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,
3:1-7 Spiritual privileges do not make void or weaken, but confirm civil duties. Mere good words and good meanings are not enough without good works. They were not to be quarrelsome, but to show meekness on all occasions, not toward friends only, but to all men, though with wisdom, Jas 3:13. And let this text teach us how wrong it is for a Christian to be churlish to the worst, weakest, and most abject. The servants of sin have many masters, their lusts hurry them different ways; pride commands one thing, covetousness another. Thus they are hateful, deserving to be hated. It is the misery of sinners, that they hate one another; and it is the duty and happiness of saints to love one another. And we are delivered out of our miserable condition, only by the mercy and free grace of God, the merit and sufferings of Christ, and the working of his Spirit. God the Father is God our Saviour. He is the fountain from which the Holy Spirit flows, to teach, regenerate, and save his fallen creatures; and this blessing comes to mankind through Christ. The spring and rise of it, is the kindness and love of God to man. Love and grace have, through the Spirit, great power to change and turn the heart to God. Works must be in the saved, but are not among the causes of their salvation. A new principle of grace and holiness is wrought, which sways, and governs, and makes the man a new creature. Most pretend they would have heaven at last, yet they care not for holiness now; they would have the end without the beginning. Here is the outward sign and seal thereof in baptism, called therefore the washing of regeneration. The work is inward and spiritual; this is outwardly signified and sealed in this ordinance. Slight not this outward sign and seal; yet rest not in the outward washing, but look to the answer of a good conscience, without which the outward washing will avail nothing. The worker therein is the Spirit of God; it is the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Through him we mortify sin, perform duty, walk in God's ways; all the working of the Divine life in us, and the fruits of righteousness without, are through this blessed and holy Spirit. The Spirit and his saving gifts and graces, come through Christ, as a Saviour, whose undertaking and work are to bring to grace and glory. Justification, in the gospel sense, is the free forgiveness of a sinner; accepting him as righteous through the righteousness of Christ received by faith. God, in justifying a sinner in the way of the gospel, is gracious to him, yet just to himself and his law. As forgiveness is through a perfect righteousness, and satisfaction is made to justice by Christ, it cannot be merited by the sinner himself. Eternal life is set before us in the promise; the Spirit works faith in us, and hope of that life; faith and hope bring it near, and fill with joy in expectation of it.
Verse 5. - Done in for of, A.V.; did ourselves for hare done, A.V.; through for by, A.V. By works (ἐξ ἔργων); i.e. in consequence of. God's kindness and love to man did not spring from man's good work as the preceding and producing conditions (comp. Galatians 2:16, and the notes of Bishops Ellicott and Lightfoot). Done in righteousness(τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ); the particular description of the works wrought in a sphere or element of righteousness (Alford and Ellicott). Which we did ourselves; emphasizing that they were our good works, done by us in a state of righteousness. All this, as the cause of our salvation, the apostle emphatically denies. -Not, etc., but according to his mercy he saved us. The predisposing cause, the rule and measure of our salvation, was God's mercy and grace, originating and completing that salvation. Through the washing of regeneration (διὰ λουτροῦ παλλιγενεσίας). Here we have the means through or by which God's mercy saves us. The washing or rather laver of regeneration (λουτρόν) - found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Ephesians 5:26, in exactly the same connection - is the laver or bath in which the washing takes place. The nature or quality of this bath is described by the words, "of regeneration" (τῆς παλιγγενεσίας); elsewhere in the New Testament only in Matthew 19:28, where it seems rather to mean the great restoration of humanity at the second advent. The word is used by Cicero of his restoration to political power, by Josephus of the restoration of the Jews under Zerubbabel, and by several Greek authors; and the LXX. of Job 14:14 have the phrase, ἕως πάλιν γένωμαι, but in what sense is not quite clear, Παλιγγενεσία, therefore, very fifty describes the new birth in holy baptism, when the believer is put into possession of a new spiritual life, a new nature, and a new inheritance of glory. And the laver of baptism is called "the laver of regeneration," because it is the ordained means by or through which regeneration is obtained. And renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is doubtful whether the genitive ἀνακαιγώσεως depends upon διὰ or upon λούτρου. Bengel, followed by Alford, takes the former, "per lavacrum et renovationem;" the Vulgate (lavacrum regenerationis et renova-tionis Spiritus Sancti), the latter, followed by Huther, Bishop Ellicott, and others. It is difficult to hit upon any conclusive argument for one side or the other. But it is against the latter construction that it gives such a very long rambling sentence dependent upon λούτρου. "The laver of regeneration and of the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." And it is in favor of the former that the "laver of regeneration" and "the renewing of the Holy Ghost" seem to describe very clearly the two parts of the