Reader Question: Is there a difference between being born again and being saved?

We received another excellent question on our Facebook page and wanted to share it with you.  This question was about the difference between being born again and being saved. Mark D. Taylor, CEO of Tyndale House Publishers and Director and Chief Stylist for the New Living Translation Bible Translation Committee, agreed to share his thoughts on this topic.

Question: “Is there a difference between being born again and being saved?”

Answer from Mark D. Taylor:

Good question! To find an answer, let’s look to the New Testament, where we find both terms.

In John 3:1-7 we read:

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’

Nicodemus thought Jesus was talking about a physical rebirth, but Jesus was talking about spiritual birth. We have all been born physically, but Jesus wants us to be born again, that is, to have a spiritual birth.

The Greek word that is translated “born again” is also found in 1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. . . .

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

Peter, who had been one of Jesus’ disciples, is saying that all who believe in Jesus as the Son of God have been born again.

The word “saved” is found many times in the New Testament. Let’s look at two examples in Acts 16:25-31, where we read about Paul and Silas having been imprisoned in Philippi:

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”

We can see from these sets of passages that being “born again” is the same as “being saved.” Both terms refer to the spiritual process of being accepted into God’s family.

If you have a question let us know in the comments or reach out on our social media pages. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We will try to answer some here on the blog.

10 thoughts on “Reader Question: Is there a difference between being born again and being saved?

  1. Hello! I am not trying to disputed the above article but trying to understand the scriptures. My question: Doesn’t the term “Born Again” pertain to the Jews and “Saved” term belong to gentiles? It seems like this pattern is underlying in the scriptures. Just trying to clarify the Truth in scriptures. Thank you very much in advance.

    1. Dennis, the terms “born again” and “saved” can be used interchangeably in English, just as the underlying Greek terms in the New Testament are used to mean the same thing. In the passages from 1 Peter (quoted above), Peter is writing to believers in regions of what is now Turkey, and the tone and content of his letter suggest that his audience was comprised of both Jewish and Gentile believers. So his term “born again” applies to both Jews and Gentiles. Similarly, the Greek word for “saved” (which is used 107 times in the New Testament) applies to both Jews and Gentiles. For example, Jesus uses it for Jews (e.g., Matt. 19:25; Luke 7:50), and the same term is used for Cornelius (Acts 11:14), who was a Gentile.

  2. Does that mean then being saved is to receive the Holy Spirit?and when the man replied that he had only received the baptism of John and had not heard of the baptism of the Hou spirit what’s the difference?

    1. Thank you for your question! I have reached out to Mark Taylor for a response and will post it as soon as I hear back. Thanks again!

    2. Carl, in Acts 19:1-7 we read about believers (literally, disciples) in Ephesus who had been baptized, probably by Apollos, a Jewish convert. We read in Acts 18:25 that Apollos “knew only about John’s baptism.” For background on “John’s baptism,” we can look at Luke 3:3, where we read, “John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.” John told the people who came to hear him preach, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). So John’s baptism anticipated the ministry of Jesus, but John’s own ministry was carried out before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit.

      The New Testament assumes that believers in Jesus have also received the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by Paul’s question to the Ephesian believers: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Their response that they had been baptized with “the baptism of John” suggests that they were not yet fully believers in Jesus. They had repented of their sins (as taught by John), but maybe they did not even know about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. “As soon as they heard [about Jesus], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5-6).

      For us today, we receive the Holy Spirit when we become believers in Jesus. Various churches have different interpretations as to whether believers must also be physically baptized, and there are various understandings of what it means to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5; 11:16). Paul assumes that all true believers have received the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is shown in their lives (Gal. 5:22-26).

  3. When we are born physically we have feet and legs, but don’t know how to walk, we have hands, but don’t know how to use them, we have a mouth. but don’t know how to talk. All these things come with teaching and time. Just like being born again. We are new creatures in Christ we must insure that the new Christians are receiving what they need from God’s word in order to develop into a productive christian to further enhance God’s plan of love and salvation that is available to all.

  4. Bless God for an article as this because I did have problem with comprehending the meaning of both. But then, I believe emphasis should be made on being born again as a life that must be lived. The born again life is not a dormant one but one that need to be deliberately activated through the help of the Holy spirit in us. I once solely based my conviction on being saved by faith but each time I look at my life I was tempted to ask if truly I’ve been save or rather born again because there was no difference between when I accepted Jesus as Lord and saviour and when I haven’t. But when I began to look at the emphasis of Christ Jesus on the need to be born again which is a different form of life that only comes from him, then I began to see a little difference in the saved life and the being born again life.

  5. In order to distinguish who are saved or born-again, we really need to put emphasis on the word TRUE BELIEVER:
    Before I expound on this, I would like to ask a few questions concerning believing:
    1. Is every one who is a member of the Church is Saved, based on them confessing they believe?
    2. Therefore, do we think every one of them are going to heaven?
    3. What is the diff btwn believing and having Faith?
    Now, if we leave being saved to just believing Jesus as the Son of God, then everyone goes to heaven because Satan himself believes. Therefore, we must translate this believing to Faith because it sanctifies and distinguishes the TRUE believer from the believer.
    Compelling Ministries

    1. J. Wheeler: Good question about church membership. The New Testament makes several references to “the church” (Greek ekklesia), but it gives us no guidance as to what constitutes “church membership.” Obviously there are many different perspectives today as to how one becomes a member of a local church. And it seems clear to me that many church members are not really believers. So no, not everyone who is a church member is saved.
      I don’t think anyone apart from God can really know who is going to heaven. But I like your use of the word “sanctifies,” which refers to a process of becoming holy or growing in one’s relationship with God. It is incumbent on all believers to submit themselves to God and ask him to work in their lives. Paul’s instruction in Romans 12:2 is very pertinent: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

  6. I feel being born again is a prerequisite to being saved..if we ask ourselves, what is it do we get saved from…it’s from God’s judgement. To avoid this we need to change our ways –to be born again and become new creatures in our thoughts our believes and our actions

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