Baptism, An Exploration: Titus 3 — “The washing of regeneration”

JESUS BAPTISMI saved this passage for late in the discussion because I wanted to share this story near the end. You see, when I was law school (and woolly mammoths ruled the earth), the leaders of my church asked for volunteers to sit in the hospital with a former elder. He was dying from a lung condition, could barely breathe, had little time left to live, and needed to be watched 24/7. I was young and could stay up late in those days, and so I volunteered.

Now, I’d just graduated from Lipscomb and my head was filled all sorts of contradictory things. I’d learned a few elements of grace from Harvey Floyd in his class on Romans, but I’d also taken courses that made it clear that grace is limited to the nearly perfect. I was trying to sort it all out while also learning about torts, contracts, and easements.

So one evening, I sat with a dying man who’d been an elder decades earlier — a man I figured would be filled with legalism and terrified of the death that was sure to come soon. After all, the doctrine we’d all been taught was something like: “We aren’t sure anyone is going to have doctrine perfect enough to be saved, but we’re certain we’ll be first in line to find out!” Yes, my North Alabama theology was of very little comfort at all. I was there out of duty and dreading the experience.

When I arrived, the retired elder was struggling to breathe and couldn’t talk. He seemed on the verge of delirium. But the nurses brought him some oxygen, and once he’d been able to breathe for awhile, we made our introductions and he began to talk about dying — a subject I was very, very uncomfortable with. I mean, I wanted to run out the door!

But then he told me he was ready to die and entirely certain of his place with Jesus. With a remarkable calmness, he recited from memory —

(Tit 3:4-7 ESV) 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

He said, “I know that I’ve not lived well enough to earn heaven, but I know I’ll be saved by the mercy of God. And I’m so looking forward to meeting Jesus!”

I was astonished, amazed, and envious of the man in the hospital bed, gasping for every breath, because I realized then and there that he really was going to be with Jesus. And I understood that this is a good way to die — secure in God’s grace and not fearful of whether you’ve begged for forgiveness enough or done enough or know enough. I knew at that moment that the lessons on grace were right!

He died the next day, smiling in anticipation of joining Jesus in the next age.

The other thing I realized is that this man had not learned that from the Church of Christ periodicals or lesson books. He’d learned it from the Bible — and had the courage to believe it. And I decided I wanted to die that way — not quite yet, but whenever God decides to take me.

So that’s my story. This is a really important passage and well worth a leisurely study. So let’s do a little exegesis.

Exegesis

There are two commonly argued interpretations of the passage grammatically. They go like this —

by the ((washing of regeneration) and (renewal)) of the Holy Spirit

by (the washing of regeneration) and (renewal of the Holy Spirit)

Did that make sense? Some take “of the Holy Spirit” to refer to both the washing of regeneration and the renewal. Thus, the “washing” is the Spirit’s work in us, and not a reference to water baptism.

Others take “of the Holy Spirit” to refer only to “renewal” and take “washing” to be water baptism.

If you’re a Calvinist or if you just think regeneration is independent of water baptism, you’re inclined to adopt the first position. If you believe salvation ordinarily occurs at water baptism, you’re inclined to take the second. And the commentaries very often do their “exegeting” from Calvin and Arminius rather than Paul. Let’s stick with Paul. And Paul wrote in Greek —

??? [DIA = through] ??????? [LOUTROU = bath (noun genitive)] ????????????? [PALIGGENESIAS = regeneration (noun genitive)] ??? [KAI = and] ???????????? [ANAKAINOSEOS = renewal (noun genitive)] ????????? ????? [PNEUMATOS HAGIOU = Holy Spirit (noun genitive)]

Each genitive can be thought of as being preceded with an “of,” which is implied in the Greek by the genitive form of the word. It’s really “of the washing of regeneration and of renewal of the Holy Spirit.” It’s a bit awkward in English to be so literal, but the of’s give a sense of the ambiguity in Paul’s construction.

And so, Paul’s grammar isn’t as helpful as we’d like. A long string of genitives is not easy to dissect. Maybe his vocabulary will be of more help.

Loutron is normally translated “washing” but is a noun and not a participle. The literal meaning is “bath,” but it can refer to the act of bathing. The Greeks and Romans were big on bathing — in magnificent public baths. Here’s a link to a fascinating article on the subject. To mention a “bath” to the Gentile Titus was to evoke a luxurious cleansing performed in community.

Paliggenesias, translated “regeneration,” is an unusual word, found only in Matthew 19:28 and here in the New Testament. Outside the Bible, the Stoics used the term to refer to the rebirth of the world after the end of an age, which is Jesus’ use of the word. But Paul has something else in mind, and so we have to refer to the roots of the word.

It’s palin + genesis. Palin means both a former candidate for vice president of the U.S. and new. We could translate “re-genesis” — a new beginning. The first meaning of genesis is “birth” or “life.” It could also mean “new origin” or “new race.”

But we can’t escape the Stoic flavor. The idea of new life or new birth includes an implication of “following a death.” The Stoics believed in a cyclical world with ages of destruction, rebirth, followed again by destruction, etc. Paul used a Stoic word that means “new birth/life following death.” “Regeneration” is a fair translation, but misses some of the flavor of the word.

Thus, we have “bath of new birth/life following death.” Sounds a lot like Romans 6 to me —

(Rom 6:1 ESV) 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

“Renewal” translates anakainosis. Ana– is a prefix meaning “again” like our “re-“. Kainosis means “make renewed/fresh.” Like our “reiterate,” the etymology is a little redundant to emphasize the newness taking place. (“Newness” in Rom 6:4 has the same root.)

