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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].


Therefore, just as sin came into the world through [the action of] one man [i.e., Adam] and [physical] death through that sin, so [physical] death has spread to all people, because all people have sinned. [Note: This difficult passage (verses 12-21) seems to be saying that the entire human race must experience physical death because of Adam's sin (I Cor. 5:22), which is somehow considered to be everyone's sin. See Murray, pp. 180-187, for a thorough discussion].


[Now] the true Light, who enlightens all mankind, was [indeed] coming into the world [i.e., to earth].


Then on the third day [i.e., since Jesus' conversation with Nathaniel. See 1:47], a wedding took place in Cana in Galilee. [Note: This was a small town near Nazareth]. Jesus' mother was there


And when the day of Pentecost came [Note: This was a Jewish festival held fifty days following the Passover Festival. Lev. 23:15-21], they [i.e., the twelve apostles] were all gathered together in one place [i.e., their second story living quarters, 1:13 ?].


Now there was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews, named Nicodemus.


For [Joel 2:32 says], "Every person who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [i.e., whoever appeals to God through obedient faith in Christ]


For God's word is alive and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates [deep enough] even to divide [a person's] soul [from his] spirit, and his joints [from his] bone marrow [Note: This is figurative language describing the penetrating effect of God's word into a person's spiritual, inner being] and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of a person's heart.


And I also tell you, [although] you are Peter [i.e., a stone], it is on this rock [i.e., the truth you have just confessed] that I will build my church and [not even] the gates of the unseen place of departed spirits will win out over it [i.e., all efforts to stamp out the church by killing Christians will fail].


He came to be a witness, so that he might testify concerning that Light, so that all people would believe [in Jesus] through him [i.e., through his testimony. See Acts 19:4].


Then Jesus made a whip out of strands of rope and drove all of the sheep and oxen out of the Temple [area], dumped out the cashiers' money and overturned their tables.


And when Jesus had said these things, just as the apostles were watching [Him], He was taken up by a cloud [and disappeared] out of their sight.


And on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday], when we [disciples] had gathered together to break bread [i.e., the Lord's Supper. See I Cor. 11:20-24], Paul delivered a message that lasted until midnight, [since] he was planning to leave [Troas] the next day.


Or, do you not know that evil people will not possess God's kingdom? Do not be misled: neither will sexually immoral people, nor idolaters, nor those who are sexually unfaithful to their mates, nor homosexual perverts. [Note: The Greek uses two words here, denoting both the passive and active partners in male homosexual acts].


[About then] a Samaritan woman came [to the well] to draw water. Jesus said to her, "[Please] give me a drink."


"Now there was a certain rich man who was dressed in purple [clothing] and soft linen [garments] and who lived every day in pleasure and luxury.


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."


The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I do not have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but [just] when I am about to enter [it] someone else goes down [into the water] before me."


Then Jesus said to those Jews who had believed [in Him], "If you people continue [obeying] my message, then you are truly my disciples.


So, Jesus spoke to them again [i.e., to the Jewish authorities. See 7:45], saying, "I am the light of the world. The person who becomes my follower will never live in [spiritual] darkness, but have the light of [i.e., for his] life [i.e., followers of Jesus will not live in error and sin but in truth and righteousness]."


Then you could know how reliable the information is that you have been told.


[Jesus continued], "I am the real vine, and my Father is the owner of the vineyard.


[We all love you] because of the truth which continues to live in our hearts and will be with us forever.


"Ask [God for something] and it will be given to you; look [to God for something] and you will find it; knock [on the door of opportunity] and it will be opened up to you.


Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Galilean town of Nazareth,


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."


May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, for He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in [fellowship with] Christ. [Note: The term "heavenly realms" is used somewhat differently throughout this book. Here it refers to Christians as part of the church on earth].


And when they heard [what He had said], they [all] left, one at a time, beginning with the oldest men. So, Jesus was left alone with the woman [still standing] there where she was.


Now the birth of Christ happened this way: When His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, [but] before they had a sexual relationship, she was discovered to be pregnant by [the power of] the Holy Spirit.


Loved ones, do not believe [the message of] every spirit [i.e., every person claiming to be a teacher], but test the spirits [i.e., require proof that they and their message are genuine] to see whether they represent God [or not], because many false prophets have begun circulating throughout the world.


