Renewing of the Holy Spirit
by Henry Morris III, D.Min.
". . . the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5)
The Holy Spirit's eternal impacts on our lives (regeneration and renewal) are brought together in this text in a rather unique way. To begin with, the Greek words are unusual—"regeneration" being used only twice in the New Testament and "renewal" only five times in various forms. They come together only in this passage.
"Regeneration" (paliggenesia) means to "birth again." The connection to our salvation is well established and does not need much explanation here. "Renewal" (anakainosis) in its variations is a bit more difficult to describe--especially since there is the possible linguistic connection to the "washing" (bath) of regeneration. That is, the section could be translated "the Holy Spirit's bath of regeneration and renewing"--thus equating the two terms. Most translations, however, treat the terms as separate actions or conditions for which the Holy Spirit is responsible. This fits best with the rest of the biblical data.
Perhaps the most well-known passage focusing on renewal is Romans 12:1-2. In this precious reference, we are commanded to present (yield) our bodies as holy and acceptable living sacrifices, and to refuse to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed (metamorphoo = "permanent change") by the renewing of our mind. The instrument by which the transformation comes about is the new mind (intellect)--a grace-gift imputed at salvation by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16; Hebrews 10:16). This renewal takes place in the "inward man" (2 Corinthians 4:16) which "is renewed in knowledge" (Colossians 3:10) according to the image of the Creator. Thus, the renewal comes about intellectually, through the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, as we seek, study, store, and obey the magnificent Word of God. HMM III