From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

A ruler of the Jews, a master ("teacher") of Israel, and a Pharisee. John ( John 3:1-10) alone mentions him. John knew the high priest ( John 18:15), so his knowledge of Nicodemus among the high priest's associates is natural. John watched with deep interest his growth in grace, which is marked in three stages ( Mark 4:26-29).

(1) An anxious inquirer. The rich were ashamed to confess Jesus openly, in spite of convictions of the reality of His mission; so Joseph of Arimathea "a disciple, but secretly for fear of the Jews" ( John 19:38). The poor "came" by day, but Nicodemus "by night." By an undesigned coincidence marking genuineness, Jesus' discourse is tinged, as was His custom ( John 6:26-27;  John 4:7-14;  John 4:35), with a coloring drawn from the incidents of the moment: cf6 "this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light", etc.; cf6 "every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light ... but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God" ( John 3:19-21). Nicodemus was now a timid but candid inquirer; sincere so far as his belief extended. Fear of man holds back many from decision for Christ ( John 7:13;  John 9:22;  John 12:42-43;  John 5:44;  Proverbs 29:25; contrast  Isaiah 51:7-8;  Isaiah 66:5;  Acts 5:41).

Where real grace is, however, Jesus does "not quench the smoking flax." Many of Nicodemus' fellow rulers attributed Jesus' miracles to Beelzebub; Nicodemus on the contrary avows " we (including others besides himself) know Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles which Thou doest, except God be with him." Nicodemus was probably one of the many who had "seen His miracles on the Passover feast day, and believed (in a superficial way, but in Nicodemus it ultimately became a deep and lasting faith) when they saw" ( John 2:23-24); but "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them ... for He knew what was in man," as He shows now in dealing with Nicodemus. Recognition of the divine miracle. working Teacher is not enough for seeing the kingdom of God, Jesus with a twice repeated Amen solemnly declares; there must be new birth from above (margin  John 3:3;  John 3:5;  John 3:7), "of water (the outward sign) and of the Spirit" (The Essential Thing, Not Inseparably Joined To The Water Baptism:  Mark 16:16 ;  Acts 2:38 (See Baptism ) ) , so that, as an infant just born, the person is a "new creature"; compare Naaman the type,  2 Kings 5:14;  2 Corinthians 5:17;  Ezekiel 36:25-26.

For, being fleshly by birth, we must continue fleshly until being born of the Spirit we become spiritual ( John 3:6). Nature can no more east out nature than Satan cast out Satan. Like the mysterious growth of the child in the womb, and like "the wind" whose motions we cannot control but know only its effects, "the sound," etc., so is the new birth ( John 3:8;  Ecclesiastes 11:5;  1 Corinthians 2:11). Such was the beginning and growth of the new life in Nicodemus ( Mark 4:27). Regeneration and its fruits are inseparable; where that is, these are ( 1 John 3:9;  1 John 5:1;  1 John 5:4). Nicodemus viewed Jesus' solemn declaration as a natural man, "how can these things be?" ( John 3:4;  John 3:9; compare  John 6:52;  John 6:60;  1 Corinthians 2:14). Yet he was genuinely open to conviction, for Christ unfolds to him fully His own divine glory as having "come down from heaven," and as even then while speaking to him "being in heaven" in His divine nature; also God's love in giving His Son, and salvation through the Son who should be lifted up, as the brazen serpent was, to all who look to Him in faith, and condemnation to unbelievers.

(2) A sincere but as yet weak believer. The next stage in Nicodemus' spiritual history appears  John 7:45-53. Naturally timid, Nicodemus nevertheless remonstrates with bigots. The Pharisees, chagrined at the failure of their officers to apprehend Jesus, said, "why have ye not brought Him?" They replied, "never man spoke like this man." The Pharisees retorted, "are ye also deceived? surely none of the rulers or the Pharisees have believed on Him, have they? (Greek) But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed." Here one who, as they thought, should have stood by them and echoed their language, ventures to cast a doubt on their proceedings: "doth our law judge any before it hear him and know what he doeth?" (compare  Leviticus 19:15;  Exodus 23:1). Indignantly they ask, "art thou also of Galilee? ... out of Galilee hath arisen (Greek) no prophet." Spite made them to ignore Jonah and Nahum. John marks the spiritual advance in Nicodemus by contrasting his first coming "by night" ( John 7:50). He now virtually confesses Jesus, though in actual expression all he demands is fair play for an injured Person. As before he was an anxious inquirer, so now he is a decided though timid believer.