[In this relationship] there is to be no [distinction between] Jews or Greeks [i.e., Gentiles], slaves or free persons, men or women; for all of you are united into one [body] because of your relationship with Christ Jesus.


Just then a certain teacher of the law of Moses stood up and [attempted to] test Jesus, saying, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit [never ending] life?"


He himself was not that Light, but came [only] to testify concerning that Light.


"And if your brother sins against you, go and show him where he wronged you, [but] keep it between just the two of you. If he listens to you [i.e., accepts your reasoning and repents], you have won your brother [back].


and said, "You men from Galilee, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus who was received up from your presence into the sky will return in the same way you saw Him go there."


What good is it, my brothers [and sisters], if a person says he has faith but does not have [good] deeds? Can such faith save him?


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.


Or, do you not know that all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death?


What shall we say, then? Should we continue sinning so that more of God's unearned favor will [have to] be shown?


But the time will come, and is now [actually] here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [i.e., from the heart] and truth [i.e., according to God's revealed will], for these are the people whom the Father seeks to be His worshipers.


Now it happened in those days that a decree was sent out from Caesar Augustus [the Emperor of the Roman Empire] requiring [people from] the whole empire to be registered [i.e., for taxation purposes].


"Do not be surprised at this: The time is coming when all those who are in their graves will hear His voice


"Do not pass [condemning] judgment [on other people] so that you do not receive such judgment [on yourselves].


These [false teachers] are part of the world, so [naturally] they speak [a message endorsed] by the world and the world listens to them.


So, when it was evening on that day, [which was] the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] and the doors [of someone's house], where the disciples were gathered, were closed [i.e., probably locked] for fear of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. [Note: Probably Jesus passed through the closed door miraculously]. He said to them, "May there be peace in your hearts."


"Why has the promise of a coming Messiah [not been fulfilled yet]? After all, since the time our ancestors died, everything has continued the same, even since the beginning of creation!"


After these things Jesus went up to Jerusalem to [attend] a Jewish festival.


For all things were created by Him; things in heaven and on earth; things visible and invisible, whether they are thrones [i.e., reigning beings], or lords, or rulers or authorities. [Note: "Authorities" here may refer to angelic beings]. All things were created by Him and for Him.


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]


"You should enter [God's kingdom] by means of the narrow door, for the wide door and the broad road are the ones that lead to [spiritual and physical] destruction. And many people will enter [that wide door].


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?"


If then you people have been raised up together with Christ [i.e., from your burial in immersion, See 2:12-13 with Rom. 6:4], pay attention to the things that are above [i.e., heavenly things], where Christ is seated at the right side of God.


But you should not deceive yourselves by just listening [to God's word] instead of doing what the word teaches.


Then Jesus said, "A certain man had two sons.


For Christ suffered once for people's sins [to be forgiven]. [It was the case of] a righteous Man suffering for unrighteous people, so that He could bring you [or, "us"] to God [for salvation]. [Though] He [i.e., Jesus] was put to death physically, He was brought back to life by the Holy Spirit [Note: Some translations say "in spirit"].


For every person who asks will [certainly] receive; and the one who looks will [certainly] find; and to the person who knocks, the door will [certainly] be opened.


Yet I am telling you the truth: It will be helpful to you for me to go away. For unless I go, the Helper [i.e., the Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.


"You people are [like] salt on the earth. But if salt loses its flavoring ability, how will it ever get it back again? From then on it would be good for nothing except to be thrown out onto the roadway and walked on by people. [Note: This was mined salt which, when losing its "saltiness" due to exposure to the sun or rain, was simply disposed of by being dumped onto the roadway where people walked].


And in the same way, the Holy Spirit helps [us in] our weakness; for we do not know what we ought to pray for [Note: Some translators understand this as "how to pray"]. But the Holy Spirit goes to God on our behalf with groanings [in our hearts] that are not expressed [in words].


(Now Jesus' disciples had gone away to town to buy some food).


Now early [in the morning], while it was still dark on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday], Mary from Magdala went to the [cave-like] tomb and saw the stone [had been] removed from [the entrance of] the tomb.


Philip answered Him, "Not even two hundred coins' worth of bread would be enough to feed them if everyone ate only a little bit." [Note: The amount here indicated was two hundred days of a farm laborer's pay, or about $14,000 in 1994].


And it happened on a Sabbath day, when Jesus went to the house of one of the leading Pharisees for a meal, that they [i.e., probably other Pharisees who were also guests] were watching Him closely.


