New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:5 saved us. In spite of the strong emphasis which he had just placed on godly living (Titus 3:1-3), Paul again wants to make it abundantly clear that salvation is altogether by God’s mercy and grace (see also Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:16-21).
3:5 washing of regeneration. The “washing of regeneration” is symbolized by baptism, whereby immersion in water represents total cleansing, as well as death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11). It also symbolizes being “immersed” into the body of Christ, as it were, by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5; I Corinthians 12:13), who “renews” us from spiritual death to eternal life when we receive Christ by faith. However, it is not the act of water baptism, but the “washing of regeneration,” that saves us, and this is received altogether by God’s grace (Titus 3:7) through faith in the person and saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism beautifully symbolizes all that is taking place when we are “born again” (John 3:3) and become “new creations” in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17), but it is only that—a beautiful symbol. Without saving faith, it is meaningless.
3:7 hope. The Christian “hope,” centered especially in Christ and His promised return (note Titus 2:13), is not a forlorn hope, or mere wishful thinking. It is rather an anticipation of what we know is coming by faith in God’s promises. We have the “hope of eternal life which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2). God is omnipotent, but there are three things He cannot do: “He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:13); secondly, “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13); and, most assuredly, He cannot lie! Therefore, our hope is real certainty, even though we do not see its fulfillment just yet (Romans 8:24-25). “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19).