I thank thee, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the
THE QUESTION (#66)
When were the first disciples begotten from above? Was it possible for the disciples to be begotten from the Father before Jesus' death on the cross?
When (and how) does anyone become begotten from above?
Jn.5:24 Truly truly I say to you that the [one] hearing my word and believing the [one] having sent me has eternal zoe-life , and does not come into judgment, but is moved out of death into zoe-life.
Zoe is the life of the Living God -- of the Father -- and He imparts it to us through the Word, through hearing and believing. When anyone receives that life - zoe - that one is begotten from above. This means hearing and both believing and understanding the Word. For example, if he spoke the Word in Aramaic to persons that only understood Greek, they would hear but would not understand and could not believe. Likewise, if he spoke to them in Greek so that they understood the words, but yet failed to grasp what he meant due to different meanings in different contexts, they still would not believe and so would not be begotten from above. The Lord's message was about the kingdom of God and, due to long exposure in Israel to the hope of having the David monarchy restored in Jerusalem as it had been of old, that is how his disciples continued to understand it even on the day of the Lord's ascension, as implied here:
It seems questionable, therefore, that they believed on the day he was taken up, because it is questionable that they understood.
Ac.1:6 Indeed therefore, having gathered, they were asking him saying: Lord, do you restore in this time the kingdom to Israel?
It is not possible to pinpoint the moment when the apostles were begotten from above. Perhaps it was different for each one. They heard the Word, but clearly did not understand it, even when he departed and ascended to the Father: It was only at that point that he "opened their minds" so that they could begin to understand.
Lk.24:44 So he said to them: these [are] my words that I spoke to you while yet being with you, because it is necessary all the [things] written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning me be fulfilled. 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said to them that: It is likewise written that the Christ suffer and arise from [the] dead on the third day, 47 and [that] repentance for forgiveness of sins be preached upon his name to all the nations - beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You [are] witnesses of these [things]. 49 And behold I send out the good news of the father upon you. But you remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.When he ascended to the Father, they yet had no comprehension of the Gospel! That would come to them only after the Holy Spirit came to remind them of all of his Words from the Father and to instruct them on their meaning -- which takes time. You may have noticed that he was still addressing Peter as "Son of Jonas" (Jn.21:15,16,17) after his resurrection? This suggests that even at that time, Peter was not yet a son of the Father. Opening their minds to understand the scriptures does not mean that they immediately understood. The Fourth Gospel, written a generation later, represents their developed view of the Word of Truth after they had been instructed by the Holy Spirit and understood it, not when the Lord departed to the Father.
Yet there were words from the Lord to suggest strongly that they had been begotten from above while he was with them. He told them that they were all brethren -- which would only mean that they were all begotten sons of the Father. The Lord was confident of their endurance in the Word and spoke of them as being sons of the Father, even though that may not yet have become a fact. It would have been provisional, depending on their perseverance, which in his mind was certain. Then we have this enigmatic statement:
Jn.20:19 Jesus came and stood in their midst, and says to them: Peace to you. 20 And having said this he also showed his hands and his side to them. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again: Peace to you. Just as the father sent me, I also send you. 22 And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them: Receive [the] Holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven to them; whose you judge, they will be judged.In the same context, we have this:
Jn.20:17 Jesus says to her: Be not touching me, for I am not yet gone up to the father. But be going to my brothers and tell them, I go up to my father and your father and my God and your God.He considered them to be "my brothers", and his Father to be their Father!
Now examine vs. 22 again
And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them: Receive [the] Holy Spirit.
Compare with Genesis 2:7,
And God shaped the man, from the earth. And he breathed into
his face breath of life, and [became man] a soul living].
The Greek verb to breath, from both John 20:22 and Genesis 2:7 (Septuagint) is emphusao, which means to breath into, as when one inflates a bag by blowing into it. The similarity is obvious, according to which God breathed into Adam to produce zoe-life within him, and the Lord Jesus breathed into the disciples, to produce the Holy Spirit within them.
What was in the Lord's mind when he did this?
Was he deliberately following the pattern in Genesis, taking psuche-living men and breathing into them the breath of zoe-life, as God had enlivened Adam with zoe-life, constituting a second begetting of zoe-living sons of the zoe-living God?
If so, was this the point at which they were begotten from above, in answer to your question? Very doubtful, because the Lord has made receiving the Word (hearing and believing) the basis for receiving zoe-life (Jn.5:24) and therefore for being begotten from above.
There is need here for more Light, as you can see!
Finally, why do we need to know when the apostles were born from above? The Lord has taught how it comes to pass, and our only real concern is when we are begotten from above!