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What is the new man in Colossians 3:10?

new man

In Colossians 3:5–11, the apostle Paul lists several vices believers are to “put off,” as if taking off items of clothing: “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (verse 5), and “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language” (verse 5). These sins belong to our old “earthly nature” (verse 5). Finally, Paul says, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (verses 9–11, NKJV).

The new man is the newly regenerated spiritual nature of the born-again Christian. It is the inner self made alive in Jesus Christ and, after that, being renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16; Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16). As we see in Colossians 3:11, the new man is not merely who we are becoming as individual Christians but the collective person we, as members of the body of Christ, are becoming together in Him, who is “all and in all.” Paul uses the imagery of changing one’s clothes to illustrate the Lord’s transformative work of recreating believers into His own image: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14, NKJV; see also Galatians 3:27).

Citing Genesis 2:7, Paul expounds, “‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45, NLT). Jesus is the new man, the last Adam. Ultimately, the freshly created community of born-again believers, being renewed into His image, is the new man: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).

The Bible teaches that humans were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; 5:1). When Adam sinned, the perfect image of God in us was deformed or ruined by sin (Genesis 3:1–24; Romans 1:21; 3:23). The fall separated humankind from God (Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:21) and brought death into the world (Romans 5:12). Nevertheless, humans still bear God’s image (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9).

Thankfully, through Jesus Christ and the new life believers receive in Him, our fallen, sinful natures can be recreated anew into God’s image (Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 5:27; Hebrews 10:14). Conforming to the new man is God’s purpose for our lives in Jesus Christ: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29; see also 1 Corinthians 1:2).

Becoming the new man begins at the cross, when we accept Christ’s gift of salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 2:13). Before salvation, we were “dead because of [our] sins and because of [our] sinful nature,” but then “God made [us] alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sin” (Colossians 2:13, NLT). Our old man—our unregenerated, sinful selves—was crucified, died, and buried with Christ. Our new man is raised to new life in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11; Romans 6:4–6; Galatians 2:20). From then on, the process of sanctification, or internal transformation, continues for the rest of our lives on earth.

The Holy Spirit begins to renew our minds, thoughts, and attitudes, changing us and shaping us to be more like Jesus (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18). As we spend time in the Lord’s presence, growing in the grace and knowledge of Him and studying His Word, we become “in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15, NLT; see also John 17:17; Ephesians 5:25–26; 2 Timothy 3:16).

Becoming the new man is a lifelong process “until Christ is fully developed in [our] lives” (Galatians 4:19, NLT). It is the goal we should always be pressing toward by the power of the Holy Spirit, throwing off the old man’s clothes and putting on the garments of the new man (Philippians 3:12; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 6:1). Only when we stand face to face with Jesus in eternity will our metamorphosis into the new man be complete (1 John 3:2–3; Philippians 3:21; Hebrews 12:23; 2 Peter 1:4; Jude 1:24).

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What is the new man in Colossians 3:10?
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This page last updated: May 6, 2024