The Church Fathers and Born Again by Joe Gallegos
"For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Esaias the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: 'Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.' And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the layer the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed."
Justin Martyr,First Apology,61(A.D. 110-165),in ANF,I:183
" 'And dipped himself,' says [the Scripture], 'seven times in Jordan.' It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' "
Irenaeus,Fragment,34(A.D. 190),in ANF,I:574
"Moreover, the things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also might be a sign of men's being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and laver of regeneration,--as many as come to the truth, and are born again, and receive blessing from God."
Theopilus of Antioch,To Autolycus,2:16(A.D. 181),in ANF,II:101
" When, however, the prescript is laid down that 'without baptism, salvation is attainable by none" (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, "Unless one be born of water, he hath not life' "
Tertullian,On Baptism,12:1(A.D. 203),in ANF,III:674-675
"But give me now your best attention, I pray you, for I wish to go back to the fountain of life, and to view the fountain that gushes with healing. The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man in order to wash him with water and the Spirit; and He, begetting us again to incorruption of soul and body, breathed into us the breath (spirit) of life, and endued us with an incorruptible panoply. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the layer he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Wherefore I preach to this effect: Come, all ye kindreds of the nations, to the immortality of the baptism."
Hippolytus of Rome,Discourse on the Holy Theophany,8(A.D. 217),in ANF,V:237
"But you will perhaps say, What does the, baptism of water contribute towards the worship of God? In the first place, because that which hath pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because, when yon are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; hut otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to its with an oath: 'Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning, and acknowledges those who are baptized under the name of the threefold sacrament, and rescues them from future punishments, presenting as a gift to God the souls that are consecrated by baptism. Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it be is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation. For whether you be righteous or unrighteous, baptism is necessary for you in every respect: for the righteous, that perfection may be accomplished in him, and he may be born again to God; for the unrighteous, that pardon may he vouchsafed him of the sins which he has committed in ignorance. Therefore all should hasten to he born again to God without delay, because the end of every one's life is uncertain."
Recognitions of Clement,6:9(A.D. 221),in ANF,VIII:155
" 'But perhaps some one will say, What does it contribute to piety to be baptized with water? In the first place, because you do that which is pleasing to God; and in the second place, being born again to God of water, by reason of fear you change your first generation, which is of lust, and thus you are able to obtain salvation. But otherwise it is impossible. For thus the prophet has sworn to us, saying, 'Verily I say to you, Unless ye be regenerated by living water into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore approach. For there is there something that is merciful from the beginning, home upon the water, and rescues from the future punishment those who are baptized with the thrice blessed invocation, offering as gifts to God the good deeds of the baptized whenever they are done after their baptism. Wherefore flee to the waters, for this alone can quench the violence of fires. He who will not now come to it still bears the spirit of strife, on account of which he will not approach the living water for his own salvation."
Pseudo-Clementines,Homily 11:26(A.D. 221),in ANF,VIII:290
"The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries,knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sins, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit."
Origen,Commentary on Romans,5:9(A.D. 244),in JUR,I:209
"[W]hen they come to us and to the Church which is one, ought to be baptized, for the reason that it is a small matter to 'lay hands on them that they may receive the Holy Ghost,' unless they receive also the baptism of the Church. For then finally can they be fully sanctified, and be the sons of God, if they be born of each sacrament; since it is written, 'Except a man be born again of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'...[O]nly baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God, may be born of both sacraments, because it is written, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' "
Cyprian,To Stephen,71:72(A.D. 253),in ANF,V:378,385
"And in the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His divine voice, saying, "Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This is the Spirit which from the beginning was borne over the waters; for neither can the Spirit operate without the water, nor the water without the Spirit...Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Catholic Church, which is one, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ."
Council of Carthage VII(A.D. 258),in ANF,V:566
" 'But you will perhaps say, What does the, baptism of water contribute towards the worship of God? In the first place, because that which hath pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because, when yon are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; hut otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to its with an oath: 'Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning, and acknowledges those who are baptized under the name of the threefold sacrament, and rescues them from future punishments, presenting as a gift to God the souls that are consecrated by baptism. Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it be is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation. For whether you be righteous or unrighteous, baptism is necessary for you in every respect: for the righteous, that perfection may be accomplished in him, and he may be born again to God; for the unrighteous, that pardon may he vouchsafed him of the sins which he has committed in ignorance. Therefore all should hasten to he horn again to God without delay, because the end of every one's life is uncertain."
