Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 10, 1970
NUMBER 18, PAGE 8,9b

Questions And Answers

Send All Questions To: Eugene Britnell, P.O. Box 3012, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203

From Altus, Oklahoma:

"In the May 28 issue of the Guardian you answered seven questions concerning marriage, divorce and separations.

"You then summarized the teaching of the Bible concerning these three subjects and in your summary you began with the premise, 'Once two people are married in God's sight. .

"My question is this: Is it possible for two people to be married in man's sight and not be married in God's sight? And if so, then what constitutes marriage in the sight of God?

"Keep up the good work you are doing through this medium as well as your preaching."

In speaking of those who are married in God's sight, I had in mind those who are married with God's approval. I recognize that God is conscious of marital relationships which He does not approve.

No, I don't think that it is possible for two people to be married in man's sight without God's recognition of the relationship and their accountability to Him. Of course it is possible for people to be married in man's sight but without God's approval. By the statement "in God's sight," I meant those who comply with God's law and therefore are acceptable before Him.

What constitutes marriage? There are several requirements, such as love, desire, intent, legal compliance and cohabitation. If God approves, his will must be respected.

From Sonora, California:

"I am a constant reader of the Gospel Guardian. Last Sunday I heard a preaching brother say that 'water' in John 3:5 was the female factor in the new birth. Therefore, water is in the feminine gender. Is this true? Will the Greek bear him out in this? That argument was new to me, and I wonder about it. He also sighted [cited] John 14: 7-14 to show that the Holy Spirit is masculine which is true. We all accept that. Then, he said the 'water' was the female factor in the new birth. Please answer through the Guardian. It might be of interest to other readers."

While the brother probably taught the truth, I'm afraid that part of his argument will not hold water and I find no authority for some of his conclusions.

It is true that the Holy Spirit as a person is masculine and is thus referred to in the scriptures. The water of John 3:5 pertains to the new birth, and not to the physical one. However, to call water the "mother," as some have done, is pressing the figure to an absurdity.

In defining the word "water" (udatos), Joseph Henry Thayer gives the following information: "of the water in rivers, Matt. 3:16; of the water of the deluge, I Peter 3:20; of water as a primary element, out of and through which the world that was before the deluge arose and was compacted, 2 Peter 3:5." He then gives such passages as Heb. 10:22; Eph. 5:26; John 1:26, 31, 33 and Acts 1:5 and says, "in all these passages the water of baptism is intended." (Page 634) He also shows that the word is used, "Allegorically, that which refreshes and keeps alive the soul is likened to water, viz. the Spirit and truth of God, John 4:14."

For a birth, two things are necessary: (1) a begetting, and (2) a delivery, or coming forth. Whatever is born is first begotten (whether in the vegetable, animal or spiritual realm), and always through seed; later it is brought forth as a new creature. In the spiritual realm we are begotten of God, our Father, through the gospel (the Spirit's message); then, after having been begotten or made a believer, we are translated (immersed according to the teaching of the Spirit) and come forth from baptism to live a new life.

Paul referred to Christ as the "firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18). Christ was buried in the grave, and from it he came forth — hence, "born from the dead." He is the first to come from the grave to die no more, and is therefore "the FIRST-born from the dead." If to arise from the grave means to be born from the dead, then to arise from the water can mean "born of water."

To conclude that baptism is a part of the new birth is safe; to refer to the gender of water, or call it the "mother," is unnecessary.