Are Catholics “Born Again”?

Q. Doesn’t the Bible say we must be “born again” to be “saved”? Are Catholics “Born Again”?

Absolutely Catholics are “born again” — they are baptized! This “born again” question is based on John 3:3-5, where Jesus says to Nicodemus: “I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above (some Bibles read, “born again”, here)… no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”

Both Protestants and Catholics agree that to be “saved” [i.e. to be able to enter Heaven], a person must be “born again”. The difference lies in how Catholics and Protestants believe a person is actually “born again”.

Most Protestants consider being “born again” to mean, “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” and confessed something called “the Sinner’s Prayer”. They also understand “being born of water and Spirit” to be two separate events. Being “born of water” refers either to the amniotic fluid of natural human childbirth or to the preached Word of God, and being born of “spirit” refers to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

How do Catholics answer this? For starters, the phrase, “born of water and Spirit”, in the grammar of the original Greek that St. John’s Gospel was written in, is referring to a single event, involving both water and the Holy Spirit, not a separate baptism of “water”, and then a second baptism of the “Spirit”. And when St. John actually does speak about natural human birth in John 1:13, he refers to it as being “born… of blood”, not as “being born of water”!

Additionally, since the time of the Apostles, the Church has always taught that John 3:3-5 unquestionably refers to baptism. Every Church Father in the first 1000 years of Christianity that has ever written on this passage has unwaveringly understood it to refer to baptism — they are resoundingly unanimous on this!

For example, in 151 A.D., St. Justin Martyr wrote: “they… are led… to a place where there is water, and they are reborn: ‘In the name of… the Father… and of… Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit,’ they receive the washing of water. For Christ said, ‘Unless you be reborn, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven'”.

Similarly, St. Irenaeus (190 A.D., taught by St. Polycarp, who was taught by St. John himself!) would write: “we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord… being spiritually regenerated as newborn 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'”. If you want to believe what the early Church believed about John 3:3-5, you must interpret it as referring to baptism.

Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, it just simply isn’t what the text says! Now don’t get me wrong, accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is a good thing! And we shouldn’t do this just once, but even several times a day! But the point is that John 3:3-5 speaks only of being born of water and spirit [i.e. baptism] as the means Jesus specifies for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. It says nothing about taking Jesus as Lord and Savior, good as it is. No one would deny that God-given faith and taking Jesus as Lord are necessary before baptism is given (see my earlier article on infant baptism) — but both faith and baptism are necessary to be “saved”. That is just simply what Jesus says!

And this brings up yet a fourth point. The context all around John 3:3-5 is very much about baptism. In John 1:31-33, Jesus himself is baptized and the Holy Spirit descends upon him — clearly prefiguring the sending of the Holy Spirit at baptism. And in John 3:22 and John 4:1-3, we read about Jesus and the Apostles baptizing.

But the final and irrefutable answer comes from Scripture itself. What does the Bible say about baptism? Is it just a symbolic washing, as some Christians believe, or is it necessary for salvation, i.e. does it “save” us, as the Catholic Church teaches.

Unquestionably, the Bible teaches that baptism “saves you”. This is literally what St Peter says in 1 Peter 3:20-21: “[In the ark]… eight persons were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that! Then, in Acts 2:38, St. Peter again says: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And in Galatians 3:27, St Paul confirms that “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

But ultimately, it is Jesus Himself who definitively answers the question. In Mark 16:16, He says, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Need we say more?

If God has ordained water baptism as the means He chooses to convey the Grace of salvation, who are we to argue?













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27 comments

  1. Robert henry Reply

    You can be. All you have to do is ask our Lord to come in too your hart. Look in Matthew luke John chapter 3 5=20 will get you started.

    1. hilary Reply

      Where did the Lord teach that. It is just man made tradition of (once saved always save) John Calvin that protestants are religiously following

  2. shining Reply

    Any person who love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind are “Born Again”. It is NOT necessary what religion you belong.

  3. Suren Manatunga Reply

    I do not agree with this article. This says “John actually does speak about natural human birth in John 1:13, he refers to it as being ‘born… of blood'”. This is a lie. You have taken JOHN 1:13 out of context.