You know, it’s hard to see regeneration and renewal as radically different thoughts. The first emphasizes what happens (we’re reborn, given new life, given a fresh start) and the second emphasizes the result (we’re made new again). Obviously, both are tied to the work of the Spirit. Therefore, we should bracket the two —

by the washing (of regeneration and [of] renewal) of the Holy Spirit

Thus, “of the Holy Spirit” applies to both actions, but if “regeneration and renewal” are tied together as a pair, then “washing of” or “bath of” also applies to both. Water and Spirit. It’s hard to escape the parallel —

(John 3:5 ESV) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

So does loutrou refer to water baptism? Or is this a washing effected by the Spirit independent of the water? The only other use of the word in the New Testament is —

(Eph 5:25-27 ESV) 5 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish

And I take this as plainly a reference to water baptism. The only other uses of the Greek word are found in the Song of Solomon —

(Sol 4:2 ESV) 2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young.

(Sol 6:6 ESV) 6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes that have come up from the washing; all of them bear twins; not one among them has lost its young.

(I think Solomon was telling his lover that she wasn’t missing any teeth at all! Quite the charmer that Solomon.)

The the verb louo, which has the same root as the noun loutron (loutrou means “of loutron,” making it genitive), is found in such verses as —

(2Sa 11:2 ESV) It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.

(John 13:10 ESV) 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”

(Heb 10:22 ESV) 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

So I figure Paul is referencing water baptism, but he’s also mentioning the Spirit. In fact, I doubt seriously that Paul would have thought in terms of one or the other but rather would have considered the two as going hand in hand. And while Paul was likely quite aware of Cornelius and other cases where the Spirit was received separate from water baptism, the ordinary case — the case he preached — was the Spirit poured out concurrently with the immersion, of which Jesus’ own baptism is a type.

You see, Paul’s string of genitives is ambiguous because I think he’d have been good with any of the interpretations. It all happens in water baptism by the power of the Spirit.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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46 Responses to Baptism, An Exploration: Titus 3 — “The washing of regeneration”

  1. Grizz says:

    Jay,

    I could hardly agree more, without even going to the Greek. This is Pauline doctrine meeting Jesus' doctrine to fill out the gospel call with meaning.

    Blessings,

    Grizz

  2. Price says:

    All I could think of immediately was that Solomon's lover wasn't from Alabama… LOL

  3. Randall says:

    I am familiar with many Calvinists that believe that when the NT was written (and immediate baptism was the norm upon recognizing one had come to faith in Jesus) one could say that regeneration and water baptism were so closed linked as to say they occurred at the same time.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  4. Price says:

    Jay, the "washing" is certainly a reference to water. Clearly that is understood but the use of a metaphor doesn't require it's presence. Washing with the Word, Eph 5:26 would be an example of a water metaphor that clearly does not indicate water baptism but a spiritual baptism by the word. Ezekiel's prophetic words in 36:25-27 uses water as a metaphor but is clearly not referring to water baptism..many other examples where water is clearly used to convey a meaning without the exact intent…However vague or "ambiguous" Paul was regarding the intent of water baptism, he was not ambiguous concerning the One who was doing what to whom..

    What I struggle with is why Paul is the least bit ambiguous. Why doesn't he just come out and say in any of his letters with the force of divine authority that being fully immersed in water within seconds of a profession of faith is unequivocally required for salvation… In a matter of such import, I'm at a loss to explain the ambiguity and extensive dissection of the language one has to do in order to reach a conclusion that many others totally disagree with…There is no vagueness in who died for who's sins. There is no ambiguity regarding our need for a Savior. There seems to be none regarding the necessity of Grace through Faith but as far as water baptism goes…it's a real effort.. It would be logical, given the importance that many place on it as a matter of salvation that Jesus, God Incarnate, would have made it crystal clear…He didn't mix words often, except in parables but He even went on to explain them…

    I only struggle with it as a sacrament, not as a matter of obedience. There is quite enough said in the Word to cause one to believe that they should as a matter of obedience…but given the disagreement throughout the theological world it appears less than certain as a sacrament…Unless, we assume that all those that don't agree with us are heretics, liars and frauds, and otherwise uneducated.

    Oh, and my observation earlier was off by a few degrees…I meant to say Tennessee…Roll Tide..:)

  5. Randall says:

    Price,
    Well said. Amen!
    Hesed,
    Randall

  6. Theophilus Dr says:

    Price

    Amen. Great comment. Thank you.

  7. Norton says:

    Jay
    I think you are right about Titus 3:5 being a reference to both water and Spirit baptism. And I see the verse as somewhat parallel to John 3:5.

    It is nowhere stated in the Bible, but some theologians suggest that water baptism is the visible symbol of the "real" baptism, that of baptism in the Spirit. Short of a miraculous sign such as tongues or some other "experience", we have no other way to immediately know we have received the Spirit except by the sign of water baptism. I don't know; perhaps water baptism impacts us intellectually and Spirit baptism impacts us unconsciously, but we know we are said to be cleansed by both washings. This is not for preaching, only for thinking.

  8. aBasnar says:

    That’s a common rationalisation which “allows” to keep the status quo untouched. It is true that conversion and baptism have been torn apart. But that’s a result of a wrong practice and teaching.

    It has to do with revivals in infant-baptizing churches. Instead of reforming the practice of baptism, they introduced a “new birth” by the “sinner’s prayer”. Yet dogmatically this brought them in difficulties, because – esp. in Lutheran understanding – baptism is the sacrament of the new birth as it is in the Roman Church. I’m not sure about the reformed position on this. Anyway, it is a mess.

