2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (LITV)

This verse seems to imply that when we come to Christ and are found in Him, our old self dies and we are ‘born again’ as a new creation, a creation that will last for eternity once our body perishes from physicality. These are profound truths and this verse deserves, much like the other verses in the Bible, some proper reflection and a closer look. 2 Corinthians 5:17 further states what Christ accomplished when He died upon the cross in regards to who we are in Him. The death of the old self is one of the fundamental truths behind the Christian faith. When we believe upon Jesus Christ the old self dies and we are “born again” as a new creation. This new creation lives in us now, but will be transfigured upon our death and resurrection. This new creation, not only lives in this reality, but now lives in the surpassing reality, that is eternity. Our deeds and actions now affect both, producing current fruits, and presently unknown riches inside that reality which lies beyond our current Euclidean understanding.


The verse starts out with the word, “Therefore,” in the NIV and HCSB, among others. “Therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. In this and other examples where the word “therefore” is included, that which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” Thus, we need to ask ourselves the question, “To which statements within 2 Corinthians or elsewhere is Paul referring?” I believe the answer lies a few verses prior in 2 Corinthians 5.

2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluation others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now!”


There are several premises and statements here which Paul uses to draw his conclusion, stated in the remainder of 2 Corinthians 5:17. These are as follows:

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.


“If” is a word that implies a hypothetical, stating that conditions must be met for the consequent to be evidenced. “If” introduces the condition that one must be in Christ for the consequent, stated in the conclusion of the verse, to be made plain. Just what does it mean to be in Christ? Ephesians 1 gives us the answer.

Ephesians 1:13, “And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

David K. Lowery tells us the Agent by which this transformation occurs:

“This new creation is brought about by the Holy Spirit, the Agent of regeneration and the Giver of divine birth.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Life Application Study Bible concurs with Lowery:

“The Holy Spirit gives [Christians] new life, and they are not the same anymore.” –Life Application Study Bible


So, to be in Christ is to have believed the word of truth, that is the gospel of salvation revealed by Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which one receives when believing this glorious gospel. Included in this is a faith and a obedience to the commandments of the Lord, Whom we love and worship, and who we place in His rightful place, an exalted position as the Lord over our lives.

Philip E. Hughes in the NIV Study Bible parrots this point.

“[Being in Christ refers to us being] united with Christ through faith in Him and commitment to Him.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible


A ‘new creation’ by necessity refers unto some old state, or state of being. The old state is referred to by the Scriptures to have ‘passed away,’ by and through the grace of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the presence of the Great Counselor, the Holy Spirit. ‘Passed away,’ seems to reference the death of something, and indeed Paul tells us we share in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, upon whom our old nature was placed and condemned to death, so that when Jesus was raised by the manifest glory of the Father, we too were raised where we may put on this new nature as an advanced, state-of-the-art garment, clean without stain or blemish. Galatians tells us:

Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In addition, Romans chapter 6 declares:

Romans 6:4-6, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been unified with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”


Paul is attempting to use reason to show that this old self has truly died and has been replaced by something new and far more glorious. Paul was a masterful apologeticist and offered many proofs throughout the Scriptures to us, and also to those present with Paul in times past, those he was witnessing to and even to the apostles themselves. Case in point:

Acts 9:20-22, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. ‘Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?’ they asked. ‘And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?’ Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.”


How is Paul’s argument constructed? Paul’s argument is constructed by the premises stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. These statements represent the ‘new creation.’ Being the case, then, they are referenced as axioms which should be represented within the body of believers. Thereby, through their negation we should see, or get a description, of the old nature, or non-believers, those not in Christ. Let us refresh our memory by stating these axioms once more.

  1. Christ’s Love Controls Us.

  2. Christ Died For All.

  3. We Have All Died To Our Old Life.

  4. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will No Longer Live For Themselves.

  5. Those Who Receive Christ’s New Life Will Live For Christ.

  6. Christ Died and Was Raised For Us.

  7. We Have Stopped Viewing Others From a Strictly Human Standpoint.

  8. We Know Christ Transcends His Manifest Human Nature.

Now, if we take these axioms and negate them, the old nature should become apparent. I have numbered these for easy reference, thus 1 in the following list will correspond to the negation of 1 in the former.


