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What is the difference, or is there a difference, between “regeneration” and “born again”?


Well I wish I could come up with some really deep, impressive sounding answer, but the plain answer is “no”, there is no difference between the two terms.

Both terms mean the same thing: it is the supernatural recreation of the eternal spirit inside of the man who responds sincerely (only God knows whether a person is sincere) in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our conversation we might have different mental pictures: born again is a whole person becoming a new person; regenerated sometimes is talked about as the “heart” being made new.

But these are just different ways to say the same thing: the eternal entity in man no matter how described, is the part that is recreated and made new.

Here are just a sample of applicable verses:

Titus 3:5 (NKJV) 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,
John 3:3 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
1 Peter 1:23 (NKJV) having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,

Here are some definitions from reference books:
Regeneration — only found in Matt. 19:28 and Titus 3:5. This word literally means a “new birth.” The Greek word so rendered (palingenesia) is used by classical writers with reference to the changes produced by the return of spring. In Matt. 19:28 the word is equivalent to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). In Titus 3:5 it denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life (1 John 3:14); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17); being born again (John 3:5); a renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2); a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:6); a being quickened (2:1, 5).
This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 2:29; 5:1, 4).
As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.”
The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture (John 3:3; Rom. 7:18; 8:7–9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1; 4:21–24).
Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton’s Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

REGENERATION: (Lat., ‘rebirth’), a term associated with human hopes and longings for the dawn of a new day, the establishment of a better world, and the creation of a new humanity. The term and concept were prominent in the Hellenistic world of the first century a.d. For biblical writers, the hope of regeneration is linked to faith in the Creator, who is understood as the source of new creation through the power of his word and the work of his Spirit. These writers have very little confidence in human potential for self-regeneration.
Although the term ‘regeneration’ does not occur in the ot, the ot prophets focused attention on an appointed hour in the future when God would make all things new, reconstitute human disposition, make resistant hearts supple, renew his covenant, and refresh spirits through the outpouring of his Spirit (e.g., Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22; Jer. 31:31-34; 32:38-41; Ezek. 36:25-28; 37:1-14; Hos. 6:1-2; Joel 2:26-32; Zech. 13:1; cf. also Isa. 2:1-5; Ps. 51:10-12). With this appointed day, the radical renewal of God’s people would dawn; God’s promises of judgment and blessing/salvation would be fulfilled.
nt writers declare that this day has dawned in the life (e.g., Matt. 10:7-8; 11:4-6; 12:28; 18:3; Luke 4:18-19), death, and resurrection of Jesus. The technical terms for ‘regeneration’ are found in a few key texts, all of which are relatively late. God causes us to be ‘born anew,’ we are ‘born anew [by God]’ (1 Pet. 1:3, 23; cf. 2:2); God ‘saved us…by the washing of regeneration’ (Titus 3:5); it is necessary to be ‘born from above’ (John 3:3, 7; cf. also 1:13; 3:5-6, 8; 1 John 3:9; 5:1-12; James 1:18, 21; for the translation ‘above’ rather than ‘anew,’ cf. John 3:31; 19:11, 23). These are the classical locations for this terminology, but the scope of importance of regeneration in the nt is not limited to them.
Language regarding new creation and a new eschatological (promised end-time) existence dominates the fundamental orientation of all nt preaching and writing. The locus of this orientation is the resurrection of Jesus; the new creation has dawned with the dawn of Easter (e.g., Rom. 6:3-14; 8:10-17; 12:2; 1 Cor. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:20-22; 3:18; 4:16; 5:17; 6:16-18; 13:3, 5; Gal. 2:19-21; 3:27-29; 6:15; Eph. 2:10, 15-16; 4:24; Col. 2:12-15; 3:1-12; Heb. 10:22; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Rev. 1:5-6). The means through which this new reality becomes the new existence for human beings is articulated variously and with different emphases. It is imparted through the power of God’s word and his Spirit, received through faith, experienced sacramentally (baptism and the Eucharist), is lived out in the obedience of responsible living, and is in constant conflict with the old existence (a future resolution of this conflict is a dimension of hope; e.g., Rom. 7:14-25; 8:21-25; cf. also Matt. 19:28-30).
Here, as elsewhere, early Christianity conducted an earnest conversation not only with its ot heritage but also with the popular religion and philosophy of its environment. Then, as now, the hope for regeneration and renewal cut a deep and wide furrow in the hearts and minds of people everywhere
Achtemeier, P. J. (1985). Harper’s Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (Pages 858-859). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
REGENERATION. The Gk. noun palingenesia occurs only twice in the NT (Mt. 19:28, rsv ‘new world’, av ‘regeneration’; Tit. 3:5, ‘regeneration’). In the Mt. passage it is used eschatologically to refer to the restoration of all things, reminding us that the renewal of the individual is part of a wider and cosmic renewal. In Tit. the word is used with an individual reference.
Elsewhere various words are used to express the change which the Holy Spirit effects. gennaō (with anōthen, Jn. 3:3, 7), meaning ‘to beget’ or ‘give birth to’, is used in Jn. 1:13; 3:3–8; 1 Jn. 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18. In 1 Pet. 1:3, 23 the word anagennaō—‘to beget again’ or ‘to bring again to birth’—is found. These words are used to describe the initial act of renewal. The words anakainōsis (Rom. 12:2; Tit. 3:5) with the verb anakainoō (2 Cor. 4:16; Col. 3:10) denote a making anew or renewing. The references will indicate that the use of these two words is not limited to the initial renewal but extends to the resultant process. We may note with reference to the result of the new birth such terms as kainē ktisis, ‘a new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), and kainos anthrōpos, ‘a new man’ (Eph. 2:15; 4:24). Twice we have the term synzōopoieō, ‘to make alive with’ (Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13), which hints at a change, not only as dramatic as birth, but as dramatic as resurrection. apokyeō (Jas. 1:18) denotes to bear or bring forth.
Surveying these terms, we notice that they all indicate a drastic and dramatic change which may be likened to birth, rebirth, re-creation or even resurrection. Several of the terms in their context indicate that this change has permanent and far-reaching effects in its subject.
Wood, D. R. W. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed. /) (Page 1005). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.