We play a part in making peace with God by choosing to be reconciled to Him. This is perhaps the first step in becoming a peacemaker.
Paul essentially refers to himself as the one to whom the word and ministry of reconciliation have been given as a portion of his function as an apostle of Jesus Christ. However, the thought does not end there because we are also being prepared to assist in causing the reconciliation of the world to God. This is a second major, time-consuming step toward being a peacemaker. The sanctification process of a Christian's conversion creates within us the ability to be a peacemaker in the godly mold.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Of keen interest in this context is the term “new” in verse 17. Paul had his choice of either of two words, kainos or neos, but he chose the one best suited to God's purpose here. He chose kainos, indicating newness in the sense of fresh existence. Neos means newness in the sense of renovation, for example, repairing something that already exists. In this context, God is describing a transformation in the inner man from carnality to spiritual thought and conduct. The new creation is not merely a repair job of the old, existing, carnal nature. It is a complete change to a nature, a heart, that had not been there before conversion.
The apostle nudges our thoughts to a parallel incident, when God created Adam in Genesis 1. Adam was an entity who did not exist before God acted. In this creation described in II Corinthians 5, though, God is not exercising His divine powers by creating an entirely new person, but He is fashioning a new heart, a new nature, that will produce righteousness, in contrast to the old nature that produced self-centered sin.
One by one, God is calling people out of Satan's worldly system and creating a Family Kingdom described in multiple locations throughout His Word. We have all borne the physical and character image of the sinner Adam; we are now being created in the spiritual image of the holy, righteous, and sinless Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:48-49). But know this: The new creation does not end with the spiritual creation of the sons of God. It carries on to include even a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The new creation begun by God with repentant and converted human beings is just the beginning of a massive creation that will surely follow because God has willed it as part of His plan (Isaiah 55:11). His Word provides an idea of what it entails, alerting God's children of the new creation that has begun in them and will expand indefinitely.
Isaiah 42:9 reads, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 65:17 adds, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” The prophet chose to use the Hebrew word hadas (“new”; Strong's 2319) that, as kainos in New Testament Greek, indicates “that which did not exist before.”
Isaiah 9:7 clinches the never-ending expansion of God's purpose:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 66:22-23 contains even more exciting news:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come before Me,” says the LORD.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?
The living Word of God, Jesus Christ, never sinned; there was never a life so completely unleavened as His. Jesus Himself says, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). What came out of Christ's mouth were words that were uncorrupted, untainted by a carnal heart in any way. They were totally and completely spiritual and eternally pure. The Word of God, in terms of His words and His example, has been given to us to be the basis of our thinking.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Freedom and Unleavened Bread
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Corinthians 5:21:
2 Corinthians 6:1-2