  1. Love of self, pleasure and material or the physical controlled and motivated us.

  2. Christ may have died, but for no great divine purpose.

  3. We must indulge in life and do whatever pleases us at any particular moment, for this is the only means to have a rich and fulfilling life.

  4. It is the self and the love of the self which motivates and compels us.

  5. To live for someone else is an absurdity, unless it in some way mutually and reciprocally benefits the self.

  6. Christ may have died, but He was not divine and there has never been nor there will be any resurrection from the dead, for death is final.

  7. The viewpoint of man is limited to the material and what can be experienced by the senses.

  8. Christ was most certainly a mere man, if He existed at all.

This sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? These necessary negations may have been evident in our lives at one time, or with the examination of the world, we see that it is very much applicable to the secular community at large. Furthermore, it follows the philosophical doctrines of materialism, post-modernism and existentialism so prevalent in the world today. However, some may find that at least a couple may apply to their lives right now.


It is important that if any of these aforementioned statements apply, still, to our lives, that we spend much time in prayer and examining the self and the state of nature as it applies to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I assure you, friends, that this is convicting for me for I have failed in following the statutes of our Lord Jesus Christ to an extreme degree. So if one is feeling convicted by these words, I join him or her in company that desperately needs the power of the Lord made manifest in our lives. May it be so both by the Lord’s discipline and grace.


John Gill echoes this message by stating the necessity of “newness” within professed Christians.

“Whoever is in the kingdom or church of Christ, who professes himself to be a Christian, ought to be a new creature.” –John Gill

Paul, himself, by the grace of our Lord, was in a unique position to be able to juxtapose the old nature with the new creation. As David K. Lowery states:

“No one was more able to reflect on that transformation than Paul who switched from a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ.” –David K. Lowery, The Bible Knowledge Commentary


We can definitively see a vast opposition between the old nature and this new creation. The degree of this ‘newness’ through and by the Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Usually when we consider something to be new, it is not to a full extent, that is lingering vestiges of the old may remain, which become simply “covered up” by the new, but in Christ the old is referenced as being completely destroyed in order to make room for the full revelation of what is new, so that it may become apparent in us. The Life Application Study Bible has some profound things to add concerning this.

“We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated—we are re-created (new creations), living in vital union with Christ. At conversion we do not merely turn over a new leaf; we begin a new life under a new Master.”Life Application Study Bible

“While this newness is true individually, Paul is saying much more. Not only are believers changed from within, but a whole new order of creative energy began with Christ. There is a new covenant, a new perspective, a new body, a new church. All creation is being renewed.”Life Application Study Bible

“This is not a superficial change that will be quickly superseded by another novelty. This is an entirely new order of all creation under Christ’s authority. It requires a new way of looking at all people and all of creation.” –Life Application Study Bible

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This insight provided by the Life Application Study Bible is echoed by the literal translations of the Scripture, such as the LITV concerning 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

John Gill, too, points out that there is a vital extraordinary distinction to this “newness,” or being of a new creation, which trumps our normal conceptions of what we may consider to be new.

“[A new creation] is applied by the apostle to converted persons; and designs not an outward reformation of life and manners, but an inward principle of grace, which is a creature, a creation work, and so not man’s but God’s’; and in which man is purely passive, as he was in His first creation; and this is a new creature, or new man, in opposition to, and distinction from the old man, the corruption of nature; and because it is something anew implanted in the soul, which never was there before; it is not a working upon, and an improvement of the old principles of nature, but an implantation of new principles of grace and holiness; here is a new heart, and a new spirit, and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys; here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with: old things are passed away: the old course of living, the old way of serving God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; the old legal righteousness, old companions and acquaintance are dropped; and all external things, as riches, honours, learning, knowledge, former sentiments of religion are relinquished: behold, all things are become new.” –John Gill

Due to the fact that we are a new creation, and have a place within the new creation, let us, therefore, strive to have absolutely no association with the old self, for the new creation is diametrically opposed to the old self. The old is contradictory to the new creation, as the new creation stands in opposition with our old nature. Let us, therefore, put on the nature of Christ and do away with the old garments of Adam. As Christ tells us in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 9:16-17, “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”