We have heard the words Ďborn of Godí so often that our familiarity with the term lulls us into a false complacency that we have fully grasped what an astounding thought it really is. So letís remove some of the deadening familiarity by considering Eugene Petersonís expression, Ďpeople conceived and brought into life by Godí for the term born again Christian. The agent of conception is sperm. It is the means whereby a fatherís genetic blueprint is used to create life that bears the fatherís image.|
The Greek word used in 1 John 3:9 is sperma. Depending upon the context, sperma can mean a plant seed, someoneís child/descendant or sperm/semen. In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word is used in such passages as Leviticus 15:6
When a man has an emission of semen . . .
In the New Testament, it is used in Hebrews 11:11
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age . . . (KJV)
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:
As the physical sperma was the generator of life in the physical order (Gen. 1:11 ff.), so the divine sperma becomes the fount and origin of life in the new order of recreated humanity.
The Expositorís Greek Testament:
ĎThe germ of divine life has been implanted in our souls . . .í
B.F. Westcott, in his famous commentary on 1 John:
ĎSemen ipsius V., his seed, the principle of life which He has given continues to be the ruling principle of the believerís growth. God gives, as it were, of Himself to the Christian. He does not only work upon him and leave him.í
Commentary by Lange and Schaf:
ĎThe seed of God necessarily denotes something that proceeds from God, is instinct with vital power and full of life, develops itself, blossoms and bears fruit, and begets the Divine.í
It goes on to say to say that it is not consistent with the context, which refers to begetting and birth, to regard sperma as a reference to a plant seed. It says Ďanimal procreationí (ie sperm) is more in focus.
A similar Scripture, using a different Greek work is:
1 Peter 1:23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Article on sperma
B.A. Demarest, page 524, Volume 3 of Brown, Colin (Gen. Editor) The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978
Commentaries on 1 John 3:9
David Smith, The Epistles of St. John, page 184, Vol 5, W. Robertson Nicoll (Editor), The Expositorís Greek Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, reprinted 1980
B.F. Westcott, The Epistles on St. John, third edition, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1892
Karl Braune (translated by Jesus Isidor Mombert) in John Peter Lange and Philip Schaff A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, T& T Clark, Edinburgh, 1869