sacrament, the outward visible sign and the inward spiritual grace; the birth of water and of the Holy Ghost. So that Bengel's rendering seems on the whole to be preferred. Renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως); only here and Romans 12:2, and not at all in the LXX. or in classical Greek. But the verb ἀνακαινόω is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10. The same idea is in the καινὴ κτίσις, the "new creature" of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15, and the καινότης ζωῆς of Romans 6:4, and the καινότης πνεύματος of Romans 7:6, and in the contrast between the "old man" (the παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος) and "the new man" (the καινὸς ἄνθρωπος) of Ephesians 4:22-24. This renewal is the work of the Holy Ghost in the new birth, when men are "born again" of the Spirit (John 3:5). Alford is wrong in denying its application here to the first gift of the new life. It is evidently parallel with the παλιγγεσία. The connection of baptism with the effusion of the Holy Spirit is fully set forth in Acts 2. (see especially ver. 38; comp. Matthew 3:16, 17).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Not by works of righteousness which we have done,.... The great instance of the kindness and love of God our Saviour is salvation; which the apostle denies that it is brought about by any works, even the best works of men; for "works of righteousness" are works done according to a righteous law, and in obedience to it; and in a righteous manner, from right principles of grace, in faith, and with a view to the glory of God; or otherwise they are not righteous actions, or works of righteousness; wherefore not works before, but after conversion, are here meant; for works before conversion are not properly works of righteousness: besides, these are such which we have done, who formerly were as before described, but now are regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, and created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Now salvation, neither in whole, nor in part, is by these, either as causes; conditions, or means; See Gill on 2 Timothy 1:9; , "works of righteousness", is a Jewish phrase used for righteous or good works (z).
but according to his mercy he saved us; the mercy of God is natural and essential to him, but the actings and exercise of it, towards this or the other objects, are sovereign and free, and according to his will; the effects of it are many, he is rich and abundant in it; and they are channelled in, and flow forth through the blood and righteousness of Christ; and this is the moving cause of salvation: this moved God to make a covenant with his Son, the blessings of which are the sure mercies of David, and in which God is merciful to the sins and unrighteousnesses of his people; it is owing to the tender mercy of God, that Christ, the dayspring from on high, has visited the earth; and the glory of it is very conspicuous in the affair of redemption by him; the pardon of sin is according to the multitude of God's tender mercies; and regeneration springs from the abundance of it; and even eternal life is the effect of it. Now according to this, God has "saved" his people; salvation is not only a thing determined, and resolved on in the mind of God, but is actually and completely accomplished by Jesus Christ, and an application of it is made to the saints in effectual calling; and because of the certain enjoyment of the whole of it, even eternal glory, the saints are said to be saved already; as they are also in faith and hope, as well as in Christ, their head and representative; See Gill on Ephesians 2:8. It follows, as the means of salvation,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; by the former is meant, not the ordinance of water baptism; for that is never expressed by washing, nor is it the cause or means of regeneration; the cause being the Spirit of God, and the means the word of God: and besides, persons ought to be regenerated before they are baptized; and they may be baptized, and yet not regenerated, as Simon Magus; nor is it a saving ordinance, or a point of salvation; nor can it be opposed to works of righteousness, as this washing is; for that itself is a work of righteousness; see Matthew 3:15 and if persons were saved by that, they would be saved by a work of righteousness, contrary to the text itself: but regenerating grace is meant, or a being born of water, and of the Spirit; that is, of the grace of the Spirit, comparable to water for its purity and cleansing virtue: hence such who are regenerated and sanctified, are said to be washed and cleansed, having their hearts purified by faith, and their consciences purged from sin by the blood of Christ: by the latter,
the renewing of the Holy Ghost, is meant either the fruit and effect of the former, even newness of life and conversation, under the influence of the Holy Spirit; or else the gradual increase and progress of the work of grace upon the soul, renewed day by day in the spirit of the mind, by the Holy Ghost; or rather it means the same thing with regeneration, and is added partly as explanative of the washing of regeneration, showing that that is no other than the new creature, the new man, the new heart, and new spirit, formed in the soul, in the effectual calling; and partly to observe that the Holy Ghost is the author of it. Now it is in this way God saves his people, namely, by regenerating and renewing them; in this is the first appearance and discovery of the love of God to them; this is their open passage into a state of grace, and without this there is no entrance into glory; this is the foundation of all grace and good works, and by which saints appear to be heirs of the heavenly inheritance.
