birth and the second birth a spiritual birth.

  • 2
    This is a common belief. Your answer would be much better if you indicate at least some of the Christian groups that believe it, and include a reference to an official or widely recognized source. Another view is that water baptism is meant, and I don't see any difficulty with the early believers having all been baptized; we do know that Jesus and/or some of His disciples baptized a number of people before His crucifixion and resurrection.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jun 21, 2015 at 6:39
  • 1
    Saying that “Being Born Again” does not refer to Baptism, is in direct opposition to the teachings of the early Church. “Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated [reborn]: in the name of God the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing of water. For Christ said, ‘Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ . . . The reason for doing this, we have learned from the Apostles” Justin Martyr. C 100-165AD
    – Marc
    Jun 22, 2015 at 12:13
  • Baptism is certainly an important symbolic act that represents being born again and because of that baptism with water is often used in the context of being born again. However, it is also possible to get baptized with water and not be born again. I also did not say that baptism never refers to being born again (or vice versa as you say), but was referring to the John 3 passage specifically. It is clear from that passage that Jesus is comparing the natural birth (in the flesh) with the spiritual birth (in the Spirit). See specifically verse 6.
    – kojow7
    Jun 22, 2015 at 22:53
  • Can you please provide a reference where being baptized with water and Spirit does not result in being born again. I believe I see your confusion, you are assuming by verse 6 that being born of water is being born as an infant and being born in the spirit (separate from the water), is being born again. In other words, you are making the same mistake as Nicode'mus, you are not seeing the connection of water in Spirit when God Creates. Read Gen 1:1-2
    – Marc
    Jun 23, 2015 at 2:11
  • I think you are confused as to what I am saying. I never said that "being baptized with water and Spirit does not result in being born again."
    – kojow7
    Jun 23, 2015 at 19:40

I think that Jesus's followers, being the Jews they were, would look at how Jesus's theology fits with the Torah. When Christ says "water and the Spirit," the first thing that pops in my head is Genesis (John's Gospel is like Genesis part II):

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The last sentence, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters," is one of the Torah passages I think Christ has in mind here. The world was created in water and Spirit, and must be reborn in water and Spirit.

The next thing that pops into my head is Noah's ark (which St. Peter in his first letter points out).

And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

I connect this to Jesus's Baptism:

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The floodwaters of Baptism and the Spirit in the form of the Dove cause the world to be reborn. And this is very important, because before Creation can be born again, the Word Himself must be reborn. The Word was born eternally as Son of the the Father, and reborn as Son of Mary. His rebirth leads to the rebirth of the rest of creation (this is straight from St Leo the Great's Tomb, btw).

The Exodus comes to mind next:

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

Israel was saved from slavery in Egypt by seawater and a strong east wind. Now, "spirit" is Latin for breath. The connection between wind and breath are obvious. The new Israel is saved from slavery in sin by water and the Spirit.

Christi pax,



Born of water seems more likely to be talking about natural birth. Take note of how Jesus is answering Nicodemus' question: “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” So, Jesus is saying: "No - there's a second birth which is spiritual; the first one is natural (born of water) & the second one is spiritual (born of the Spirit). In other words, He may be saying something like this: "I'm not talking about being naturally born (all over) again - going back into the womb and being born (of water) again. Yes, you must first be born naturally (of water), but I'm talking about being born spiritually (of the Spirit).


Baptism is recognition of a spiritual status. John baptised those who had repented, meta noia-ed, changed their mind, about living selfish lives, and had agreed with God that living selflessly was better, for the long view. That's why John demanded that candidates manifest fruit consonant with repentance. In other words, they had left selfish living, closed the door to the world with flood waters, like Noah, like Israel after crossing the sea, giving rise to the sobriquet, born of water.

Matthew 3:7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10“The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

However, he recognised that repentance was a stage, that it preceded redemption. In relation to God's words, repentance was acknowledgement that selfless living was better, but was also belief that God had planned for a better humanity, a better city, a new man in Christ, where living selflessly could be safe, and not only safe, but a fulfillment of God's promise to be a blessing to the world, by receiving the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 11:13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.


Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

That is why Paul asked if the disciples in Ephesus had received the Holy Spirit. They had received John's baptism, but John had instructed them to believe in Jesus. For what? For the message, the Good News, that He was the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham.

Those who did so believe that Jesus was the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, was the Christ, were marked with the baptism in the name of Jesus, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, revelation and discernment. Like Peter and John. And even Judas, Simon the sorcerer, Ananias and Sapphira. But the Body of Christ, through fellowship, recognised that the last four were not "clean", not born again, like Caleb, who had had a different spirit.

Numbers 14:24 "But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.

Caleb remembered God's great works, and let the lessons, the conclusions take root, and grow, so that he had surplus faith, like the wise virgins. So when he heard God's voice (when the bridegroom arrived, when the feast was spread in the desert) , he was not like the rest of Israel, who disobeyed because of unbelief, and would not manifest a great work in their own lives, so that people like Rahab could be blessed, when they saw God was with person. Short of entering the Kingdom of God, the giving of the Spirit, towards being a blessing to the whole world.

Psalms 78:18Then they spoke against God; They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?


Matthew 22:11“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13“Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14“For many are called, but few are chosen.”


John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”


Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.


Baptism of water provides a clean conscience, a clearance, to those who have agreed with God that it is better in the long view to be selfless, this averting God's wrath, but without seeing God's promise, true even of John the Baptist, the greatest of those born of a woman.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit provides the giving of the Holy Spirit and fire, revelation and discernment, drink from the Rock, but unless one is born again, has allowed the revelation to take root, grows faith, builds with gold and silver and precious material, one will not be ready to manifest God's great works in his or her own life, have oil for lamps, posses wedding garments, when one hears His voice, to feast, to bring forth living waters.

Hebrews 4:1Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

7He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

8For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

Or at least be ready to ask for terms of peace.

Due diligence, people. Do your homework. Look for recurring motifs, parallel teachings.

To answer, being born of water is being born after the flood water of repentance closes the ways of the world behind us. So the disciples were born of water at the time they were baptised, were recognised to have changed, by John the Baptist.

All Scripture from the NASB.

  • I have added the answer to the question, which I had inadvertently left out, due to my answering method requiring a "stream of consciousness" type technique. The answers sometimes trend to get buried in the flow of thought. Thousand apologies.
    – Seeker
    Oct 28, 2019 at 15:33
  • Nice edit, in general, I think this question is not a good fit for the site so I wouldn't get the wrong idea about looking for questions to answer with a stream of consciousness string of scripture. Answers on this site are better when they're full of someone else's interpretation of the Bible and not our own research (even if we think it should be obvious to everyone)
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 28, 2019 at 15:48

Born of water and of the Spirit

John 3:3-6 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto 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?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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.

In context the reference to water is seems to be natural physical human birth. Nicodemus misunderstands the reference to "born again" and Jesus contrasts the flesh (water at the first birth) with the Spirit (that which is received at the second birth). I do not see any application in these verses to baptism.