In the following verse the Apostle Paul describes how he was saved:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
Here Paul uses the word "regeneration" in regard to his salvation. This word is translated from the Greek word paliggenesia, which is the combination of palin and genesis.
Palin means "joined to verbs of all sorts,it denotes renewal or repetition of the action" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
According to BDAG, palin refers "to repetition in the same (or similar) manner, again, once more, anew of someth. a pers. has already done." (Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., ed. Frederick William Danker. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 752).
Genesis means "used of birth, nativity" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
When we combine the meaning of the two words we have a "repetition of a birth."
It is obvious that the reference is not to a "physical" rebirth, or the repetition of one's physical birth. Paul could only be speaking of a repetition of a spiritual birth. And the words that follow make it certain that the "birth" of which Paul is referring to is a "spiritual" birth--"renewing of the Holy Spirit." If a person is "regenerated" by the Holy Spirit then that means that one must have previously been born of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph Henry Thayer says that the Greek word translated regenerartion "denotes the restoration of a thing to its pristine state, its renvation" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
Richard C. Trench says that the word has the meaning of "a recovery, a restoration" (Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament).
The word "restoration" means "a bringing back to its original position or condition" (Merriam-Webster.com).
Therefore, if a person is regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit then that must mean that this represents his being brought back to his original condition of being born of the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what the Lord Jesus is referring to here:
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Except a man be born of water and of 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (Jn.3:3,5-7).
A person is born into this world spiritually alive. The Scriptures reveal that a man is made "upright":
"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Eccl.7:29).
Paul also makes it plain that a person enters the world with a "nature" that is conductive to following the law which is written on his heart, the same law of which the conscience bears witness:
"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Ro.2:14,15).
This would be impossible if a person was born with a sin nature, a nature which leads one to fulfill the desires of the flesh:
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph.2:2-3).
From this we can understand that a person is born with a nature that is conductive to keeping God's law but when he sins then his nature is changed and it is not until then that he can be described as a child of wrath.
It is only after a person sins that he becomes by "nature" a child of wrath, fulfilling the desires of his flesh and of his mind. A person comes into the world spiritually alive, and the Scriptures reveal that the Lord Jesus was make like his brothers in every way:
"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people" (Heb.2:17).
The meaning of the Greek word translated "to be made like" is "'to make like'...'to be' or 'to become like' to one...Heb. ii. 17" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
It is inconceivable that it would be said that the Lord Jesus was made like His brothers "in every way" if He was born spiritually alive and his brothers are born spiritually dead.