    You should read the bible without just reading one line…. let see what leads to this verse.

    JOHN 1:10-13
    10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    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:

    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Now, note…. Verse 11 : He came to his own… meaning He the jews or the chosen people. but they did not accept him.
    He was born to the same blood line… but his own blood did not accept him.

    So what is john saying here….
    Jesus came to his own people but his own people did not accept him. But whoever accept him, was given the power to be sons of god,
    which here born not by boold line, or by natural birth or by will of the man, but of god.

    ——
    Just because a church farther 1800-1900 years ago made a mistake taking a verse out of context, it does not mean you also have to do it.

    Your argument is to be save you need to be born again(That’s true u need to be born again to be saved.)
    But you say to be born again you need to be baptized.(This is false teaching).

    There are many places in the bible which says all you have to be saved is to believe in Jesus (This is what it means by “born in the Spirit”)

    Refer:
    JOHN 3:16
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Does the above verse say you need to believe in Christ and to be baptized ??? or is it just believe in Christ.?

    JOHN 3:36
    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Is not JOHN3:36 talks about the same thing as JOHN 3:16 ?
    IF YOU BELIEVE YOU NEED TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED THEN THE BIBLE CONTRADICT
    JOHN 1:13 CONTRADICT JOHN 3:16 & 3:36

    No wonder Muslims point out mistakes in the bible, although they are not mistakes But miss interpreted by people who thinks they know all that need to know.

    1. Gallibus Reply

      If you ‘believe in Christ’ does that not mean that you act in accordance with His wishes and teaching? Even the devil believes in Christ but He rejects Him. Do you think Christ taught His early followers incorrectly and left it to johnny-come-lately’s to correct His teaching? I find this notion absurd.

    2. Laurie Reply

      Awesome explanation Suren..the saddest part is that many truly don’t know the biblical meaning of Being born again…or born of the Spirit..how many people in the world believe they are heaven.bound, but in reality are going to spend eternity in hell, separated from Our Lord forever….I’m so grateful Jesus found me and chose me. We have so much to do to preach and share The True Gospel of Christ!!

    3. William Reply

      I agree but I have been trying to get the answer to this about having to be baptized.I was baptized as an infant..now I’m in a different church.some say you should not be baptized as a baby.I don’t know anymore.

    4. hilary Reply

      Pls I’m tempted to ask u simple questions 1. Did Judas iscariot believed in jesus 2. Is he in heaven or hail

      1. Suren Manatunga Reply

        Judas iscariot did not believe in Jesus(he did not believe that he is God).

  4. Suren Manatunga Reply

    I made a typo in my previous comment, i’m reposing it here…

    I do not agree with this article. This says “John actually does speak about natural human birth in John 1:13, he refers to it as being ‘born… of blood'”. This is a lie. You have taken JOHN 1:13 out of context.

    You should read the bible without just reading one line…. let see what leads to this verse.

    JOHN 1:10-13
    10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    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:

    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Now, note…. Verse 11 : He came to his own… meaning He the jews or the chosen people. but they did not accept him.
    He was born to the same blood line… but his own blood did not accept him.

    So what is john saying here….
    Jesus came to his own people but his own people did not accept him. But whoever accept him, was given the power to be sons of god,
    which here born not by boold line, or by natural birth or by will of the man, but of god.

    ——
    Just because a church farther 1800-1900 years ago made a mistake taking a verse out of context, it does not mean you also have to do it.

    Your argument is to be save you need to be born again(That’s true u need to be born again to be saved.)
    But you say to be born again you need to be baptized.(This is false teaching).

    There are many places in the bible which says all you have to be saved is to believe in Jesus (This is what it means by “born in the Spirit”)

    Refer:
    JOHN 3:16
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Does the above verse say you need to believe in Christ and to be baptized ??? or is it just believe in Christ.?

