John 1:10-13 KJV
He was in the world,
and the world was made by him,
and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own,
and his own received him not.
But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man,
but of God.
The Word was now in the world. God had made the world through him. But the people in the world did not know who he was. He came to the place that was his own. But his own people did not accept him. But some people did accept him. They did believe in him. He gave authority to those people to become God’s children. They did not become God’s children in the usual human way. They were not born because of what any people wanted. They were not born because of what any man decided. No! They were born from God.
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Which were born, not of blood,
It may be a question here, whether the evangelist in this place opposeth regeneration to natural generation, or only to those ways by which the Jews fancied men were made the sons of God. Expositors treat largely of the former: let us a little consider the latter.
Not of bloods. Observe the plural number: “Our Rabbins say, That all Israel had thrown off circumcision in Egypt — but at length they were circumcised, and the blood of the passover was mingled with the blood of the circumcised, and God accepted every one of them and kissed them.”
“I said, while thou wert in thy bloods, Live: i.e. in the twofold blood, that of the passover, and that of the circumcision.” The Israelites were brought into covenant by three things;
- by circumcision,
- by washing,
- and by offering of sacrifices.
In the same manner, a heathen, if he would be admitted into covenant, he must of necessity be circumcised, baptized, and offer sacrifice. We see how of bloods of the passover and circumcision, they say the Israelites were recovered from the degeneracy: and how of the bloods of circumcision and sacrifices (with the addition only of washing), they supposed the Gentiles might become the sons of God, being by their proselytism made Israelites, and the children of the covenant: for they knew of no other adoption or sonship.
But grace does not run in the blood, as corruption does. Man polluted begat a son in his own likeness (Genesis 5:3 ); but man sanctified and renewed does not beget a son in that likeness. The Jews gloried much in their parentage, and the noble blood that ran in their veins: We are Abraham’s seed; and therefore to them pertained the adoption because they were born of that blood; but this New-Testament adoption is not founded in any such natural relation.
All the children of God are born again; all that are adopted are regenerated.
This real change evermore attends that relative one. Wherever God confers the dignity of children, he creates the nature and disposition of children. Men cannot do so when they adopt. Now here we have an account of the original of this new birth.
Nor of the will of the flesh,
Man is called flesh and blood, because thence he has his original: but we do not become the children of God as we become the children of our natural parents.
In the same sense wherein the patriarchs and other Jews were ambitious by many wives to multiply children of themselves, as being of the seed of Israel and children of the covenant.
Nor of the will of man,
Not being born of that shameful and corrupt nature of man, which is throughout the scriptures described as an enemy of the spirit.
Of the will of man, in that sense wherein they coveted so many proselytes, to admit them into the religion of the Jews, and so into covenant and sonship with God.
These were the ways by which the Jews thought any became the sons of God, that is, by being made Israelites. But it is much different in the adoption and sonship that accrues to us by the gospel.
It is not produced by the natural power of our own will. As it is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, so neither is it of the will of man, which labours under a moral impotency of determining itself to that which is good; so that the principles of the divine life are not of our own planting, it is the grace of God that makes us willing to be his. Nor can human laws or writings prevail to sanctify and regenerate a soul; if they could, the new birth would be by the will of man.
But of God.
This birth is of God. This new birth is owing to the word of God as the means (1 Peter 1:23 ), and to the Spirit of God as the great and sole author. True believers are born of God, (1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1).
It is also necessary to their adoption; for we cannot expect the love of God if we have not something of His likeness, nor claim the privileges of adoption if we be not under the power of regeneration.
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