    But – praise to God – God is not hindered by this mess to work among sincere seekers. If we look at the great awakenings and the fruit thereof, we must acknowledge that God is able and willing to work outside the standard-procedure revealed in the Bible. Otherwise for centuries there had been not one Christian around who was properly baptized and therefore regenerated.

    Even our movement has its roots in such a revival (Cane Ridge), and Barton Stone was an evangelist at such a revival years before his own baptism. Was he born again back then? Did he have the Spirit of God?

    Still, the Baptist answer is not right. They ought to question their delay of baptism rather than to justify it. Because on one hand they admit that in apostolic times conversion, baptism and the New Birth were one event and belonged together; on the other hand they teach the separation of these things by holding fast to a “sinner’s prayer”-conversion. Ironically, they hold to a “sinner’s prayer-regenartion”-doctrine, while they accuse us of believing in baptismal-regeneration. The only difference between these two is that one of them has biblical authority and the other one has not.

    Alexander

  9. aBasnar says:

    That's a common rationalisation which "allows" to keep the status quo untouched. It is true that conversion and baptism have been torn apart. But that's a result of a wrong practice and teaching.

    It has to do with revivals in infant-baptizing churches. Instead of reforming the practice of baptism, they introduced a "new birth" by the "sinner's prayer". Yet dogmatically this brought them in difficulties, because – esp. in Lutheran understanding – baptism is the sacrament of the new birth as it is in the Roman Church. I'm not sure about the reformed position on this. Anyway, it is a mess.

    But – praise to God – God is not hindered by this mess to work among sincere seekers. If we look at the great awakenings and the fruit thereof, we must acknowledge that God is able and willing to work outside the standard-procedure revealed in the Bible. Otherwise for centuries there had been not one Christian around who was properly baptized and therefore regenerated.

    Even our movement has its roots in such a revival (Cane Ridge), and Barton Stone was an evangelist at such a revival years before his own baptism. Was he born again back then? Did he have the Spirit of God?

    Still, the Baptist answer is not right. They ought to question their delay of baptism rather than to justify it. Because on one hand they admit that in apostolic times conversion, baptism and the New Birth were one event and belonged together; on the other hand they teach the separation of these things by holding fast to a "sinner's prayer"-conversion. Ironically, they hold to a "sinner's prayer-regenartion"-doctrine, while they accuse us of believing in baptismal-regeneration. The only difference between these two is that one of them has biblical authority and the other one has not.

    Alexander

  10. Bruce Morton says:

    Price:
    Let me offer a different perspective. I am well aware from conversations with some acquaintances and friends that the biblical teachings you mention as having "no vagueness" (Jesus' death for our sins; saved by grace through faith) are NOT as "clear" to all as you suggest. Neither is the matter of Jesus' resurrection. I know of one pastor (outside of the Restoration Movement) who was clear with me that the NT talks about Jesus' resurrection as a "spiritual resurrection." Not a bodily one. He has "returned" to the days of Rudolf Bultmann and "demythologizing" the NT and believes those of us who conclude that Christians must believe Jesus actually rose from the dead are naive — and wrong (!). And his is not an isolated example. I chat with more and more folks who are "adjusting" their view of Jesus to better "sync up" with world religions (Jesus did not die for sins; he is but another expression of God among many — that is all; see E.g. Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace).

    In a boiling religious melting pot called early twenty-first century America, we are seeing the powerful results of a darkness that challenges all of us. And the struggles regarding immersion baptism as an action of God's grace and a washing of regeneration seem to be there because we want to align the Restoration Movement more broadly and "bend" to what is typically called "Evangelical Theology" (Evangelicals typically conclude pointedly that the "Restorationist" (Arminian) view of baptism as an action of God's grace is NOT correct — though I see changes coming there too, which is great!). Otherwise, supposedly unity suffers — with "Restorationists" being the culprits! That thought is nothing less than spiritual darkness (oops, did I mention a spiritual war again?).

    Water baptism as a "washing of regeneration" is exactly what we read time after time in early post-apostolic writings. Let me refer you to the excellent summary (outside the Restoration Movement):

    S. R. Llewelyn, "Baptism and Salvation," New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1984-85, 8:176-79, ed. S. R. Llewelyn (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1998).

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  11. Royce Ogle says:

    Water baptism is a symbolic washing, not an actual washing. Just in the same way baptism is a symbolic death, and a symbolic burial, and a symbolic resurrection.

    The actual cleansing from sins is done by God in response to faith. (Acts 15:6-11) The actual death was at the cross (Romans 7:4-6)

    In Romans 6 Paul talks about being baptized into Christ's death and then says "Consider yourselves dead" in Romans 6:11. We must constantly remind ourselves of what baptism symbolizes, that we have died with Christ and now we should live like it.

    It was at the cross that Jesus representatively died "for us" and that is where we were freed from the penalty of the law, namely death.

    We are baptized into Christ, into his death, in exactly the same way people were baptized into repentance by John the baptist. The act of immersion was not repentance, it was a symbolic death and a public announcement that the one being baptized wanted to be identified as one of those who had repented.

    Does anyone think that none of those people who had been baptized by John the Baptist had actually repented until they went under the water? Of course not. It was those who had repented who were baptized.

  12. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    The thought you express is exactly what ties up much of the believing world. You have summarized it well. Baptism as "symbol" fills folks minds so much that the idea of baptism as God's work seems incomprehensible. Many people I know get glazy-eyed when I raise to them the thought that baptism is God's action. And like many thoughts in our time, if it does not "fit," people in the West discard something at lightning speed. I believe it is part of the character of our time and place. Too much "newness" happens in a given day in America, so we work hard to hold religious "newness" to a minimum. It appears to be part of our growing society-survival strategy.