(3) The third stage is ( John 19:39) when he appears as a bold and strong believer, the same Nicodemus (As John Again Reminds Us) as "came at the first to Jesus by night." When even the twelve shrank from the danger to be apprehended from the mob who had clamored for Jesus' crucifixion, and whose appetite for blood might not yet be sated, and when Christ's cause seemed hopeless, the once timid Nicodemus shows extraordinary courage and faith Christ's crucifixion, which shook the faith of others, only confirms his. He remembers now Jesus had said He "must be lifted up," like the brazen "serpent," that all believers in Him might have eternal life. So Nicodemus had the honour of wrapping His sacred body in linen with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes, in company, with Joseph of Arimathea.

Christ's resurrection richly rewarded the faith of him who stumbled not at His humiliation. Compare on the spiritual lesson  Matthew 12:20;  Zechariah 4:10;  Proverbs 4:18. Like Mary who "anointed Christ's body to the burying," "what Nicodemus did is and shall be spoken of for a memorial of him wheresoever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world." Where real desire after the Saviour exists, it will in the end overcome the evil of the heart, and make a man strong in faith through the Holy Spirit. The Talmud tells of a Nicodemus ben Gorion who lived until the fall of Jerusalem, a Pharisee, wealthy, pious, and of the Sanhedrin; bearing originally a name borne by one of the five rabbinical disciples of Christ (Taanith, f. 19, Sanhedrin f. 43); and that his family fell into squalid poverty.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

NICODEMUS. —One of the persons mentioned only in the Fourth Gospel. He is described as a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews. He had an interview with Jesus by night ( John 3:1 ff.); and though he did not become an avowed disciple, he protested in the Sanhedrin against the hasty condemnation of Jesus ( John 7:50 f.); and after the Crucifixion he brought spices to embalm the body of the Lord ( John 19:39).

The name Nicodemus is Greek (from νίκη and δῆμος—‘conqueror of the people’). Josephus ( Ant. xiv. iii. 2) gives Nicodemus as the name of an ambassador from Aristobulus to Pompey. In the Talmud we have the form נַקְדִּימו̇ן as the name given to a certain Bunai ben Gorion, because, it is said, of a miraculous answer to his prayer. This hen Gorion was a rich man, and is reported to have spent a vast sum on the marriage of his daughter, who afterwards sank into abject poverty. He appears to have had charge of the supply of water to the pilgrims at Jerusalem; and he was accused of being a Christian. Some have identified this man with the Nicodemus of the Gospel; but the positive grounds of identification are insufficient; and there is the negative consideration that ben Gorion is spoken of as living till the siege of Jerusalem, whereas Nicodemus, already in John 3 an elderly man (γέρων,  John 3:4), could hardly have survived to so late a period. Some writers, who regard the Fourth Gospel as un-historical, suggest that our Nicodemus is simply a typical character, constructed by the Evangelist from the traditions of ben Gorion, with the aid of the Synoptic references to Joseph of Arimathaea. Thus E. [Note: Elohist.] A. Abbott ( Ency. Bib. art. ‘Nicodemus’) says: ‘Nicodemon ben Gorion passes into the Gospel under the shadow of Joseph of Arimathaea’; and speaks of ‘a conflate development of Joseph into two persons.’ He says that N. ben Gorion was one of three or four who were sometimes called βουλευταί, ‘rich men,’ ‘great men of the city,’ and suggests that as an official provider of water he was an appropriate character for a dialogue on regeneration, He concludes that Nicodemus is ‘a Johannine conception representing the liberal, moderate, and well-meaning Pharisee, whose fate it was to be crushed out of existence in the conflict between Judaism and its Roman and Christian adversaries.’ This reconstruction can hardly be persuasive except to those who on other grounds have already judged the Fourth Gospel to be without historic value. The general discussion goes beyond the limit of this article. It is enough to say here that there is nothing in what is related of Nicodemus, or in the circumstances of his connexion with Jesus, which is in itself improbable, or out of harmony with what we are told elsewhere. It is altogether probable that some men of the upper classes and of the Pharisees would be attracted by the personality and teaching of Jesus, and that they would seek with varying degrees of caution to know more of Him. To a certain extent the Synoptics confirm this (cf.  Luke 7:36;  Luke 8:3;  Luke 19:5). We may add that the personality of Nicodemus stands out clearly in spite of the brevity of the reference to him. The protest in the Sanhedrin shows the same blending of courage with caution as the interview by night. There was a sufficient sense of truth and justice, and of personal interest in Jesus, to enable him to risk the anger of the majority by a protest, but enough of caution or timidity to put the protest into an indirect and tentative form rather than into a bold defence of the Master. The personality of Nicodemus and the conduct ascribed to him do not weaken the case for the historic credibility of the Evangelist.

