The Hearing of Faith
The New Testament uses the phrase “new man” three times. In Ephesians 2:15 Paul says that Christ on the cross created “one new man” in Himself. In Ephesians 4:24, Paul tells us to “put on the new man, which was created according to God.” Then in Colossians 3:10 Paul says that we “have put on the new man, which is being renewed.” What is the new man? Was it created by Christ on the cross or is it being created now through our being renewed? In his first mention of the new man, Paul speaks of how Christ created one new man out of the two peoples on the earth, the Jews and the Gentiles, slaying the enmity that was between them because of ordinances (Eph. 2:15). This shows us that the new man is something corporate, just as Adam was not only a single man but the beginning of man as a collective entity (Gen. 1:26).
We are all members of the “race” of fallen Adam. In this corporate man, also called the “old man” in the Scriptures (Eph. 4:22; Rom. 6:6), we see many characteristics such as pride, selfishness, anger, lust, and vainglory. Although we may think there are many kinds of men, in God’s view, all fallen mankind is part of the old man, the corporate Adam, who was crucified on the cross with Christ.
On one hand, Christ created this new man on the cross. On the other hand, this new man comes into existence as the Holy Spirit transforms us by His working in us.
What many Christians understand of the new man is mainly concerning the individual aspect, considering the new man as our “new person” in Christ. This understanding may not be incorrect (in the sense that Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20), but it surely falls short of the full revelation of the new man presented in the Scriptures. Ephesians and Colossians speak of a new mankind created by Christ of the two classes of people on the earth, the Jews and the Gentiles. In this new man “there cannot be Greek and Jew...but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11).
What then is the new man? The new man is something corporate and it is of Christ. It is actually just the church, that humanity that is redeemed, regenerated and transformed by Christ Jesus. On one hand, Christ created this new man on the cross. On the other hand, this new man comes into existence as the Holy Spirit transforms us by His working in us.
The new man is of the new creation, which is God’s old creation with the element of God added to it. When we are regenerated, God’s life and nature enter us, and we become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). This is the beginning of the new man. We can also say, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, that the new man is being created as the believers are being transformed daily into the image of Christ and built together into a dwelling place of God in Spirit (Eph. 2:22).
This new man expresses all the divine attributes of Christ in the uplifted and transformed human virtues. The church as the corporate new man, and thus new mankind on this earth, accomplishes God’s eternal purpose of expressing Him in this universe.
For further reading on this subject, please see footnotes to Ephesians 2:15 and 4:24 in the New Testament Recovery Version; The One New Man; and One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, both by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.
From Issue No. 35, March 2001