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Greek Word Study - Born of Water

“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

There is a popular idea that “born of water” may refer to physical birth, and thus have nothing to do with baptism. The idea goes like this: before birth the embryo is surrounded by fluid in the mother's womb. At the time of birth this “water” breaks and soon the baby is delivered. In this light, to be “born of water” is nothing more than to be born.

Faith-only folks are eager to take this view and throw out baptism. But are they right? Can this “water” of John 3:5 be the amniotic fluid associated with physical birth? The answer is an emphatic NO.

Nowhere in the dictionaries of classical Greek can you find the word for water (hydor -- HOO dor) used in the sense of amniotic fluid. Nowhere in the various lexicons of N.T. Greek does hydor mean amniotic fluid. They are quite clear—and quite unanimous—in their denial of this possibility. In fact, I cannot find a single reputable commentator who supports this idea!

In point of actual fact, Jesus said that a person must be baptized and must have the spiritual rebirth from the Holy Spirit to be saved. As Plummer put it, “An unbiassed mind can scarcely avoid seeing this plain fact.”

And in closing, you will enjoy this quotation from none other than John Calvin, in his commentary on John 3:5. “It is true indeed that we are excluded from salvation if we neglect Baptism; and in this sense I confess it is necessary.”

(The Greek word for amniotic fluid is prophoros and is pronounced “PROH for oss.”)