A New Creation (Part Two)- 2 Corinthians 5:17

In our previous post, we examined the belief that the believer becomes a new creation, that at the fall, human beings, who were created in the image and likeness of God, lost the image but retained the likeness, and that this “image” is restored in Christ. Man now has the ability and desire to submit his will to the will of God. We will now recall that God gave Adam a purpose to live out, some responsibilities to fulfill as His image (or representative), and the restoration of the image brings with it the restoration of that purpose and those responsibilities. Those responsibilities included the command to “fill the earth and subdue it”, which in the case of Adam meant to have many offspring who would go forth and make the entire earth a “garden” as Eden was. If we assert that this responsibility has been restored with the image of God, how then does this apply to the life of the believer here and now? We will turn to the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. The context here is that Jesus is having His last pre-cross meeting with His disciples, and He is praying to the Father for Himself, the disciples and all who would someday trust in Him as Savior and Lord. We will focus in on verses 20-24 for our answer. In verse 20, Jesus prays “not only for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through their message”. The “them’ here refers to the disciples, and those who believe is speaking about all believers since, all who believe in Jesus through the word of the Apostles, the Scripture. He prays in verse 21 that all believers would be one in Christ, “one” with the Father just as Jesus was, living out a unity which cannot be produced by human effort, but only by the Holy Spirit working in and through each believer to make each a “representative” just as Jesus was, each seeking to do the will of the Father, and becoming “one” as a group only as each individual does so. He them continues in verse 22 with a statement which is somewhat perplexing at first glance, and which our study in 2 Corinthians 5:17 thus far will help clarify. He says here that “I have given them the glory that you gave me”, which seems rather unlikely, that we human beings could ever have the “glory” of God. The verb “”have given” here is the perfect active indicative of didomi, an action completed in the past with results in the present, this glory is something believers have been given in the past and possess in the present. So just what is this “glory” which we have been given? Jesus provides us with the answer in verse 24, in which He prays that all believers would “see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world”. The Greek word “see” here is thereo, which refers not to seeing with the eyes, but seeing with the mind. It comes from a Greek root meaning to “investigate”, and, much as the English word theory, refers to an explanation of a set of observations, to an understanding of the meaning of something. We then find that this glory was given to Jesus by the Father “before the creation of the world”. The Greek word creation here is katabole, “foundation or conception”, literally to “cast down”. This glory was given to Jesus before the creation of the cosmos (“world” here in NIV), and as we find in Colossians 1:16, this glory was expressed and reflected in the fact that “all things were created by Him and for Him, with the “Him” here referring to Jesus. The Father gave the Son the glory of being the agent of creation, the source of life, or as Acts 3:15 refers to Him, the “author of life”. It is this statement here which enables us to “see” what Jesus means by giving us the glory which was given to Him. The glory given to Him here is that He is given the glory of being the source of life, the one through whom physical life was created. Jesus gives that glory to believers in that He gives them the glory of being the “source” of spiritual life, the ones through whom spiritual life is “created”. As the verse we are studying reminds us, anyone in Christ is a “new creation”, and the primary way in which others come to be “in Christ” is through the witness of believers, following God’s will for their lives, acting as His representatives, seeking to fulfill their responsibility to “fill the earth”, in this case not with physical descendants, but with spiritual ones, living out the glory that has been given to us, the glory of being the ones through whom which God creates spiritual life.

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