(z) Seder Tephillot, Ed. Amsterdam, fol. 46. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Not by—Greek, "Out of"; "not as a result springing from works," &c.
of righteousness—Greek, "in righteousness," that is, wrought "in a state of righteousness": as "deeds … wrought in God." There was an utter absence in us of the element ("righteousness") in which alone righteous works could be done, and so necessarily an absence of the works. "We neither did works of righteousness, nor were saved in consequence of them; but His goodness did the whole" [Theophylact].
we—emphatically opposed to "His."
mercy—the prompting cause of our salvation individually: "In pursuance of His mercy." His kindness and love to man were manifested in redemption once for all wrought by Him for mankind generally; His mercy is the prompting cause for our individual realization of it. Faith is presupposed as the instrument of our being "saved"; our being so, then, is spoken of as an accomplished fact. Faith is not mentioned, but only God's part. as Paul's object here is not to describe man's new state, but the saving agency of God in bringing about that state, independent of all merit on the man's part (see on Tit 3:4).
by—Greek, "through"; by means of.
the washing—rather, "the laver," that is, the baptismal font.
of regeneration—designed to be the visible instrument of regeneration. "The apostles are wont to draw an argument from the sacraments to prove the thing therein signified, because it ought to be a recognized principle among the godly, that God does not mark us with empty signs, but by His power inwardly makes good what He demonstrates by the outward sign. Wherefore baptism is congruously and truly called the laver of regeneration. We must connect the sign and thing signified, so as not to make the sign empty and ineffectual; and yet not, for the sake of honoring the sign, to detract from the Holy Spirit what is peculiarly His" [Calvin], (1Pe 3:21). Adult candidates for baptism are presupposed to have had repentance and faith (for Paul often assumes in faith and charity that those addressed are what they profess to be, though in fact some of them were not so, 1Co 6:11), in which case baptism would be the visible "laver or regeneration" to them, "faith being thereby confirmed, and grace increased, by virtue of prayer to God" [Article XXVII, Church of England]. Infants are charitably presumed to have received a grace in connection with their Christian descent, in answer to the believing prayers of their parents or guardians presenting them for baptism, which grace is visibly sealed and increased by baptism, "the laver of regeneration." They are presumed to be then regenerated, until years of developed consciousness prove whether they have been actually so or not. "Born of (from) water and (no 'of' in Greek) the Spirit." The Word is the remote and anterior instrument of the new birth; Baptism, the proximate instrument. The Word, the instrument to the individual; Baptism, in relation to the Society of Christians. The laver of cleansing stood outside the door of the tabernacle, wherein the priest had to wash before entering the Holy Place; so we must wash in the laver of regeneration before we can enter the Church, whose members are "a royal priesthood." "Baptism by the Spirit" (whereof water baptism is the designed accompanying seal) makes the difference between Christian baptism and that of John. As Paul presupposes the outward Church is the visible community of the redeemed, so he speaks of baptism on the supposition that it answers to its idea; that all that is inward belonging to its completeness accompanied the outward. Hence he here asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in the believing appropriation of the divine facts which it symbolizes, whatever is realized when baptism fully corresponds to its original design. So Ga 3:27; language holding good only of those in whom the inward living communion and outward baptism coalesce. "Saved us" applies fully to those truly regenerate alone; in a general sense it may include many who, though put within reach of salvation, shall not finally be saved. "Regeneration" occurs only once more in New Testament, Mt 19:28, that is, the new birth of the heaven and earth at Christ's second coming to renew all material things, the human body included, when the creature, now travailing in labor-throes to the birth, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Regeneration, which now begins in the believer's soul, shall then be extended to his body, and thence to all creation.
and renewing—not "the laver ('washing') of renewing," but "and BY the renewing," &c., following "saved us." To make "renewing of the Holy Ghost" follow "the laver" would destroy the balance of the clauses of the sentence, and would make baptism the seal, not only of regeneration, but also of the subsequent process of progressive sanctification ("renewing of the Holy Ghost"). Regeneration is a thing once for all done; renewing is a process daily proceeding. As "the washing," or "laver," is connected with "regeneration," so the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" is connected with "shed on us abundantly" (Tit 3:6).
…4But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5He 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, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,…
It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
not by works, so that no one can boast.
to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
2 Timothy 1:9
He has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 3:21
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Treasury of Scripture
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;