Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



Let us look at a few definitions:

"A spiritual resurrection; the beginning of a new life" (Hodge, Charles; Gross, Edward N. Ed.; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988, Vol. 3, p 5)

"Regeneration is the communication of the divine nature to man by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word. (Dr. A. J. Gordon as quoted in Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.; "OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE"; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 319)

"the spiritual change wrought in man by the Holy Spirit, by which he becomes the possessor of a new life. (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 916)

Regeneration is the Greek word "palinginesia." It is only used twice in the New Testament. Vine tells us that "Palin" is usually translated again, and that "genesis" means birth. Thus, we would say that it is again born, or again birthed.

In Matt 19:28 Christ mentions that those that follow him in the regeneration will rule with him. Since Christ did not need to be saved, He could not have been referring to the salvation experience of the believer. It seems that the structure would indicate that He was stating that when the world system, or the world itself is again born, when the Lord is ruling, these things will happen. (Scofield, in his cross reference Bible holds that this is referring to "the re-creation of the social order and renewal of the earth"/Vine also views this as a restoration, "the word is used, in the Lord's discourse, in the wider sense, of the 'restoration of all things'" Thiessen also relates this to the regeneration of the Creation. He quotes Isa. 11:1-9; 35:1-10 and others as a basis for his thinking.)

The American Standard Version states, "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Christ has been asked a question about the future reward of the apostles. Christ answers as though from that future point in time. Since these things were decreed before the foundation of the world that would fit.

The American Standard Version indicates that the regeneration is speaking of the again born world. Christ will rule in the Millennium, and the world will have undergone a drastic changing in preparation for the kingdom.

The second passage where the term appears is in Titus. "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 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; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;" (Titus 3:4-6)

This text speaks of the rebirth (the "washing of regeneration"). The washing of regeneration depicts the "washing" or the completeness of the occurrence, and the regeneration, the again born process.

Technically, it is the term that describes what we call rebirth, or new birth. It is spoken of in John 3 where Christ told Nicodemus that he must be born again. It is the changing of a person from lost and condemned to saved and forgiven.

REGENERATION WAS FORETOLD BY THE OLD TESTAMENT: Regeneration was looked forward to by the prophets for Israel (Ezek. 36:24-30 and Jer. 32:38-40). There are some that contradict this thought when they say that the Old Testament believer was regenerated, by his faith in the coming Christ. This is in error, because regeneration could not take place for any person until Christ settled the sin question.

REGENERATION CHANGES THE PERSON: We are told that we are new creations, that we are partakers of the divine nature, and that we are completely new. That seems to indicate that when a person accepts Christ, there will be some changes in the life. (I Cor. 5:17; Jo. 3:3,6,7; II Pet 1:4; Eph. 4:23-24.)

The simplicity of the term itself demands drastic change. Again born. There is no choice except for the person to have change in their life.

REGENERATION IS AN OCCURRENCE RATHER THAN A PROCESS: Luke tells us in 23:39-44 that the Thief on the cross was to be in paradise with the Lord immediately. Thus, we can assume that regeneration is not something that takes six months to a year to complete.

It is not related to good works nor is it related to the process of living a holy life. It is an act of God that changes the person immediately and eternally.

REGENERATION IS LINKED TO OUR RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST: We are in Christ. This shows a close relationship. II Cor. 5:17 "Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (John 3:16 tells us that it is because of what He did that we can have eternal life. Eph. 2:8-10 states that we are created in Christ.)


Firstfruits: James 1:18 We are firstfruits of God's creatures: " Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

It might be an interesting study to relate this verse to the use of the term regeneration in relation to not only our own rebirth, but that of the world. Matthew used the term of creation. We are firstfruits of "his creatures" indicating that we will be changed before the creatures of creation. Would this not indicate a pre-millennial glorification for believers. Something to think about when you have time.

Inheritance: We have an inheritance due to this regeneration. I Pet 1:3-4, "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,"

This inheritance is sure, and it is not going to corrupt. It is ours; it is ours for all eternity.

Good works: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) We were not created in Christ to live plush lives. We were created in Christ Jesus so we will do good works.

Walk in good works. That indicates more than a casual occurrence. Our lives are to be good works. Our lives are to be filled with good works.

Pledge: Regeneration brought the Holy Spirit as our pledge or guarantee of a completion to what God has begun in our lives. Eph. 1:13-14, "In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."


The means: Belief/reception of Christ. Regeneration comes to the person through belief in, and reception of Christ. Due to this we become sons of God. Jo 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:"

The author: I Cor. 3:6-7 tells us that only God can increase the population of the church. He is the one that adds to the body of Christ. We can plant and water, but He will give the increase. (See Jo. 1:10-13 also)

The agent: We are born of the Holy Spirit. He is the activation behind all of salvation. God provided salvation, through Christ, but the Spirit brings the person to salvation.

