“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;”
King James Version (KJV)
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.
Tit 3:5 He saved us. Not by our righteousness, but by his mercy. The means chosen by his mercy to place us in the state of salvation are next spoken of. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Two elements enter into the saving; these are referred to in John as the birth of water and of the Spirit (Joh 3:5). God's spirit effects the renewal of the spirit of man by bringing him to faith and repentance through the preaching of the gospel; thus the renewal of the Holy Spirit is begun, and the gift of the Holy Spirit is promised as a sequence of baptism (Ro 6:1-8) shows that the sinner dies to sin, is buried by baptism, rises to a new life, and is a new creature. "Washing to regeneration" is literally, "bath of regeneration". All commentators of reputation refer this to baptism, such as Meyer, Olshausen, Lange, Plumptree, Schaff, Canon Cook, Wesley, etc. Regeneration is due to the Holy Spirit, but baptism is an outward act that God requires to complete the fact. The term "regeneration" only occurs here and Mt 19:28.