What Does Peter Mean With Born Again?

Sorry to be tardy in getting out my next post! I’ve been steeped in trying to learn WordPress.org designing and plugins – in hopes of improving the look and features on my website and blogs. Arrggh! Talk about complicated. But, praise God, I found an easier solution. So my life can go on. BTW – hope you like my new header! It expresses some of the playfulness, liveliness, and joy in His fullness for us.

Okay, here we go! Back to the great topic at hand (a month ago) – what about this BORN AGAIN stuff!

Peter used the word born again

If your frame of reference and understanding is the traditional Church teaching on ‘born again’, i.e.

  • acknowledge you are a sinner and repent of your sins
  • ask Jesus to forgive you and cleanse you of your sins
  • ask Jesus to be your Savior,

then you would automatically think Peter is using these words to elaborate on how you got born again (AKA saved).

Many Bible translations interpret Peter as saying ‘born again’. Here are the verses:

  • 1Pet 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father…who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope… (NASB)
  • 1Pet 1:23  “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable…” (NASB)

If we take the Bible translators word for it (no pun intended) then we question not, because it confirms  what we have already been taught by the religious system – i.e. once we ask Jesus to save us then we get this incorruptible seed and have access to heaven.

In addition, since Peter and Jesus used the words ‘born again’ it shows they are in agreement with what we believe that word means. Thus we can go on our merry way knowing such agreement secures our traditional doctrine of needing to get born again, so we can be saved.

But, what if the ‘official’ Bible translations interpret certain Greek words through their religious  assumptions and doctrines of tradition? Jesus’ use of ‘born again’ and Peter’s use of ‘born again’ are great examples of that ‘what if’.

Peter’s unusual word for ‘born again’

Peter used the Greek word, anagennaó. He used it twice. He is the only one who used this word in all the New Testament!

It is worth noting that this word does not occur in Classical or Septuagintal Greek. This underscores the  importance of its rare use.

Did Peter make up anagennaó? Did he know he was the only one using it? I don’t know. But in light of its rarity, curiosity arises as to its true meaning.

The accurate translation

anagennaó – to beget again, from above

The break down of  anagennaó

  • ana  –  up, again (ana intensifies gennaó – emphasis mine)
  • gennaó  –  beget, be born, begotten, sired

Here are the verses with the actual Greek meaning in mind:

  • 1Pet 1:3  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has anagennaó (begotten/sired us AGAIN from up/above) to a living hope on account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
  • 1Pet 1:23  “…having been anagennaó (begotten/sired AGAIN from up/above), not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, on account of the word of God, which lives and abides forever.”

Peter is NOT talking about our religious traditional doctrine of ‘born again’ – how to get saved or how someone got saved through saying certain words or doing certain steps.

 What is Peter really saying?

Peter is extolling the eternal truth of our true origin and identity.

He is reminding us

  • God made us in His image – (remember there is only one Father of all)
  • We are begotten with an incorruptible seed that resides within each man
  • we were first begot from above
  • of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – Nick you first came from above (and to get there had nothing to do with your good works)

What’s the big deal with ‘ana’?

Why would Peter tack on ana – emphasizing ABOVE/AGAIN – if he wasn’t pointing to something that was already there in the first place!?  That is what the AGAIN is all about!

From Above Again

Here’s the mind boggling truth – God did this AGAIN thing before the foundation of the world, before He even made man! Think – Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Sin was not an “Oh no!” to God. He dealt with it before creation.

God never changed His mind about us. God sealed the deal of His eternal intentions of having us always be a reflection of Himself before time began.

Paul echoes this staggering truth  – “He saved us and called (Greek invited,named) us with a holy calling…before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ who abolished death and brought life…” (2Tim 1:9,10)  Press pause. This verse takes some pondering, because religious tradition does not teach it or believe it.

Jesus’ word anouthen and Peter’s unique word anagennaó echo across the ages and throughout eternity of who we really are. May you have ears to hear that echo in your heart.

Dig In

  • Nicodemus couldn’t grasp Jesus’ ‘born again’ because his frame of reference was of a corruptible seed that needed to be made incorruptible by doing good stuff and following the rules. If you think like Nick, ask Jesus to show you the incorruptible truth of who you really are – He really does want you to know.
  • Looking up Greek words in certain verses can enlighten you to real truth – Truth that exposes religious tradition that nullifies Jesus! (Mk 7:1-13)
  • If you cannot grasp, or even resist, that ‘all men have already been ‘born again’ – not to fret. As Peter said, this word lives and abides forever. It is not dependent on us getting it for it to be so. But when we get it, we get the pure Gospel – talk about fullness!
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