    So, let me ask you questions in a different direction to help sift through all of this. How can what Paul writes in Romans 6 NOT be God's work? How can "raised to walk a new life" NOT be the Creator's action of grace? Paul never uses the word "symbol" to refer to baptism.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  13. Theophilus Dr says:

    Bruce, "Paul never uses the word "symbol" to refer to baptism."

    An interesting observation that leads me to ask where Paul uses the word "water" to refer to baptism. Actual word in the Greek text, not interpretatively added.

  14. Bruce Morton says:

    Theophilus Dr:
    Is "washing" in your mind not tied to baptism into Christ? There are multiple references to washing in Paul's writings.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  15. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander/aBasnar wrote,

    "But – praise to God – God is not hindered by this mess to work among sincere seekers. If we look at the great awakenings and the fruit thereof, we must acknowledge that God is able and willing to work outside the standard-procedure revealed in the Bible. Otherwise for centuries there had been not one Christian around who was properly baptized and therefore regenerated."

    Amen and amen. A. Campbell would agree as well.

    We struggle distinguishing between (1) accepted by God in his grace and (2) what God really wants. We just so desperately want to argue that X is not what God wants and therefore he who does X is damned. We accuse those who believe God's grace will cover X (if not done rebelliously, of course) of liberalism, post-modernism, situation ethics, the new hermeneutic, moral relativism, denying inerrancy, Ketcherside-ism — pick your favorite editor-bishop bogeyman — rather than admit that grace isn't much good unless it covers mistakes.

  16. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Your post above illustrates one of the places where your weblog stumbles. You want God's grace to cover all human error, misunderstanding, mis-belief, etc. A sincere heart that believes in Jesus is enough? Right?

    But that is NOT what Jesus revealed and not what the apostles wrote. It is God who is in command of His grace, not us. The grace of Jesus' death and resurrection is grace because only Jesus could have accomplished and only God can extend and effect. We cannot "pronounce" all wrong understanding and wrong action as absolved because it is what we desire God to do (and yes, I desire such also).

    How can I say such? Well, one illustration should suffice. Jesus saw more than we would have probably seen when he said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!" Yes, Peter repented, but the clear statement was that his previous path, which he surely believed was right, was nothing less than Satan's work! Quite a powerful example if we let it soak in.

    The grace of God is not the only power at work in the world, and we are naive to think otherwise. And the end of the story is not always repentance; sometimes it is spiritual blindness for a lifetime — because it is a blindness allowed, a blindness brought about when people stop leaning on the Word of the Lord (which is also an expression of His grace). Christianity becomes distorted when people cease listening to Jesus. Why? They have almost no idea what He has said — both during His earthly ministry and as the risen Lord. And as a result they fall prey to misunderstanding and mis-action. Can you say that God's grace will save them? Would Peter have been saved by God's grace had he stayed on the path he had taken? No! That is the clear message of Jesus — in one of the most unnerving, most pronounced statements of the Lord regarding just how dangerous is the spiritual siege we face. Peter's example should shout a warning. But in a postmodern world, the truth of it is "brushed off" in the quest for unity and comfortable Christian faith (cf. Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy as one example). In a spiritual siege people hear spiritual lies — and potentially life-threatening ones when they come to accept the lies.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  17. Randall says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Above you wrote: "You want God's grace to cover all human error, misunderstanding, mis-belief, etc … It is God who is in command of His grace, not us."

    If it is God who is command of his grace then is it logical to say He is sovereign regarding salvation. Yet I get the impression he will/must save those that perform certain acts the right way with the right understanding or intent and won't save those those do not. The salvation is there for those that perform adequately and denied to those that don't. Logically, that would make the person that performs the right way in charge of (sovereign) his salvation and those that do not perform adequately in charge of their damnation. In this scheme it is the woman/man that is actually in charge of their salvation rather than God.

    It may be that salvation is by grace plus works rather than by grace alone. The grace is there for all those the perform adequately – the rest have the grace but due to insufficient performance don't get the salvation.. I'll accept that as soon as you tell which works (performance) and how many of them.
    Thank God for his hesed,
    Randall

  18. Theophilus Dr says:

    Bruce

    I enjoy and appreciate your questions and comments, although I sometimes can't figure out exactly what you mean. I can only imagine people's confusion over things that I write. I have accused myself on occasions of "writing in tongues" — i.e., in a language not understood by anyone without interpretation.

    I am trying to catch up on some responses, and it is a bit confusing that several questions and relevant responses are separated on different threads. I may address washing and regeneration and pouring out on this thread or on the other one for Titus 3:5.

    But just a couple of things here. I certainly do associate washing with baptism, at least in Titus 3:5, but for reasons to be given in another post, it is not physical water as in water baptism. That's the direct answer; I'll have to develop the reasons later and try to hold the post to less than 25 uninterpretable pages. 🙂

    In reading your post addressed to Jay, I was confused by two statements which do not seem to correlate, at least on the surface.

    "It is God who is in command of His grace, not us." (double amen to that!)

    "….And as a result they fall prey to misunderstanding and mis-action. Can you say that God's grace will save them? Would Peter have been saved by God's grace had he stayed on the path he had taken? No!"

    Maybe I don't understand (likely), but if we say that God is in command of His grace and not us, how can we answer the above two questions? How do we know what God would have done with Peter? Do we say that God is in charge of His grace, but He tells us how it will be applied in individual cases? We can say He reveals what happens in the Word, but then we are back to saying that God operates according to my interpretation. We put ourselves in a box with that one.