    JOHN 3:36
    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Is not JOHN3:36 talks about the same thing as JOHN 3:16 ?
    IF YOU BELIEVE YOU NEED TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED THEN THE BIBLE CONTRADICT

    In JOHN 3:5 Being “born of water" refers to the amniotic fluid of natural human childbirth. If not
    JOHN 3:5 CONTRADICT JOHN 3:16 & 3:36

    Once again Don’t take JOHN 3:5 out of context, Read .. JOHN 3:3-6
    3 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.
    4 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?
    5 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.
    6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    What’s going on here…
    Jesus tells Nicodemus that you need to be born again(Believe in christ) to enter the kingdom of haven.
    Nicodemus does not understand so he ask jesus how can you enter your mother womb again and be born again.
    Then jesus says, truly I say to you unless you born of water(Natural birth)and born of sprit(Believe in Christ) you cannot be saved.

    No wonder Muslims point out mistakes in the bible, although they are not mistakes But miss interpreted by people who thinks they know all that need to know.

    1. Gallibus Reply

      You are in fact suggesting that to be born again of water, you mus INDEED reenter your mother’s womb and be born again! his is simply a case of poor comprehension.

    2. Gallibus Reply

      You are in fact suggesting that to be born again of water, you must INDEED reenter your mother’s womb and be born again! This is simply a case of poor comprehension.
      One needs to be reborn SPIRITUALLY by the waters of BAPTISM, during the ceremony of which one accepts Christ and publicly professes faith in Him, and receives His Holy Spirit. The waters of baptism are an outward sign of the inward grace of receiving the Holy Spirit of God and professing belief in God.

    3. Robert Reply

      Believing in some one is to believe there instructions. If the person you say you believe in gives you instruction and you don’t believe the instruction then you don’t believe in the person.

      1. Suren Manatunga Reply

        what instruction ? Baptism?…. Maybe i was not clear… let me explain… According to the bible Baptism does not save you…. In fact yo need to first Believe in Jesus…

        When someone start to believe that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins and rose again on the 3rd day… then and ONLY then he/she will be saved…. Once someone is saved.. then he/she can get baptized

        Example 1 :
        Acts 16:30-33 (KJV)

        30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

        31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

        32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

        33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

        Example 2 :
        Acts 8:36-38 (KJV)

        36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

        37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

        38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

        MY POINT IS… this article misleads people…. Let me Quote what this article says..


        “St. John actually does speak about natural human birth in John 1:13, he refers to it as being “born… of blood", not as “being born of water"!”

        St. John is not referring to natural human birth as been born of blood…
        Without taking the verse13 out of context.. Read from verse 10 to 13 (Read John 1:10-13)

        St. John is saying that everyone who received Jesus, was given the power to become sons of God. and you cannot become sons of God… just because you are a Jew…(BORN OF BLOOD)
        Or of the will of the flesh (YOU CANNOT BECOME SON OF GOD BY YOUR OWN DOING WILL)
        Or the will of man, (NO OTHER MAN CAN MAKE YOU SON OF GOD)

        Lets see whats John 1:10-13 says..
        John 1:10-13(KJV)

        10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
        11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
        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:
        13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        The truth is… There is no place in the entire bible that says that you need to be baptized to be saved. You need to believe in Jesus to be saved. And then you can get baptized.

        1. LJS Reply

          You say “according to the bible baptism does not save you”, and “there is no place in the entire bible that says that you need to be baptized to be saved”. Except of course for the clear words of scripture that says “baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you” 1 Pet 3:21; or perhaps “he who believes AND is baptized will be saved” Mark 16:16. No one is saying faith is not necessary, it is. However, “faith alone” – a well disproven protestant contention – is not enough. So if you follow the bible, baptism clearly does “save you”. But hey, why let the clear words of scripture get in the way of a strongly held belief. By the way, read Rom 6 very, very slowly. God Bless.

          1. Suren Manatunga

            1 Pet 3:21
            21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

            Read the entire verse don’t take the first part of the verse out of context. And the verses before that also, May be you will understand what is been said.

            There are 2 types of baptism…. water and the spirit.
            John the baptise said… he baptizes with water but when Jesus come he will baptizes with the spirit (Matthew 3:11)

            1st Peter 3:21 is difficult to grasp if you don’t take into consideration other related Scriptures. In verse 20, Peter mentions Noah and the ark, and likens “baptism” to Noah and his family being saved through the flood. That’s very interesting.

