Updated: Oct 12, 2021
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INTRODUCTION. As Jesus went about teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, his fame spread throughout the land of Palestine (Israel), and many people gathered to hear his words. Sometimes there were crowds, but sometimes Jesus spoke to a few or even just one. Early in Jesus' ministry, one of the rulers of the Jews approached him at night alone.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee which was a religious sect of the Jews. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, thus a "ruler of the Jews." The Sanhedrin was the supreme Jewish court of justice composed of seventy-one men. Why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night we do not know, for the Bible does not tell us. He had heard of, perhaps even seen, some of the miracles performed by Jesus and knew that only a special person sent by God could do these signs and wonders.
Jesus taught Nicodemus some things about his kingdom that was at hand (Matt. 4:17), and the church He would establish (Matt. 16:18). This new kingdom (the church) would have a new covenant or law (the New Testament), and the citizens would be new creatures (II Cor. 5:17). In order to be a citizen of the new kingdom, a person must be born of water and the Spirit. Nicodemus asked, "How can a man be born when he is old?"