John’s Gospel Chapter 3 is a most important teaching – about being born again, born of the Spirit. Evangelists probably use this chapter more than any other in alerting congregants to the need of repentance and new life in Christ.
But there is a strange verse in that chapter which gets very little real attention. It is verse 8. Here it is in the RSV. “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
But wait a minute – we DO know where wind comes from and where it goes. We have weather vanes. Even standing in the wind is enough to know in which direction it is going.
The word “wind” in the Greek text is PNEUMA, the same as Spirit throughout that chapter. Why therefore is it necessary to begin talking about wind? There are numerous translations on the market these days, but NOT ONE translates it as Spirit, always it is wind..
However, John Wycliffe (1329 – 1384) who translated from the Vulgate, had “The spirit brethith where hewole, and thou herist his vois, but thou wost not, fro whennus he cometh, ne whidir he goith; so is ech man that is borun of the spirit.”
And Young’s Literal Translation (Robert Young, 1822-1888) has the following – “the Spirit where he willethdoth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is everyone who hath been born of the Spirit.”
Therefore, “The Holy Spirit breathes where He wills, and you hear His voice, but you do not know whence He comes or whither He goes.” Much more sense there.
Now try thinking about the last clause – “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”. Is that a true reflection of our life’s walk? What does it mean in practice?