Regeneration - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


palingenesia (G3824) Regeneration
anakainosis (G342) Renewing
Palingenesia is one of the many words that the gospel found and then glorified by expanding its meaning and lifting it to new heights to express deeper truths. Although palingenesia was used before the birth of Christ, it could be used to refer to the Christian new birth only after Christ's death. Men could not experience new birth until Christ was born (John 1:12), and their regeneration could only follow his generation.
Although palingenesia could not be used in its highest and most mysterious sense until the birth of the Son of God, it is quite interesting to trace its subordinate and preparatory uses. In some instances it means nothing more than revivification. In the Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their reappearance in new bodies was called their palingenesia. For the Stoics, palingenesia referred to the periodic renovation of the earth, to that time when the earth awakened in the blossoming of springtime from its winter sleep and revivedfrom its winter death. Philo often used palingenesia to refer to the phoenixlike resurrection of the material world out of fire, a doctrine that also was taught by the Stoics, and Philo described Noah and his companions in the ark with these words: "They became leaders of a restoration [palingenesias] and chiefs of a second cycle." Basil the Great spoke thusly of some heretics who brought old heathen speculations into the Christian church: "They introduce infinite destructions and rebirths [palingenesias] of the world." Cicero called his restoration to dignity and honor after his return from exile "this rebirth [palingenesian] of ours." Josephus characterized the restoration of the Jewish nation after the Babylonian captivity as "the recovery and restoration [palingenesia] of the fatherland." Olympiodorus, a later Platonist, styled recollection or reminiscence (which must carefully be distinguished from memory) as the palingenesia of knowledge: "Recollection is a restoration [palingenesia] of knowledge."
Thus the pre-Christian usage of palingenesia refers to a recovery, a restoration, or a revival, but not to the type of new birth referred to in the New Testament. Palingenesia is not used in the Old Testament and appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; Titus 3:5). In each case it has a different meaning. Our Lord's own words evidently refer to the new birth of the whole creation, the apokatastasis panton (the restoration of all things, Acts 3:21), that will occur when the Son of Man comes in his glory. Paul, however, used "the washing of regeneration" to refer to the new birth of human souls, not to the birth of the new creation. Is there a common denominator to the two New Testament uses of palingenesia?Certainly, otherwise all the laws of language would be violated. Palingenesia is used in a wider sense by Christ and in a narrower sense by Paul. There are two concentric circles of meaning with a common center. The palingenesia of Scripture begins with the microcosm of single souls but does not end until it has embraced the whole macrocosm of the universe. As seen in the Pauline reference, the primary seat of the palingenesia is man's soul. Having established its center there, the palingenesia extends in ever-widening circles, first embracing man's body, for which the day of resurrection is its palingenesia. Jesus' words in Matthew 19:28 certainly imply (or presuppose) the resurrection, but they involve much more. Beyond the day of resurrection, or contemporaneous with it, will come a day when all nature will put off its soiled, worn garments and clothe itself in holy attire. This will be "the times of restoration of all things" that is referred to in Acts 3:21. In an interesting intimation of this glorious truth, Plutarch refers to the "new arrangement," and frequently the Bible mentions "the new heaven and the new earth." According to Paul, the day of the palingenesia of the whole creation is one day in the labor-pangs of which all creation is groaning and travailing until now (Rom. 8:21-23). Man is presently the subject of the palingenesia and the wondrous changes it implies, but in that day the palingenesia will include the whole world.
The uses of palingenesia in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5 may be reconciled as follows. In Titus 3:5 palingenesia refers to the single soul; in Matthew 19:28 it refers to the whole redeemed creation. Each use refers to a different stage of the same event. As Delitzsch so concisely said: "Palingenesia is a brief term expressing rebirth or transfiguration of human bodily existence and of the entire non-human nature."
Anagennesis, a word commonly found in the Greek fathers, does not occur in the New Testament. If it were in the New Testament, it would constitute a closer synonym to palingenesia than does anakainosis. Were it used in the New Testament, anagennesis would refer to the active operation of Christ, the author of the new birth, and palingenesia to the new birth itself. Without further discussion, we will examine anakainosis and its relation to palingenesia.

Although palingenesia is drawn from the realm of nature, anakainosis is derived from the world of art. Anakainosis is found only in the Greek New Testament, where it occurs twiceonce in connection with palingenesia (Titus 3:5) and in Romans 12:2. The verb anakainoo (G341) also occurs only in the Greek New Testamentin 2 Corinthians 4:16 and in Colossians 3:10. The more classical anakainizo (G340) appears in Hebrews 6:6, and the nouns derived from it are anakainismos (L-S 107, renewal) and anakainisis (L-S 107, renewal). Ananeoo (G365) is used in a similar way in Ephesians 4:23. The "collect" for Christmas day well expresses the relationship between the palingenesia and the anakainosis. That prayer reads: "That we being regenerate" (in other words, having already been made the subjects of the palingenesia)"may daily be renewed by the Holy Spirit"may continually know the renewal (anakainosis) of the Holy Spirit. In this "collect," which contains profound theological truths in simple and accurate form, the new birth is contemplated as already past, and the "renewal," or "renovation," takes place daily. The gradual restoration of the divine image progresses in the one who through the new birth has come under the transforming powers of the world to come. It is called "the renewal of the Holy Spirit"because he alone is the means for putting off the old man and putting on the new.
Palingenesia and anakainosis are closely bound together; the second is the consequence, or consummation, of the first. The palingenesia is that free act of God's mercy and power by which he removes the sinner from the kingdom of darkness and places him in the kingdom of light; it is that act by which God brings him from death to life. In the act itself (rather than the preparations for it), the recipient is passive, just as a child has nothing to do with his own birth. Such passivity does not characterize the anakainosis, the gradual conforming of the person to the new spiritual world in which he now lives, the restoration of the divine image. In this process the person is not passive but is a fellow worker with God. How many conflicts and obscurations of God's truth have arisen from confusing and separating palingenesia and anakainosis!

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