    And I have to ask this – if God is in command of His grace, why would He put us in charge of when His grace is applied – as in …. when we water baptize somebody?

    If I'm off track with what you are saying, please help me get back on.

  19. Bruce Morton says:

    Theophilus Dr:
    Glad to wade in further. As to your query of how can WE answer if God is in command of His grace? We are not answering, not in the narrative I highlighted. Jesus already did when he chastised Peter as "Satan." That is why the narrative remains a crucial look at Jesus especially in the West. Peter is obeying Satan, not God — without seeing such. Had there been no repentance, no change, we see from Jesus' words what the consequence would have been (similar to others who "turn away" from following). The narrative cuts through postmodernism's "take" on evil in its starkness. We see a sincere disciple of Jesus where sincerity does not suffice in a spiritual siege.

    I think all of this causes the West struggles because we do not easily see grace in the middle of a spiritual war. Delbanco's The Death of Satan provides a remarkable look at the American mind — a society where spiritual war and "evil" have almost disappeared from our day-to-day thought. I agree with him. And so we tend to think of the grace of God in almost (or completely) a neutral setting. Delbanco argues (well) that we Americans have a difficult time seeing otherwise. It seems incomprehensible to us that sincerity could be condemned by God. Jesus' words to Peter provide a powerful corrective and remain a clear warning that some of our thinking is amiss.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  20. Bruce Morton says:

    Theophilus Dr:
    Separately, let me offer for your consideration that when we think the "we" baptizing is important (as we see happening in Corinth), we miss the message of baptism. God is at work; He is washing and He is renewing.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  21. Theophilus Dr says:

    Bruce, I absolutely agree that the thinking in our culture is mixing a faulty concept of grace and sin and coming up with the postmodern "whatever works for you" idea. And that notion has substantially infiltrated into the church.

    Relative to the "we" baptizing – I think we are using some of the same words but the words are carrying our different meanings.

    When I say "when we water baptize somebody," I am not associating that with "God is washing and He is renewing." I am saying God does that independently from our act of water immersion, as shown by the Cornelius account. We agree that God is washing, that God is renewing, that Jesus is baptizing, and that we miss the message of baptism in 1 Corinthians. But, it seems that you read water into that process and I no longer do. That difference of assumption may make it seem we are saying different things. Isn't the basic difference in our comments an assumption or not of an obligatory link between the spiritual process to water baptism? I think we agree on the spiritual process.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  22. Theophilus Dr says:

    This is probably the best thread to put this comment.

    Titus 3:5 – washing, regeneration, renewal, Holy Spirit

    Literal – but according to the mercy of him, he saves us through bath of becoming again and up-renewing of Spirit Holy.

    A washing, a bath – Greek loutron – an instrument of spiritual cleansing. Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26
    (verb) to bathe or to wash – Greek louo — used in some verses as a literal washing (Acts 9:37, 16:33; 2 Peter 2:22) or used metaphorically referring to the effect of the word of God (Heb 10:22).

    Becoming again, regeneration, rebirth — Greek palingenesia – from palin (again) and genesis (birth) . The “new birth” of Titus 3:5 and John 3:3-7 is conceptually the same. In John 3, “born” is from gennao (verb form of genesis) and “again“ is anothen (better translated as “from above” or “anew”). So there is a “birth again” (Titus 3:5) and a “born anew” (John 3:3-7). In John, “born anew” or “born from out of above” corresponds to “born from out of the Spirit,” just as “born from out of water” parallels with Nicodemus’ question of physical birth.

    Born from out of above, or from out of the Spirit (John 3) correlates with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, within which we are immersed by Jesus, to be born again (from out of the Spirit). The closest correlation for the washing of Titus 3:5 is the washing of sin which occurs when Jesus baptizes within the Holy Spirit for regeneration, or to be born anew. It is a much wider stretch to bring in literal water.

    Eph 5:26 – literal …. that He should be making her holy to the bath of the water within His declaration …..
    Is Jesus making the church holy by water baptism or by a literal water bath? And these verses are in context of the husband-wife relationship. Is the husband water baptizing his wife? The cleansing of the church is within the word. The Greek is not logos (the creative word of God), but rhema (the declared word of God, in this case, Jesus). Jesus has declared the washing or cleansing of the church to make her holy.

    Heb 10:22 — literal – a true heart within assurance of faith with hearts having been sprinkled from a wicked conscience and the body having been bathed to clean water.
    If this is a literal bathing in water meaning water baptism, then this should be a literal sprinkling of one’s heart.

    The verb form of wash is used literally in some NT references, but also used figuratively. Washing seems to be used figuratively in Titus 3:5 referring to the baptism within the Holy Spirit and the new birth.

    I used to extract a command for water baptism out of all of these verses. But I had to read that into them, which I cannot do any more. I doubt that this exercise convinces anyone of much of anything. If one starts with the presupposition that water baptism is necessary, one will read water baptism into these verses and prove that point (to himself). If one does not start with that preconception, one won’t find it.

    What one finds is what one has already determined to look for. I think that’s the lesson.

  23. Bruce Morton says:

    Theophilus Dr.:
    "Pouring" has only one use in the NT. You state it, but you do not allow it to guide how you see the texts? It is always literal. And it is literal in Titus 3 and Ephesians 5. Numerous writers talk about the imagery of the Ancient Near East marriage bath as the background to Ephesians 5:26.

