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In a comment posted on the Christian Discussions Facebook page concerning baptismal regeneration, I followed that post with the question “What is baptismal regeneration?”  From this came the following discussion (minimal editing):

BBB. baptism that regenerates, cleanses the inside, causes one to be born of the Spirit, and the living water that flows from within that springs up to eternal life, is of the Holy Spirit. water baptism of John the Baptist and that of Acts by sprinkling dipping or immersion are symbolic of an inner grace. these do not contribute to the new birth, being born of the Spirit, but are works of righteousness done in obedience.

RT.  If baptism regenerates, and “regenerates” is directly related to giving new life (a new beginning), then how does baptism not contribute to the new birth?

BBB.  the water of regeneration IS the Holy Spirit. the water of baptism is H2O there is no redeeming value in H2O

RT. True, there is no inherent redeeming value in the latter, just like there is no inherent redeeming value in “trust.” Where does the Scripture say that the “water of regeneration IS the Holy Spirit”?

BBB. Ron Thomas you are kidding right? Would anyone like to answer Ron Thomas. Where does the Scripture say that the ” water of regeneration IS the Holy Spirit” ? Or am I just coming from A galaxy far far away ????

RT. No, I am not kidding. If the Word expressly teaches it, surely you would produce it. I anticipate the passage you will go to, but I will wait until you do before I address it.

BBB.  Ex. 17 : 6; 1Cor. 10;4; John 3:5; John 4:14; we don’t drink the H2o of water baptism

RT. There are two elements in John 3, one material, one spiritual; 4:14 makes no case for you, for the word “regeneration” is not there, neither is the declaration that “water” is the “Holy Spirit;” the same with Corinthians 10:4. Only one passage of the ones you mentioned did I figure you to use.


BBB. John 3:5. both elements are spiritual. its Nicodemus who injects the physical into the conversation not Jesus. the whole context of Jesus statements are about the spiritual, Jesus does not allow Nicodemus to lower the subject or to place it in the context of Nicodemus lack of understanding

RT. Surely, you know something about hermeneutics. Since you know something of this literary science, you also know that words always carry their primary meaning into the sentence unless there is some contextual reason for the primary meaning to not be understood. My question to you: What is the contextual reason for the word “water” to not mean H2O?

BBB. From John 2 : 13 to 3 :21 there is no context that addresses water baptism. The context is the issue of spititual things. 2: 19. Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. 2:12. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things. The only things that the immediate context could refer to concerning water, would be either the flesh, or a man’s mothers womb , both of which Jesus redirects back to the spiritual. No where does the immediate or chapter context refer to water baptism. Water in the context is classified spiritual. Jesus makes it clear, Nicodemus a Ruler of the Jews, a teacher of Israel, a Pharisee, understood ceremonial cleansing , OT washing. By his own admission, he understood nothing about the spiritual need for regeneration or how the Spirit of God would bring it about 5:9. Life comes from life. Life comes from God through the Holy Spirit. Life does not come from H2O. And that my friend is the context of water in John 3. Nothing, nota , zilch . about baptismal H2O

RT. Good effort, poor hermeneutics. Everything Jesus talked about had spiritual significance, but that does not mean words change their meanings, like you are trying to do here. With regard to the temple, note how the hearers understood the word meaning. It was not until later the apostles understood the greater and actual significance. Moreover, nowhere in the immediate context does Jesus suggest that water is to be understood in anyway but its natural element. Alford’s Greek commentary says you are wrong, as does Vincent Word Studies and International Critical [Greek] Commentary on the passage, just to name a few. No, you have theology as your hermeneutics, not the biblical text as it reads.

BBB.  If you do not take Nicodemus and who he was and on the basis of how he approached Jesus, and what Jesus held him accountable for knowing, that’s a poor hermeneutic.

The Jews wanted to know by what authority He had driven out the money changers from the temple. On that basis and the other activities of Jesus 3:1 he approached Him. Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel who did not know the scripture, v. 10. Num. 19:17-19; Isa. 4:4; 32:15; 44:3; 51:5; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 13:1. The spiritually ignorant approaches the one who has descended from heaven v 13. That’s the authority of Jesus. He is speaking of heavenly truths, His origin being from heaven. That’s the context of water and Spirit that’s the context of His authority.

Christ does not expect Nicodemus to know anything about Christian/ Church baptism and if He were talking about Johns baptism, He would have said such. The context of water is the heavenly / spiritual water Nicodemus knows nothing about. Now apply your hermeneutic rules to the living water of John 4: 10, 14. Now you have living H2O. Up to this date in the ministry of Christ, there is only one place to go, to understand what Jesus is talking about. that’s the context of the Old Testament.

