“having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
Many of us have probably heard the phrase “born again” used in various ways. While that expression often means different things to different people, we can find its true meaning by looking to Jesus and His use of that term. For instance, the Gospel of John records an after-hours meeting between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus in which they held the following exchange…
“[Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'” (John 3:2-8).
If we take the time to read Jesus’ explanation in this passage, we’ll find there is very little complexity behind this idea. Just as every human being must undergo a physical birth to emerge as a child of his or her parents, so we must also be born spiritually (or “born again”) in order to become a child of God. A paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:23 explains that concept in the following manner…
“…you have a new life. It was not passed on to you from your parents, for the life they gave you will fade away. This new one will last forever, for it comes from Christ…” (TLB).
So while people may hold different views on the meaning of the phrase “born again,” the only valid definition is the one Jesus gave it. Our first birth is physical; our second birth is spiritual, just as we see in the Gospel of John. Through this second birth, we are adopted into God’s family and receive the blessings He bestows upon His sons and daughters.