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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
FYI: A lot of this is taken from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.
The following is important:
Therefore if any man be in Christ – The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine – that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it.
John 15:2, “every branch in me.” John 15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.” “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me.” See alsoJohn 15:5-7, see the note on John 15:2.
To be “in Christ” denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all our support is from him. All our strength is derived from him; and denotes further that we shall partake of his fullness, and share in his felicity and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and vigor of the parent vine.
The word “therefore” (Ὥστε Hōste) here implies that the reason why Paul infers that anyone is a new creature who is in Christ is that which is stated in the previous verse; to wit, the change of views in regard to the Redeemer to which he there refers, and which was so great as to constitute a change like a new creation.
The affirmation here is universal, “if any man be in Christ;” that is, all who become true Christians – undergo such a change in their views and feelings as to make it proper to say of them that they are new creatures. No matter what they have been before, whether moral or immoral; whether infidels or speculative believers; whether amiable, or debased, sensual and polluted yet if they become Christians they all experience such a change as to make it proper to say they are a new creation.
A new creature – Margin, “Let him be.” This is one of the instances in which the margin has given a less correct translation than is in the text. The idea evidently is, not that he ought to be a new creature, but that he is in fact; not that he ought to live as becomes a new creature – which is true enough – but that he will in fact live in that way, and manifest the characteristics of the new creation. The phrase “a new creature” καινὴ κτίσις kainē ktisis) occurs also inGalatians 6:15. The word rendered “creature” (κτίσις ktisis) means properly in the New Testament, creation. It denotes:
(1) The act of creating Romans 1:20;
(2) A created thing, a creature Romans 1:25; and refers:
(a) To the universe, or creation in general; Mark 10:6; Mark 13:9-11; 1 Peter 3:4.
(b) To man, mankind; Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23.
Here it means a new creation in a moral sense, and the phrase new creature is equivalent to the expression in Ephesians 4:24,
“The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
It means, evidently, that there is a change produced in the renewed heart of man that is equivalent to the act of creation, and that bears a strong resemblance to it – a change, so to speak, as if the man was made over again, and had become new. The mode or manner in which it is done is not described, nor should the words be pressed to the quick, as if the process were the same in both cases – for the words are here evidently figurative. But the phrase implies evidently the following things:
(1) That there is an exertion of divine power in the conversion of the sinner as really as in the act of creating the world out of nothing, and that this is as indispensable in the one case as in the other.
(2) that a change is produced so great as to make it proper to say that he is a new man. He has new views, new motives, new principles, new objects and plans of life. He seeks new purposes, and he lives for new ends.
If a drunkard becomes reformed, there is no impropriety in saying that he is a new man. If a man who was licentious becomes pure, there is no impropriety in saying that he is not the same man that he was before. Such expressions are common in all languages, and they are as proper as they are common. There is such a change as to make the language proper.
Read the following carefully, it’s awesome!!!
And so in the conversion of a sinner. There is a change so deep, so clear, so entire, and so abiding, that it is proper to say, here is a new creation of God – a work of the divine power as decided and as glorious as when God created all things out of nothing. There is no other moral change that takes place on earth so deep, and radical, and thorough as the change at conversion. And there is no other where there is so much propriety in ascribing it to the mighty power of God.
Old things are passed away – The old views in regard to the Messiah, and in regard to people in general, 2 Corinthians 5:16. But Paul also gives this a general form of expression, and says that old things in general have passed away – referring to everything. It was true of all who were converted that old things had passed away. And it may include the following things:
(1) In regard to the Jews – that their former prejudices against Christianity, their natural pride, and spirit of seducing others; their attachment to their rites and ceremonies, and dependence on them for salvation had all passed away. They now renounced that independence, relied on the merits of the Savior, and embraced all as brethren who were of the family of Christ.
(2) in regard to the Gentiles – their attachment to idols, their love of sin and degradation, their dependence on their own works, had passed away, and they had renounced all these things, and had come to mingle their hopes with those of the converted Jews, and with all who were the friends of the Redeemer.
(3) in regard to all, it is also true that old things pass away. Their former prejudices, opinions, habits, attachments pass away. Their supreme love of self passes away. Their love of sins passes away. Their love of the world passes away. Their supreme attachment to their earthly friends rather than God passes away. Their love of sin, their sensuality, pride, vanity, levity, ambition, passes away. There is a deep and radical change on all these subjects – a change which commences at the new birth; which is carried on by progressive sanctification; and which is consummated at death and in heaven.
-taken from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.
Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!