The Old And New Man In Ephesians 4:17-24 -- By: Lance T. Beauchamp

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 24:3 (Summer 2007)
Article: The Old And New Man In Ephesians 4:17-24
Author: Lance T. Beauchamp


The Old And New Man In Ephesians 4:17-24

Lance T. Beauchamp

Ph.D. Student in Biblical Studies (New Testament)
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Introduction

“We have to choose to live from the new heart, and our old nature doesn’t go down without a fight.” John Eldredge explains in his book, Waking the Dead, that, based on Paul’s writings, believers are given a new heart. They “have been transformed, and [they] are being transformed.”1 The question is how to reconcile a one-time event of transformation and a continual process of transformation.

In Eph. 4:17-24, Paul contrasts true believers with Gentiles, those who have been excluded from God. He describes the unbelievers’ state of mind and emphasizes that the true believers in Ephesus did not learn Christ in this way nor should they act like it. While describing the content of the teaching of Christ, Paul reminds them that they have put off the old man, their minds are being continually renewed, and they have put on the new man. The old man’s habits are best explained by the Gentile description. There appears to be a tension between the one-time event of putting off the old man and putting on the new man and the continuous renewal of the spirit of the mind. This paper will attempt to explain what Paul meant by these two instructions found in the content of the teaching of Christ. There is a transferal of the old to the new man in the life of a believer but in order to live out that new life, there must be a continual renewal by the Holy Spirit. True believers should not reflect the old man, described by the futile actions of the unbelieving Gentiles. Just as Eldredge says, the old man will not give up without a fight.

In order to pursue this question, this paper will primarily look at the literary aspects of the text of Eph. 4:17-24, noting sentence structure, word meanings, and syntactical features that help shape Paul’s argument. This passage will also be studied in light of the surrounding context of the paraenetic section of Ephesians as well as in light of the entire letter. Furthermore, the paper will briefly examine Romans 6-8 and Colossians 3 in order to establish further Paul’s theology of the old and new nature. Examining these Pauline concepts and taking into account

the literary features of the Ephesians passage will result in a proper exegesis and application of Eph. 4:...

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