It has been urged with some measure of plausibility that the conversation in John 3 bears the marks of artificial construction. It is said that it is really a brief sermon by the Evangelist, and follows the regular plan of the Johannine discourses:—a pregnant saying by the Master; a remark by an interlocutor who misunderstands the text by taking it literally and not spiritually; then a further exposition by the speaker: the whole being ‘a thoroughly artificial construction on a set plan’ (Gardner, A Historic View of the NT , sec. vi.). There is a very general agreement that the discourses in the Fourth Gospel owe something of their form to the Evangelist. Differences of opinion on that point are almost entirely confined to the question of the extent to which the writer has gone in condensing or re-shaping the Master’s utterances. Without surrendering the conviction that we have a faithful report of the substance of a real conversation, we may readily admit that the Evangelist has put his material into the form which seemed best fitted to make the truth clear to his readers. He is, we may suppose, chiefly interested in Nicodemus ‘as instrumental in eliciting from Jesus’ the sayings which he records. But this does not make Nicodemus a mere lay figure, and his questions mere ‘rhetorical artifice.’

Dr. Gardner says of the question in  John 3:4 : ‘such crassness is scarcely in human nature.’ Yet when we give due weight to the prejudices of a Pharisee and allow for the deadening effect of respectable religious legalism, it is not hard to understand the sheer bewilderment of Nicodemus at the idea that he—no Gentile, no publican—needed to be born anew. How common it is for men of such a type to be utterly unable to understand even an elementary spiritual truth, if it cuts across their conventions and challenges their privileges. Nicodemus did not at all suppose that a second physical birth was meant. He was simply unable to conceive what kind of new birth could be needed by one who was already a Jew and a keeper of the Law. His questions are simply his bewilderment beating the air.

The last reference to Nicodemus ( John 19:39) appears to show greater boldness and a more definite discipleship on his part. His gift of spices was certainly an expression of respect and reverence for the Master, and its amount is the lavish gift of a rich man. Whether it expressed faith in the Messiahship of the Crucified, ‘the Saviour typified by the brazen serpent which Jesus had explained to him beforehand ( John 3:14)’ (Godet), is less certain. Nicodemus may have regarded Jesus simply as a martyred teacher, whose cause had perished, but who deserved to be held in loving memory. He could hardly at that moment have anticipated the Resurrection. He may even have been encouraged to bring his gift by the thought that Jesus dead was no longer feared by the authorities, and that it was no longer a serious risk to show respect to His name.

Christian tradition records many legends of Nicodemus, and his name is associated with one of the Apocryphal Gospels; but nothing further is recorded that has any historical value.

Literature.—Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Nicodemus’; Edersheim, Life and Times , i. 381; W. Boyd Carpenter, Son of Man , 185; W. M. Clow, In the Day of the Cross , 279; A. B. Davidson, The Called of God , 247; G. Matheson, Representative Men of the N.T. 115; Expos. Times , iv. (1893) 382, 478, 527, xii. (1901) 210, 307, xiv. (1903) 194; J. Reid, Jesus and Nicodemus (1906).

