A New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:16 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. (NKJV)
On his third missionary journey, after ministering in Ephesus for two years and three months, the Apostle Paul left for Macedonia in May, A.D. 56. Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of that year. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.
Paul is writing this letter to the church at Corinth, Greece. This is a message directed to those Christians and to all Christians today.
The Apostle Paul begins this passage with the word “So” which refers back to the previous passage where he was calling Christians to die to their own selfish desires and live for Christ. Paul now writes that we should “regard no one according to the flesh” (v. 16a).
He means that when we regard others, we should no longer look at their worldly status, such as appearance, status in life, fame, wealth, etc. We should look at them no longer in a physical way but a spiritual way. He writes that even though some of the early believers knew Jesus personally, as a man, they should not even think of Him now as a man, in a worldly way (v. 16b).
This world view aligns us with Christ. Christ does not see us as the world see us. He sees our heart. This should be the world view for Christians, since we are now a “new creation” (v. 17), in Christ.
We become a new creation when we become a Christian. We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who changes us and conforms us to Christ over time, if we yield to Him. To be” in Christ” means more than being a Christian. It is a position that Christ has given us.
The word “Christian” means “Christ follower”. So, we should be Christ followers when we are in Christ. This is an active state, not a passive state. It does not mean that we believe, without following. Even Satan believes that Christ is God.
This is why he stops in his tracks when we command him “in the name of Jesus”. To be a Christ follower means we worship Him, read and study the Bible, meet with Him in prayer, fellowship with other believers, and set as our goal to be obedient to Him.
When we become a Christian, we are "reconciled" (v. 18) to God. Until then, we are separated from God; we are still condemned for our sin. But when we are reconciled to Him, our sins are not counted against us (v. 19).
The Holy Spirit then makes us a new creation. He no longer wants us to see the world as others do. He wants us to change. He wants us to see the world as God does. But He needs us to yield to Him. He needs our cooperation. When we yield to Him, He changes our priorities. He changes what we want to do.
We then study the Bible so that we know God, know what to obey, and know what sin is. We are saddened when we do not obey, or we see others not obey, just as is God.
We are repelled by sin, in ourselves and in others, just as is God. We strive to eliminate sin in ourselves and want to persuade others to do the same. We love others, because Christ first loved us. We become "ambassadors for Christ" (v. 20).
All of this means we are now Christians, Christ followers. We are now thinking like Him. We are now seeing others as He does. Our world view has now aligned with His. We have "become the righteousness of God" (v. 21). This should be the goal of every person.
Online Bible Commentary