What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

The Bible’s answer

The term “born again” refers to a new beginning in the relationship between God and the person who is born again. (John 3:​3, 7) God adopts those born again as his children. (Romans 8:​15, 16; Galatians 4:5; 1 John 3:1) Similar to those who are legally adopted, they experience a change of status, becoming part of God’s family.​—2 Corinthians 6:​18.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

Jehovah Witnesses believe only a small amount of people called the “anointed class” more commonly known as the 144,000 can be born again having a heavenly hope. They pull these verses out of context from (Revelation 7:9, Revelation 14:1, 4-5) and take the number (144,000) literal yet they will also say all other references concerning them are figurative.

Does the Bible say can only a small group of 144,000 individuals be born again or is it possible that more than 144,000 people can be born again?

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

In John 1:12 it states “as many”, there’s no limited number here telling us only 144,000 people can only be born again. The words “as many” means an unlimited number can receive Jesus Christ. To be born again means to be made a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15), to be justified (Romans 5:1, 9, Romans 8:30, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Galatians 2:16) and reconciled to God (Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:20).

Paul the apostle touches upon teaches this truth, that Christ has only one body found in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 3:1-7 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Seen from Ephesians 3:1-7 “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body” this gives clarity pertaining to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John chapter 10. When He spoke of “other sheep” it was in revealing those “other sheep” as Gentiles, non-Jews. We know this because He was speaking concerning “this fold” meaning the Jewish people in this chapter.

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.

Why is a person born again?

Jesus said: “Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) So being born again prepares a person to rule with Christ in God’s Kingdom. This Kingdom rules from heaven, so the Bible describes the “new birth” as providing an inheritance that is “reserved in the heavens.” (1 Peter 1:​3, 4) Those who are born again are given the conviction that they will “rule together as kings” with Christ.​—2 Timothy 2:​12; 2 Corinthians 1:​21, 22.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society teaches there’s 2 classes of Christians, a small group named the “anointed class”. This special class are the only Christians who have the Holy Spirit. The other group called the “great crowd” are Christians who don’t have the Holy Spirit. These unbiblical teachings from the Watchtower are taught from Revelation 7:9 (great crowd) and Revelation 7:3,4 (144,000).

This doctrine of a 2 class system created by Joseph Franklin Rutherford in 1935, prior to his teaching the founder Charles Taze Russell taught Christians, “Jehovah Witnesses” all had a heavenly hope. Russell said the “heavenly calling” was closed, only 144,000 had been chosen by 1881. Rutherford as second president moved the date of 1881 to 1931.

The Bible shows that the “Great Crowd” are located in heaven. The current Watchtower teaches believers in Jesus Christ having two hopes this is contradictory with biblical teaching of the Other Sheep becoming “one flock” found in Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:4-6 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.

Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Notice one body and one hope, one body in Christ. The Jehovah Witnesses teach there are two bodies and two hopes, the bible never teaches two hopes or classes of Christians.

How is a person born again?

When Jesus discussed the subject, he said that those born again would be “born from water and spirit.” (John 3:5) This expression refers to baptism in water followed by baptism with holy spirit.​—Acts 1:5; 2:​1-4.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

What was the Lord Jesus referring to when He said “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit”? If we take the Watchtower’s interpretation that being “born of water” means baptism this would contradict the rest of scripture. We read in the Bible that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Baptism is a command the Lord gave for those who have already been saved by trusting in Christ. Baptism was not given as a means of salvation. The mention of water can refer to the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25, 26, 1 Peter 1:23, James 1:18). This can also refer to the Holy Spirit who is often a likened to water (John 7:38, 39), we also remember the Lord speaking of rivers of living water.

The Watchtower completely misunderstands and misapplies John 3:5 teaching a works based salvation.

Jesus was the first person to be born again. He was baptized in the Jordan River, after which God anointed (or, baptized) him with holy spirit. Jesus was thus born again as a spiritual son of God with the hope of returning to life in heaven. (Mark 1:​9-​11) God fulfilled this hope by resurrecting Jesus as a spirit creature.​—Acts 13:33.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

The Lord Jesus DID NOT have to be born again because He’s sinless, undefiled and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26). Only sinners need to be born again so why did Jesus Christ get baptized by John the Baptist? The Lord tells us why it was to fulfill all righteousness.

Matthew 3:13-15 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

This was done by the Lord to fulfill all that the Old Testament and New Testament saints did in accordance to God’s word. For instance the Bible in the Old Testament speaks of sprinkling when it came to blood or anointing with oil etc.

The Lord by being baptized was confirming all which was done back then all the way to present and future acts such as baptism by immersion. This was the real meaning behind Jesus being baptised.

Notice what the Watchtower says here “with the hope of returning to life in heaven” yes the Lord did return to heaven but they won’t tellyou that they believe Jesus returned as “Michael the arc-angel” Jehovah Witnesses do not believe Jesus is a real man in heaven but and angel.

Another very important fact to point out is this “God fulfilled this hope by resurrecting Jesus as a spirit creature.” The Jehovah Witnesses deny the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is very serious to deny the bodily resurrection is a salvific problem. Anyone who denies the physical body resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot have salvation.

The Christian faith hinges on the resurrection of Christ if the resurrection never happened then everything else falls our hope would be in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:12-14 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.

This is why no one involved in a non-Christian cult can be saved; world religions for that matter as well. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and others deny Jesus Christ in many ways especially the resurrection. With the JW’s they say Jesus body was disintegrated and He rose as a “spirit creature.” Jesus didn’t rise from the dead in the same body which was on the cross. Very dangerous for those who reject the resurrection.

