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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TITUS - Chapter 3 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done. The plan was not based on our own good works, nor are our own good works now the cause of our salvation. If men could have been saved by their own good works, there would have been no need of salvation by the Redeemer; if our own deeds were now the basis of our title to eternal life, the work of Christ would be equally unnecessary. It is a great and fundamental principle of the gospel that the good works of men come in for no share in the justification of the soul. They are in no sense a consideration on account of which God pardons a man, and receives him to favour. The only basis of justification is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ; and in the matter of justification before God, all the race is on a level. See Barnes "Eph 2:8,9".

 

But according to his mercy.

(1.) It had its origin in mercy;

(2.) it is by mere mercy or compassion, and not by justice;

(3.) it is an expression of great mercy; and

(4.) it is now in fact conferred only by mercy. Whatever we have done or can do, when we come to receive salvation from the hand of God, there is no other element which enters into it but mercy. It is not because our deeds deserve it; it is not because we have by repentance and faith wrought ourselves into such a state of mind that we can claim it; but, after all our tears, and sighs, and prayers, and good deeds, it is a mere favour. Even then God might justly withhold it if he chose, and no blame would be attached to him if he should suffer us to sink down to ruin.

He saved us. That is, he began that salvation in us which is to be completed in heaven. A, man who is already renewed and pardoned may be spoken of as saved—for

(1.) the work of salvation is begun, and

(2.) when begun it will certainly be completed. See Barnes "Php 1:6".

 

By the washing of regeneration. In order to a correct understanding of this important passage, it is necessary to ascertain whether the phrase here used refers to baptism, and whether anything different is intended by it from what is meant by the succeeding phrase—" renewing of the Holy Ghost."—The word rendered washing (loutron) occurs in the New Testament only in this place and in Eph 5:26, where also it is rendered washing—" That he might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word." The word properly means a bath; then water.for bathing; then the act of bathing, washing, ablution. Passow and Robinson. It is used by Homer to denote a warm or cold bath; then a washing away, and is thus applied to the drink-offerings in sacrifice, which were supposed to purify or wash away sin. Passow. The word here does not mean laver, or the vessel for washing in, which would be expressed by louthr, louter; and this word cannot be properly applied to the baptismal font. The word in itself would naturally be understood as referring to baptism, (comp. See Barnes "Ac 22:16,) which was regarded as the emblem of washing away sins, or of cleansing from them. I say it was the emblem, not the means of purifying the soul from sin. If this be the allusion, and it seems probable, then the phrase "washing of regeneration" would mean "that outward washing or baptism which is the emblem of regeneration," and which is appointed as one of the ordinances connected with salvation. See Barnes "Mr 16:16".

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." It is not affirmed in his phrase that baptism is the means of regeneration; or that grace is necessarily conveyed by it; and still less that baptism is regeneration, for no one of these is a necessary interpretation of the passage, and should not be assumed to be the true one. The full force of the language will be met by the supposition that it means that baptism is the emblem or symbol of regeneration, and, if this is the case, no one has a right to assume that the other is certainly the meaning. And that this is the meaning is further clear, because it is nowhere taught in the New Testament that baptism is regeneration, or that it is the means of regeneration. The word rendered regeneration (paliggenesia, palingenesia) occurs in the New Testament only here and in Mt 19:28,—"in the regeneration when the Son of man," etc. It means, properly, a new-birth, reproduction, or renewal. It would properly be applied to one who should be begotten again in this sense, that a new life was commenced in him in some way corresponding to his being made to live at first. To the proper idea of the word, it is essential that there should be connected the notion of the commencement of life in the man, so that he may be said to live anew; and as religion is in the Scriptures represented as life, it is properly applied to the beginning of that kind of life by which man may be said to live anew. This word, occurring only here and in Mt 19:28, and there indubitably not referring to baptism, should not be here understood as referring to that, or be applied to that, for

(1.) that is not the proper meaning of the word;

(2.) there is no Scripture usage to sanction it;

(3.) the connexion here does not demand it;

(4.) the correlatives of the word (Joh 3:3,5,6,8; 1 Pe 1:3) are applied only to that great moral change which is produced by the Holy Ghost; and

(5.) it is a dangerous use of the word. Its use in this sense leaves the impression that the only change needful for man is that which is produced by being regularly baptized. On almost no point has so much injury been done in the church as by the application of the word regeneration to baptism. It affects the beginning of religion in the soul; and if a mistake is made there, it is one which must pervade all the views of piety.

And renewing of the Holy Ghost. This is an important clause, added by Paul apparently to save from the possibility of falling into error. If the former expression, "the washing of regeneration," had been left to stand by itself, it might have been supposed possibly that all the regeneration which would be needed would be that which would accompany baptism. But he avoids the possibility of this error, by saying that the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" is an indispensable part of that by which we are saved. It is necessary that this should exist in addition to that which is the mere emblem of it—the washing of regeneration —for without this the former would be unmeaning and unavailing. It is important to observe that the apostle by no means says that this always follows from the former, nor does he affirm that it ever follows from it—whatever may be tile truth on that point—but he asserts that this is that on which our salvation depends. The word rendered renewing (anakainwsivanakainosis) occurs only here and in Ro 12:2, where it is also rendered renewing. Compare See Barnes "Ro 12:2".

The verb (anakainowanakainoo) occurs in 2 Co 4:16; Col 3:19, in both which places it is rendered renewed, and the corresponding word, anakainizwanakainidzo, in Heb 6:6. The noun properly means making new again; a renewing; a renovation. Comp. H. Planck in Bib. Repos., i. 677. It is a word which is found only in the writings of Paul and in ecclesiastical Greek writers. It would be properly applied to such a change as the Holy Spirit produces in the soul, making one a new man; that is, a man new, so far as religion is concerned—new in his views, feelings, desires, hopes, plans, and purposes. He is so far different from what he was before, that it may be said he enters on a new life. See Barnes "Eph 4:23,24".

The "renewing of the Holy Ghost" of course means that which the Holy Ghost produces, recognising the fact, everywhere taught in the Scriptures, that the Holy Spirit is the Author of the new creation. It cannot mean, as Koppe supposes, the renewing of the mind itself, or producing a holy spirit in the soul.

{a} "works of righteousness" Eph 2:4,8,9

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