    Yes, "baptism" can refer to the "pouring out" of the Holy Spirit, but in Titus 3 we find the remarkable statement that spiritual and literal are woven together. And this is the conclusion we read time and against in post-apostolic writings. Llewelyn's article is worth reading and it will help you get a hold of what is the truth here. Beasley-Murray's Baptism in the New Testament and Ferguson's Baptism in the First Five Centuries draw the same conclusions. I hope you read in those works; they will force a good reconsidering on your part.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  24. Bruce Morton says:

    Theophilus Dr:
    A brief addendum. You may not have access to the above studies. If you would like me to post some quotes from the works, I will be glad to do so.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  25. Bruce Morton says:

    Randall:
    I am not convinced that obeying God and being immersed constitutes my "work." As I read apostolic teaching, it is still God's work and all that I can say is that God has indicated how He works — through participation in Christ's death and resurrection in immersion baptism. God's saving those sprinkled is beyond His Word. But yes, I certainly hope He saves those who are part of Catholic and Lutheran traditions, et.al.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  26. Theophilus Dr says:

    Bruce,

    I haven't posted on "pouring" yet, except perhaps by implication, but not the specific word. I will get it out after more editing.

    Thank you for the offer to post statements from the books to which you have referred. I have Beasley-Murray's book, which is quite comprehensive and contains a number of interesting statements. Have any revisions of significance been published since 1962? I wish I could say that I recently found this book in an antique store, but that's not the case. I have read Ferguson's material in articles, but have not read that exact book. Liewelyn's work I do not have.

    Works of research and scholarship such as the above are excellent sources of reference and they once were my first and primary place to consult. Becoming an even more intense Restorationist than I was (but looking at restoration of the Spirit of NT Christianity over the form) I began to elevate the primary scholarship of the inspired Word, itself, over other people's opinions about it, albeit learned ones.

    My current approach: I first study the word with intensity (modern word … "drill down") and great detail – every relevant verse, researching every Greek word – definition, tense, voice, etc., every preposition, placement of definite articles — everything. I make charts and diagrams to try to organize and fit together. I go far beyond what I used to think made sense on a superficial level to a level of such detail that it seems little to nothing makes sense. This is sometimes unnerving. Then I agonize and pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to me as Jesus promised, and I keep that up with prayer and fasting until a light starts to come on. That's when things begin to come together and make sense (at least to me). Interpretations and concepts have to make sense in the context of the verse itself (micro), but also be consistent with the overall gospel message and the entire Word (macro). That "revealed meaning" (for me) sometimes takes days, weeks, or over a year in several cases. This process requires so much time and spiritual energy that I don't have as much time to read about other people's opinions as I used to. I also place less value on how people apparently interpreted some things in the 2nd and 3rd and later centuries. This is also the time that the pattern of organization of that day's culture (the Roman government) was creeping into thinking within the church, until finally the church evolved into a different from of Roman government. Like the church today trying to copy corporate American culture.

    I am glad to share those insights into scripture that I believe God has revealed to me, but I have no authorization to even suggest that someone else should have the same interpretations that I do, or to think that their interpretation is of less value than mine. As you said earlier, everyone needs to search for themselves. My insights are just that, and I do not hold them up in comparison to published views of scholarship, which are based on the author's insights.

    A major disadvantage to such a detailed study is the results are extremely hard for me to adequately communicate. Some things are virtually incomprehensible because they bridge the interface between the physical and spiritual realms. Some "revealed meanings" of words and verses have left me absolutely stunned.

    That's not to say that quotes from Liewelyn or others wouldn't be helpful, and speaking for myself, would like to read some that you consider relevant, if you were to include them in a post.

    Thanks.

  27. Royce Ogle says:

    Does God kill the flesh in baptism? No, Paul says clearly that the body is not literally dead because we must "count" or "reckon" it dead.

    We are not raised by God we are raised by the hands of the person baptizing us. If you will look closely at the Romans 7 references and others you will see that the dying happened on the cross where Christ representatively died "for us". Baptism, like the Lord's Supper pictures what has already happened. How do you explain Acts 15:6-11, Acts 10:44-47, and Acts 11:15-18?

    In Jay's last post he quoted I believe 38 passages that bear out the facts Peter explained and were recorded by Luke in the Acts passages above.

    Is someone willing to say it was lost people who were speaking in tongues and praising God? Was Peter simply mistaken that they (Gentiles) received the Holy Spirit like he and the others did "When we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ"? Was he wrong that he baptized them because they had received the Spirit and he didn't want to stand in God's way?

  28. Theophilus Dr says:

    It’s hard to know which post to put this on (“lucky this one”). Thankfully, this is the last of the 3 or 4 committed topics.

    Pour – Greek ekcheo (or, Hellenistic form- ekchuno) – to pour out (with ek, literally “to pour from out of”)
    Luke 22:20 poured out blood of Christ (shed)
    John 2:15 poured out changers’ money
    Acts 2:17, 18, 33 poured out the Holy Spirit
    Acts 10:45 gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out
    Titus 3:6 Holy Spirit, whom he pours out richly on us through Jesus Christ
    Revelation 16:1-4, 8, 10, 12, 17 pour out contents of bowls of divine wrath
    Revelation 16:6 pour out blood of saints

    The word is used once with a clear literal implication (John 2:15) and I think John may have used that word on purpose to show that the money changers had substituted money in place of God (cf. other uses with blood of Christ, Holy Spirit). “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Mathew 6:24).

    The Holy Spirit is represented by anointing oil, wind (pneuma), and water (living water, John 4:10, 7:38-39), all liquids which correlates with the imagery of pouring out. God promised to pour out His Spirit on all people and to create a new heart (Acts 2:17-18), and Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (2:33). The pouring out of the Holy Spirit included the “gift,” and that was poured out on the Gentiles (10:45). The gift (dorea) of the Holy Spirit is associated with the indwelling Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer, salvation, and grace through Jesus. The pouring out of the Spirit was associated with the baptism within the Holy Spirit as well as the gift (Acts 1:8; 10:45; 11:15-17).

