Perhaps the least taught but arguably the most significant aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is regeneration. In the doctrine of regeneration we are reborn by God, given a new birth, made alive in Christ. We were dead in our sins and He made us alive. As we shall see, there is a radical difference between someone that is spiritually dead and some that is spiritually alive.
We are introduced to the concept of the new birth in the Gospel of John. In the two main passages that reference the new birth in John, the following Greek word is used in the original text:
γεννάω gennaō verb Beget, give birth to, produce, effect
John 1:11-12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God
John 3:3-8 (NASB) Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
In John chapter one we see that believers were born by the will of God. In John chapter three we see that those who enter the kingdom of God must be born from above (or again) of the Spirit.
A similar word is used in First Peter:
ἀναγεννάω anagennaō verb Beget again, to produce again.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)
for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 (NASB
In 1 Peter 1:3 we see that God caused us to be born again through the resurrection of Christ. In 1 Peter 1:23 we are born of imperishable seed through the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit uses a different word to describe the new birth in Colossians and Titus:
παλιγγενεσία palingenesia new birth, rebirth, regeneration
Col 2:13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses
Titus 3:5 He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit
In Colossians 2:13 God made us alive with Christ when we were dead in our sins. In Titus 3:5 God delivered us (saved us) by means of regeneration’s washing and the Holy Spirit’s renewal.
In the new birth is the idea of a new creation:
κτίσις ktisis noun Creation, creature.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)
For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Galatians 6:15 (NASB)
κτίζω ktizō verb Create, form, shape, found.
and to put on the new man, which according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24 (LITV)
Everyone that is in Christ is a new creation. The new creation is the new man, which was created by God as righteous and truly holy.
As stated in the section on Justification/Righteousness, when God made us alive He made us righteous
“and to put on the new man, which according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24 (LITV)
Regeneration includes the old man being put to death with Christ, and our new man being raised with Christ
Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
The following refers to Regeneration and Sanctification in the same verse:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you [regeneration] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. [sanctification]“ Philippians 1:6 (NASB)
In John’s first epistle we see the characteristics of the one having been born* (perfect tense of γεννάω gennaō) of God
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born* of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. 1 John 5:1 (HCSB)
If you know that He is righteous, know that everyone doing righteousness has been born* of Him. 1 John 2:29 (LITV)
Everyone who has been begotten* of God does not sin, because His seed abides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born* of God. 1 John 3:9 (LITV)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born* of God, and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (LITV)
We know that everyone having been born* of God does not sin, but the one born of God keeps [him], and the evil does not touch him. 1 John 5:18 (LITV)
Because everything having been born* of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory overcoming the world, our faith. 1 John 5:4 (LITV)
The characteristics of someone who has been born of God are: 1) believes that Jesus is the Messiah, 2) loves God the Father and the one born of Him (Jesus and/or other believers), 3) does righteousness, 4) does not sin, loves and knows God, 5) does not sin and evil does not touch him, and 6) overcomes the world.
The following table summarizes our condition before and after regeneration:
Before Regeneration After Regeneration
|The old (creation)||A new creation|
|The Old man||The New man|
|A deceptively wicked heart||A New heart|
|Dead in our sins||Alive unto God and righteousness|
|Sinners that sin||He that is righteous does righteousness|
|Our old man – crucified||We have been raised to new life|
|From the realm of the flesh||To the realm of the Spirit|
|From the realm of earth||To the realm of Heaven|
|From the realm of sin||To the realm of righteousness|
|From the realm of Law||To the realm of Grace|
|From the realm of Adam||To the realm of Christ|
As we see in the above table, being regenerated makes all the difference. Behold, all things really are new!