Lactantius,Divine Institutes,5:19(A.D. 310),in ANF,VII:155
"We are circumcised not with a fleshly circumcision but with the circumcision of Christ, that is, we are born again into a new man; for, being buried with Him in His baptism, we must die to the old man, because the regeneration of baptism has the force of resurrection."
Hilary of Poitiers,Trinity,9:9(A.D. 359),in NPNF2,IX:158
"And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened"
Athanasius,Discourse Against the Arians,III:33(A.D. 360),in NPNF2,IV:412
"The baptized when they come up are sanctified;--the sealed when they go down are pardoned.---They who come up have put on glory;--they who go down have cast off sin."
Ephraim Syrus,Hymns for the Feast of the Epiphany,6:9(ante A.D. 373),in NPNF2,XIII:273-274
"And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were regenerate through the grace given in our baptism."
Basil,On the Spirit,10:26(A.D. 375),in NPNF2,VIII:17
"This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit. In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the tradition of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened. It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit."
Basil,On the Spirit,15:35(A.D. 375),in NPNF2,VIII:22
"[T]he birth by water and the Spirit, Himself led the way in this birth, drawing down upon the water, by His own baptism, the Holy Spirit; so that in all things He became the first-born of those who are spiritually born again, and gave the name of brethren to those who partook in a birth like to His own by water and the Spirit."
Gregory of Nyssa,Against Eunomius,2:8(A.D. 382),in NPNF2,V:112
"For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These verily are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head."
John Chrysostom,On the Priesthood,3:5-6(A.D. 387),in NPNF1,IX:47
"The Word recognizes three Births for us; namely, the natural birth, that of Baptism, and that of the Resurrection... Gregory of Nazianzen,Oration on Holy Baptism,I(A.D. 388),in VII:360
"And that the writer was speaking of baptism is evident from the very words in which it is stated that it is impossible to renew unto repentance those who were fallen, inasmuch as we are renewed by means of the laver of baptism, whereby we are born again, as Paul says himself: 'For we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that, like as Christ rose from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we, too, should walk in newness of life.' "
Ambrose,Concerning Repentance,2:8(A.D. 390),in NPNF2,XI:346
"Therefore read that the three witnesses in baptism, the water, the blood, and the Spirit, are one, for if you take away one of these, the Sacrament of Baptism does not exist. For what is water without the cross of Christ? A common element, without any sacramental effect. Nor, again, is there the Sacrament of Regeneration without water: 'For except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' "
Ambrose,On the Mysteries,4:20(A.D. 391),in NPNF2,XI:319
"Baptism, then, is a purification from sins, a remission of trespasses, a cause of rennovation and regeneration...Let us however, if it seems well, persevere in enquiring more fully and more minutely concerning Baptism, starting, as from the fountain-head, from the Scriptural declaration, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' Why are both named, and why is not the Spirit alone accounted sufficient for the completion of Baptism? Man, as we know full well, is compound, not simple: and therefore the cognate and similar medicines are assigned for healing to him who is twofold and conglomerate:--for his visible body, water, the sensible element,--for his soul, which we cannot see, the Spirit invisible, invoked by faith, present unspeakably. For 'the Spirit breathes where He wills, and thou hearest His voice, but canst not tell whence He cometh or whither He goeth.' He blesses the body that is baptized, and the water that baptizes. Despise not, therefore, the Divine laver, nor think lightly of it, as a common thing, on account of the use of water. For the power that operates is mighty, and wonderful are the things that are wrought thereby. For this holy altar, too, by which I stand, is stone, ordinary in its nature, nowise different from the other slabs of stone that build our houses and adorn our pavements; but seeing that it was consecrated to the service of God, and received the benediction, it is a holy table, an altar undefiled, no longer touched by the hands of all, but of the priests alone, and that with reverence.
