Philippians 3:10-12 (HCSB) – “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.”
Paul here (in using himself as an example) basically tells the church in Philippi that the greatest goal and destiny of a person is to reach the “resurrection from the dead.” He makes “every effort to take hold of it,” because Christ Jesus has “taken hold” of him. It is interesting how Paul (of all things, an apostle) admits that he has not yet “already reached the goal,” nor is he “already fully mature.” The thing that we (believers) must realize is that if an apostle confesses such things, we (who are certainly not apostles) must also recognize this same truth about ourselves. In other words, even though we have also been taken hold of by Christ, we also have not yet reached the goal, nor are we already mature.
When will that happen?
At the resurrection. That is when we (like Paul) will also finally be fully mature; that is when we will be at last what we are not yet. Therefore, to “somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead,” such ought to be our goal as well.
There is now though an aspect of us believers that should already be different or “new.” How we think and respond, as we conduct our lives, ought to have a newness which does not have any continuity with our old way of life. This is why the Greek word “neos” is used to describe our new actions. The word neos points to something that is absolutely brand new. It points to something about the believer which had never existed prior…
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (HCSB) – Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new (neos, g3501) batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Colossians 3:8-10 (HCSB) – But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self, with its practices and have put on the new (neos, g3501) self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.
These two references are the only places in the New Testament where the word neos describes anything that is related to what comes as a result of Christ’s work. Everywhere else in the New Testament, a different Greek word is used to describe the newness that Jesus brings about. That Greek word is “kainos.” The reason why this word is instead used everywhere else is because unlike neos, kainos describes a newness which maintains a continuity with what was before. It does not describe something that is completely brand new (something that had never existed prior), but that what remains to exist is made fresh or renewed. Whether it’s the way in which Jesus will drink the cup (Matthew 26:29), His teaching (Mark 1:27), the covenant that He inaugurated (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:8, 13, and 9:15), His command to love (John 13:34) which John also encouraged believers to follow (1 John 2:7-8 and 2 John 1:5), our whole person (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15, and Ephesians 4:24), Jews and non-Jews collectively in Christ (Ephesians 2:15), the heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1), the name given to believers (Revelation 2:17 and 3:12), Jerusalem which represents all believers (Revelation 3:12 and 21:2), and the song that believers sing (Revelation 5:9 and 14:3), everything that continues to exist in the age to come will be made kainos (fresh) in the future. In a nutshell…
Revelation 21:5 (HCSB) – Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new (kainos, g2537).”
Everything, in Revelation 21:5 is described as being made kainos (fresh). All that exists in the age to come has continuity with what it is now in the present age. As for everything else that will not be made kainos, the previous verse tells us that such things will be gone forever…
Revelation 21:4 (HCSB) – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
More on Neos vs. Kainos
All three “Synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) include the scene where Jesus uses the analogy of new wine being put into both old and new wineskins, in order to correct the Pharisees for accusing His disciples for not fasting as the disciples of John the Baptist do. The Lord’s point in using this analogy was to show that the new order that He was establishing could not be contained by the old way, nor could it be handled properly by its adherents (especially the Pharisees themselves). The accusing audience (the old wineskins) would not be able to bear the expansion and coming of the new way (the new wine). Only new wineskins (believers who were loyal to Yahweh through repentance and faith in Christ) would suffice. As referenced here below from a more traditional translation, the New King James Bible does not differentiate between the two different Greek words for new in this scene…
Mark 2:22 (NKJV) – “And no one puts new (neos, g3501) wine into old wineskins; or else the new (neos, g3501) wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new (neos, g3501) wine must be put into new (kainos, g2537) wineskins.”
As a result of not properly differentiating what the Greek expresses here regarding what it means to be new, the English speaking reader misses the nuance described. The only way that the neos wine could be contained was if it was put into kainos wineskins. The NKJV misses the impact of the illustration given by Jesus. Here is the same verse depicted in a more modern translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Notice that “fresh” is used for kainos instead of “new”:
Mark 2:22 (HCSB) – “…no one puts new (neos, g3501) wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. But new (neos, g3501) wine is for fresh (kainos, g2537) wineskins.”
The point is, adherents of the coming new (neos) wine needed to be made fresh (kainos) themselves in order to be able to handle it. Here is a helpful way of seeing the subtle difference between neos vs. kainos…
Neos = new in time, young, recent
Kainos = new in quality, nature, character
Again, this shows that there is continuity between the being or entity who was once of the old way and who is later made new (kainos, not neos) through Christ, for such will not fully come until the resurrection.
*The two above descriptions regarding the two Greek words for “new” came from this presentation by Dr. Tim Mackie…
On a side note, the only way for ancient people to have a non-permeable container that was portable and could also handle the expansion which comes from the fermentation of new wine were animal skins. Such skins did not necessarily need to be neos, but kainos. If the skins were cleaned properly and oiled after use, they could be made kainos in order to contain and ferment new wine again. However, there was a limited amount of times that wineskins could be reused. After maybe 6-8 rounds, the skins then became useless. It kinda makes you think when we read warning passages like…
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (HCSB) – Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you — unless you believed for no purpose.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 (HCSB) – Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.
Hebrews 2:1 (HCSB) – We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (HCSB) – For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.
Hebrews 10:26-27 (HCSB) – For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.
2 Peter 2:1 (HCSB) – But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.
It makes sense that Jesus would use this analogy of new (neos) wine and fresh (kainos) wineskins in order to describe how we are prepared for the age to come where our continuity of being is still maintained.
