Where the world comes to study the Bible

“Old Man” and “New Man” in Paul

Related Media

Introduction

It has been argued that human language, as a vehicle for accurate communication, is reliable as long as you don’t plan on going very far. There is at least a half-truth in this, though the problem may exist more in the speaker than in the medium. In any case, as one famous linguist has quipped, “we can’t even describe the aroma of coffee.”

Misunderstandings do occur for a variety of reasons and sometimes communication seems hopeless. At other times the miscommunication is downright funny. We’ve all watched a sitcom where misunderstanding is woven beautifully into the tapestry of the lives of the actors, creating hilarious moments throughout the show. One struggles at times to know how the actors keep a straight face. Indeed, sometimes they fail! Usually the “misunderstanding” turns on different meanings of the same term, or different referents for the same word.

The following “church funnies” demonstrate the hilarious nature of miscommunication in print. Believe it or not the following announcements actually appeared in various church bulletins, or so we’re told. Regardless, they highlight misunderstanding and will undoubtedly give you a chuckle.

    1. Don't let worry kill you—let the church help.

    2. Thursday night—Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

    3. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

    4. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

    5. The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

    6. This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

    7. This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the alter.

    8. The service will close with “Little Drops of Water.” One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest if the congregation will join in.

    9. Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.

    10. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

    11. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

    12. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

We’re sure the list could be multiplied. If you know of more, do not hesitate to email us.

On a more serious note, however, the same basic problems of misunderstanding and confusion can exist in the interpretation of the Bible as well. One such misunderstanding persists with regard to Paul’s use of the “old man”/“new man” metaphor. The expression is somewhat ambiguous. The ambiguity is “super-sized” with the translational differences among popular versions.

The expressions “old man” and “new man” occur in basically four places in Paul’s letters, namely, Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; 4:22-24; and Colossians 3:9-11. Observe the following chart displaying various translations and how they handle the phrase:

Version

Romans 6:6

Ephesians 2:15

Ephesians 4:22-24

Colossians 3:9-11

NET1

our old man

(one) new man

old man/new man

old man/new man

NIV

our old self

(one) new man

(your) old self/new self

(your) old self/new self

NASB (1995)

our old self

(one) new man

old self/new self

old self/new self

KJV

our old man

(one) new man

old man/new man

old man/new man

NKJV

our old man

(one) new man

old man/new man

old man/new man

RSV

our old self

(one) new man

old nature/new nature

old nature/new nature

NRSV

our old self

(one) new humanity

old self/new self

old self/new self

NAB2

our old self

one new person

old self/new self

old self/new self

Phillips

our old selves

(one) new man

old way of living/new life

old nature/new nature

Message3

old country of sin

a new kind of human being

old way of life/a new way of life

old life/a new way of life

REB4

our old humanity

a single new humanity

old human nature/new nature

old human nature/new nature

NLT5

our old sinful selves

one new person

old evil nature/a new nature

old evil nature/a brand-new nature

So, what does Paul mean when he refers to “old man” and “new man”? The apparent disparity between the translations undoubtedly fuels the misunderstanding of this expression current among many Christians. Does Paul mean “sinful self” (Rom 6:6) or “our old sinful selves” (Rom 6:6)? Both of these are fairly individualistic and stand quite apart from other translations such as “our old humanity” (Rom 6:6) which is more corporate in focus. What about “old evil nature” and “new nature”? But the word “nature” is extremely slippery and as David Dockery points out there are few terms in English that are as ambiguous as the word “nature.”6 Further, “old evil nature” suggests something of the immaterial aspect of man. But is this what Paul is referring to? Is the expression, then, somewhat synonymous with “flesh” as Paul sometimes uses that term? If so, does the crucifixion/putting off of the “old man” entail a form of Christian perfectionism and sinlessness in this life? Some have understood the “old man”/“new man” in just such a way. This study is directed at finding answers to these and related questions.

