New Creatures in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17

new creatures Christ (2)

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2) 2 Cor 5:17: The paragraph in which this verse appears touches upon many different topics within one central theme: Christ has inaugurated a new age in world history.[1]

Scholars note that 2 Cor 5–7 forms a thematic parallel to Isa 40–66, with reconciliation in Christ fulfilling the promised restoration from exile.

Although Paul wrote about reliving the sufferings of Jesus in the course of his ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 11:23–33), the theme of salvation runs concurrently through 2 Cor 5:15–21.[2]

This verse occurs in the context of Paul’s announcement that, “[Christ] died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor 5:15).



Then the apostle pronounced the effect of our redemption: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”[3]

God has changed our status, making all of his people—both men and women—adopted sons of God (Rom 3:21–26; Eph 1:3–8; Gal 3:23–29).[4]

Paul included himself as a prime example of this transformation. Until he encountered the risen Lord, he persecuted those who worshiped Jesus as God (Acts 9:1–6; 1 Tim 1:12–16).[5]

According to Paul, a new relationship with God through faith in Christ makes a person into a restored creation (Cf. Rom 5:12–21). A mere change in moral conduct does not.[6]



Paul further explained, “The old [things] passed away; behold, it has become new.”

Jesus’s death and resurrection divide history into two eras (2 Cor 3:5–6).[7]

As believers, we already participate in the new covenant, the era of the kingdom of God (Luke 17:20–21; Rev 1:9).

Due to the incursion of the new creation into this evil age,[8] the reign of sin and death has been broken.

Yet, we still feel the effects of their power unless we live in close communion with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16–26).[9]

Ultimately, the new creation foreseen by Isaiah shall come at the end of this age when Christ returns to earth (Isa 65:17–25; Isa 66:22; Rom 8:16–23).

However, the true Israel—the church—has already been ushered into the presence of God (Rom 9:6–8; Eph 2:4–7).[10]

This truth shall remain hidden to many until the resurrection of all humanity (2 Cor 4:14–5:10). Therefore, Paul made this impassioned plea, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).[11]

Beginning at the moment of our union with Jesus by faith, believers grow more and more into Christ’s likeness with the aid of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:12–18; Rom 8:9–19).[12]

Our obedience and separation from evil testify to the work of God within us (2 Cor 6:14–7:1).

This moral transformation verifies our incorporation into the new creation (Eph 2:1–10).[13]

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a) Read 2 Cor 5:17. What does it mean to be “a new creation in Christ”? How has Jesus’s death and resurrection affected world history?




Go to Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21)

[Related posts include Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Co-Heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16–18); Creation’s Eager Expectation (Rom 8:19); Subjected to Futility (Rom 8:20); and Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22); Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); Clothed with Christ (Gal 3:26–27); Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); and Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 6: The Promise of a Covenant (Genesis 6:9–22)]


[1]Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians, 2nd Ed. (WBC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 318.

[2]J. V. Fesko, “N. T. Wright on Imputation,” RTR 66, no. 1:2–22, 10.

[3]Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 312.

[4]Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 159.

[5]Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 298.

[6]Werner Foerster, “κτισις” (ktisis), TDNT, 3:1000–35, 1034.

[7]Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 298.

[8]Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 243.

[9]Martin, 2 Corinthians, 2nd Ed., 312.

[10]Peter Balla, “2 Corinthians,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 766.

[11]Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 298–9.

[12]Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 298–9.

[13]Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, 244.