    The pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling Spirit in our hearts correlates well with the idea of being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The Greek word for “filled” in this verse is pleroo, meaning progressively filled up to volume from the inside, in contrast to pletho (controlled) used in the book of Acts. Poured and filling is consistent with renewal, transformation, sanctification, growing into maturity, etc., all of which are continual processes.

    Titus 3:6 rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
    Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love within our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given (fr. dorea) us.

    Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit into the heavenly baptistery so that the believer could be immersed within the Holy Spirit and born again, from above, from out of the Holy Spirit and into the one body, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, including the indwelling Holy Spirit within the heart of the believer effecting renewal. This is done through the Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ, glorified at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33).

    Yes, we should baptize in water, but that comes from different verses and related to different reasons than the ones in the above verses.

    I appreciate everyone's patience in wading through this.(no pun intended?)

  29. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce, Theophilus Dr:
    Just a quick note to let you know that I think I have posted enough regarding Titus 3:4-7. So, will leave the subject for awhile, unless there is a specific question you request I respond to (glad to do).

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  30. Theophilus Dr says:

    Interesting, I was thinking the exact same thing about my own posts. I have enjoyed your posts and the discussion. Thank you for participating. God bless.

  31. Theophilus Dr says:

    Guestfortruth

    Since this is a public forum and I am (and I assume others also) trying to learn from people’s questions and answers, could you please explain what relevancy your questions have to Jay’s post or the story that he related in his post?

  32. Guestfortruth says:

    some questions for Jay,

    When you were a student at David Limpscom what was in your head that was filled all sorts of contradictory things?

    When you were at the bedside near the a manthat you figured would be filled with legalism what were you thinking? Did you see any facial expression as
    terrified of the death that was sure to come soon?

    Do you compare this elder as the apostle Paul?

    Who said : “We aren’t sure anyone is going to have doctrine perfect enough to be saved, but we’re certain we’ll be first in line to find out!”

    Did he remaind you the biblical teaching about the Death? Why did you feel very uncomfortable ? Were you a Christian at that time? Did this brother believe that as soon as he die is going to be in heaven with Jesus? or he was confessing to you what was his life? He told me he was ready to die and entirely certain of his place with Jesus.

    I have seen the death of faithful Gospel preachers and none of them looks scare to die because for them die is gain. (Gal. 2:20) "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.". and they said: 2 Tim 2:2 "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." also they repeat what the apostle Paul said: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing".

  33. Theophilus Dr says:

    Guestfortruth

    Since this is a public forum and I am (and I assume others also) trying to learn from people's questions and answers, could you please explain what relevancy your questions have to Jay's post or the story that he related in his post?

  34. Steve Wilson says:

    Thank you Dr. Theophilus for this question. I was wondering the same thing.

    Let me say (while I am typing) that I am deeply moved by the grace that you and Jay extend to those with whom you disagree or at least do not yet see eye to eye. This ability to extend grace to others speaks volumes to me of the Holy Spirit that is at work in you. The flip side of that seems apparent to me as well, that those who will not discuss a difference without trying to stick in a sharp barb or a troubling comment diminish their position by exposing the spirit through which they speak.

  35. Theophilus Dr says:

    Thank you so much, Steve, for your very kind post. I have also been impressed by the gentleness of Jay's responses and I have been trying to learn from his model. I grew up trained in and zealous for legalism, which I can recognize as an effective tool of the enemy to redirect the CoC doctrine away from the Spirit. This tactic has very effective and has been enormously costly. But people who have been grounded in scripture and who can be led to believe in the power of the Spirit can be of great influence in helping the church in America recognize they have been infiltrated with post-modern thinking and in helping direct the church toward unity in Christ and away from its downhill slide. The One-In-Jesus site is extremely valuable in working toward this goal. I have to remember that God is in sovereign control and my feeling of urgency for change must submit to His timing or else some impatience of the flesh will surely come through.

    I appreciate your encouraging comments and your honest and open search for truth. God bless.

  36. Jay Guin says:

    Steve,

    Like Dr T, I thank you for your kind words.

  37. Price says:

    All I know is that I'm reading my Bible like crazy trying to keep up with all the thoughts, opinions, comments, etc… trying as best as I can to be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is within me.. Thank all of you for your contribution to my study and hopefully increased knowledge.

    I even appreciate the passion that sometimes spills out…the love of the Lord is a mighty thing…and the avoidance of sin is a worthy objective…But surely they will know us by our love…..or lack thereof.

  38. Theophilus Dr says:

    Well said, Price. We are in a spiritual battle, and we must carry the armor of the Lord..

    15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
    2 Kings 6:15-17 (ESV)

    Lord, open our eyes that we may see.

  39. Guestfortruth says:

    It has relevance to know about it!

    Because , that Explain his mission in the Church of Christ. For what I understood from this topic. It,s a context and we like to see the whole picture. No just some part without explanation. Could be that he does not remember what things were. But if he can not remmember maybe he can ask the comforter to "remember all things" and that way we can understand everything!

  40. Theophilus Dr says:

    Thank you, Guestfortruth, for responding.

    However, my original question about relevancy was unanswered and, therefore, the question still stands. But now, there is an additional question.

    Now, can you possibly help me understand what relevancy your last post has to anything on this thread?