The instrument: Only when a person is able to hear or read the Word of God, can they know salvation. Salvation cannot creep up on you and win the attack. It is only through the Word that we can know of salvation. (I Pet 1:23-25; James 1:18,21; Jo 17:17)

REGENERATION HAS EXPECTATIONS: God didn't reach out and touch someone, just so they would feel good. Remember that verse we covered earlier? We are created in Christ unto good works. The natural result of regeneration should be good works. The good works are a result of a proper relationship to God. Not having sin in your life is the method of keeping that relationship proper. I Jo. 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (see also I Jo. 2:29; 5:4,18.)

REGENERATION IS ETERNAL: We cannot loose anything based on regeneration. All is guaranteed. We are dealing with God and not some sleezy salesman. What He has said, He will do. We will live forever because of this work of regeneration, which He has done. I Pet. 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."

REGENERATION IS NOT REFORMATION: It is more than turning over a new leaf. You could, from some point onward, without sin and yet know nothing of regeneration. There are many lost people in this world that live good lives, yet are still lost.

REGENERATION IS NOT CONFIRMATION: Only God can bring about regeneration. Nothing that man can devise will do the trick. Man has been trying to come up with some method for centuries, but always fails in his attempts.

REGENERATION IS NOT WATER BAPTISM: Baptism is a memorial and ordinance for the one that has already undergone regeneration. However, be forewarned, some believe this. Some believe that baptism is how a person is regenerated.

"Regeneration by baptism, or baptismal regeneration, has been a widely prevalent error. This is due in part to an improper use of the term. A proselyte from heathenism to the Jewish religion was said to be 'born again.' A corresponding use of the term crept into the early Christian Church. Those who received baptism, the initiatory rite of church membership, were said to be regenerated; but this was probably without any intention of denying the deeper work of the Holy Spirit. It was only a loose and improper way of indicating the change in a man's external relationship. And it is proper to say that some of the advocates of the baptismal regeneration in the Church of England still use the term in this sense, and make a distinction between regeneration as effected by baptism and the great work of spiritual renewal. But the error has its broader basis in an unscriptural idea of the character and efficiency of the sacraments. And thus it is held not only by Roman Catholics, but also by many Lutherans and many in the church of England." (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 916)

Let's consider baptismal regeneration for a moment. Titus 3:4-7, "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 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; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." What in this verse equates "regeneration" with "born again?" Nothing.

Matt 19:28 seems to be the transformation of the earth in preparation for the kingdom. What in that verse equates "regeneration" with "born again?" Nothing.

Titus 3:5 speaks of washing (Cleansing) yet new birth has to do with getting rid of old and installation of new. The two facts don't compute. This washing is not to be construed to be baptism, for it is not.

If "regeneration" truly is "rebirth" or "born again," how do we get from baptism to regeneration? Washing is the Greek word "loutron" which has the idea of a bath or a laver. It is used in the Septuagint in Song of Solomon 4:2 and 6:6. This passage

speaks of the washing of sheep. (Eph. 5:26 and Titus 3:5 are the only New Testament usages.) Washing gives the impression of "dirty in" and "clean out." Otherwise, why wash something. This would seem to be the root of the meaning of the word.

The washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit seem to be two different things. Most commentaries seem to follow similar thinking. It seems that the washing of regeneration might be the cleaning out of our past sins, while the renewing of the Holy Spirit is the removal of the Adamic nature. They are both an integrated part of the whole - salvation.

Rebirth seems to be that shift from lostness to savedness; that shift from dead to alive. It is an integrated part of salvation. Without it there is no real salvation, yet it is linked to the renewing of the Holy Spirit as well. Regeneration may refer to salvation as long as you view the work of the Holy Spirit as well.

REGENERATION IS NO CHURCH MEMBERSHIP NOR THE LORD'S TABLE: Church membership and the Lord's table are never linked to regeneration itself, though a church member should be regenerated. Someone partaking of the Lord's table should also be regenerated, however becoming a member, or partaking of the table can never bring regeneration.

REGENERATION IS NOT JUSTIFICATION: "It is to be distinguished from justification, because justification is a change in our relationship to God, while regeneration is a change in our moral and spiritual nature." (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 916)

REGENERATION IS NOT SANCTIFICATION: "Regeneration is also to be distinguished from sanctification, inasmuch as the latter is the work of God in developing the new life and bringing it to perfection, while the former is the beginning of that life." [not sure I agree with his definition of sanctification but do agree that they are different.] (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 916)

REGENERATION IS REQUIRED: John 3:7 simply states the facts. "Ye must be born again."

Cambron lists three areas which show the need of regeneration. The depravity of man (Jo 3:6); The universality of man (Rom. 3:23); and the holiness of God (I Peter 1:16)

REGENERATION IS A DIVINE GIFT: John 1:12, 13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name; Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Regeneration comes as an integrated part of the salvation experience. We cannot continue toward eternity without it, nor can we step backward into our past life without it. Once regenerated, there is no return to the lost life of Adam. We may step into a walk that resembles our old walk, but we can never become unregenerated again.


"Now I saw in my dream, that the highway, up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called salvation. Up this way, therefore did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulcher. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more." John Bunyan (Stuber, Stanley I. and Clark, Thomas Curtis; "TREASURY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH"; New York: Association Press, 1949, p 613)