Jesus then went to Nazareth where He had been brought up. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day, according to His custom, and stood up to read [the Scriptures].


The reason I left you in Crete [Note: This was an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Greece] was so you could set in order the things that were lacking and appoint elders in every city [i.e., where there was a church], as I directed you.


So, Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son [of God] cannot do anything on His own [i.e., independently of the Father]; but [He does] what He sees His Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does as well.


Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem [a small town] in Judea during the time when Herod [the Great] was king [of Judea]. About that time some astrologer/sages from the east [i.e., Persia] came to Jerusalem, saying,


Above all, [you should realize] that no prophecy of Scripture originates from a person's own initiative [Note: This passage is discussing the source of Scripture, not the understanding of it].


"I am not praying for these [apostles] only, but also for [all of] those who believe in me through their message.


Jesus answered her, "If you [only] knew the [real] gift of God, and who it is that said to you, '[Please], give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."


The brothers [then] immediately sent Paul and Silas away at night to Berea [i.e., a town in Macedonia]. When they got there they went into the Jewish synagogue.


For I am convinced that neither death, nor [the trials of] life, nor [evil] angels, nor [evil] rulers, nor present or future [circumstances], nor [evil] powers,


[Dear] Theophilus, in my former letter [i.e., the Gospel of Luke] I wrote to you concerning what all Jesus did and taught since the beginning [of His ministry],


Later on Jesus found the man in the Temple, and said to him, "Look, you have been made well; stop sinning or else something worse [i.e., than the handicap you had] will happen to you."


May [God's] unearned favor be yours, [along with] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Now it was before the Passover Festival [was to begin] and Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. Those [living] in the world, whom He had loved, and who were His own [disciples], He continued to love [dearly] to the very end [i.e., of His life on earth].


Therefore, we were buried with Him through [our] immersion [in water] into [a relationship with] His death, so that, just like Christ was raised up from the dead through the glorious power of the Father, so we also can [be raised up from the water to] live a new life.


And everyone went to register in his own home town.


Did you suffer so many things [for the faith] all for nothing? [That is], if it really was for nothing?


Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village [i.e., Bethany. See John 11:1], and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.


So then, my dear ones, just as you people were always obedient [to my teaching] when I was there with you, so now, in my absence [also], be [obedient] all the more. [Continue to] complete your own salvation [i.e., by living faithfully to the end. See Rom. 13:11] with fear and trembling [i.e., with a reverent and submissive spirit],


And when He does come, He will bring conviction to the world regarding sin [i.e., exposing it and producing guilt], regarding what is right [i.e., upholding godly standards], and regarding judgment [i.e., showing that sin condemns].


Now if you people show special attention to the one wearing the fine clothing and say [to him], "You can sit here in this good seat," and to the poor person, "You stand over there," or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"


[Note: The following traits should be understood in the context of love for people]. Love is patient [with people], and is kind [to them]; love does not envy [what people are or have]; love does not boast [of being superior to others], it is not arrogant [in dealing with people].


And it happened as Jesus finished praying at a certain place that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us [how] to pray, just like John [the Immerser] taught his disciples."


Jesus answered them, "[If you] destroy this Temple, I will raise it up in three days."


Now large crowds were following Jesus and He turned [around] and said to them,


We should fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and completer of the [or, "our"] faith. [Note: Jesus is here pictured as the one who completely fulfills the life of faith, or who provides us with the ability to live such a life]. [And] because He could look forward to joy, He endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right side of God's throne.


So, after they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you really love me more than these [other disciples do]?" Peter answered Him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." [Note: Since two different Greek words for "love" are used in this conversation, some scholars see a distinction in their meaning. See Butler, Vol. II, pp. 453-457 for a discussion of these views]. Jesus replied to him, "[Then] feed my lambs."


So, the Jews asked Him, "What [miraculous] sign will you show us, since you are doing these things [i.e., disrupting their merchandising activities]?"


We [apostles] proclaim to you [the truth about Jesus], who existed from the beginning [of time]. We have heard [Him] and seen [Him] with our [own] eyes. We looked at Him, and [even] touched Him with our hands. [See John 20:20]. [So, we proclaim that] He is the word of life [i.e., the life-giving Word]!


With every breath [it seemed], Saul [expressed his desire to] threaten and murder the Lord's disciples and [even] went to the head priest


But the man who was healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.