In order to get a better grasp on this important expression we will examine the four passages in some detail. In each passage the “old man” is the same expression in Greek, namely, oJ palaioV" a[nqrwpo" (ho palaios anthropos). The expression “new man” is the same in Ephesians 2:15 and 4:24, namely, oJ kainoV" a[nqrwpo" (ho kainos anthropos). In Colossians 3:10, however, the “new man” is rendered through the use of a different adjective, i.e., toVn nevon (ton neon).7 But since the expression is set in contrast to the oJ palaioV" a[nqrwpo" of the previous verse, this is only stylistic; ton neon also refers to the same entity or concept as oJ kainoV" a[nqrwpo".8

Biblical Analysis

Romans 6:6

    Text

tou'to ginwvskonte" o{ti oJ palaioV" hJmw'n a[nqrwpo" sunestaurwvqh, i{na katarghqh'/ toV sw'ma th'" aJmartiva", tou' mhkevti douleuvein hJma'" th'/ aJmartiva/

    New English Translation (NET Bible)

“We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

    Comment

Let us first remind ourselves of the broader context of Romans 6:6. Paul’s letter to the Romans concerns the gospel of God’s righteousness, with the quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 (1:17) providing a helpful outline of the first eight chapters: (1) the just by faith (chs. 1-5:11) shall live (5:12-8:39). In 5:12-21 Paul demonstrates that Christ has completely overturned the effects of Adam’s sin with the result that believers should no longer live in sin. It is to this point that 6:1-14 is primarily directed and it is in this context that we find Romans 6:6 and the comment about the crucifixion of “our old man.”

What, then, does Paul mean by our old man (oJ palaioV" hJmw'n a[nqrwpo", ho palaios hemon anthropos) in Romans 6:6?9,10 Well, we can say that whatever it is, it is not the body of sin (toV sw'ma th'" aJmartiva", to soma tes hamartias), for the crucifixion of “our old man” prevents the “body of sin” from dominating us. The two entities are not the same. If they were the same, the passage would be at best tautologous, making little, if any, sense.11 Now the expression “body of sin” refers to our physical bodies as vehicles through which sin expresses itself, that is, our whole selves as enslaved to sin and relating to others through our bodies.12 Thus “body of sin” is relational in focus.

So the “old man” is not to be strictly identified with the “body of sin.” Further, Paul says that our old man “was crucified with Christ.” But how can that be? We were not there at Golgotha and this is surely the time to which the past tense was crucified (sunestaurwvqh, sunestaurothe) points.13 Answer: the “with Christ” language relates us to Christ and his death in a legal or forensic way, not experientially.14 God reckoned us there as co-crucified with Christ: his death was our death. The passive voice suggests that it was something done to us (by God) and not something we did to ourselves (cf. Gal 5:24).

What does all this mean? It means that when Paul gets to Romans 6:6 he is still thinking of the two humanities (and their heads) he spoke about in Romans 5:12-21.15 The “old man,” then, must be who we were “in Adam,” that is, people in relationship to each other and our head in the realm of sin, death and judgment. The focus is corporate and stresses a realm in which unbelievers exist and relate. Thus, the “old man” is not our sinful nature per se, nor is it some part of my immaterial nature as a sinner. In short, the “old man” is the web of relationships we maintained in our former life “in Adam.” That 5:12-21 stands behind Paul’s thinking in 6:1-14 is further confirmed when one sees that Romans 6:1-14 is a logical inference (cf. the ou , oun in v. 1) drawn from the theology of Romans 5:12-21. It was there that Paul relied heavily on the forensic idea of Adam’s sin and our connection to him.16 Thus the crucifixion of “our old man” is our death to sin and life in Adam.

Further, though the crucifixion of “our old man” is portrayed in forensic language (i.e., language describing positional truth), there is nonetheless an ethic closely associated with it here in Romans 6 reflecting Paul’s traditional method of ethical argument: indicative first, then imperative.17 Recall that the paragraph begins with a rhetorical, yet very practical question: “Should we continue in sin?” The use of the subjunctive mood (ejpimevnwmen, epimenomen) in 6:1 denotes a question of moral “oughtness,” not fact.18 Paul is asking, “Should we or should we not continue in sin?” Also, the doctrine of “walking in new life” (v. 4) as well as the imperatives at the end of the paragraph (6:12-14) are built, in part, on the idea of the crucifixion of our old man.