Back to the Resurrection
As loyal followers of Yahweh through repentance and faith in Jesus, we currently have God’s Spirit impacting our thinking from within, even though every other aspect of ourselves has not yet been changed (made kainos). As I had mentioned before, how we think and respond (our actions now) ought to be neos. In other words, such things need to be something which is completely unfamiliar to what was before. As for everything else, such longs for what will continue to be in the age to come…
Romans 8:19 (HCSB) – For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it — in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits — we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
At the resurrection, the same human beings who had existed prior to it (who expressed faith in Christ), will then continue to live on forever in the post-resurrection age. That is when we believers will finally be made new in the sense of kainos, where we will experience that “adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Again, our whole person will not be neos in the age to come, but we will be made kainos because we will retain our being. Therefore, there is no threat of our identity to not have continuity with our original self. We will not be novel. We will remain forever associated to what we once were, but better!
In another letter, Paul anticipated that someone in Corinth might ask about the difference between what we are now and what we will be later as a result of that future resurrection. His response…
1 Corinthians 15:35-38… 42-44 (HCSB) – But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” Foolish one! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow — you are not sowing the future body, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. But God gives it a body as He wants, and to each of the seeds its own body… So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural (psychikos, g5591) body (soma, g4983), raised a spiritual (pneumatikos, g4152) body (soma, g4983). If there is a natural (psychikos, g5591) body (soma, g4983), there is also a spiritual (pneumatikos, g4152) body (soma, g4983).
To help the Corinthians understand this question of what our resurrected self will be like, Paul offers an analogy: Summed up, what he is saying is that just as a seed does not yet have its final physicality, we also do not yet have our “future body.” Another way to look at it is, Paul is saying that just as a seed must die and be buried so that it can germinate and emerge from the ground as something that it is not yet, we must also die and then come back to life (emerge from the grave) in order to become what we are not yet. He was explaining to the believers in Corinth that the resurrection is the mechanism by which we will go from a natural (psychikos, g5591) body (soma, g4983) to a spiritual (pneumatikos, g4152) body (soma, g4983). A few verses later, Paul describes this future instant change, regardless of whether we are found alive or dead (asleep) at that time…
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (HCSB) – Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
Back to Continuity
The important thing to notice here is that our current, pre-resurrected physicality directly corresponds to our future, post-resurrected physicality. In other words, the same material entity that we are now, will be the same material entity that we will be later. The difference between the two is that our same body (soma, g4983) that we have now will just be changed from being natural (psychikos, g5591) to spiritual (pneumatikos, g4152), as a result of the resurrection. We know that this is so because it is exactly what our Lord went through after He had died on the cross. Jesus did not come out of the tomb with a different body after He rose from the dead. He came out with the same body, which had just changed from being dead to being made alive again. Here is how Peter described the difference between what happened regarding Jesus and what has not yet happened regarding someone who is still dead now, David…
Acts 2:22-32 (HCSB) – “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope, because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay. You have revealed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence. Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants, on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.”
Death could not hold Jesus, that is why His “flesh” could “rest in hope.” In other words, His same dead flesh that was placed in the tomb could rest in hope after He was executed, because He knew that it would be His same alive flesh that would walk out of the tomb three days later. As for David: “He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” David, on the other hand, is still resting in hope this day. His body is still psychikos (just as we are currently), where Jesus is now pneumatikos (just as we hope to someday be).
The church in Thessalonica had concerns about this subject as well. However, they were not concerned about themselves as those in Corinth had been. Instead, they were concerned about the opposite… the fate of those believers who had already fallen asleep (died). Paul offered them this encouragement and insight…
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (HCSB) – We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The Thessalonians needed to be comforted. They needed to know that they had, “no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.” For whatever reason, they did not realize that “the dead in Christ” and those who are “still alive” would be “caught up together” at “the trumpet of God.” Remember, as we saw in First Corinthians regarding the resurrection, all believers whether asleep (dead) or alive at that time… “we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.” Not until that trumpet sounds will kainos come into fruition for “everything” (Revelation 21:5). In other words, only Jesus has been made kainos so far. That is why He is described as being “the firstfruits” by Paul…
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (HCSB) – But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.
As the writer of Hebrews says, even those from the past who were described as having been approved by their faith would not be made perfect without us…
Hebrews 11:39-40 (HCSB) – All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.
Some Concluding Thoughts
When we think of our glorified body, we need to think of it as being made fresh or anew. There is a continuity regarding our physicality between this age and the age to come. Our current perishable body will be raised imperishable. Since it will be the same body, it will not be new in the sense of neos, but it will be new in the sense of kainos. This was Paul’s point when he likened our glorified bodies to a seed sprouting from the ground. The seed and the body that grows from it is the same entity, just as the same dead body that was put in the tomb was the same body that came back to life when Jesus was resurrected from the dead (Matthew 27:57-28:15). Again, this concept of continuity is also consistent with how Peter describes the new heavens and the new earth…
2 Peter 3:13 (HCSB) – But based on His promise, we wait for the new (kainos, g2537) heavens and a new (kainos, g2537) earth, where righteousness will dwell.
Due to what Christ has done, we believers must be neos now in how we live. In other words, we must be completely different and unconnected to our old self in how we conduct our lives, because we will one day be made kainos for the age to come. It is worth repeating…
1 Corinthians 5:7 (HCSB) – Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new (neos, g3501) batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
For some further thoughts on this topic, please see the second half entitled: Continuity Continued
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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