Jesus Christ rose bodily all you need to prove this is see that the Lord had His disciples to touch the wounds in His body, He also ate food with them. If He was not raised in the same body then He would not have wounds, additionally a spirit would not as for food to eat and continue to ingest food before them. Lastly He told them He’s not a spirit but that He does indeed have flesh and bone.

John 20:27-29 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

Luke 24:39-43 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them [his] hands and [his] feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took [it], and did eat before them.

Yet the Jehovah Witnesses will believe the Watchtower’s teaching over what the Bible says.

Others who are born again are also baptized in water before they receive the holy spirit. (Acts 2:​38, 41) They then have the sure hope of life in heaven, which God will fulfill in the resurrection.​—1 Corinthians 15:42-​49.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

It’s obvious by this quote from the Watchtower they don’t understand that a Christian is saved first and given the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation. Afterwards then is the believer baptised to signify that they have died with Christ and are raised in newness of life.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Baptism doesn’t save anyone on Jesus Christ saves, people received the Holy Spirit in the Bible before baptism. Read Acts chapter 10 and you’ll see that Cornelius was given the Holy Spirit before he was baptised.

Misconceptions about being born again

Misconception: A person must be born again to gain salvation or to be a Christian. Fact: Christ’s sacrifice provides salvation not only for those who are born again as the ones who will rule with Christ in heaven but also for the earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom. (1 John 2:​1, 2; Revelation 5:​9, 10) That second group of Christians have the opportunity to live forever in Paradise on earth.​—Psalm 37:29; Matthew 6:​9, 10; Revelation 21:​1-5.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

The Watchtower teaches it’s a “Misconception” that an individual must be born again. Again we see the great damage being done by cults they undermine the very words of the Lord Jesus, distorting the Bible thereby deceiving its members in this case Jehovah Witnesses who aren’t allowed to research outside of the societies publications.

The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus “you must be born again.” How can a group which claims to believe in the Bible contradict it so much?

John 3:3-8 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. 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? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Please note what the Watchtower says here “Christ’s sacrifice provides salvation not only for those who are born again as the ones who will rule with Christ in heaven but also for the earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom.” The Watchtower teaches a 2 class system, they believe there’s a small group of anointed Christians who will live in heaven and a larger group which will live on earth who aren’t anointed.

Nowhere will you find this doctrine in the Bible, the “2 class system” was invented by Joseph Rutherford 1935.

Logically, the calling of the little flock would draw to a close when the number was nearing completion, and the evidence is that the general gathering of these specially blessed ones ended in 1935. However, the other sheep in the time of the end were prophesied to grow to be “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” Since 1935 the general gathering by Jehovah has been of this great crowd, whose hope is everlasting life on a paradise earth.

Watchtower 1995 Feb 15 p.19

The Bible specifically tells us there’s one body (Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20, Ephesians 2:16, Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 3:15) and one hope (Ephesians 4:4). How is it then the Jehovah Witnesses have two bodies with two hopes? The doctrines of the Watchtower are erroneous to say the least. Lastly you will not find the phrase “paradise earth” anywhere in the Bible.

Misconception: A person can choose to be born again. Fact: The opportunity to have a relationship with God and gain salvation is open to all. (1 Timothy 2:​3, 4; James 4:8) However, God chooses those who will be born again, or anointed with holy spirit. According to the Bible, being born again “depends, not on a person’s desire or on his effort, but on God.” (Romans 9:​16) The expression “born again” can also be rendered “born from above,” confirming that the selection of those who are born again comes “from above,” or from God.​—John 3:3, footnote.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Bible Questions Answered

Another misunderstanding the Watchtower makes is that God chooses some to be born again, while God chooses others not to be born again yet somehow these individuals who are not born again are Christians. They would lead the reader to believe Christians are teaching anyone “can choose to be born again.”

This is far from the truth, Christianity teaches that God draws the guilty sinner and at the point of conversion the individual is sealed by the Holy Spirit indwelling the new believer. No where will you find in the Bible a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ but yet not born again.

The Watchtower is caught between a rock and a hard place. A core teaching for witnesses is that only 144,000 people will enter heaven. And they will rule as kings with Jesus. This number is based on misinterpretation of Revelation 7 and 14, and proven untrue by Watchtower’s own numbers of those who partake of the emblems during the “memorial”.

Watchtower would have people believe that since the 1st century Christians on the day of Pentecost till 1935 those who would be called to be part of the 144,000 has “closed.” Does the Watchtower expect us to believe the that number 144,000 was not reached before the Society was even formed?

On the day of Pentecost we’re told three thousand souls were saved after the apostle Peter preached Christ to the people (Acts 2:41). In Acts chapter 4 we have the apostles Peter and John going into the temple again they preached Christ crucified and five thousand people believed (Acts 4:4). Afterwards we’re not given the number of converts but we see how fast the Church was growing.

In Acts 5 we have another multitude of people who believed in the Lord Jesus and added to the church.

Acts 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Again the numbers of believers increased in Jerusalem greatly.

Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

This is the theme of the book of Acts so thousands of people were saved in the 1st century alone. Is it logical to believe that the number 144,000 wouldn’t be reached way before 1935 when the Watchtower claims “the heavenly calling was closed?”

In the year 95 A.D. 40,000 Christians are said to have been martyred alone. We can conclude that the number 144,000 would have been quickly reached way before Charles Taze Russell came and formed the Watchtower. There is not a two class group of Christians, the Bible tells us that there’s One Body and One Hope. All believers in Christ are anointed and heaven bound.

We hope and pray that if you’re a Jehovah Witness you’ll research the history of the Watchtower Society outside of their own publications if you’d like to know the true history, because the Watchtower has whitewashed their own history to hide the facts from you.