John 4:10. “If you knew the gift of God , and who it is who says to you, ‘ Give Me a drink, ‘ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. ”

Jer 2:13, 17:13, Isa.12:3, Isa 1:16-18
Isaiah 12:3. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.
Isaiah 55:1. Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters…
Ezek 36:25-27, Isa. 44:3

Anyone who sticks with the context of John can see where Jesus is coming from and where He is going with the being ” born from above”.

By the time you read chapter six, you are going to have to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood, and those terms can be hermeneutically defined as literal as well.

To make the H2O of John 3:5 baptismal water of John the Baptist, or the church ordinance of water baptism without consideration of where Christ is coming from and where He is going with heavenly truths is simple eisegesis

TWM. Now THAT is spot on hermeneutics! Metaphorically speaking.  It is about metaphor, Ron Thomas or at least analogy.

BBB. Ron Thomas. Here is where I think you and I can agree. Water. g 5204 ( hudor ) transliteration for water, H2O. No context, no types, no spiritualization, no old covenant, no prophetic word from the prophets. Did I say no context. Yes no context. What do we have? Water. H2O. Agreed ?
Now what, where do you go from that point?

RT. Great theology, Brent, but far from what is actually the case. The fact is Nicodemus did understand words and their respective meanings. You, on the other hand, redefine words according to theology. Nicodemus had a theology also, so Jesus used words to convey clarity, but clarity was lacking in Nicodemus’ mind. Jesus gave additional clarity. Did he not know the meaning the word “water”? Not according to you and “smh.” Nicodemus had as much understanding about “Christian/Church baptism” as he did in redefinition of words. The word water in John 3 means exactly the same as it does in John 2, unless, of course, you want to redefine that one also.

With regard to John 4:10, 14 – you are correct, the context determines how it is best understood. She came to draw water, that is, H20, and Jesus asked for a drink. She understood the water to be a material element to satisfy thirst. When Jesus spoke of living water, she understood the material element and, just like Nicodemus, she understood it the same. Jesus, however, adds an adjective to the noun, the first indication of a change in the material to something else. She still understood the material and, thus, was a bit confused. The context unfolds this plainly as is made abundantly clear in 4:13. One does not have to go to the Old Testament to see this.

Your John 6 reference does not help you because within the context of Jesus’ words to the people He gave clarity Himself (6:61-63). That they failed to understand, it is true, because they understood the words literally. If Jesus would have left it there, then perhaps your point could be sustained. Fact is, however, He did not. He Himself gave clarity.

Eisegesis applies to one who redefines words with no contextual basis, something you have done. You could not do so from the context; you attempt to do so from some other place in the Bible that has no immediate connection to what Jesus said. He knew the meaning of words He used, and if He wanted people to understand something differently, He made that clear within the context of the words He spoke.

BBB. first. I have redefined no words. Its Nicodemus who introduced the womb. it is Jesus who places water in the context of spirit. no matter how you spin the passage H2O does not produce the birth from above. this is an introductory passage that leads to the New Covenant and the indwelling Holy Spirit. You would have your disciples believe a being born of the Holy Spirit by indwelling H2O, Good luck with that…

RT. Yes you have, Brent. You gave a definition that we both agree on, then you changed the meaning of the word in a passage when there is no reason to do so except for theological reasons, just as your 4th sentence above illustrates. Yes, it is Jesus who placed water in the context of the spirit, but it was also Jesus who used a connecting conjunction to speak of two components (water and spirit), not a fused one (water is spirit). It is true that water does not produce the new birth, for God does that.

BBB. I see water as a metaphor. There is no way in the text to make water (H2O) an element in a spiritual birth. There is no way to internalize it except as a metaphor for the Spirit. And furthermore baptism is not what Jesus is telling Nicodemus to go do. The context makes it clear that it is an un observed work of the Holy Spirit.

TWM.  Ron Thomas you have no solid ground on this one – not one bit….you would do well to spend some time and re-read/re-study the context of this passage and ask God to open up your eyes.

BBB. Yeah , me and the apostle Paul. oops to late for him

RT. Yes, I know you see it as a metaphor, Brent, but there is no contextual reason for it, only theological. Again, the only reason there is “no way…” is because your theological predisposition will not allow the word to be understood with its literal and primary meaning. In the context, “water” does not need to be “internalized.” Moreover, the word “spirit” has no adjective with it in Greek, and the upper case “S” is strictly the judgment of the English translators. While I think it is the Holy Spirit that is in view, some scholars do not think so (Carson, for instance). Tracy, you say I am not on solid ground, but “By far the vast majority of scholars consider the word ‘water’ in this verse as a reference to Christian baptism. The Cambridge Bible says ‘the outward sign and inward grace of Christian baptism are here clearly given, and an unbiased mind can scarcely avoid seeing this plain fact.’” I have continually made the contextual case for the primary meaning of the word holding sway in any context unless there is no justifiable reason. The only reason given thus far is theological. The theological reason for this is as follows: 1) change the literal meaning of the word to a figure of speech, 2) deny any essential role of water applying to baptism. “A text should be interpreted with the degree of precision intended by the author. It should be interpreted ‘according to its literal, or normal, sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed’” (http://www.theopedia.com/interpretation-of-the-bible).