Gregory of Nyssa,On the Baptism of Christ(ante A.D. 394),in NPNF2,V:512
"Time would fail me were I to try to lay before you in order all the passages in the Holy Scriptures which relate to the efficacy of baptism or to explain the mysterious doctrine of that second birth which though it is our second is yet our first in Christ."
Jerome,To Oceanus,69:7(A.D. 397),in NPNF2,VI:140
"Be ye likewise contented with one baptism alone, that which is into the death of the Lord...For the Lord says: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And again: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' "
Apostolic Constitutions, 6:3:15(A.D. 400),in ANF,VII:456-457
"Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination[ie. baptism], without the seal! they indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, 'Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.' Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not."
John Chrysostom,Homily on Phillipians,3:24(A.D. 404),in NPNF1,XIII:197
"It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated through the agency of another's will when that infant is brought to Baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn...'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.' The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was in one Adam."
Augustine,To Boniface,Epistle 98:2(A.D. 408),in JUR,III:4
"No sooner do they rise from the baptismal font, and by being born again and incorporated into our Lord and Saviour."
Jerome,Against the Pelagians,III:15(A.D. 415),in NPNF2,VI:480
"For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,' made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;' "
Augustine,City of God,13:7(A.D. 419),in NPNF1,I:248
"But the sacrament of baptism is undoubtedly the sacrament of regenation: Wherefore, as the man who has never lived cannot die, and he who has never died cannot rise again, so he who has never been born cannot be born again. From which the conclusion arises, that no one who has not been born could possibly have been born again in his father. Born again, however, a man must be, after he has been born; because, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' Even an infant, therefore, must be imbued with the sacrament of regeneration, lest without it his would be an unhappy exit out of this life; and this baptism is not administered except for the remission of sins. And so much does Christ show us in this very passage; for when asked, How could such things be? He reminded His questioner of what Moses did when he lifted up the serpent. Inasmuch, then, as infants are by the sacrament of baptism conformed to the death of Christ, it must be admitted that they are also freed from the serpent's poisonous bite, unless we wilfully wander from the rule of the Christian faith. This bite, however, they did not receive in their own actual life, but in him on whom the wound was primarily inflicted."
Augustine,On Forgiveness of sin, and baptism,43:27(A.D. 412),in NPNF1,V:62
"Moreover, from the time when He said, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven;' and again, 'He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it; ' no one becomes a member of Christ except it be either by baptism in Christ, or death for Christ."
Augustine,On the Soul and its Origin,1:10:9(A.D. 419),in NPNF1,V:319
"One generation and another generation; the generation by which we are made the faithful, and are born again by baptism; the generation by which we shall rise again from the dead, and shall live with the Angels for ever."
Augustine,Psalms,135:11(A.D. 433),in NPNF1,VIII:626
"And each one is a partaker of this spiritual origin in regeneration; and to every one when he is re-born, the water of baptism is like the Virgin's womb; for the same Holy Spirit fills the font, Who filled the Virgin, that the sin, which that sacred conception overthrew, may be taken away by this mystical washing."
Leo the Great(regn. A.D. 440-461),Sermon 24:3(ante A.D. 461),in NPNF2,XII:135
"From that time when the Saviour said to us: 'If any man is not born again from water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God', without the sacrament of baptism--apart from those who without baptism in the Catholic Church shd their blood for Christ--no one can receive the Kingdom of God or eternal life."
Fulgentius,On Faith,3(A.D. 524),in TCF,85
"The baptism then into Christ means that believers are baptized into Him...And He laid on us the command to be born again of water and of the Spirit, through prayer and invocation, the Holy Spirit drawing nigh unto the water. For since man's nature is twofold, consisting of soul and body, He bestowed on us a twofold purification, of water and of the Spirit the Spirit renewing that part in us which is after His image and likeness, and the water by the grace of the Spirit cleansing the body from sin and delivering it from corruption, the water indeed expressing the image of death, but the Spirit affording the earnest of life."
John of Damascus,Orthodox Faith,9(A.D. 743),in NPNF2,X:73
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