Post 12 is the second part of my analysis of Titus 3:4–7, which clearly teaches that any deed or work (ergon) “done in righteousness” is not a requirement for salvation. Water baptism easily falls within the scope of deeds done in righteousness. Titus 3:4-7 supports the position that water baptism is not a requirement for salvation.
The text (NASB95) reads:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He 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, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
A verse-by-verse discussion is below.
Verse 4 (and 3)
Verse 4 contains the Greek proposition de, which the NASB95 translates as “but,” and de functions as a logical contrastive. Heiser et al. define it to mean:
“Contrast” refers to opposition. A contrastive conjunction is a conjunction that suggests an oppositional thought or relationship to the word, phrase, or clause to which it is connected.
Verse 4 contrasts God’s nature towards mankind with mankind’s sin nature as described in Titus 3:3 (NASB95):
3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
Selected quotes from Larson at p. 382 about verse 3 shows the hopeless sinful condition of every unbeliever:
Without Christ all people follow this type of lifestyle and thinking. Like all people everywhere, we belonged to the fallen system and lived according to our fallen nature. … Paul painted a picture of bondage. Having succumbed to the illusions of this world, unbelievers participate in unrestrained passions and pleasures. This leads to a loss of will. People eventually become prisoner to their urges and cannot break away. These may even be socially acceptable pursuits like materialism, or they may involve the lowest sorts of degradation. Either way, the heart is captivated and cannot free itself. Our relationships with others proved no better in the past as we lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. It is common practice to destroy others in order to preserve one’s self.
Verse 4 establishes that out of God’s kindness to and His love for mankind, He sent Jesus Christ to earth to become the one and only solution to mankind’s sinful condition. John 3:16–17 (NASB95) says it perfectly:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
By writing verses 3 and 4, Paul intended to convey to his audiencethe ultimate contrast between God’s infinite love for mankind and mankind’s hopeless sinful condition. Such a contrast left no room for a human being to accomplish their salvation somehow (even in the smallest part imaginable).
Referring to verse 5, the NASB95 translates the Greek preposition ek as “on the basis of,” and it functions as a preposition of causation that expresses the cause of the related verbal action. See Lukaszewski. The NASB95 translates the Greek verb poieō as “have done,” and Louw et al. define it to mean, “90.45 ποιέωa: a marker of an agent relation with a numerable event—‘to do, to perform, to practice, to make.” See Louw et al. at Vol. 1, p. 803. The grammar shows that it was done in the past.
The NASB95 translates the Greek preposition en as “in,” and it functions as a preposition used to express circumstance. See Lukaszewski. The NASB95 translates the Greek noun ergon as “deeds,” and as discussed in Post 11 it means physical activity. The NASB95 translates the Greek noun dikaiosynē as “righteousness,” and it means, “88.13 δικαιοσύνηa, ης f: the act of doing what God requires—‘righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.” Louw et al. Vol. 1, p. 743.
Knight confirms Paul’s negation of human contribution to salvation:
3:5 The main clause of this verse, ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς, “he saved us,” is preceded by two prepositional phrases that deal with the basis for God’s saving us. The first is a strong negation of any contribution on our part and the second is an equally strong affirmation that salvation is solely based on God’s mercy.
With the negation Paul clearly rejects works as a basis for God’s salvation, as he does elsewhere (Rom. 3:27, 28; 4:2–6; 9:11; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:9; 2 Tim. 1:9; cf. Marshall, “Faith and Works”). Paul makes more explicit what he is rejecting by adding to οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, “not on the basis of works,” the prepositional phrase τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ and a relative pronoun clause with the verb ἐποιήσαμεν and the personal pronoun ἡμεῖς, which both fall under the negation of the initial οὐκ.
Referring to verse 5b, the NASB95 translates the Greek preposition dia as “by,” and it functions as a preposition of means to express the means of an action. See Lukaszewski. The NASB95 translates the Greek noun loutron as “the washing.” According to Mounce (p. 776), it means:
This word for washing refers to the cleansing that Jesus performs on the church through His sacrifice on Calvary, whereby we are washed clean and pure ( Eph. 5:26). In Tit. 3:5, Paul refers to this as “washing of rebirth.”
Little Kittel reads at p. 539, “In Tit. 3:5 the washing of regeneration is on the basis, not of our own works, but of God’s mercy.” Emphasis added.
The NASB95 translates the Greek noun palingensia as “of regeneration,” and it means (Louw et al. at Vol. 1, p. 509):
41.53 γεννάω ἄνωθεν (an idiom, literally ‘to be born again’); παλιγγενεσίαa, ας f: to experience a complete change in one’s way of life to what it should be, with the implication of return to a former state or relation—‘to be born again, to experience new birth, rebirth.’