In summarizing Romans 6:6 we can say at least three things. First, the “old man” is a metaphor describing corporate realities which existed for believers when they were “in Adam,” apart from Christ and those connected to him. Second, our release from the old man was definitive and reckoned to us by God himself. Third, the forensic idea of the crucifixion of “our old man” is the basis for Paul’s ethic of saying “no” to the reign of sin, and “yes” to life in God.

Ephesians 2:15

    Text

2:15 toVn novmon tw'n ejntolw'n ejn dovgmasin katarghvsa", i{na touV" duvo ktivsh/ ejn aujtw'/ eij" e{na kainoVn a[nqrwpon poiw'n eijrhvnhn

    New English Translation (NET Bible)

2:15 “when he nullified the law of commandments in decrees. The purpose of this was to create in himself the two into one new man, thus making peace….”

    Comment

Ephesians is a letter dedicated to unfolding the mystery of the gospel as it relates to the unification of Jew and Gentile in “one new man,” i.e., the church (3:5-6). The passage which unfolds this theme most clearly is 2:11-22. Thus, it is in a context of this new salvation-historical “structure” (cf. 1:10, 11) that Paul refers to the “new man.”

The individual focus in God’s creative work of salvation comes to expression in 2:10 where Paul refers to each person as “created in Christ Jesus.” The shift, however, toward a more corporate perspective comes in 2:11-22. There it is argued that Gentiles were “foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). But God abolished the law, the dividing wall of hostility, through the death of Christ (i.e., his body), and has reconciled the two groups (i.e., Jew and Gentile) into “one new man” in Christ.

The Adam-Christ typology stands behind this passage as well. But the focus in Ephesians 2:15 is not so much on the individual’s position before God vis--vis their being “in Christ” as opposed to still being “in Adam,” but rather on the new relationships which exist on a human level for those “in Christ.” The Jew and the Gentile have been reconciled, and together in Christ they form this so-call “new man.” The “new man” is a new society in which all have free and equal access to God and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (2:5-6). In God’s design of the “new man” there are no divisions or hostility among members, only peace (2:16). Thus the focus here is on the community God has brought into existence in Christ as a result of OT hope.19 This does not mean that Gentiles were grafted into Israel, but rather that “in Christ” the two become “one new man,” “one new humanity.”20

There are at least two important aspects to the expression “one new man.” The “one” implies singleness of divine purpose and unity in the new community. The “new man” evokes images related to the dawn of the “new” age of salvation inaugurated at Messiah’s first coming. It is an idea closely associated with God’s creative work (i.e., “to create in himself….”). Our salvation is described in Ephesians 2:10 as being “created in Christ Jesus” (2:10). According to 2 Cor 5:17 we are “new” creations in Christ Jesus. The focus in Ephesians 2:15 is on the newly created community in Christ—people who have been taken out of a realm where hatred and division were the order of the day, to form a new social reality in Christ. The estrangement and dislocation effected through Adam’s sin has been reversed through God’s creative power in the body of Christ (3:6). Thus the “new man” in Ephesians 2:15 is primarily a new structural or social reality. It is corporate in focus.21

Ephesians 4:22-24

    Text

4:22-24 ajpoqevsqai uJma'" kataV thVn protevran ajnastrofhVn toVn palaioVn a[nqrwpon toVn fqeirovmenon kataV taV" ejpiqumiva" th'" ajpavth", 23ajnaneou'sqai deV tw'/ pneuvmati tou' nooV" uJmw'n 24kaiV ejnduvsasqai toVn kainoVn a[nqrwpon toVn kataV qeoVn ktisqevnta ejn dikaiosuvnh/ kaiV oJsiovthti th'" ajlhqeiva"

    New English Translation (NET Bible)

4:22 “You were taught with reference to your former life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 4:23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 4:24 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.”