E. H. Titchmarsh.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

A well known name in the gospel, compounded, it should seem, of Nake, innocent—and Dam, blood. We have abundant reason to bless the Holy Ghost, in causing to be recorded that memorable conversation, as well as the character of Nicodemus manifested in it, that took place between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, as given at large  John 3How blessed the light thereby thrown upon that most important doctrine of regeneration, and which Jesus declares to be indispensably necessary for an entrance into the kingdom of God. And it is blessed to trace the effects of this glorious work of God the Holy Ghost upon the heart of Nicodemus himself. When he first came to Christ it was by night. Some impressions, no doubt, of the Spirit had been wrought upon his mind, or he would not have sought after Jesus; but his views were so dark and indistinct, that when Jesus opened to him the doctrine of regeneration, he thought it an impossible thing. The next account we have of him is  John 7:50. where he ventures in open day-light to stand up for Christ before the whole council, and got himself no small contempt upon the occasion. By the time the Lord Jesus had finished his redemption-work on the cross, we find Nicodemus so advanced in the divine life and his love to Christ, that, in company with Joseph of Arimathea, he went boldly unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. (See  Luke 23:51-52 with  John 19:38-39) It is very blessed thus to trace the progress of grace, and to prove the truth of that sweet Scripture, "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto a perfect day." ( Proverbs 4:18)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

NICODEMUS. A Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (  John 3:1;   John 7:50 ), elderly (  John 3:4 ) and evidently well-to-do (  John 19:39 ). He is mentioned only in the Fourth Gospel, and there he figures thrice. (1) At the outset of His ministry Jesus went up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of the Passover, and His miracles made a deep impression on Nicodemus, half persuading him that He was the Messiah; insomuch that he interviewed Him secretly under cover of the darkness (  John 3:1-21 ). He began by raising the question of the miracles, which, he allowed, proved Jesus at the least a God-commissioned teacher; but Jesus interrupted him and set him face to face with the urgent and personal matter of regeneration. Nicodemus went away bewildered, but a seed had been planted in his soul. (2) During the third year of His ministry, Jesus went up to the Feast of Tabernacles (October). The rulers were now His avowed enemies, and they convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin to devise measures against Him (  John 7:45-52 ). Nicodemus was present, and, a disciple at heart but afraid to avow his faith, he merely raised a point of order: ‘Doth our law judge a man, except it first hear himself and know what he doeth?’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). (3) At the meeting of the Sanhedrin which condemned Jesus to death Nicodemus made no protest; probably he absented himself. But after the Crucifixion, ashamed of his cowardice, he at last avowed himself and joined with Joseph of Arimathæa in giving the Lord’s body a kingly burial (  John 19:39 ).

David Smith.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

 John 3:1 John 3:10 John 3:2 John 3:2 John 3:3 John 3:5 John 3:4 3:9

True to his name, Nicodemus defended Christ before his peers ( John 7:51 ) who were unaware that one of their number might have believed in Him ( John 7:48 ). Their response is a twofold rebuke which may be paraphrased “Are you a Galilean peasant?” and “Are you ignorant of the Scriptures?” ( John 7:52 ).

The reference to Nicodemus' initial coming at night highlights his later public participation in Jesus' burial ( John 19:39-41 ). Nicodemus' contribution was enough aloes and spices to prepare a king for burial, and so he did. On one level, the burial was a simple act of Pharisaic piety (compare  Tobit 1:17 ). On a deeper level, it recognized that in His suffering and death, Christ fulfilled His role as King of the Jews.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

Most of the Jewish leaders arrogantly rejected Jesus’ teaching, but Nicodemus had a sincere desire to know the truth. He was a respected Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Council, or Sanhedrin ( John 3:1;  John 7:50), but he was also willing to admit that Jesus’ miracles showed that God was with him ( John 3:2; cf.  John 2:23-25).

At first Nicodemus had difficulty understanding Jesus’ figurative teaching concerning the new birth ( John 3:3-10), but he did not dismiss the teaching. He showed courage in opposing the prejudice of his fellow councillors against Jesus, and suggested that at least they ought to give Jesus a fair hearing ( John 7:48-52).