Little Kittel comments at p. 119 on palingensia:
2. In Tit. 3:5 the term embraces both moral renewal and new life, but with a stress on the latter (cf. v. 7). The grace of God works here by instruction and personal fellowship, not by magical incantation; hence the origin of the use is to be found in the Jewish adaptation of Stoicism, not in the mysteries.
The Greek conjunction kai joins the Greek expression loutron palingensia and the Greek expression anakainōseōs pneumatos, which the NASB5 translates as “renewing by the __ Spirit.” Anakainōseōs is a Greek noun and it means, “58.72 ἀνακαίνωσις, εως f; ἀνακαινόωa; ἀνανεόω: to cause something to become new and different, with the implication of becoming superior—‘to make new, renewal.’” See Louw, et al., at Vol. 1, p. 593. In commenting upon the transformation through the renewing of one’s mind (Romans 12:2), Mounce comments at p. 578:
Such a renewal is impossible without the direct aid of the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5).
Referring to verse 6, the NASB95 translates the Greek verb ekcheō as “He poured out,” and it means, “90.89 ἐκχέωd: (a figurative extension of meaning of ἐκχέωa ‘to pour out,’ 47.4) to cause someone to experience something in an abundant or full manner—‘to cause to fully experience.’” See Louw et al, at Vol. 1, p. 809. The NASB95 translates the Greek adverb plousiōs as “richly, and it means, “78.15 πλοῦτοςb, ου m and n; πλουσίωςb: a high point on any scale and having the implication of value as well as abundance—‘great, abundant, abundantly, greatly, extremely.’” See Louw et al. at Vol. 1, p. 685. The super-abundant pouring out of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ was a one-time snap shot event in the past.
By writing verses 5-6, Paul intended to convey to his audience that physical activity (deeds or work) carried out in the past in an effort to please God do not save a person. In light of Paul’s reference to the Jews in Titus 1:10, it makes sense that the non-salvific ergon include circumcision and other Jewish practices. Further, Paul intended to convey that regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit occur only through God’s action.
In reference to verse 7, the NASB95 translates the Greek verb dikaloō as “being justified.” In reference to the expression “being justified,” Knight (p. 346) [emphasis added] writes:
The aorist passive participle δικαιωθέντες indicates here a past action that “we” have been recipients of, that of being “justified,” i.e., declared righteous in God’s sight and forgiven of sins. It thus refers to a judgment made by God in which already, here and now, God has acquitted sinners and pronounced them righteous.
The NASB95 translates the Greek verb ginomai as “we would be made,” and it means, “13.48 γίνομαιc: to come to acquire or experience a state—‘to become.’ See Louw et al.at Vol. 1, p. 153. The grammar shows that the action was an intentional one-time snap shot event that was done by God. What they would be made was “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (NASB95). The gotquestions.org website (link: What does it mean to be co-heirs/joint-heirs with Christ? | GotQuestions.org) briefly explains being a co-heir with Christ:
In Romans 8:17 Paul says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” According to this verse, we share in the sufferings of Christ now and will share in the glory of Christ later as His “co-heirs” or “joint-heirs.” … Ephesians 2:13 says, “In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” God took us, poor orphans in this world, and made us a part of His family through faith in Jesus Christ. He has showered us with blessings and promised us an eternal inheritance, based on the worthiness of Christ Himself.
By writing verse 7, Paul intended to convey to his audience that justification and being made heirs with Christ were works by God.
In conclusion, we see a great contrast between God’s infinite kindness and love for mankind with mankind’s hopeless sinful condition. These are polar opposites.
We see another contrast between deeds done in righteousness, which cannot save, and God’s mercy and grace by which God saves a person. Through God’s exclusive work a lost person experiences the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, and thereby is justified by God’s grace. God makes such a saved person heirs accruing to the expectation of eternal life.
God does everything when it comes to affecting the salvation of mankind. Mankind has nothing to do with their saving, their justification, or their being made heirs with Christ for eternity. Titus 3:5 excludes anything a human does (e.g., ergon) from contributing to their salvation.
For the purpose of our analysis, earlier posts prove that water baptism is a ergon. Therefore, even if a person carries out their water baptism in their effort to please God, water baptism still makes no contribution to a person’s salvation.
Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume. W.B. Eerdmans.
Knight, G. W. (1992). The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text. W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.
Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.,United Bible Societies.
Lukaszewski, A. L. (2007). The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament Glossary. Lexham Press.
Mounce, William D., Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, (2006), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
… please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
Upon your salvation, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
ONE CAUTIONARY POINT. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
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