            I am firmly convinced that this Scriptural passage(1 Pet 3:21) is speaking of being baptized into Christ through His Spirit, because verse 21 clearly ends with the phrase … “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Thus, it says “baptism saves us … by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
            1st Corinthians 15:14 states, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” It is the FACT that Christ has arisen that makes it possible for us to be born again by God’s Spirit. Just as Noah and his family entered “into” the ark by faith, and were saved from the flood by the ark (a kind of “baptism”), so we go “into” Christ by faith through the Spirit’s baptism and are saved “in Him.”

            Baptism by water is a symbol, DO you think if you grab a man in the street (A muslim for example) and baptized him… Is he saved ?

            You need to first proclaim your faith in Jesus, Then you can be baptized as a symbolic thing.

            Acts 8:36-38 (KJV) FOCUS ON VERSE 37.
            36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

            37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

            38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

            What you need to grab from ACTS 8:36-38 is…. the eunuch asked what is stooping me from getting me baptized. If you dont believe then you cannot be baptized… coz there is no effect at all. If you believe then you can get baptized.

            What did jesus say to one of the thieves in the cross, He said you will be with me in haven today.
            Was that person baptized ? no but he believed only.

            If you still think getting baptized(Water) can save people. Then the bible you believe contradicts when Jesus said …
            (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

            Jesus did not say God so loved the world he gave water baptism to be saved.

            John 3:15
            15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

            Jesus did not say whosoever gets baptized should not perish, but have eternal life

        2. hilary Reply

          Again did judge iscariot go to heaven or he’ll after all he believed in jesus christ

        3. hilary Reply

          Pls what does it mean to believe in the Lord jesus Christ, may be to reharse the sinners prayer because u keep on repeating that word. The passages In John u keep does not contradict jesus teaching on baptism, but strengthen it. It is because I believe in the Lord jesus that I adhere to his words to be baptized, not some sinners prayer mantra that I hv to reharse

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  6. Robin Reply

    The theif on the cross was not baptized. Yet, when he asked Christ to remember him in Heaven, Christ assured the theif that he would be in paradise with Him.

    1. Gallibus Reply

      God is the sole judge of who is worthy to enter heaven and who is not; that is His prerogative. The ‘good thief’ acknowledged his belief in Christ and defended Him as innocent – this is a true baptism.

  7. Mark Sawan Ali Reply

    genuine faith only can save you. Baptism is an act of obedience to God.

  8. Nonso Reply

    The bible does speak of believe in Christ but what does it mean to believe in something or someone of not to practice what that teach. And we see that Jesus Christ the son of God who is not just saved but our savior goes to the river Jordan to be baptized by John even when John affirms that he himself is not fit to unstrap his sandals. This stands to reason both in faith and in logo that baptism is an essential and critical part of becoming saved just as accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior every day you live.

  9. Laurie Reply

    Was the thief on the cross next to Jesus baptized with the Spirit? Do you believe Jesus when He said, “Today, you shall be with Me in.Paradise?”

  10. Tony B Reply

    The question is posed incorrectly because of not properly dividing the Word of Truth. It should be, “Can Catholics be saved by grace?” We are in the dispensation of grace, which is available to anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, even though they might still be shackled by the bondage of human religion. Being “born again” or “from above” on the otherhand, was for Israel. The Lord had blinded their eyes to the truth, and only an act of divine intervention, from above, would open their eyes to see Jesus Christ as King and allow them to enter the Kindgom, promised only to Israel. For greater clarity on this subject, read the letters of Paul. He is our apostle and it is he who was given the revelation, known as “my gospel,” for this current age. Start with Romans. All scripture is for us and for our profit, but not all scripture is to us or about us, save for Paul’s letters.

  11. hilary Reply

    Mr Suren I prefer to listen to a Church Father that was taught by John himself said, than what ur protestant figure has confussed you with. U are the one that is taking the text out of context and misapplying it.
    2.Pls where is the original & Greek meaning of baptism used to mean naturally birth. U are just following John Calvin (once saved always saved)

  12. Theo Reply

    This article has profound Theology that needs exegetical eye when you read it. It has a deep sense of good Theology not cheap Theology.

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