BBB. upon further reflection, after my trip to the “woodshed”, I’m sticken with Paul on this one. 1Cor 10: 1-11.
Titus 3:5
Eph 5:26

RT. No, you are not sticking with Paul. In fact, you dismissed what he said and what he experienced, having submitted to the teaching of the Holy Spirit (Acts 22:16). Paul reaffirmed Jesus’ teaching on baptism as essential to salvation (Romans 15:18; 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12). Titus 3:5 does correspond with John 3:5, but, then again, you won’t much like the views of two Greek scholars: 1) “For loutron, see note on Eph_5:26, here as there the laver or the bath. Probably in both cases there is a reference to baptism, but, as in Rom_6:3-6, (Robertson’s Word Pictures on Titus 3:5), 2) “The phrase laver of regeneration distinctly refers to baptism, in connection with which and through which as a medium regeneration is conceived as taking place. Comp. Rom. 6:3-5. It is true that nothing is said of faith; but baptism implies faith on the part of its recipient” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

If you reply to this, Brent, you have the last word. I will soon turn in, and catch up with you in the morning. Have a great evening!

BBB.  Robertson’s Word Pictures, His last sentence in each paragraph pretty much says what I have been saying

Titus 3:5 – Through the washing of regeneration ( dia loutrou palingenesias ). A late and common word with the Stoics (Dibelius) and in the mystery religions (Angus) also the papyri and Philo. Only twice in the New Testament. Matt 19:28 with which compare ( apokatastasis ) in Acts 3:21, and here in a personal sense of new birth. For loutrou, see Eph 5:26, here as there the laver or the bath. Probably in both cases there is a reference to baptism, but, as in Rom 6:3-6 the immersion is the picture or the symbol of the new birth, not the means of securing it.

And renewing of the Holy Spirit. Kai anakainooseoos pneumatos hagiou . “And renewal by the Holy Spirit (subjective genitive). For the late word anakainoosis see Romans 12:2. Here, as often, Paul has put the objective symbol before the reality. The Holy Spirit does the renewing, man submits to the baptism after the new birth to picture it forth to men.

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright 1997,2003,2005,2006 Biblesoft, Inc.

RT. Yes, I know exactly what he has said, and what it is you have been saying. I have never missed your point. You will note that he makes the point that there are two components, not one. His last sentence, though not strong, makes that point (in his first paragraph) that it refers to water baptism. It is true that water baptism does not “secure” salvation, but I have never declared that. I have only declared that “water” of John 3:5 is to be understood literally, not metaphorically. The blood of Christ secures salvation; it is God’s conditions given to man wherein he makes contact with that blood.

BBB.  Ron, first I will say thanks for your willingness to spend time in discussion. I intentionally chose to approach the subject of regeneration without the injection of theologians, commentators, linguists, with a minimum of Greek and Hebrew word studies, because most people we come in contact with or are discipling do not have the libraries that you and I apparently have. We live in an abbreviated internet world that for the most part has no depth of thought or ability to exercise thoughtful patience. I think diligent study in difficult Biblical doctrine in the layman arena may be a thing of the past.

With Bryon Davis’s post, “Regeneration… The lost doctrine in many churches today!” With a quote by J C Ryle

I chose to inject myself with short biblical references from Exodus to the Pastorals, for the purpose of showing its major role in Gods work of redemption as the HS threads it throughout the whole of Scripture, It’s importance plays a major role in the kind of disciples we make.

However one chooses to interpret Biblical Scripture, He can find a theologian, commentary or word study to reinforce his position.

Knowing that most people do not follow long written posts, loaded with technical language and references I wasn’t sure that short direct reference to an issue would be an adequate communication.

I am of the conviction that the Bible interprets itself, that seed thoughts are explained and expanded in other passages.

I do not doubt that anyone can by taught anything, but I also know that in the integrity of a persons heart, God promises that He can be found.

I am under no delusion as to your position. And you of all people are not one I would seek out to spend time with trying to change, especially on the net. But the doctrine of regeneration, in my estimation, is becoming a lost doctrine in far to many churches of today.

It seems without discussion of some sort it is very seldom even thought to be important

You Ron Thomas, have a very good day, my friend.

RT. You are very generous to discuss this with me, Brent. Hope your day is great. I think I will go paint (~fun), probably paint myself with it!