The Spirit


Abbreviations Used

General Subjects
  John 14-16
  1 Corinthians
  2 Corinthians
  1 & 2 Thess.
  1 & 2 Timothy
  1 & 2 Peter
  1 John
Gifts of the Spirit
Inter-Ecclesial Offices
Word Studies
Epilogue Acknowledgements
Exposition of The Spirit in Titus

Titus 3:5,6
"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior," (NASB)


This verse is sometimes wrested to mean that unless we have the Holy Spirit shed on us then we are not heirs of eternal life. We are not on the track if we have not had this experience.


  1. Most of the confusion surrounding this verse is removed when "of the Holy Spirit" is correctly translated as "by the Holy Spiritl." The change is small but the emphasis is changed from:
    1. They had the Holy Spirit within them once but somehow lost it and it now needed to be replenished.


    2. The old man (or natural tendencies) were being gradually changed day by day to a new man by the words of the apostles. These words had been revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit.

    1.B. is a biblical principle as is indicated in the verses that follow but 1.A. isn’t.

    "that by revelation was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief… which in other generations was not made known… as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit of which I was made a minister according to the gift of God… in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known" by "the church". (Eph. 3:3-10 NASB).

    "God ... hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. l:2).

  2. It cannot be demonstrated that Paul was referring to all believers on Crete in v. 6 so how can anyone extrapolate this to mean us? The personal pronouns clearly demonstrate that this was a personal letter from Paul to Titus2. Verse 6 refers only to Paul and Titus.

  3. Where is the example in Scripture where the direct outpouring of the Holy Spirit actually saved a person? The burden of proof lies with he who asserts. It certainly is not true that the possession of the Holy Spirit caused a man to be renewed3. This comes by the action of the word on the heart.

What then does this verse mean?

"He saved" Grk. = sozo.

"The verb is in the aorist tense which in Greek commonly indicates one particular occasion." (Expositor’s Bible) i.e. baptism.

We must as Peter says: (1 Peter 1:3-9)

  1. "be born again"
  2. be tried to give "proof of your faith"
  3. obtain "as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls".

We are not saved ultimately until the return of Christ. Paul says we are "heirs according to the hope of eternal life"(Titus 3:7).

"by the washing of regeneration" Grk. = paliggenesia = create again (B)

This is the same as "He might redeem us from every lawless deed" of 2:14 (cf. Psa. 130:8). We are redeemed "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18). Paul in Eph. 5:26 explains "having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word". (cf. 1 Pet. 1:25; John 15:3).

Belief of the gospel plus baptism is what Paul means. We are "created again" at baptism, the gospel having changed our thinking, the water having buried our old man. The rising out of the water is the rising of a "new creature".

"renewing by the Holy Spirit"

This "renewing"4 probably has reference to the word "purify" in 2:14. It is growth in the truth after baptism has taken place. It is said to be "by the Holy Spirit" because it was this medium through which Christ revealed his word to the Apostles. (Eph. 3:3-10). Paul in Colossians 3:10,12-16 demonstrates what renewing entails:

"... put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge ..."
"put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another,
and forgiving each other, . . .
And ... put on love . . ."
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,"
"be thankful."
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom..." (NASB)

As has been demonstrated, the phrase does not mean the Cretians got a renewed supply of the Holy Spirit because they had lost the old supply.

The "Word of Christ" believed and obeyed5 was the renewing influence, not an "indwelling of the Spirit".

"which he poured out"

This reference back to Pentecost and Joel (cf. "pour out", Acts 2:17-18,33; 10:45) demonstrates that the gifts are meant. These miraculous gifts enabled the Gospel to be proclaimed, and the ecclesias to be edified, exhorted and comforted. This renewing action of spoken words caused the hearers to be transformed. (Rom. 12:2).

2 "Paul"(1:1) "to Titus"(v. 4), "I left you", "that you", "I directed" (v.5) Ch. 3:8 "I want you to speak." Only in the last verse are all included.
3 see Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness".
4 see Rom. 12:2 which contains the only other occurrence of the word ‘anakainosis’ (Y).
5 see notes at John 3:5.