Do you want to begin knowing Nicodemus who is found in the Bible? I guarantee that you’ll learn more about him soon.
In my pastoral ministry, I have spent three sermons preaching about Nicodemus. What I have discovered about him is more profound than meets the eye. This article aims to provide the most comprehensive list of this Bible character.
Let’s search the Scriptures!
1. Nicodemus Only Appears In The Gospel Of John
The Apostle John was the only one who mentions Nicodemus in his gospel, which is found in the New Testament.
John 3 is the main passage where Christians are most familiar with Nicodemus. That’s because it is his famous dialogue with Jesus on His Messiahship. However, Jesus turns the conversation and focuses on the message of the new birth.
But he is not only mentioned in this chapter. For example, the gospel mentions Nicodemus in John 7:45-52 and John 19:38-40.
Other than the gospel of John, the story of Nicodemus is nowhere to be found in the whole Bible.
2. Nicodemus Was A Pharisee
A Pharisee was a Jewish religious leader who strictly followed his ancestors’ law and tradition. Throughout the gospels, the Pharisees were hostile toward Jesus and His works. In the book of Acts, they persecuted the early church.
Nicodemus belonged to the Pharisees (John 3:1)
3. Nicodemus Was A Ruler Of The Jews
Being a ruler of the Jews means being a member of the Jewish ruling council. This was also called the Sanhedrin. It was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews.
They were prominent figures during Jesus’ trial. They also appeared again in Acts as the judicial court investigating and persecuting the Christian church.
Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1) and a keeper of the Jewish law.
4. Nicodemus Was The Teacher Of Israel
Nicodemus was the teacher of Judaism (John 3:10). He was the par excellence of the religious leader in the Hebrew Scripture. If anyone wanted to learn the way of Judaism, then Nicodemus would be the man.
But there is an irony to his title. You’ll have to keep reading to discover the irony (See #7)
5. Nicodemus Has A Profound Meaning In Greek
Nicodemus derives from the Greek word, nike. Nike means victory. What a powerful brand for a sports company!
His name could mean innocent blood; conqueror of the populace; victorious among his people.
6. Nicodemus Spoke To Jesus At Night
Nicodemus visited Jesus at night. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night (John 3:2)? We have no certainty as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night.
Sources may suggest that Rabbis (which means teachers in Aramaic) studied and debated with each other long into the night. Since Nicodemus and Jesus were teachers, this may not be unusual.
John did not randomly throw in the word, “night.” So don’t overlook that word too quickly!
A nerdy scholar called D.A. Carson explains that the word can be used in two ways. First, it can be used metaphorically for moral and spiritual darkness. Or second, it simply refers to the night-time hours.
John may have painted a double meaning. He loves to use elements of contrast.
First, Nicodemus came physically to Jesus at night. But second, Nicodemus revealed his spiritual darkness by coming to Jesus at night. His own “night” was blacker and darker than he knew.
7. Nicodemus Needed To Be Born Again
Jesus taught Nicodemus that he must be born again to see and enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). It is a startling – conditional – statement towards Nicodemus.
Being born again is also known as regeneration whereby a person experiences a new birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of regeneration was a vital teaching of Jesus in this passage. Sinners need to be born of the spirit and experience spiritual transformation from the inside out.
Jesus explains to Nicodemus about the spiritual kingdom (2 Peter 1:11). Such entry into the spiritual kingdom is synonymous with the entry of eternal life (Jn. 3:16).
Those who are in God’s kingdom are also in the state of eternity. But such entry could only happen by regeneration.
8. Nicodemus Did Not Understand The Teaching Of Jesus
Nicodemus should know Jesus’ teaching on the new birth or the spiritual rebirth since he is the teacher of Israel. He thought he needed to return to his mother’s womb!
