A Very Dangerous Bible Commentary on John 1:12–13
Several recent writings here have ended with a reference to John 1:12-13 without any real commentary. Perhaps if you’ve been following along you’ve wondered, “Where’s the very dangerous commentary?”
Well, this is it. For you, this may be a yawn and a click or swipe to the next item, and I get that. I really do. I’m not trying to convince anyone I’m right about anything. Here is the main idea of what I think this passage means to me.
Jesus entered my world the same way I entered His world…by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember this commentary is dangerous only for me. I’m not trying to convince anyone I’m right about anything. I only want to see what God’s Word is saying to me and what that means for me in my thoughts and actions. The dangerous part for me is giving up old ways.
Here is the text of John 1:12-13 in the King James.
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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
The “Who” and “What People Did”
But as many as received him…even to them that believe on his name
It’s important to realize that the words “as many as received him” refers to the Jewish people while Jesus walked among them. (The preceding verses tell about how Jesus came to his own people.) This. Is also not the same “receive” as when we hear some use the wording “receive Jesus into your heart.” 
To me, this points to two groups: the Jews and the Gentiles. It’s very much like when the Israelites (the Jews) left captivity in Egypt. There was a mixed multitude (the Gentiles) following along with them. Some even officially joined the Israelites once the Law was given. So really what comes next applies to anyone: the Jewish people who would have received Him as one of their own or the Gentile people who would have believed on His name.
God is saying, “I don’t care if you were born into my old special group or did all of the requirements to join my old special group. Those things don’t matter any more.”
So I need to stop looking at where people came from and how they were born. I need to stop looking at whatever groups people were naturally born into (outside of their control). I need to stop looking at whatever groups people chose for themselves (within their control). There is going to be only one group that God sees any more.
Saying “I was born this way” doesn’t get you anything. Think about that when it comes to being straight or gay.
Saying “I made myself like these other favored people” doesn’t get you anything either. Think about that when it comes to being Catholic or Protestant, a Conservative Christian or a Progressive Christian…or regarding gay conversion therapy.
The “What God Did”
to them gave he power…to become the sons of God
Power is a great thing, and I appreciate that this power is not something that I have to generate myself. Once I read this as “power to become but only to become…you might mess it up if you aren’t careful.” That is looking at God’s power as it it was my power, but if it comes from God, then like everything else coming from God, it will be successful.
God is saying, “I’m going to give you power to become my children, and my power accomplishes what I want. What I want is for you to be My child. I’m making a new special group. They are going to be My Children, not the children of Abraham, not the children of Israel. My Children. There are no more Insiders. There are no more Outsiders. There are no more families or tribes or nations. There is only My Children.”
So I need to stop seeing divisions, don’t I? And maybe I need to realize God isn’t going to change everything about the people I disagree with just the same as He isn’t going to change everything about me?
The “How God Did NOT Do It”
Without these “NOT’s,” it can be easy to misunderstand what that whole “power to become” is all about.
not of blood
God is saying, “My Children aren’t going to be about what you’re like on the outside or what you’re like on the inside. Your DNA when you were physically born does not matter at all. It’s all in what I’m going to do. How you were born on the outside or the inside makes no difference to Me. I’m giving you My Spiritual DNA. When you see Me, you will say, ‘That’s My Daddy!’ because that’s a part of your spiritual DNA.”
nor of the will of the flesh
God is saying, “You can’t become one of My Children by making yourself one, no matter how hard you try. There are no special words you can say and no special acts you can perform to make yourself one of My Children. It’s all in what I am going to do. What you decide to make yourself or not make yourself makes no difference to me.”
nor of the will of man
God is saying, “You can’t become one of My Children because someone else made you one or forced you to say some special words or do some special acts. It’s all in what I am going to do. What someone else forces you to do makes no difference to me.”
I can’t boast about being part of any religious group with all of the right answers. (Is there is such a group?) I can’t boast about anything. Nothing I choose to be or not be, nothing I choose to do or not do makes a difference when it comes to being God’s Child.
The “How God Did It”
Which were born…of God.
God is saying, “This is going to be My doing from beginning to end. This world is a womb for who you will become as my child. You have been conceived by my Spirit, just as Jesus was conceived by my Spirit. My Word is the seed. My word does not return to Me void. It will accomplish my will. My will is for you to be My Child. I will make you stand. I will complete the good I have started in you. I will relentlessly love you.”
What This Radical View Of Life Means To Me
Jesus was conceived into the physical world…by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35)
This is exactly the same way you were conceived into the spiritual word…by the Holy Spirit. (John 3:6-8)
Jesus was a creation of God within the womb of Mary. He moved from the spiritual world to the physical world by the power and working of the Holy Spirit. We are a creation of God within the womb of this world. We moved from the physical world to the spiritual world by the power and working of the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus and through the Cross Of Christ, both and all worlds meet.
Footnotes and other not necessarily important items…
 For many people, the King James Version seems outdated. I choose to use it here for one main reason: it is the version used most often…and wrongly…to clobber people.
 The concept of “asking Jesus into your heart” (or “inviting” or “receiving”) is one I’ve heard from an early age, yet I’m finding little to support this in the Bible. The concern I have is how these words make it appear that a person is in control of God’s actions in their own life.
 This includes those who would say “At least I’m not gay.” If someone was born straight, how is that something to brag about? We are not born with righteousness.
Because I’ve recently come to see the first portion of John’s Gospel (John 1:1–18) as a different kind of Annunciation passage, I have paired it with a contemporary painting of the Annunciation by John Collier.
If you are interesting in learning more about this painting from the artist himself, watch this video.