For this reason God allowed [or, abandoned] them to [practice] degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function [i.e., of sex] for what is against nature [i.e., lesbianism].


May there be mercy toward you people, and may your peace and love increase.


"You people of Israel, listen to this message: Jesus from Nazareth was a man whom God [demonstrated] His approval of by powerful deeds, miracles and [supernatural] signs which He accomplished through Jesus in your very presence --- and you all know this!


Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River [i.e., where He had been immersed. See 3:21] and was led by the Holy Spirit [See Matt. 4:1] into the desert.


Then some of Jesus' disciples said to one another, "What is this He is telling us: 'After a little while [longer] you will not see me. Then, a little while [later] you will see me again,' and 'Because I am going [back] to the Father'?" [See verse 10].


Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have a meal with him. So, He went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the [dinner] table. [Note: Matt. 23:6].


Then I saw a great, white throne and Him who was seated on it [i.e., probably Christ]. Earth and heaven fled from His presence and they were not found anywhere [again].


But he replied to them, "The same man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your cot and walk.'"


[Now to get to Galilee] it required that Jesus travel through Samaria [Note: Samaria was the next country north of Judea].


Your Excellency Theophilus: Since so many people have undertaken the task of compiling a narrative of events that have happened among us,


Now after these things [happened] the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples [Note: Some ancient manuscripts say "seventy." This group would have been in addition to the twelve. See Luke 9:1], and sent them two by two on ahead of Him into every town and locality that He planned to visit.


Seeing the large crowds, Jesus went up in a mountain [i.e., probably a hill near Capernaum] and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him.


But they had no children, because Elizabeth was unable to bear offspring due to their both being very old.


Now at early dawn on the first day of the week [i.e., early Sunday morning], the women [See Mark 16:1] went to Jesus' grave site, taking the spices which they had prepared [for His burial].


Since then we [Christians] have [such] a great Head Priest, who has passed through the skies [i.e., ascended to heaven. See Acts 1:9], Jesus, the Son of God, we should remain true to our profession [of faith in Him].


Judah had sons named Perez and Zarah, [whose mother was] Tamar. Perez had a son named Hezron; Hezron had a son named Aram;


Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the good news which I preached to you. You received it; you are standing firm in it;


Now after John was turned over [i.e., to the authorities and imprisoned] Jesus went [back] to Galilee preaching the good news from God


Now when the people heard this message [of Peter and the other apostles, See verse 14], they were convicted [of its truth] in their hearts and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do [about our condemned condition]?"


Jesus replied to her, "Go call your husband and [then] come here."


Truly, truly, I tell you, the person who believes in me will perform the deeds that I do also; and he will perform even greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father. [Note: The "greater deeds" are probably evangelizing the world].


You have condemned and murdered the righteous man [i.e., the innocent person, See verse 4] and he does not [even] resist you.


And these [miraculous] signs will attend [the conversion of] those who believe. [Note: This refers to the supernatural miracles performed by the apostles and their associates during the apostolic age. See verse


He existed in the form of God [i.e., He shared God's very nature], but did not consider [remaining] equal with God something [to continue] to hold onto.


But I tell you people who are listening [to me], love your enemies and do good things to those who hate you.


God said that 'in the last days [of the Jewish nation?] I will pour out My Holy Spirit upon all people [i.e., both Jews and Gentiles], and your sons and daughters will speak out [in prophecies] and your young men will see [supernatural] visions, and your old men will have [supernatural] dreams.


There was a man sent from God whose name was John [the Immerser].


For the Lord Himself [i.e., Jesus] will come down from heaven with a commanding shout [Note: This probably refers to Jesus' voice. See John 5:25, 28], [and] with the archangel's voice [i.e., Michael. See Jude 9] and with the sound of God's trumpet; [at this] the dead in [fellowship with] Christ will rise [from the dead] first.


Now the Holy Spirit specifically says that in later times [Note: "Later times" in the New Testament usually refers to the period following the first coming of Christ and the establishment of the church], some people will fall away from the faith [i.e., the true teaching of Christianity]. They will pay attention to deceitful spirits [i.e., lying people] and the teaching of evil spirits.


But now [i.e., under the Gospel age], a way of being considered right with God apart from [any] law has been made known. [The writings of] the law [i.e., the Pentateuch] and the prophets bear witness to this.


