Summary: What are the signs of a person who is "born again"?
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus. He appears three times in the plot: the first is when he visits Jesus one night to listen to his teachings (John 3:1-21); the second is when he states the law concerning the arrest of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45-51); and the last follows the Crucifixion, when he assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the corpse of Jesus for burial (John 19:39-42).
Though there is no clear source of information about this Nicodemus outside the Gospel of John, the Jewish Encyclopedia and many Biblical historians have theorized that he is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers. Christian tradition asserts that Nicodemus was martyred sometime in the first century.
So, here is a well-regarded religious leader who recognizes that he is lacking something and he comes to Jesus in the quiet of the night. During his incarnate ministry Jesus often points to the most religious people and tells them that they are lacking. How are they lacking?
One day God looks on the earth and sees all the evil going on. God tells the archangel Michael to take all the avenging angels (those are the angels that afflict the comfortable in administering God's righteous judgement) to earth and evaluate things. After all the avenging angels come back, Michael reports to God that things are 95% bad and 5% good on the earth. God thinks for a moment and tells the archangel Gabriel to take all the ministering angels (those are the angels that comfort the afflicted in administering God's compassionate mercy) to earth and evaluate things. This way God would get both points of view. After all the ministering angels come back, Gabriel reports back to God that things are 5% good and 95% bad on the earth. Seeing that there's so much bad and so little good on the earth, God decides to send a letter to the 5% that are good to encourage them and help keep them going. Do you know what the letter said? What, you didn't get on either!?
Most English Bibles contain three uses of the phrase born again. The first two are in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3,(John 3) verse 3, spoken by Jesus while speaking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus says that, because of his miracles, Jesus is known "to be a teacher come from God" and, recognizing that, even though he is a well-regarded religious leader, he lacks something in his life and addresses Jesus with his concerns. “Jesus tells Nicodemus: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".
In verses 7 and 8, Jesus says:
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. / The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The John Gospel was written in Greek, and the Greek word translated as again could mean from above.
The third and last mention of the phrase is in the First Letter of Peter, (Peter 1) verses 22-23. The King James Bible translates this as:
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: / Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Here, the Greek word translated as born again is more accurately translated begotten again
In the Bible, to be "born again" is associated with terms including new birth, resurrection, new life, new creation, renewing of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, translation from darkness to light, etc.
Jesus Christ used the "birth" analogy in tracing spiritual newness of life to a divine beginning. Contemporary Christian theologians have provided explanations for "born from above" being a more accurate translation of the original Greek word transliterated anōthen. 2 reasons why the newer translation is significant:
1. The emphasis "from above" (implying "from Heaven") calls attention to the source of the "newness of life." Stagg writes that the word "again" does not include the source of the new kind of beginning
2. More than personal improvement is needed. "...a new destiny requires a new origin, and the new origin must be from God."
In recent history, born again is a term that has been widely associated with the evangelical Christian renewal since the late 1960s, first in the United States and then later around the world. Associated perhaps initially with Jesus People and the Christian counterculture, born again came to refer to a conversion experience, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in order to be saved from Hell and given eternal life with God in Heaven, and was increasingly used as a term to identify devout believers. By the mid 1970s, born again Christians were increasingly referred to in the mainstream media as part of the born again movement.