Check out what I’ve highlighted here, because John is going to teach us something about both God and great literature (Yes. That does mean I am implying that the Gospel of John is great literature).
First of all John’s point is that to all who receive him (The Word/The Light/Christ)—huge hint here:Who are the one’s who receive him? Those who believed in his name—he gave the right [freedom of choice; might; power] to become children of God.
Then this: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Now read just what I’ve highlighted in green: Who were born of God. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it. John could have just as well skipped everything in between and communicated this great truth and been much more concise and to the point. But why didn’t he do that? Is he just a super wordy person? Undisciplined? Why all the stuff in between? Why tell us how we weren’t born? JUST GET TO THE POINT, my good man!
Imagine that you are going to send little Johnny to the backyard to clip back your apricot tree for you. You could say, “Little Johnny, go prune the apricot tree,” or you might say, “Little Johnny, I want you to go cut back the apricots. Do not cut branches with apricots blooming on them, do not cut the branches too far back, just a little bit will do.” Why am I being so wordy? Most likely because I know little Johnny doesn’t know much about pruning apricot trees and I want him to get it right and not SLAUGHTER ALL MY APRICOTS! [short aside: Sorry about those apricots, mama!], so I have to be overly specific so that little [dumb] Johnny understands me.
This, dear reader, is what John is doing here. He is being overly specific to make sure that we understand what he means, and this is what great literature does; when it needs to be clear and precise, it finds ways.
So what does John mean here? He is saying, s-l-o-w down and let me dispel some misconceptions. You children of God were not born of blood (not reborn physically), nor were you born of the will of the flesh (your own efforts—sorry, Mr. Prideful Works); nor of the will of man(kind in general). If you were not made a child of God by any of that then how were you born? You were born of the will of God (more on that in John 3).