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What does it mean that all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

all things have become new

In the first episode of the television series The Chosen, Mary Magdalene testifies to Jewish religious leader Nicodemus of the absolute transformation she experienced because of knowing Jesus Christ: “I was one way, and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him.” This dramatic scene was fashioned on the apostle Paul’s teaching that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

When a person encounters Jesus Christ and surrenders to Him as Lord and Savior, that individual is now “in Christ,” joined to Jesus in His death and resurrection: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). We become a whole new creation in Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:15). Our “former way of life,” or “old self,” which was “corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22), was “one way,” as Mary put it in the television series. But the “new self” in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), is “completely different.” Scripture says that, when Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus, He cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:1–3). After being set free, Mary was forever changed into a devoted follower of Christ.

Through union with Jesus Christ, all things have become new for born-again believers. Our old life dominated by sin no longer controls us: “Since we have been united 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. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (Romans 6:5–8, NLT).

All things have become new illustrates the beginning of our transformation—our inward renewal and regeneration—that will culminate in the fullness of our salvation to be experienced in eternity. Our Savior’s death and resurrection ushered in a foretaste of an entirely new world still to come: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Eventually, everything in creation will be made new (Romans 8:19–20; cf. Isaiah 65:17–25).

Paul explained that the Christian’s new self “is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10). Through the inner working of the Holy Spirit, believers grow into the image of Christ “with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). God promises to give us a new, undivided heart, removing our “heart of stone” and replacing it with a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27). The changes begin in the heart but then spill out to our behavior (Romans 12:2).

Paul explained that these changes don’t happen through our own force of will and self-effort (Philippians 3:4–9) but through living by faith in Christ: “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 in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NLT).

For believers, all things have become new in us and in our relationships with other people. We now look at unbelievers with compassion, seeing them as Christ saw them—“like sheep without a shepherd” or as lost sinners in need of a Savior (Matthew 9:36). No matter how different they may be, we recognize fellow Christians as part of one united body—the new creation: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; see also Romans 12:5).

All things have become new through our union with Christ, and we no longer live for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15). To the new creation in Christ, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). Instead of living to please ourselves, we now live to please Christ, serve Him (2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1), and look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3–4; Galatians 6:2).

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What does it mean that all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
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This page last updated: May 30, 2023