    Comment

In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul refers to “the old man” (v. 22) and “the new man” (v. 24). The context is obviously ethical. He urges the Ephesians (and all those who received the letter in Asia Minor), in light of the fact that they have received a certain calling (1:3-4; 4:1) and have come to participate in the body of Christ (4:14-16), to likewise walk or live in a way commensurate with their new calling and privilege (4:17).

In particular, believers are not to live as the Gentiles do, that is, in the futility of their thoughts as those who are separated from the life of God. But how is this futility expressed? It is expressed in ever increasing sensuality and lust. The Ephesians are not to live like that because they had been taught in him [Christ] just as the truth is in Jesus (kaqwv" ejstin ajlhvqeia ejn tw'/ jIhsou', kathos estin aletheia en to Iesou). The truth Paul refers to is teaching consistent with apostolic doctrine, especially that which concerns Christ and living a life honoring to him. Thus it is ethical truth with a Christological rationale.

Thus the expressions “old man” and “new man” here are particularly ethical in their focus. The “old man” refers to their former life as Gentiles and the sin that so pervaded their lives in that sphere of existence. They were taught to lay this aside and to put on the new man. The figure “putting on” and “putting off” is one of exchanging clothes and refers to a change in character in light of a change in identity, having moved from the old sphere of existence (without God) to a new sphere of existence (with God).22

There is some discussion in this passage as to the force of the infinitives: (1) to lay aside (ajpoqevsqai, apothesthai) and (2) to put on (ejnduvsasqai, endusasthai). They are in indirect discourse and one has to wonder whether they go back to indicatives in the original direct discourse or imperatives. In other words, were the Ephesians taught that they had already laid aside the old man at conversion (indicative; akin to Romans 6:6) or that they should lay aside the old man and put on the new as an ongoing reality in their Christian experience (imperative)?

There is nothing in the grammar of the passage, nor in the choice of the verb “you were taught” that decides the question with certainty, though aorist infinitives of indirect discourse virtually always go back to imperatives in direct discourse in the NT. But this may be because they are connected to controlling verbs which imply a command.23 In any case, what is indecisive grammatically is made fairly certain by the immediate context. That the infinitives go back to imperatival ideas in the direct discourse is likely since the immediate context deals with exhortations not to walk as the Gentiles do (4:17), including putting off lying (4:25), unrighteous anger (4:26), stealing (4:28), etc. Also, since the corruption of the old man is a present reality, the need to lay it aside is a present reality (4:22). Further, the “new man” is described with ethical language, namely, “righteousness,” and “likeness of the truth.” Therefore, the infinitives go back to imperatives and should be read as such.

Also, we said that the verb “you were taught” cannot settle the question one way or another, but when seen in connection with the verb “learn” in 4:20 a different answer emerges. It seems that “what they learned was what they were taught.” But the learning Paul has in mind in v. 20 is certainly ethical. Therefore, the things they were taught were ethical and hortatory in nature. Thus, once again we see that the infinitives go back to imperatives in the direct discourse (cf. Col 3:8-9).

Therefore, Ephesians 4:22-24 utilizes the “old man” and “new man” concepts in primarily ethical ways. The “old man” refers to a lifestyle consistent with sin, but inconsistent with being in Christ, while the “new man” refers to a lifestyle (cf. “to walk” in 4:17) consistent with being in Christ and truth. We do note, however, that positional truth about the “new man” is spoken of briefly in 4:24 where Paul says the new man “has been created according to God,” referring to a definitive event in the past (probably at conversion). Note also that as the “new man” here is primarily ethical, so community or a corporate focus must remain inherent in the idea for there has to be some context for the living out of the “new man.”

Colossians 3:9-10

    Text

3:9 mhV yeuvdesqe eij" ajllhvlou", ajpekdusavmenoi toVn palaioVn a[nqrwpon suVn tai'" pravxesin aujtou' 3:10 kaiV ejndusavmenoi toVn nevon toVn ajnakainouvmenon eij" ejpivgnwsin kat* eijkovna tou' ktivsanto" aujtovn, 3:11 o{pou oujk e[ni {Ellhn kaiV jIoudai'o", peritomhV kaiV ajkrobustiva, bavrbaro", Skuvqh", dou'lo", ejleuvqero", ajllaV [taV] pavnta kaiV ejn pa'sin Cristov".

