What does it mean for a Christian to be born again?

by Matt Slick

To be born again means to be changed by God into a new creature.  "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come," (2 Cor. 5:17).  He is different.  He is saved from God's righteous judgment.  He is enlightened spiritually to what is right and what is good, and he accepts the truths found in the Bible, which is God's word, where before he could not (1 Cor. 2:14).  He then seeks to please God and resist sin because this born again change in him makes it possible.  Being born again is also known as regeneration.  Along with this regeneration, God indwells him (John 14:23), and he receives guidance from God's Spirit through the Scriptures.

Literally, the English phrase "born again" is the Greek "to be born from above."

In the New American Standard Bible, the phrase "born again" occurs four times:

  •  John 3:3, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'”
    • Greek, born again is γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, gennatha anothen, which is literally "might be born from above."
  • John 3:7, "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’"
    • Greek, born again is γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν, gennathanai anothen, which is literally "to be born from above".
  • 1 Peter 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
    • Greek, "born again" is ἀναγεννήσαςanagennasas, which is literally "having given birth again."
  • 1 Pet. 1:23, "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God."
    • Greek, born again is ἀναγεγεννημένοι, anagegennamenoi, which is literally "having been born again."

So, again, being born again is the work of God where the sinner is supernaturally changed "from above where God is" and made into a new person -- one who trusts in God, seeks God, believes the truths of God, resists sin, and seeks to do good.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.