When the Sanhedrin finally condemned Jesus to crucifixion, Nicodemus and at least one other member disagreed with the decision. That man was Joseph of Arimathea. He and Nicodemus showed publicly that they were followers of Jesus by taking his body down from the cross and giving him an honourable burial ( Luke 23:50-53;  John 19:38-42).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

One of the Pharisees and a teacher in Israel. He came to the Lord by night for instruction, and was greatly astonished to find that, instead of instruction, he needed to be born again. See NEW Birth To this the Lord added that the Son of man must be lifted up: sin must be condemned, and the Son of God be given in love, in order that whosoever believeth in Him should have everlasting life: that is, heavenly blessings in new creation. Nicodemus afterwards grew bolder, and suggested in the council that the Lord ought to be heard, and His acts examined before He was condemned. The last we read of Nicodemus is that after the crucifixion he brought about a hundred pounds' weight of myrrh and aloes to embalm the Lord's body.  John 3:1-9;  John 7:50;  John 19:39 . This last act was a tacit acknowledgement of his attachment to the One to whom he had come for instruction, but who had spoken to him of God's love, and of heavenly blessings through the Son of man lifted up, and whom he had attempted to defend in the council.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

A member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, at first a Pharisee, and afterwards a disciple of Jesus. He was early convinced that Christ came from God, but was not ready at once to rank himself among His followers. In  John 3:1-20 , he first appears as a timid inquirer after the truth, learning the great doctrines of regeneration and atonement. In  John 7:45-52 , we see him cautiously defending the Savior before the Sanhedrin. At last, in the trying scene of the crucifixion, he avowed himself a believer, and came with Joseph of Arimathea to pay the last duties to the body of Christ, which they took down from the cross, embalmed, and laid in the sepulchre,  John 19:39 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Nicodemus ( Nĭk-O-Dç'Mus ), Conqueror Of The People. A Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, and a teacher of Israel,  John 3:1;  John 3:10, whose secret visit to our Lord was the occasion of the discourse recorded only by John. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, and finally became a follower of Christ, and came with Joseph of Arimathæa to take down and embalm the body of Jesus.  John 7:50;  John 19:39.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

Nicode'mus. (Conqueror Of The People). A Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews and a teacher of Israel,  John 3:1;  John 3:10, whose secret visit to our Lord was the occasion of the discourse, recorded only by St. John. In Nicodemus, a noble candor and a simple love of truth shine out, in the midst of hesitation and fear of man. He finally became a follower of Christ , and came with Joseph, of Arimathaea, to take down and embalm the body of Jesus .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [11]

a disciple of Jesus Christ, a Jew by nation, and a Pharisee,  John 3:1 , &c. At the time when the priests and Pharisees had sent officers to seize Jesus, Nicodemus declared himself openly in his favour,  John 7:45 , &c; and still more so when he went with Joseph of Arimathea to pay the last duties to his body, which they took down from the cross, embalmed, and laid in a sepulchre.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 John 3:1-21 John 19:39

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

nik - - dē´mus ( Νικόδημος , Nikódēmos ): A P harisee and a "ruler of the Jews," mentioned only by John. He (1) interviewed Christ at Jerusalem and was taught by Him the doctrine of the New Birth ( John 3:1-15 ), (2) defended Him before the Sanhedrin ( John 7:50-52 ), and (3) assisted at His burial ( John 19:39-42 ).

