We’re going through the New Testament and looking for clues to understanding the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. We’ve been spending some time lately in the Gospel of John and namely, the prologue. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at John 1:13.
children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Spiros Zodhiates has an interesting take on this passage in that he believes it is not speaking of children but of an individual. In this case, the individual is born not of natural descent or of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God. If we are asking who this individual is, then the only answer is that it is Christ. This fits in with the surrounding context according to him and John does not need to explain that this is the Word as the Word has been spoken of enough. Does this idea have some merit to it? I’m not fully convinced by it, but it is an interesting one and I leave it open for the reader to look into and decide.
Let us suppose though that that is wrong and this is talking about instead the way that we do become children of God. First off, what is meant by bloods, as some have it instead of natural descent. It could refer to the coming together of the man and the woman and the mixing of their bloods. There is early Jewish tradition that shows that this is how they understood sexual activity. For those who placed stock in their heritage, John could be making a point and saying that you’re not a child of God just because your folks were descended from Abraham.
What of human decision? Of course, this could refer to a Calvinistic understanding whereby only the elect are saved. Some readers will agree with that. For some, it could refer to the will of human beings in an attempt to bring about the new birth through sexual activity as well. One cannot become a child of God simply by being born of some who are said to be children of God. Sexual desire in no way can bring about the new birth even when it reaches its completion in physical birth. Spiritual birth and physical birth are not the same.
I do not wish to take a side on that issue as I try to focus on Mere Christianity. I leave it to my readers to decide for themselves.
Nor of a husband’s will. This would go along with the other understanding in that nothing human could have brought this about. In Israel, a husband could invalidate the vow of a wife for instance. A wife could not be made a child of God by her husband however. Nor could the husband be made a child of God by the wife. Becoming a child of God will be the responsibility of the individual. If they are elect to do so in the Calvinistic understanding, they will do so. If the Arminian understanding is correct, it simply means one becomes a child of God not by human means but by divine.
The important aspect though is that which the verse ends on. Christ enables us to somehow be born of God. We can work out the details on how that fits in with free-will and divine sovereignty in the meantime, but until then, let us see to it that we are indeed born of God.