Ironically, Jesus rebuked Nicodemus for not understanding his teaching. Nicodemus interpreted the idea of new birth literally or physical rebirth instead of spiritually (John 3:4). He questioned, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9)
Jesus replied to him and might have been telling Nicodemus…
“You are the Professor, Doctor, Reverend, Theologian of the Old Testament par excellence, and yet you do not understand these things? All that I explained were teachings from the Old Testament! How could you not understand these things? You’re more spiritually bankrupt than you realize!”
9. Nicodemus May Not Be Alone
Nicodemus spoke in the first person plural, “we.” (John 3:2) Would it be possible that when Nicodemus speaks he may not have been alone? Did the author purposefully focus on Nicodemus and excluded others?
Some scholars suggest that Nicodemus may have been a representative of the Jewish ruling council. The Jews may not have been there physically.
Either way, it is an interesting thought to consider the possibility that Nicodemus may not be alone.
10. Nicodemus Favoured Jesus (Partially)
In John 7:45-52, people were divided over the identity of Jesus Christ. And they wanted to arrest Jesus and try Him illegally.
But Nicodemus spoke and made a point that partially favoured Jesus (John 7:50-51). I do not think he was intentionally defending Jesus at this point. He was doing what was right and just according to rabbinical law.
What was Nicodemus’ relationship status with Jesus? It is possible that he has yet to become a follower at this point.
But this passage may show that Nicodemus did not entirely close himself off to Jesus’ claim. He may still be trying to seek, question, and understand Jesus.
11. Nicodemus Buried Jesus
In John 19:38-40, the author mentions Nicodemus, who went to Jesus earlier, after Jesus’ death.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, Nicodemus had a part to play in Jesus’ burial alongside Joseph of Arimathea. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, which may have been a Jewish burial customs.
They were taking Jesus’ body and put him in the tomb. John’s gospel has had to painstakingly remind us that Nicodemus was the same person who came to Jesus by night.
But what might that mean? Here is what this might mean…
12. Nicodemus Followed Jesus
Did Nicodemus follow Jesus?
Nicodemus chose to follow Jesus by the grace of God. He finally came out of darkness and stepped into the path of light. He came to know and believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
And that is John’s purpose for writing his gospel (John 20:30-31).
The question still remains: Did he witness the resurrection of Jesus? The text is unclear. But the possibility is there since he might have at least been one of the five hundred believers to witness the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Foxes Book of Martyr indicates a person named, “Nicodemus,” who was martyred. Was it the same person? I do not know.
Nonetheless, it should not dismiss the notion that Nicodemus became a follower of Jesus.
Fun Fact: Very rarely in Scripture do you see religious leaders coming to faith in the Messiah. The other Pharisee who came to follow Christ was Saul of Tarsus, who was also called the Apostle Paul.
13. Nicodemus Represents Many Who Are Skeptical
Nicodemus was a Bible character that we can relate to. We can be like Nicodemus where we start out not believing in Christ. We had our doubts and skepticism.
And Nicodemus could represent many people in our contemporary. They may respect Jesus as a teacher of Christianity. They may have heard and learned that Jesus died on the cross.
But they have darkness in their hearts. And unless God shines His light into the darkened hearts, they can never understand the truth.
Learning about Jesus may slowly draw us to Him by God’s sovereign election. And eventually, we come to believe in Jesus who died for our sins by God’s effectual calling.
Jesus’ final comment to Nicodemus was this, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wolderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
And Jesus might have said this to Nicodemus, although it is less likely, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus’ teaching on regeneration is an important doctrine in the Christian faith.
KEEP STUDYING THE BIBLE
Check out these sound resources to learn more about Nicodemus
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Was Nicodemus married in the Bible?
The Bible does not confirm nor deny that Nicodemus had a wife because the Apostle John does not explicitly mention that information.
What did Nicodemus do after talking to Jesus?
After talking to Jesus, Nicodemus disappeared for a little while.
He shows up again in John 7 to defend Jesus.
Other than that, it seems that he continued as a Pharisee while being opened and curious about Christ.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
I would like to hear from you!
What is one thing that you learned about Nicodemus?
Is there another thing that missing on the list that we could learn about him?
Feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below right now