(16) Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (18) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. (21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
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Of keen interest in this context is the term “new” in verse 17. Paul had his choice of either of two words,kainos or neos, but he chose the one best suited to God's purpose here. He chose kainos, indicating newness in the sense of fresh existence. Neos means newness in the sense of renovation, for example, repairing something that already exists. In this context, God is describing a transformation in the inner man from carnality to spiritual thought and conduct. The new creation is not merely a repair job of the old, existing, carnal nature. It is a complete change to a nature, a heart, that had not been there before conversion.
The apostle nudges our thoughts to a parallel incident, when God created Adam in Genesis 1. Adam was an entity who did not exist before God acted. In this creation described in II Corinthians 5, though, God is not exercising His divine powers by creating an entirely new person, but He is fashioning a new heart, a new nature, that will produce righteousness, in contrast to the old nature that produced self-centered sin.
One by one, God is calling people out of Satan's worldly system and creating a Family Kingdom described in multiple locations throughout His Word. We have all borne the physical and character image of the sinner Adam; we are now being created in the spiritual image of the holy, righteous, and sinless Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:48-49). But know this: The new creation does not end with the spiritual creation of the sons of God. It carries on to include even a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The new creation begun by God with repentant and converted human beings is just the beginning of a massive creation that will surely follow because God has willed it as part of His plan (Isaiah 55:11). His Word provides an idea of what it entails, alerting God's children of the new creation that has begun in them and will expand indefinitely.
Isaiah 42:9 reads, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”Isaiah 65:17 adds, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” The prophet chose to use the Hebrew word hadas (“new”; Strong's 2319) that, as kainos in New Testament Greek, indicates “that which did not exist before.”
Isaiah 9:7 clinches the never-ending expansion of God's purpose:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 66:22-23 contains even more exciting news:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath toanother, all flesh shall come before Me,” says the LORD.
— John W. Ritenbaugh