(neos anthropos or kainos anthropos): Generally described, the "new man" is man as he becomes under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, contrasted with man as he is by nature. The phrase has (1) its Biblical, and (2) its theological, meanings.
I. Biblical Meaning.
There are four Biblical contrasts which must be considered as opposites: (1) the "old man" (palaios anthropos) and the "new man" (neos anthropos or kainos anthropos); (2) the "outward man" (exoanthropos) and the "inward man" (esoanthropos); (3) the "carnal man" (sarkikos anthropos) and the "spiritual man" (pneumatikos anthropos); (4) the "natural man" (psuchikos anthropos) and the "spiritual man" (pneunatikos anthropos). These are not four different sorts of men, but four different sorts of man. Take up these antitheses in their reverse order, so as to arrive at some clear and impressive conception of what the Biblical writer means by the "new man."
1. The Spiritual Man:
The "spiritual man" is a designation given in opposition to the "carnal man" and to the "natural man" (Ro 8:1-14; 1Co 2:15; 3:1,3-4; 2:14; 3:11; 14:37; 15:46; Ga 6:1; Eph 2:3). All three of these terms are personifications of human nature. The "carnal man" is human nature viewed as ruled and dominated by sensual appetites and fleshly desires--as energized by those impulses which have close association with the bodily affections. The "natural man" is human nature ruled and dominated by unsanctified reason--those higher powers of the soul not yet influenced by Divine grace. The "spiritual man" is this same human nature after it has been seized upon and interpenetrated and determined by the Holy Spirit. The word "spiritual" is sometimes used in a poetic and idealistic sense, as when we speak of the spirituality of beauty; sometimes in a metaphysical sense, as when we speak of the spirituality of the soul; but in its prevalent Biblical and evangelical sense it is an adjective with the Holy Spirit as its noun-form. The spiritual life is that life of which the Holy Spirit is the author and preserver; and the "spiritual man" is that nature or character in man which the Holy Spirit originates, preserves, determines, disciplines, sanctifies and glorifies.
2. The Inward Man:
The "inward man" is a designation of human nature viewed as internally and centrally regenerated, as contrasted with the "outward man" (2Co 4:16; Ro 7:22; Eph 3:16). See MAN, OUTWARD. This phrase indicates the whole human nature conceived as affected from within--in the secret, inside, and true springs of activity--by the Holy Spirit of God. Such a change--regeneration--is not superficial, but a change in the inner central self; not a mere external reformation, but an internal transformation. Grace operates not from the circumference toward the center, but from the center toward the circumference, of life. The product is a man renovated in his "inward parts," changed in the dynamic center of his heart.
3. The New Man:
The "new man" is an appellation yielded by the contrasted idea of the "old man" (Ro 6:6; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9; Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 3:10). The "old" is "corrupt" and expresses itself in evil "deeds"; the "new" possesses the "image of God" and is marked by "knowledge," "righteousness," and "holiness." There are two Greek words for "new"--neos and kainos. The former means new in the sense of young, as the new-born child is a young thing; the latter means "new" in the sense of renovated, as when the house which has been rebuilt is called a new house. The converted man is "new" (neo-anthropos) in the sense that he is a "babe in Christ," and "new" (kaino-anthropos) in the sense that his moral nature is renovated and built over again.
In the New Testament there are 5 different verbs used to express the action put forth in making the "old man" a "new man." (1) In Eph 2:10 and Eph 4:24, he is said to be "created" (ktizo), and in 2Co 5:17 the product is called a "new creature" (kaine kisis), a renovated creature. Out of the "old man" the Holy Spirit has created the "new man." (2) In 1 Pet 1:3,13 and elsewhere, he is said to be "begotten again" (anagennao), and the product is a "babe in Christ" (1Co 3:1). The "old man" thus becomes the "new man" by a spiritual begetting: his paternity is assigned to the Holy Ghost. (3) In Eph 2:5 and elsewhere, he is said to be `quickened' (zoopoieo), and the product is represented as a creature which has been made "alive from the dead" (Ro 6:13). The "old man," being `dead in trespasses and sins' (Eph 2:1), is brought forth from his sin-grave by a spiritual resurrection. (4) In Eph 4:23 he is represented as being made "young" (ananeoo), and the product is a child of the Spirit at the commencement of his religious experience. The "old man," dating his history back to the fall in Eden, has become, through the Spirit, a young man in Christ Jesus. (5) In 2 Cor 4:16 and in Ro 12:2, he is said to be `renovated' (anakainoo). The "old man" is renovated into the "new man." Sinful human nature is taken by the Spirit and morally recast.
II. Theological Meaning.
The "new man" is the converted, regenerated man. The phrase has its significance for the great theological doctrine of regeneration as it expands into the broad work of sanctification. Is the sinner dead? Regeneration is a new life. Is holiness non-existent in him? Regeneration is a new creation. Is he born in sin? Regeneration is a new birth. Is he determined by his fallen, depraved nature? Regeneration is a spiritual determination. Is he the subject of carnal appetites? Regeneration is a holy appetency. Is he thought of as the old sinful man? Regeneration is a new man. Is the sinful mind blind? Regeneration is a new understanding. Is the heart stony? Regeneration is a heart of flesh. Is the conscience seared? Regeneration is a good conscience. Is the will impotent? Regeneration is a new impotentiation. The regenerated man is a man with a new governing disposition--a "new man," an "inward man," a "spiritual man."
(1) The "New Man"--the Regenerate Man--Is Not a Theological Transubstantiation:
A being whose substance has been supernaturally converted into some other sort of substance.
(2) He Is Not a Scientific Transmutation:
A species of one kind which has been naturally evolved into a species of another kind.
(3) He Is Not a Metaphysical Reconstruction:
Being with a new mental equipment.
(4) He Is an Evangelical Convert:
An "old man" with a new regnant moral disposition, an "outward man" with a new inward fons et origo of moral life; a "natural man" with a new renovated spiritual heart.
See MAN, NATURAL; REGENERATION.
Robert Alexander Webb