In Paul's epistle to Titus in the third Chapter verses 4 through 7, He is relaying to Titus the change the grace of God makes through Salvation. In verse 5 he states that "he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

Titus 3:4 through 7

4 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.

To what is Paul referring when he says the renewing of the Holy Ghost?

  • The commentaries here cover it pretty well. If anyone wants to take those and turn them into an answer and run with it, feel free. Dec 15, 2013 at 6:02
  • @ David Stratton I know I'm blind, but my reader software isn't able to find any commentaries other than yours?
    – BYE
    Dec 15, 2013 at 13:21
  • biblehub.com/titus/3-5.htm Sorry... There are several commentaries there after all the translations. I bet your reader software has to read through all of them just to get to the commentaries, doesn't it? I'm sorry, I never thought of that! My day is filled up, so it'll be a while before I have time, but if nobody else has done so by then, I'll post an answer using the best of those as sources. Dec 15, 2013 at 13:40
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    @ David Stratton you're right about the software, unfortunately it is only selective if you can highlight the area you want read, but what the heck it keeps me off the streets anyway
    – BYE
    Dec 15, 2013 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


The "renewing of the Holy Ghost" is believed to pertain to the work that the Holy Spirit does within us; the process known as sanctification. This is the process of God's spirit to working in us to help us to become more like Him, or in other words, cleansing us from our sin nature. it is the replacement of our own sinful nature with God's Holy nature, enabled and achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

From Thomas Watson's article on Sanctification:

First, such as are sanctified, can remember a time when they were unsanctified. "Once we too were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:3-5.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on these verses speaks of the outward behavior of the christian, and how all our good deeds are fine and dandy, but without the renewing of the spirit making changes to our own nature, it's all worthless:

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.

This verse is often understood by commentators of the verse to be referring to Baptism. The "washing of regeneration" is believed to refer to the physical rite of Baptism, and the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" refers to the work of the Spirit within us to regenerate and perfect us. In other worlds Baptism is the "outward sign" and the renewing of the Spirit is the internal work of purification of the soul.

The Wesley's notes commentary says this:

3:5 Not by works - In this important passage the apostle presents us with a delightful view of our redemption. Herein we have, The cause of it; not our works or righteousness, but the kindness and love of God our Saviour. The effects; which are, Justification; being justified, pardoned and accepted through the alone merits of Christ, not from any desert in us, but according to his own mercy, by his grace, his free, unmerited goodness. Sanctification, expressed by the laver of regeneration, (that is, baptism, the thing signified, as well as the outward sign,) and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; which purifies the soul, as water cleanses the body, and renews it in the whole image of God. The consummation of all; - that we might become heirs of eternal life, and live now in the joyful hope of it.

  • @ David Stratton after reading your answer, I decided to do some research, and I find it very intriguing that Paul used both the terms Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost on several occasions and am studying those now to see if there might be a particular reason for using each to convey some different meaning or just a random selection of each word. Thanks for your answer, and after I complete my study I will most likely mark your answer as accepted.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 2:11
  • OK. If this helps: gotquestions.org/Holy-Spirit-Ghost.html Dec 16, 2013 at 2:12
  • @ David Stratton after further research it seems that there are no different connotations of the terms and therefore use of the terms seems to be simply random selection, whether by translator preference or for some nuance in the Aramaic language when written in the Greek is anyone's guess. I thought that it might be the latter, but surrounding scriptures leads me to think it is random.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 14:54

My immediate reaction is that this is describing the re-connection Adam had with God before the fall.

Adam knew God. Had fellowship with Him. Walked with Him and was full of God's Spirit. In fact this is the part that died in him the day he sinned.

Since that time all of us must go thru the re-connection (regeneration) and the renewing (re-connection) of God's spirit that Adam once had at birth.

  • Please don't take what I'm about to say as critical, I'm really just trying to help you out, since you're a new visitor, and new visitors tend to struggle a bit. Dec 15, 2013 at 14:10
  • This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Dec 15, 2013 at 14:10

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