1 Now there was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews, named Nicodemus. 2 This man went to Jesus one night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we [i.e., speaking of himself and other Jewish leaders] know that you are a Teacher sent from God, for no one could perform these [miraculous] signs that you are doing unless God were with Him."
3 Jesus said to him, "Truly, truly, I tell you, a person cannot see the kingdom of God [i.e., enter it. See verse 5], unless he is born from above [Note: The words "from above" are also used in verse 31, but in this place they could also mean "again," or "anew" and refer to the source of a person's second birth].
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born [again] after he is [already] old? He cannot enter his mother's womb a second time and be born, can he?"
5 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I tell you, a person cannot enter the kingdom of God unless he is born out of water and the Holy Spirit. 6 Whoever is born from human parents is a human being; and whoever is born from the Holy Spirit is a spiritual being. 7 So, do not be surprised that I have said to you, 'You must be born from above." [See note on verse 3]. 8 The wind blows wherever it wants to, and you can hear the sound of it, without knowing where it came from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born from the Holy Spirit."
9 Then Nicodemus asked Jesus, "How can these things happen?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of the Israelites and [yet] you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I tell you, we [i.e., Jesus and His disciples] speak about what we know, and testify about what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe [it], how will you believe [it] if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 And no one has gone up to heaven except the One who has come down from heaven, [even] the Son of man. {{Most translations do not contain the added words "who is in heaven"}}. 14 And [just] like Moses lifted up the snake [on the pole] in the wilderness [Num. 21:9], so the Son of man must be lifted up [on the cross] 15 so that whoever believes in Him would have never ending life." [Note: Some translations extend Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus through verse 21].
16 For God loved the world [of sinners] so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that every person who believes in Him would not [have to] be destroyed, but have never ending life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to be its judge [i.e., to condemn it], but [rather] so that the people of the world could be saved [from condemnation] though Him. 18 The person who believes in Him will not be condemned, but the one who does not believe in Him has already been condemned, because he did not believe in the name of God's one and only Son.
19 Now this is [how God's] judgment [works]: The Light [See 1:5-9] has come into the world, but people loved darkness [i.e., sin] rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every person who practices evil things hates the light [of truth] and does not come to it, for fear of having his deeds exposed [as sinful]. 21 But the person who does what is [according to the] truth [i.e., good things] comes to the light so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced by God.
22 After this Jesus and His disciples went to the country-[side] of Judea and there they remained and immersed people. 23 John [the Immerser] was also immersing people in Aenon, near Salem [Note: These locations are thought to have been in northeastern Judea, near the Jordan River], because there was a lot of water there; so people were coming to be immersed. 24 Now John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 [About then] a dispute arose between John's disciples and a Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 These disciples went to John and said to him, "Rabbi, look, that man who was with you on the east side of the Jordan River [i.e., Jesus], whom you testified about, is immersing people and everyone is going to him." [Note: Actually, it was Jesus' disciples who did the immersing. See 4:2].
27 John replied to them, "A person cannot receive anything, unless it has been given to him from [God in] heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ [i.e., God's specially chosen one] but [rather] that I was sent [by God] ahead of Him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the groom; but the best man, who stands up with him and listens to him [take his vows], is very happy when he hears him speak. So, [now] my joy is complete [i.e. over hearing about Jesus' ministry]. 30 He [i.e., Jesus] must increase [in importance and influence], while I must decrease."
31 The One who comes from above [i.e., Jesus] ranks over all [others]; but the one who is out of the earth [i.e., of human origin] is [merely] an earthly [being] and he speaks in earthly [ways]. [But] the One who comes from heaven [i.e., Jesus] ranks over all [others]. 32 He testifies concerning what He has seen and heard, but no one accepts His testimony. 33 The person who has accepted Jesus' testimony has confirmed this [fact], that God is truthful. 34 For the One whom God has sent [i.e., Jesus] speaks the words of God, for He [i.e., God] does not give the Holy Spirit in a limited quantity [i.e., to Jesus. See next verse]. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given everything into His hands [See Eph. 1:20-22]. 36 The person who believes in the Son has never ending life, but the person who disobeys the Son will not see life [i.e., will not experience never ending life], but [instead], God's wrath remains on him.