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John 3 Verses 1 and 2
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

1. “a ruler of the Jews”

Most of us know that either Nicodemus was part of the Sanhedrin, or possibly a temple priest, and/or at the very least a well to do and respected member of the Pharisees.

2. “we know that thou art a teacher come from God”

I had not noticed this part of verse 2  in reading John 3 before. Particularly the “we know” of this verse. I looked at a couple of commentaries but, they don’t expound sufficiently on this detail to suit me. Also, I looked in the ISBE for greater detail about Nicodemus, still I was not satisfied. There was possibly more with Nicodemus and he was the primary thus “ruler” who spoke for them. Or at least they had discussed this at length when they came together during council meetings.

We have other scriptures which hint to the Sanhedrin and/or the Pharisees knowing Jesus was sent of God. John 9:16 and John 11:49-52 for example.

So, possibly several and maybe even many of the Pharisees did know or at least have a very good idea Jesus was either the Christ or a prophet sent by God. They either rejected him outright or feared the upset of the status quo. By status quo I mean the calm and freedom to practice their religion permitted by the Romans.

If the above conclusion is correct, then, (1) are Christians living in the U.S. much if any different than the Pharisees, Sadducees, and/or Sanhedrin? (2) Besides being blinded to the truth or any of the above are there other reasons the Jewish leadership would want to reject and kill Jesus?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I would only say that the whole conversation seems to indicate that it was a one on one conversation, so I am almost 100% positive that it was Jesus and Nicodemus alone, however, Nicodemus may have been a single representative of a group - there may have been a group of the Pharisees who sent Nicodemus as their representative with questions for the Lord.

Joh 7:47-52
(47)  Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
(48)  Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
(49)  But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
(50)  Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
(51)  Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
(52)  They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
 

At this time there were no public followers of the Lord among the Pharisees. They specifically ask the question in a rhetorical way, suggesting that only the unlearned were following Jesus at that time. They certainly did not know about Nicodemus' thoughts at that time, but maybe Nicodemus was not yet convinced, but still pondering.

So it is entirely possible that some of the Pharisees were believers, but not bold enough to speak up.

As to Nicodemus himself, we only him standing up for the Lord after the Cricifixion. That doesn't mean he wasn't saved sometime before that, but I think (WARNING: Personal opinion following) that when Nicodemus saw the Lord being "lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness", that the John 3 conversation came rushing back to him and it all made sense to him and he got saved then and there, at the foot of the cross. Then we see him making a very public statement by his actions.

 

And later in Acts there were "moderate" voices in the council:

Act 5:34-39
(34)  Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
(35)  And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
(36)  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
(37)  After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
(38)  And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
(39)  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
 

Are such voices those who are not yet bold enough to stand up clearly for the Lord, or those who are not yet saved, but pondering the things of the Lord? It is impossible to tell, but I think it indicates that at least there were those who were not 100% opposed to the Lord.

 

An interesting thing about this, is that this man Gamaliel was also the teacher of Saul.

Act 22:3
(3)  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

I have often wondered if it was the possibility of Gamaliel, his honoured teacher, becoming a follower of Jesus that helped to spur Saul on to his hatred of the followers of Jesus. 

 

As to your questions, I would only like to open up question 1 wider than the US.

Question 2 - I think there are many reasons why people today will not stand up for the Lord, and at least some of them would have been relevant to the Pharisees etc.

 

Just my thoughts.....

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