    New English Translation (NET Bible)

3:9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 3:10 and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

    Comment

Colossians 3:9-11 is clearly set in an ethical context, not altogether unlike that of Ephesians 4. In Colossians 3:1 Paul reminds his readers that they have been raised with Christ, and therefore should seek things above and set their minds on things above, not on earthly things. Since they have died with Christ, they are put to death “whatever in their nature belongs to the earth” (3:5), referring to such things as sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passions, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. The Colossian believers are to put off all such things commensurate with their former life (3:7)—e.g., evil such as anger, rage, malice…lying, etc. (3:8-9a).

The reason the Colossian believers are to do this is because they have put off “the old man” and have been clothed with “the new [man].” The adverbial aorist participles put off (ajpekdusavmenoi, apekdusamenoi) and clothed (ejndusavmenoi, endusamenoi) are clearly causal giving the rationale for the call to a new lifestyle.24 They have put off the old man and have been clothed with the new at conversion. Again, the ethical language of exchanging garments is used and God is the ultimate agent in bringing this about.

The “new man” in Colossians 3:10-11 is definitely corporate in nature and refers to the new community in which all racial distinctions are dissolved.25 It is a social structure where (o{pou, hopou) there is “neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” Therefore, to “have been clothed with the new man” is to have been brought into a new community in a totally new sphere of existence and to have put on new clothing (i.e., a new way of conducting oneself in relationships) fit for the new community. The old man, then, by contrast, is the community still under its old head Adam, i.e., all those in him wherein the image of God is effaced, and the old clothing of sinful deeds is worn by all.

In the new community in which Christ dwells in all, however, the image of God is being renewed. Paul does not say here that all are “in Christ,” but rather that Christ is “in all.” This is because his focus is on the image of God developed by the indwelling Christ, not the position of believers (though both are true). The expression “image of God” refers to Christ himself so that the renewal involves progressive conformation in the pattern of Christ himself as head of the “new man/new humanity” (Col. 1:15; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49; 2 Cor 4:4; Phil 2:6).26 In short, the new community is designed to express the image of God in human relationships and structures and the central reality for the “new man” is that Christ is in all! 27

Thus the “new man” in Colossians 3:10 is not something inside an individual, but rather the new community in Christ, the church, and together we reflect the image of God. It is for this reason, since we are the new man corporately, that we are not to live like we once did. Bock explains:

What this means is that the ‘new man,’ made up of peoples, refers to a social structure or community, not to an entity inside an individual…In other words, it is Christ conceived of as a corporate entity, that is Christ’s body…This means that the ‘old man’ is also a community that has certain practices associated with it. This would be the community of the world outside of Christ…The existence of this new community [the church] is why Paul said Christians should not lie and why they should put to death the practices of the old world they shed (like clothes) when they came to Christ.28

Theological Conclusions

So what are some conclusions that can be drawn from these passages. The first thing that can be said is that the “old man” refers to people in solidarity with Adam under the old age of sin, death, and judgment. It is corporate in focus.

Second, since it is corporate and relational in focus it should probably not be translated using the word “self” since this is too narrow and individualistic in its focus.29

Third, we saw that in every passage the expression “old man” is relational in character. Therefore, it should not be viewed as a synonym for fallen human “flesh” (cf. Rom 7:18; savrx, sarx). When reading the Scriptures, Christians should not view it as pointing directly to some immaterial aspect of man as a sinful human being. Thus, “sinful nature” is also a misleading translation. Again, the “old man” refers to fallen people in community “in Adam.” To read it individualistically as the “flesh” or “sinful nature” robs it off its corporate focus and a great insight to us as relational creatures is obscured. The best translation of ho palaios anthropos is probably “old man” or “old community” with a note explaining its corporate sense.

Fourth, the crucifixion of the “old man” refers to a definitive break with the past in Adam and is something God reckons to be true of us. The sinner is separated from the community of Adam and the relationships that exist there. But, there is also the sense in which the believer, having been decisively removed from that community is not to live as if he still belonged there. Thus the “old man” must be continually put off as well. We will say more about this below under our brief discussion of the “now/not-yet.”

