2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It is undeniable that no one can live a perfect sinless life like Jesus. When we receive Jesus(i.e. born again), what exactly happens spiritually and physically? Our body remains the same, we are still struggling with sin(though it has reduced to some extend). What is the essence of New Creation? Is it a 'change of heart'? or 'change of character'? or 'rebirth of spirit'? How can we identify or know that something has changed? To what degree of 'change' is counted as a new creation? What is being created new here? It may be difficult to explain but attempts must have been made.

How have Mainstream Protestant denominations/theologians explained what is "New Creation"?

  • Mainstream Protestantism is a very, very big group. Can you narrow down your search to a particular group of Protestantism? Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians, Arminians, Methodists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Quakers, Mennonites, the Amish, and many more sects are all Protestants. :P
    – Double U
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 4:29
  • @Anonymous There are many sects but only a few of them can provide a good exegesis, I presume.
    – Mawia
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 4:42
  • What do you mean by "provide a good exegesis"?
    – Double U
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 4:57
  • @Anonymous Which can answer all my doubts mentioned in my question.
    – Mawia
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 4:59
  • I found a resource that might be able to answer the asker's question. The problem is, you have to borrow the book from the library. Here it is. Hubbard, M. V. (2002). New creation in Paul's letters and thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. It's written by a professor from Biola University. I think he's Evangelical Protestant just by looking at his CV.
    – Double U
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


John 3:4-10 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old…Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Notice that this conversation took place prior to the cross. Also notice that Jesus chastised Nicodemus for not knowing of the new birth.

Genesis 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD

As did those mentioned in Hebrews 11 that placed their faith in the promise of God.

Christ said:

John 1:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

This new thing that required the departure of Jesus Christ and His finished work established by His seat at the right hand of God the Father, enables the Holy Spirit to dwell in our heart.

The Holy Spirit bears out the will of God the Father. Jesus Christ is the eternally-begotten, the manifest "will" of God the Father. Christians are equipped by the overshadowing presence of the Holy Spirit to bear out Jesus Christ in their lives. This is why Paul says:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

So, the new creation is "Christ in our life"!


The New Creation passage occurs in 2 Corinthians 5:17. We get the meaning from reading the passages before it as we follow the train of thought. In chapters 4-5, we find that Paul has a view of life that is colored by what happens to the faithful believer after death. Paul sees that the glory to come is greater than his trials (4:16-18), which includes his gospel-work-related sufferings (4:7-15), and helps him bear the trials.

5:1-8 continues the train of thought, telling us a specific hope when we die, that we will be clothed upon with a glorious body.

5:9-11 This glory comes at a price, and that's careful holy living while in this body. Paul has the "terror of the Lord" because of the impartial judgment of the believer, whose doings in the body will be recompensed, "whether good or bad."

In 5:12-16, in which occurs the "new creation" phrase, Paul sees Christ and the world in a new way. He lives for Christ out of love. We all died through Christ's death. We rose again and are seated with Christ, rescued from the tyranny of the flesh.

So the new creation person has a new outlook on life and death because of an inward work on the Holy Spirit. Trials do not daunt him or her. The judgment seat cautions to holy living. The love of Christ urges us on to sacrifice all. We see Christ in a new way. This is the character of the new creation, which is in contrast to the "old man" that lived for self and against God.

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