[bible passage=”Titus 3:5″]
οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν ἡμεῖς ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ αὐτοῦ
ἔλεος ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς διὰ λουτροῦ παλινγενεσίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος
OUK EX ERGWN TWN EN DIKAIOSUNH hA EPOIHSAMEN
hHMEIS ALLA KATA TO AUTOU ELEOS ESWSEN hHMAS DIA LOUTPOU PALINGENESIAS
KAI ANAKAINWSEWS PNEUMATOS hAGIOU.
NIV vs. 5 he saved us not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Interlinear “not by works in righteousness which did we but according
to the of him mercy he saved us through the washing of regeneration
and renewal Spirit of Holy.
My understanding of this verse is that “saved” is washing of
regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. Is it fair to say that
“washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” is a point
at which a lost person is instantaneously saved?
= == = = =
This is a theologically controversial text, so what is “fair” will depend
somewhat on one’s presuppositions and traditions. I’ll make a few comments, but
may not answer your question.
If we look at the structure of the sentence, the central part with the main verb
ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς (ESWSEN hHMAS) – He saved us
The aorist indicates a past event here. The verb in itself is used in the past,
present and future in the NT, so all three aspects are valid in each their own
The verb can refer to spiritual salvation or physical rescue like being saved
from drowning. It is the context, esp. the use of PALIGGENESIA and PNEUMA hAGIOS
that indicates spiritual salvation as the topic here.
Paul then adds some detail to the topic of “he saved us”. First, he answers the
question “On what basis were we saved?” It was not based on or resulted from
(EK) our good (in the eyes of God) works, but it was in accordance with (KATA)
his own mercy:
οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν ἡμεῖς ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος
OUK EX ERGWN TWN EN DIKAIOSUNH hA EPOIHSAMEN hHMEIS ALLA KATA TO AUTOU ELEOS
Paul then adds a DIA phrase which answers the question “How did he save us?”
Well, it happened through a “cleansing of rebirth and a renewal of holy Spirit”:
διὰ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος ἁγίου
DIA LOUTROU PALIGGENESIAS KAI ANAKAINWSEWS PNEUMATOS hAGIOU
LOUTROU and ANAKAINWSEWS are genitives because they are governed by DIA.
LOUTRON is then connected to PALIGGENESIA by way of a genitive just as
ANAKAINWSIS is connected to PNEUMA hAGION.
The relationship between two nouns in a genitive construction is a matter of
interpretation based on the words as well as the context. ANAKAINWSIS is the
verbal noun for ANAKAINOW. It is a Pauline word referring to spiritual renewal,
and from the context of the NT, it is fair to suggest that the genitive here
means that the Holy Spirit is the agent for this renewal. I take it is a
contextual clarification of the more general word “salvation”.
The parallel genitive LOUTRON PALIGGENESIAS is a bit more difficult. Because of
the parallelism I take it that the LOUTRON is a different way of clarifying and
describing salvation so that this event is both a renewal and a cleansing, both
in a spiritual sense. It is not the dirt of the body that is removed, but the
sin and guilt. Whether water is involved in this cleansing or not is
controversial, so I’ll not comment on that except to say that the word only
occurs one other place in the NT (Eph 5:26) where “water” is added for
clarification. PALIGGENESIA seems parallel to ANAKAINWSIS, referring to the
spiritual change described as both a rebirthing and a renewal. In this genitive,
PALIGGENESIA can hardly be subject or object, so we are probably dealing with
the common descriptive genitive. The cleansing that Paul is talking about is a
spiritual cleansing further described as a re-birth. It is the Holy Spirit that
is the agent for both renewal and rebirth since the words refer to the same
event, but the first genitive is descriptive, the second is a so-called
I hope I have not unintentionally stepped on too many theological toes, and I
realize that others may have a different interpretation. A key point is the
function of the adnominal genitive, and I think the descriptive genitive has in
general not been given the attention it deserves. Too often people jump to the
question: “Is it an objective or subjective genitive?” when so often it is
neither. I know a translation in Danish that says: “through the bath that
“rebirths” and renews by the Holy Spirit”. They have taken LOUTRON as a
personified subject, but I don’t understand how they can do that.