There are some things we need to say about the “new man” as well. First, like “old man,” it too is corporate in focus. This is made clear in Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 3:10-11. Here the new man is synonymous with the church—a sphere of existence in Christ, in which there are no racial boundaries and no divisions. It is not our new regenerate nature spoken of in Titus 3:5.

Second, there is a concomitant ethic in the new man/community. We are to live at peace and there is to be no sin in the “new man” in which we are being renewed according to the pattern of Christ himself.

Third, given the use of the “new man” concept in Ephesians 2:15; 4:24 and Colossians 3:10-11, the best translation of ho kainos anthropos is “new man” or “new community” with a note explaining its relational focus.

The last thing we want to say about the “old man” and the “new man” is that there is an eschatological tension involved in Paul’s use of the concept. What we mean by “eschatological tension” is that there is a sense in which Christians have been completely and decisively brought into this new community, but another sense in which we are still trying to escape the old community. We live in the “now” of God’s saving purposes, but there is a “not-yet”—there is more to come! This “configuration” of things will exist until God perfects us (i.e., the new man) in heaven. Therefore, when the Bible says we have put off the “old man,” it does not mean that we will exist in perfectly sinless relationships in this life. And, when it says to put on the “new man” it does not mean that living faithfully in the new community depends totally on us. All our efforts by faith are dependant on the antecedent work of God! For our part, we live at the crossroads of repentance and faith.


1 The New English Translation. Available at www.netbible.com.

2 New American Bible

3 The Message is difficult to analyze against the Greek text since it is so periphrastic.

4 The Revised English Bible

5 New Living Translation

6 David S. Dockery, “New Nature and Old Nature,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 628.

7 The adjective is substantized through the presence of the article. Thus toVn nevon means “the new man” in contrast to “the old man.”

8 The other term, namely, kainos may invoke covenantal images for Paul (cf. 2 Cor 3:6; 5:17)

9 The introductory term knowing (ginwvskonte", ginoskontes) refers not to experiential knowledge per se, but rather to a fact which Paul introduces in order to advance the argument that Christians shall live in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection (v. 5). It is a doctrine which his readers ought to have known, but may not have understood the implications thereof. See John Murray, Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. F. F. Bruce (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 219; cf. James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word, 1988), 1:318; contra Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1886; reprint: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950).

10 The pronoun this (tou'to, touto) refers to what follows in the sentence, namely, to the fact of our co-crucifixion with Christ. As we suggested above, this may have been a teaching with which the Roman church was familiar, but Moo is correct to point out that the “with Christ” language (see the suvn [“with”] prefix on the verbs in vv. 4, 5, 6, 8) at least implies that Paul has his own version of it. Cf. Douglas Moo, Romans 1-8, Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, ed. Kenneth Barker (Chicago: Moody, 1991), 389.

11 John R. W. Stott, Men Made New: An Exposition of Romans 5-8 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966), 45: “This is the crucifixion of our ‘old man’ (AV) or our ‘old self’. What is this ‘old self’? Is it not the old nature. How can it be if the ‘body of sin’ means the old nature? The two expressions cannot mean the same thing or the verse makes nonsense. No. The ‘old self’ denotes, not our old unregenerate nature, but our old unregenerate life—what the NEB calls ‘the man we once were.’ Not my lower self, but my former self. So what was crucified with Christ was not a part of us called our old nature, but the whole of us as we were before we were converted. My ‘old self’ is my pre-conversion life, my unregenerate self. This should be plain because is in this chapter the phrase ‘our old self was crucified’ (verse 6) is equivalent to ‘we…died to sin (verse 2).”

12 Cf. Dunn, Romans, 1.319-20, who says, “Every time sw~ma [soma] appears in Paul modern readers need to be reminded that it does not denote the physical body as such, rather a fuller reality which includes the physical but is not reducible to it. It is man embodied in a particular environment, the body being that which constitutes him as a social being, a being that relates to and communicates with his environment…Hence in our present case, ‘body of sin’ is not to be designated as a Gnostic disparagement of the [physical] body, but denotes man as belonging to the age ruled by sin.” See also L. J. Kreitzer, “Body,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 73.