    – "Interesting, this is." 🙂

  41. Guestfortruth says:

    I am wondering Teophilus,

    Did you understand the teaching of the Holy Spirit at that time? and what does it cost you? Maybe your Bible teachers were to the extreme with just the word guide them, but the bible does not teach that. The Scripture teach that the Holy Spirit with the word works together ( Eph.6:17). We have the Holy Spirit but not in a supernatural way as was in the first century. Can you be infallible as the apostles, or can you raise the dead! The Holy Spirit guide us through the message of the Spirit ( 1 Peter 1:23). What truth are you talking? The specific truth "The fiest steps of the Gospel" found in 1 Cor.15:1-4? of the whole truth " The word of God" (Jn. 17:17)?

    Our human desire for unity is great always is acording to God's condition (Word of God) and not ours(Opinions)! but, Jesus taugh us that in Matthew 20:16 " ….. For many are called, but few chosen.” unfortunately, few are going to be save, and we know by the message of the Holy Spirit that are Spirit and life ( John 6:63 ) in Luke 13:24 "“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Not all people are decided to follow Jesus genuinely to practice his teachings in their lives. In Mt. 7:13- 14 "“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

    The Lord Said " Few are going to be save" Maybe like the family of Noah ! Later, in the same Chapter the Lord said:"21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Those Who claim can do miracles by the Holy Spirit are mention here ! But also those Christians in the Church that are not making an effort to remain faithful to the Lord teachings! 2 Jonn 1:9. Are we going toward Neo-Calvinism teaching? This is some part of calvinistic teaching! Getting what we like from calvin teology? Are we trying to compete with the denominations? are we borrowing things from pentecostals, baptist etc..?

  42. Guestfortruth says:

    Teophilus,

    It's better to say to put on the whole armor of God!
    The things is if someone does not want to open the eyes and there is not the desire to understand. Jesus said : " If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." The clue word here is:" If anyone wills" Jesus don't force nobody to obey him. That why in Revelation 3:20
    "20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Looks that the human being has a inside doorknob. (Free will) The man has the choice to choose obey God or continue in Sin. That's why God let us give us the "Truth" Jn. 8:32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The lord said: "You Shall Know" talking about the first steps of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) also the scriptures says in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 " and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." First, They did not "receive" the love of the Truth, God gives that oportunity to everyone to "recieve" (Free will) for those God "send a strong delusion " What is that Strong delusion? Is that something supernatural? no! is the free will "doorknob" that the human being has because of sin. There is a lot of people that "wants to be save but they don't want to obey the Gospel and live the word of God" God is merciful and he wants to save us ( 2 Peter 3:9) " He does want that anybody "…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But is in the person to accept or reject Jesus. God does not force anybody to understand or obey Just if the person open his heart to the truth to be save (willing to be save).

  43. Theophilus Dr says:

    Sometimes I perceive a sensation resembling vertiginous nystagmus in a realm of reciprocal unambiguity. Disequilibrating, this is.

    GuestforTruth

    One more question. You said,

    "We have the Holy Spirit but not in a supernatural way as was in the first century."

    Could you define what you mean by "supernatural?"

  44. Guestfortruth says:

    sure,

    It is a synonyms for miraculous.

    It's one of the modern synonym words from the dictionary.

    • SUPERNATURAL (noun)
    The noun SUPERNATURAL has 1 sense:

    1. supernatural forces and events and beings collectively

    • SUPERNATURAL (adjective)
    The adjective SUPERNATURAL has 1 sense:

    1. adj.
    1.- being beyond what can be explained by the laws of nature.;gostly.

  45. Theophilus Dr says:

    Guestfortruth. Thank you.

    Now, what do you consider to be "miraculous?" Consider that the Greek word translated "miracle," as in the miracles that Jesus did as recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is the word dunamis, which is literally translated "powerful deed." Did this cease in the first century?

    Consider what Paul says in Ephesians 1:18-20

    Eph 1:18-20 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

    Do you see the word "power" in verse 19? That is dunamis, the same word translated "miracle." Do you think the application of this verse died out after the first century so that it doesn't apply to us? That would not be very good, since dunamis is linked to the resurrection. Dunamis is "for us who believe." What about a person who thinks that dunamis (miracle, power) ceased after the first century? What does he believe?

    Maybe a very relevant passage would be vs 18 "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened"

    To make your definition of miracle and supernatural even more fuzzy, you said "being beyond what can be explained by the laws of nature." Okay,
    "explained" according to what level of human understanding and knowledge are we talking about?

    When penicillin first became more globally available in the 1940's, this drug cured life-threatening infections and made remarkable reversals even in hours. It was called "the miracle drug." It had been discovered, but its action wasn't explained by laws of nature because the research hadn't been done elucidating the mechanism of action on the bacterial cell wall. Now we know the mechanism of action, and we know about PC-resistant strains, and we know about synthesizing different types of antibiotics. If one used the PC of the 1940's, it wouldn't do much good today. What? Is it no longer a "miracle?" Why? because we can explain it now and couldn't then?

    The point is that when you look at a human source of information about the definition of miracle or supernatural, you will find a human-derived explanation that is based on current knowledge and current use by natural humans. That is not the same as getting the definitions from the inspired Word of God. You said yourself, "the Bible interpret the Bible."

    Please take your own advice and study the scriptures to find out what a miracle is as revealed by God. You may find that you are cutting off your own faith, brother.

    A miracle as defined in the Word of God is not the same as the word "miracle" as it is used in the natural realm by humans, some of whom do not have the enlightenment of the Spirit of God. And you look up their definition?

    You seem to have a high regard and respect for the Word. May I suggest you have some more studying and praying to do on this subject.

    "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened"

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