“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us; by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 All the discussion on this passage will be from an examination of the understanding of the word generation in the sacred writings. Our reason for this is that we object to an immediate decision of the meaning of a word which occurs only in the passage under discussion without the understanding of the rest of Holy Writ. If we cannot find the whole word in any parallel passage, we will look for the proper substitute in the root or branches of that word, so far as they are employed by the same writers. We think it will be granted, that, whatever may the scriptural acceptation of the word generation, regeneration is only the repetition of that act or process.
After a close examination of the passages in which generation occurs in the writings of the Hebrew Prophets and Apostles, we find it used only in two acceptations—as descriptive of the whole process of creation and of the thing created. A race of men, or a particular class of men, is called a generation; but this is its figurative rather than its literal meaning. Its literal meaning is the formation or creation of any thing. It is first used in the formation or creation. Moses calls the creation, or whole process of formation of the heavens and the earth, “The generations of the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 2:4 The account of the formation of Adam and Eve, and also the account of the creation of Adam and Eve, are, by the same writer, called “The book or record of the generations of Adam.” Genesis 5:1 This is the literal definition of the word; so, generation literally indicates the whole process of renovating or new-creating man.
This process may consist of numerous distinct acts; but it is in accordance with the general usage to give to the consummating act the name of the whole process. For the most part, the name of the whole process is given to the consummating act, because the process is always supposed incomplete until that act is performed! For example: In the process of physical birth, until the last act is performed, to us, it is not. So, in all the processes of nature—in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms—the last act consummates the process. To all acquainted with the process of germination, no further discussion is needed. But in the style of our farmers, no crop or animal is made, until it comes to maturity. We often hear them say of a good shower, or a few clear days, “this is the making of the wheat or corn crop.” In the same sense, Christians call the last act regeneration or the new birth; though being born is only the last act that takes place in the natural generation, and last act in regeneration!
In this way the new birth and regeneration are used indiscriminately by commentators and writers on theology, and, by a figure of speech, it is justified on well-established principles of speaking. This leads us to speak particularly of the bath of regeneration.
By the “bath of regeneration” is not meant the first, second, or third act; but the LAST act in the process of regeneration, which completes the whole, and is, therefore, used to denote the new birth!! This is the reason why our Lord and His Apostles unite this act with water!! Being born again is the Saviour’s style and the bath of regeneration that of the apostles. All those who have written on this subject, even critics who do not ever believe what they read, refer to this as one and the same act. So, all the ancients during the second and third centuries of the Churches of Christ used the word regeneration as synonymous with immersion!! All the creeds and liturgies of Protestant churches use the words regeneration and baptism as synonymous!!