13 G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 134.

14 G. B. Caird, New Testament Theology, completed and ed. L. D. Hurst (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 144: “These two sentences make it plain that, when Paul says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ,’ (Gal 2:20; cf. Rom 6:6), he is not referring to his conversion or to the subsequent experience which he variously describes as dying daily (1 Cor 15:31) or putting to death all that is earthly (Col. 3:5), but to an event which happened at Golgotha long before he himself was aware of it.”

15 The theme of 5:12-21 may be simply stated as: “Death through Adam, life through Christ.” The structure of Romans 5:12-21 is effected through an Adam-Christ typology where Paul is contrasting the effects of each man’s act, whether of disobedience in the case of Adam, resulting in death for all those connected to him, or obedience in the case of Christ, resulting in life for all those connected to him. Both men stand as representative heads of two different humanities. Adam represents sin and death and all that is under the old (former) order of sin (cf. Rev. 21:3-4). Christ, as the last Adam (cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22), stands as the new head over a new humanity connected to him by faith—a new era of existence for people in which righteousness and life reign.

16 L. J. Kreitzer, “Adam and Christ,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 11. Kreitzer suggests that “we could even summarize Paul’s understanding of Christian redemption as the transition from being ‘in Adam’ to being ‘in Christ’ as the saving movement from one sphere of life, one realm of existence, to another.”

17 George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, rev. ed., ed. Donald Hagner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 516, 568. “Indicative” refers to what God has done for the believer and “imperative” refers to the reasonable response urged on the believer in light of the indicative.

18 What we mean is this: After Paul has shown that Christ has completely overturned the effects of Adam’s sin in 5:12-21, he does not ask, “Shall we remain in sin” as if to ask a question of positional fact. He is asking whether, in light of Christ’s work, we should continue in sin.

19 Gentiles were foreigners to the covenants, but now participate in them and thus were always regarded by God as fulfillment of those promises.

20 William Hendrickson, Galatians and Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967), 135; pace Markus Barth, Ephesians, The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman, vol. 34 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974), 309, who argues that the translation “one new humanity” is not to be recommended because it gives rise to the notion that out of two old things God made a new thing. Insofar as “humanity” connotes a thing, we agree, but feel that it need not do so. It is, therefore, acceptable. We do, however, agree that translations such as “one new nature” (J. Moffatt; RSV on 4:24) and “one new personality” are to be rejected, but not because they represent things as such, but rather because they denote an excessive individualism which obscures the corporate focus in the passage. A. Skevington Wood, “Ephesians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 40, is also too individualistic when he says, “the Christian is no hybrid, but a new creation.”

21 Andrew Lincoln, Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 42 (Dallas: Word, 1990), 143-44.

22 Cf. Hendrickson, Ephesians, 215; Lincoln, Ephesians, 285.

23 See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 605.

24 It is highly unlikely that these participles are imperatival as some have contended, since this usage is rare and ought to be avoided if the participles can reasonably be seen to be connected to a finite verb. This is the case here. They express the cause for the action of the finite controlling verb, do not lie (mhV yeuvdesqe, me pseudesthe).

25 Cf. Curtis Vaughan, “Colossians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 213-14.

26 Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 44 (Waco: Word, 1982), 191.

27 The allusion to Genesis 1:27 in 3:10 is unmistakable and thus the corporate associations with Adam and his posterity, and Christ and His, rise to the surface (see Romans 6:6). Adam stands as the representative head of the old man—i.e., the world “in Adam.” Christ stands as the representative head of the new man—i.e., believers “in Christ.”

28 Darrell L. Bock, “The ‘New Man’ as Community in Colossians and Ephesians,” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands: Biblical and Leadership Studies in Honor of Donald K. Campbell, ed. Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 159-60.

29 Dockery, “New Nature and Old Nature,” 628.

Related Topics: Sanctification