2Co 5:16-17 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Paul has just spoken to the brethren about Christ dying for all men who now live unto Him. We know there is a sense in which all those that Jesus died for on the cross will be housed in heaven at the end of all things temporal. At the same time, there is a gospel parallel to this election in that those to whom Christ has revealed Himself here in this kingdom seek to live their lives unto Him here. There is a remnant of God’s children who do know in this present world that their Redeemer lives!
Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul says that he and his companions no longer know any man after the flesh. Since he is writing to the church at Corinth, and has in a previous letter referred to several of them by name, we realize that Paul is not saying that he does not know anyone. His point is that he is trying to be like Jesus and not be a respecter of persons. He is determined to not be swayed (either way) by the outward appearance or behavior of people.
In this declaration, Paul is also telling us that we should not judge people by the outward appearance. Rather, we should look for Christ dwelling in them, which we comprehend by the Spirit of God. Paul acknowledges that there was a time in his life when he even considered the Christ only as a man after the ways of the flesh. There was a time when Paul would not have given any thought to Jesus being the Son of God.
The ruling council of the Jews (Paul among them) saw a man who had come to wrest power from them. They saw a rabble-rouser who was stirring up the people. To them, he was a man that was homeless and, by their standards, was of no consequence. While some of them saw a little more than that, they saw at best one who was a prophet or a teacher sent from God. They still judged Him according to the flesh. By the grace of God, that changed for Paul, for those who heard and believed the gospel, and for all of us who have been touched by the Holy Spirit with the revelation of who Jesus really is.
When Paul said he did not know Jesus any more, he was not saying that he had no knowledge of the Christ. He was declaring rather that he no longer saw Him after the flesh. The eyes of his understanding had been enlightened and he saw the victorious Christ. Not only did he see the victorious Christ, but he understood that any man who is in Christ is a new creature. The allure of the world has faded and the love of Jesus has taken its place.
It is amazing to me to look back over my life and see all the changes that Jesus has wrought in me. I am confident that Paul felt the same way. The desire to please Him has increased day by day, while the love of the things of this world has diminished accordingly. As we walk with Him, the way that we think about others and the way that we live our lives among them becomes new.
The word translated as “become” in this verse did not simply mean to evolve. It was not talking about a natural progression of maturity. This word means “to cause to be.” We did not simply evolve into this newness of life. God, through Jesus Christ, makes all things new and reveals that to us by His Holy Spirit.
May we, by God’s grace, truly walk in the newness of life!