4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
God’s kindness and love (v.4) are in contrast with the “hateful, and hating one another” (v.3) of our sin natures
kindness (v.4) = goodness in action, imparting benefit
love … toward man (v.4) — one word in Greek, philanthropia, from phileo “be fond of, show affection to” and anthropos “man”
not by works of righteousness (v.5) = lit. “not out of works in righteousness” (Vine) or “not by works, those in the sphere of righteousness” (Wuest)
righteousness (v.5) — Paul is using the term “righteousness” in its classical sense, to merit salvation by the performance of deeds done in the sphere of righteousness as conceived of by the pagan Greeks. He uses the word in a like sense in Romans 5:7, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die,” namely, a man wh olives an outwardly moral, respectable, upright life. — Wuest, page 199
we (v.5) — emphasized in Greek — “we, ourselves”
according to (v.5) — gives the sense of “dominated,” “controlled” — God was controlled by His mercy
regeneration (v.5) = to become again — a new birth
The word “again” [in “to become gain” or “regeneration”] is anothen, “the repetition of an act, the repeated act having the same source as the first act.” The source of the repeated act, namely, regeneration, is the Holy Spirit. The repeated act is the impartation of divine life to the believing sinner. The source of the first act is the Holy Spirit, and the act was that of the impartation of divine life to Adam in his creation (Genesis 2:7). — Wuest, pages 199-200.
Here we have one of those figures of speech in which one thing is spoken of in two ways. “The washing of regeneration” and the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” are one and the same operation. And in the next verse we have another figure of speech, in which the Holy Spirit is spoken of as being “shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” i.e., through the finished work of Christ the Holy Spirit washes, or cleanses, us thoroughly. Or, again, as 1 Corinthians 6:11 puts it, “Ye are washed … by the Spirit of our God.” and thus, “being justified by His [God’s] grace” we are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). — Stam, page 292.
poured out (v.6) — tense indicates an act done once and fulfilled