1. The Interview:

This meeting, which it has been surmised took place in the house of John ( John 3:1-15 ), was one of the results of our Lord's ministry at Jerusalem during the first Passover (compare  John 3:2 with   John 2:23 ). Although Nicodemus had been thus won to believe in the divine nature of Christ's mission, his faith was yet very incomplete in that he believed Him to be inspired only after the fashion of the Old Testament prophets. To this faint-hearted faith corresponded his timidity of action, which displayed itself in his coming "by night," lest he should offend his colleagues in the Sanhedrin and the other hostile Jews ( John 3:2 ). In answer to the veiled question which the words of Nicodemus implied, and to convince him of the inadequacy of mere intellectual belief, Christ proclaimed to him the necessity for a spiritual regeneration: "Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" ( John 3:3 ). This was interpreted by Nicodemus only in its materialistic sense, and therefore caused him bewilderment and confusion ( John 3:4 ). But Christ, as on another occasion when dealing with His questioners on a similar point of doctrine (compare  John 6:52 ,  John 6:53 ), answered his perplexity only by repeating His previous statement ( John 3:5 ). He then proceeded to give further explanation. The re-birth is not outward but inward, it is not of the body but of the soul ( John 3:6 ). Just as God is the real agent in the birth of the body, so also is He the Creator of the New Spirit; and just as no one knoweth whence cometh the wind, or "whither it goeth," yet all can feel its effects who come under its influence, so is it with the rebirth. Only those who have experienced it as a change in themselves, wrought by the Divine Power, are qualified to judge either of its reality or of its effects ( John 3:7 ,  John 3:8 ). But Nicodemus, since such experience had not yet been his, remained still unenlightened ( John 3:9 ). Christ therefore condemned such blindness in one who yet professed to be a teacher of spiritual things ( John 3:10 ), and emphasized the reality in His own life of those truths which He had been expounding ( John 3:11 ). With this, Christ returned to the problem underlying the first statement of Nicodemus. If Nicodemus cannot believe in "earthly things," i.e. in the New Birth, which, though coming from above, is yet realized in this world, how can he hope to understand "heavenly things," i.e. the deeper mysteries of God's purpose in sending Christ into the world ( John 3:12 ), of Christ's Divine sonship ( John 3:13 ), of His relationship to the atonement and the salvation of man ( John 3:14 ), and of how a living acceptance of and feeding upon Him is in itself Divine life ( John 3:15; compare Jn 6:25-65)?

2. The Defense:

The above interview, though apparently fruitless at the time, was not without its effect upon Nicodemus. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Sanhedrin was enraged at Christ's proclamation of Himself as the "living water" ( John 7:37 ,  John 7:38 ), Nicodemus was emboldened to stand up in His defense. Yet here also he showed his natural timidity. He made no personal testimony of his faith in Christ, but sought rather to defend Him on a point of Jewish law ( John 7:50-52; compare  Exodus 23:1;  Deuteronomy 1:16 ,  Deuteronomy 1:17;  Deuteronomy 17:6;  Deuteronomy 19:15 ).

3. The Burial:

By this open act of reverence Nicodemus at last made public profession of his being of the following of Christ. His wealth enabled him to provide the "mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds," with which the body of Jesus was embalmed ( John 19:39 ff).

The Gospel of Nicodemus and other apocryphal works narrate that Nicodemus gave evidence in favor of Christ at the trial before Pilate, that he was deprived of office and banished from Jerusalem by the hostile Jews, and that he was baptized by Peter and John. His remains were said to have been found in a common grave along with those of Gamaliel and Stephen.

Nicodemus is a type of the "well-instructed and thoughtful Jew who looked for the consummation of national hope to follow in the line along which he had himself gone, as being a continuation and not a new beginning" (Westcott). The manner in which the Gospel narrative traces the overcoming of his natural timidity and reluctant faith is in itself a beautiful illustration of the working of the Spirit, of how belief in the Son of Man is in truth a new birth, and the entrance into eternal life.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

( Νικόδημος , Conqueror Of The People ) , a Pharisee, a ruler ( Ἄρχων , the usual title for a member of the Sanhedrim) of the Jews, and teacher (the article in Διδάσκ . is probably only generic, although Winer and bishop Middleton suppose that it implies a rebuke) of Israel ( John 3:1;  John 3:10), whose secret visit to our Lord was the occasion of the discourse recorded by the evangelist. The name was not uncommon among the Jews (Josephus, Ant. 14:3, 2), and was no doubt borrowed from the Greeks. In the Talmud it appears under the form נקדימון , and some would derive it from נקי , innocent, דם , blood (i.e. "Sceleris purus"); Wetstein, N.T. 1:150. In the case of Nicodemus ben-Gorion, the name is derived by R. Nathan from a miracle which he is supposed to have performed (Otho, Lex. Rab. s.v.). Nicodemus is only mentioned by John (yet some German rationalists have sought or rather forced a comparison with the rich young man of  Mark 10:17-24), who narrates his nocturnal visit to Jesus, and the conversation which then took place at this the evangelist may himself have been present. A.D. 26. The high station of Nicodemus, and the avowed scorn under which the rulers concealed their inward conviction ( John 3:2) that Jesus was a teacher come from God, are sufficient to account for the secrecy of the interview. A constitutional timidity is discernible in the character of the inquiring Pharisee, which could not be overcome by his vacillating desire to befriend One whom he knew to be a Prophet, even if he did not at once recognize in him the promised Messiah. Thus the few words which he interposed against the rash injustice of his colleagues are cautiously rested on a general principle ( John 7:50), and betray no indication of his faith in the Galilaean whom his sect despised. Even when the power of Christ's love, manifested on the cross, had made the most timid disciples bold, Nicodemus did not come forward with his splendid gifts of affection until the example had been set by one of his own rank and wealth, and station in society (19:39). See Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 106 sq.; Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 32.

