Ethics and New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSV)

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (HarperOne, 1996), page 20:

The apocalyptic scope of 2 Corinthians 5 was obscured by older translations that rendered the crucial phrase in verse 17 as “he is a new creation” (RSV) or — worse yet — “he is a new creature” (KJV). Such translations seriously distort Paul’s meaning by making it appear that he is describing only the personal transformation of the individual through conversion experience. The sentence in Greek, however, lacks both subject and verb; a very literal translation might treat the words “new creation” as an exclamatory interjection: “If anyone is in Christ — new creation!”

The NRSV has rectified matters by rendering the passage, “If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation.” Paul is not merely talking about an individual’s subjective experience of renewal through conversion; rather, for Paul, “creation” refers to the whole create order (Rom. 8:18–25). He is proclaiming the apocalyptic message that through the cross God has nullified the kosmos of sin and death and brought a new kosmos into being. That is why Paul can describe himself and his readers as those “on whom the ends of the ages has met” (1 Cor. 10:11). The old age is passing away (cf. 1 Cor. 7:31b), the new age has appeared in Christ, and the church stands at the juncture between them.

Ethics course with John Frame

Thanks to Dr. Richard Pratt and his organization a number of seminary-level courses are available online (for free) and ethics with Frame is one of the offerings. Titled “Making Biblical Decisions” the 10-part course is nearly 10 hours in length and includes the following sessions:

  • Ethics in Scripture
  • Normative Perspective: God and His Word
  • Normative Perspective: The Attributes of Scripture
  • Normative Perspective: Parts and Aspects of Scripture
  • The Situational Perspective: Revelation and Situation
  • Situational Perspective: Pursuing Our Goal
  • Situational Perspective: Understanding the Facts
  • The Existential Perspective: Being Good
  • The Existential Perspective: Intending Good
  • Existential Perspective: Choosing Good

The lectures are all currently available as video downloads and many of them are available as mp3 audio downloads, too. But getting to the files can be like buttoning the cuff of a shirt sleeve. Here’s how to find them: Click here and let the page fully load. Then look for the link that reads “Making Biblical Decisions” (see near the bottom of the left-hand column).

On a related note, Frame is the author of a very helpful textbook on ethics, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (1,100 pages!). It’s worth owning and reading carefully.