But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
In Titus 3 Paul says that God “saved us . . . by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” The word “washing” (loutron) means washing with water, a bath, or the water of baptism (BDAG, 603). Certainly, Paul can use the word “washing” metaphorically. In fact, he does in Ephesians 5:26, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” The washing here is the washing with the word. It’s a metaphor for purifying someone with the word of God.
And yet there is a close connection between baptism and forgiveness in Scripture. Peter says, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
So what is going on here? What does Paul mean by “the washing of regeneration,” and what does Peter mean when he says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”? Put simply, how do baptism and regeneration relate to one another? [Read more…] about Does Baptism Regenerate?