In these three notices of Nicodemus a noble candor and a simple love of truth shine out in the midst of hesitation and fear of man. But Niemeyer (Charakt. 1:113 sq.) has endeavored to show that the apparent timidity of Nicodemus was but reasonable prudence. We can easily believe the tradition that after the resurrection (which would supply the last outward impulse necessary to confirm his faith and increase his courage) he became a professed disciple of Christ, and received baptism at the hands of Peter and John. All the rest that is reported of him is very uncertain. It is said. however, that the Jews, in revenge for his conversion, deprived him of his office, beat him cruelly, and drove him from Jerusalem; that Gamaliel, who was his kinsman, hospitably sheltered him until his death in a country house, and finally gave him honorable burial near the body of Stephen, where Gamaliel himself was afterwards interred. Finally, the three bodies are said to have been discovered August 3, A.D. 415, which day was set apart by the Romish Church in honor of the event (Phot. Biblioth. Cod. p. 171; Lucian, De S. Steph. inventione).

If the Nicodemus of John's Gospel be identical with the Nicodemus ben- Gorion of the Talmud (see Delitzsch ill the Zeitsckr.f. luth. Theologie, 1854, p. 643 sq.), he must have lived till the fall of Jerusalem, which is not impossible, since the term Γέρων , in  John 3:4, may not be intended to apply to Nicodemus himself. The arguments for their identification are that both are mentioned as Pharisees, wealthy, pious, and members of the Sanhedrim ( Taanith, f. 19, etc.); and that the original name (altered on the occasion of a miracle performed by Nicodemus in order to procure rain) is said to have been בוני , Bonay, which is also the name of one of five rabbinical disciples of Christ mentioned in Sanhed. F. 43, 1 (Otho, s.v. Christus). Finally, the family of this Nicodemus are said to have been reduced from great wealth to the most squalid and horrible. poverty, which, however, may as well be accounted for by the fall of Jerusalem as by the change of fortune resulting from an acceptance of Christianity.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Nicode´mus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrim, who was impressed by what he had heard concerning Jesus; but being unwilling, on account of his station, to commit himself without greater surety than he possessed, repaired by night to the house in which Christ dwelt, and held with him that important discourse which occupies John 3. The effect which was then produced upon his mind may be collected from the fact that subsequently, at one of the sittings of the venerable body to which he belonged, he ventured to let fall a few words in favor of Jesus, whose proceedings were then in question and that he took part with his colleague, Joseph of Arimathea, in rendering the last honors to the body of the crucified Redeemer . Nothing further is known of Nicodemus from Scripture. Tradition, however, adds that after he had thus openly declared himself a follower of Jesus, and had been baptized by Peter, he was displaced from his office, and expelled from Jerusalem (Phot. Cod. p. 171). It is added that he found refuge in a country house of his cousin Gamaliel, and remained there till his death. Too strong an appreciation of the world's good opinion seems to have been the failing of Nicodemus. We do not lay much stress upon what he ventured to say in the Sanhedrim; for he suffered himself to be easily put down, and did not come forward with any bold avowal of his belief. Winer calls attention to the fact, that although he took part in the sepulchral rites of Jesus, he did not join Joseph in his application to Pilate for the body of his crucified Lord; and justly remarks that such characters usually require a strong external impulse to bring them boldly forward, which impulse was probably in this case supplied by the resurrection of Jesus.