Give [to others] and you will have [things] given to you. People will pour into your lap a full measure [of goods]; it will be pressed down, shaken together and running over [the edges]. Because the standard you use in giving [to others] will be the standard used [by them or God] in giving back to you."


If I have the ability to speak in the languages of human beings and angels [Note: Perhaps the idea is supernaturally and eloquently], but do not have love [for people], I have become [no more than] a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


There was a whole crowd of people praying outside because it was the time for burning the incense offering.


[One day, as He was] gathered with these apostles, He urged them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there until they received what the Father had promised them. (Jesus had previously discussed this with them). [See Luke 24:49].


I am astonished that you people are so quickly abandoning God [i.e., by rejecting His truth], who called you [to Himself] through the unearned favor bestowed [on us] by Christ. [You are turning] to a different "gospel,"


But He said to him, "Man, who appointed me to judge or [decide on how] to divide [the property] between you two?"


And He is the One who provides a "covering over" [or atonement] for our sins [See Heb. 2:17; Dan. 9:24; II Chron. 29:24], and not for ours [who are already Christians] only, but also for the sins of the people of the whole world.


Now in the church at Antioch there were [these] prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon, called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch [i.e., governor of Galilee], and Saul.


Then He took a [small] loaf of bread, and after He had given thanks to God, He broke it and gave [pieces] to His apostles, and said, "This is [i.e., represents] my [physical] body which is [to be] given for you; continue to do this [i.e., eat it regularly] to remember me by."


No one should say when he is tempted, "God is tempting me," because God cannot be tempted by evil and He does not tempt anyone.


[It is being sent] to Timothy, my dearly loved son. May you have unearned favor, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.


Therefore, from one man [Abraham], who was as good as dead [i.e., because of having a sterile wife], were born descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the [grains of] sand on the seashore.


Now when they had run out of wine, Jesus' mother said to Him, "They do not have any more wine [left]."


"For the kingdom of heaven is similar to a man who planned to go on a trip to a distant country, so called his servants and entrusted to each of them a large sum of money [Note: The narrative that follows suggests that the man was turning over some of his assets to financial managers to invest for him].


[I pray] that all of them may be one, just as you, Father, are [one] in [fellowship with] me, and I [am one] in [fellowship with] you, so that they also may be [one] in [fellowship with] us in order that the world may [see it and] believe that you sent me.


Aram had a son named Amminadab; Amminadab had a son named Nahshon; Nahshon had a son named Salmon;


Now it happened while Jesus was standing on the shore of Lake Genneseret [i.e., Lake Galilee] that the crowd was pushing closer to Him to hear God's message.


But just as there were false prophets among the people before, there will also be false teachers among you [Christians]. They will privately teach harmful doctrines that destroy people [spiritually], by even denying [that Jesus is] the Master, [and thereby] destroying themselves quickly.


[This is] a record of the family background of Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, who was the descendant of Abraham. [Note: The following is an incomplete lineage through Jesus' step-father Joseph].


So, the large number of believers were united in heart and soul [i.e., mind and spirit] and not one of them said that anything he owned [really] belonged to him, but they shared all things in common.


[Then] the woman said to Jesus, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.


No, I tell you; but unless you repent [i.e., change your hearts and lives], you [too] will all be destroyed just as they were.


For an angel of the Lord came down to the pool [from heaven] at certain times and stirred up the water. Then the first person to enter the pool after the water became choppy was healed from whatever disease he had."}}


Zacharias became disturbed when he saw the angel and was gripped by fear.


When the apostles had come together, they asked [Jesus], "Lord, are you ready to restore the kingdom [of God] to [the nation of] Israel [at this time]?"


Therefore, let all those who make up the household of Israel [i.e., God's people] know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ."


Now Jesus was teaching in one of the [Jewish] synagogues on the Sabbath day.


And Jesus answered, "The foremost one is this [Deut. 6:4-5], 'Hear this, you Israelites, the Lord our God is the only Lord,


For that [doubting] person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord [through prayer],


And because of God's unearned favor shown to me [i.e., in appointing me to be an apostle], I am telling every person among you not to think he is more important than he really is. Instead, he should have a sensible estimate [of his gifts] in harmony with the degree of faith God has given to each person.


Then Jesus said to the apostles, "These are the words that I told you while I was still with you, [when I said] that everything written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms about me needed to be fulfilled."