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At John 3:8 (RSVCE) we see Jesus saying:

"The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I often wondered at the statement of Jesus that one would never know where the wind came from. The wind, in a common man's language is understood to be coming from ' east, west, south or north' and going in just the opposite direction. One seldom cares for the origin of wind, which even science finds difficult to trace. My question therefore is: what are the qualities that Jesus wanted to attribute to the one born of the Spirit while comparing him/her to the wind ? What are the views of the Catholic Church on the comparison?

  • Remember to keep in mind that the word "Spirit" is from the Latin word for breath. – Lucretius Mar 1 at 21:55
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John 3 is the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus about baptism. Ignatius of Antioch writes about this verse:

"For though some would have deceived me according to the flesh, yet the Spirit, as being from God, is not deceived. For it knows both whence it comes and whither it goes..." The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians, Chapter 7

So, according to Ignatius, the wind is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit knows from whence He comes and where He is going. Indeed, the Greek word used for wind in the verse is πνεῦμα (pneuma, breath or wind), which is the same word used throughout the New Testament for the Holy Spirit. It is therefore clear that Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit when He speaks about the wind.

We too know where the Holy Spirit comes from: He "proceeds from the Father and the Son" (Nicene Creed). And we know where the Holy Spirit is going (i.e. what He is doing): He "calls alongside" us as the Paraclete, pointing us to Christ and His gifts of life and salvation. He is sent by the Father in Christ's name, teaching us all things and bringing to our remembrance all that Christ has said to us (John 14:26). Thus, the baptized child of God who has the Holy Spirit and has been born again knows where the wind comes from (from the Father and the Son) and follows where the wind is leading (to the Father through the Son).

When Jesus tells Nicodemus (not yet a baptized believer) that he does not know where the wind comes from and where it goes, He means that Nicodemus should seek to understand the source and work of the Holy Spirit and follow his guidance to Christ by means of baptism.

  • Hello and welcome to the site. Check out our tour and help center and what makes good supported answers to learn more about our site. I like how you quoted Ignatius on the subject; could you please cite/reference where exactly he said this and even link to that? I hope you will stick around and keep contributing good content! – Alex Strasser Feb 23 at 16:51
  • Thanks Alex. Link added. – Peter Wagner Feb 23 at 17:43
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John 3:4 tells us Nicodemus was marveled and wanted to find out from Jesus how he being an old man can be born again.

So Jesus started to teach Nicodemus on special operation of the Wind/Breath/Spirit or 'Ruach'(Hebrew) which breathed into nostril of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit or the Spirit is invisible and like wind and he can be felt or experienced, but not seen and one of the special work of the holy Spirit is to regenerate in us a new life or give us breath of God or give us breath of Life or be born again.

So in conclusion Jesus was telling Nicodemus that the Wind you know in the Old Testament is same as Spirit that make everyone be born of the God or Spirit.

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