(John 3:3 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.We should not get too hung up on the exact wording. The actual literal translation would be “born from above.” The idea of again comes from the understanding of Nicodemus, the man talking with Jesus. He clearly understood the meaning to be a second birth.
(John 3:4 KJV) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?There is another term that conveys the beauty of this new birth. It is found in the concept of adoption. If you think of Jesus words to mean “born from above” instead of “born again” then the idea of adoption fits very well and adds a richness to the change that takes place.
To understand this we need to think in Roman terms of adoption, not current vogue. The modern concept of adoption focused on people who are infertile going through the process of looking for a child to make our own. They are looking for a baby. The Roman concept was the adoption of adults.
For the Roman it was not a matter of being childless. It was a matter of having worthy children. If you did not have children who measured up you could go out and pick someone who would make a good son and adopt him. You picked someone who was worthy and the other person agreed to the relationship. Your natural born children became second place. During the time Rome was a growing and strong empire this is the way the emperors chose their successor. When they went back to their first born, the empire began to decline.
One of the common teachings among Christians is that God is seeking us and we are to respond. This fits in very well with their understanding of becoming a child of God by adoption.
Since you might think being “born again” is corny, let’s make the question, “Have you been adopted?”
homo unius libri