Thursday, March 10, 2011

The New and the Old

Word Study: ενδυοω 
(enduo en-doo’-o)

Text:  Ephesians 4:24. και ενδυσασθαι τον καινον ανθρωπον τον κατα θεον κτισθεντα εν δικαιοσυνη και οσιοτητι της αληθειας

Translation:  "and [that you] have put on the new person who has been created after God's likeness in righteousness and holiness that comes from the truth."

Word Study:  Today we are going to study the verb ενδυσασθαι which comes from the root word ενδυοω. Actually, ενδυσασθαι is what we call an infinitive. An infinitive is a verbal noun. An infinitive is not limited by a subject since they do not have personal endings. Infinitives are used to complete the meaning of certain verbs.

ενδυσασθαι parallels with the infinitive apoqesqai in verse 22 as both are aorist in tense and middle in voice. We will cover the significance of this information momentarily. 

The infinitive in the present verse comes from ενδυοω. This verb always carries the idea of "putting on clothing." It can be in the active voice which would mean "to clothe or dress someone," or in the middle voice which would mean "to put on, clothe oneself, or to wear." The New Testament uses this verb some 27 times. Paul uses this verb 13 times; he uses it 3 times in this letter to the Ephesians. When used it means to literally put on clothes.

They key for our text and word study today is this verb is an aorist middle infinitive. What does this mean and how should we understand it? It really is very simple and very worth while to know. It means that these Ephesians believers had been taught by the Apostle Paul that they had put on the new person when they laid aside the old person at conversion. You should take careful note that the old person does not remain with the new person. One was put off and one was put on at the moment of salvation. One can not be a Christian and a non-Christian at the same time.

There is a major contrast between the new man in verse 24 and the old man in verse 22. Replacement of the old man with the new man occurred at a specific point in time - the time of conversion.The result Paul says is a qualitative difference in how believers live their daily lives.

The significance of this truth is that Paul is not telling the Ephesian believers to put off the old man (actively) and to put on Christ (actively). This action could never be done by an individual. We who are sinners cannot crucify, put to death or rid ourselves of the old man. Nor can we make ourselves "new creations" by actively putting on Christ. However, when the Holy Spirit regenerates us or creates new life in us, we are able to exercise God given faith, repent, trust the finished work of Christ thereby becoming the recipient of the creation of a new man in us by the Holy Spirit of God. As Galatians 2:20 states at conversion the old man is killed, actually crucified and put to death.

God does the work in us, the putting off and the putting on and we as believers are the recipients of this wonderful work. This is why the correct translation is "has been created" and not "is created." The aorist tense shows the inceptive action of God that takes place at the same time. This new person has been created by God and was "put on" at the time of conversion. So, believers have put on the new person. This occurred when they laid off the old person at the time of their conversion.

What does this mean to us? First, it means that we as believers do not try to continually do something that only God can do and has actually done. We cannot put on the new man, this is a work of God. Second, we don't continually attempt to put off the old man since this also is a work that only God can do and has done when He crucified the old man in Christ on the cross at Calvary. Third, we examine the heart of this passage which begins in verse 17 and runs through verse 32 - believers are to walk (conduct themselves) in holiness. Fourth, we can not confuse this with the context of this section and the rest of scripture than we are not to work at putting to death the sins of the flesh and denying the residue of sin in our flesh. Just because the old man is put off and a new man is put on doesn't alleviate the problem of sin residue within this unredeemed body. This is what Paul is saying in this passage, since the old man has been put off, do not live according to its characteristics and since the new man has been put on, live according to the characteristics of that new man.

Paul is exhorting the Ephesian believers to live in light of the fact that they are new creations in Christ, with the old creation being put to death. In other words, Paul is instructing these believers since they are new creations, live like it. Live in holiness. Paul is explaining the manner of life that is consistent with their conversion and the creation by God of the new man within them. He first presents the lifestyle that is consistent with those who still possess the old man.

A quick note here to the nay-sayers and doubters; this does not mean that we do not sin, nor are we now perfect, or that now we live sinlessly. Even though the old man is dead, crucified, and put off, the residue of sin still resides in the body of this flesh. This flesh still craves satisfaction and like a crafty fisherman with a lure designed to deceive and hook fish, the residue of sin in our flesh craftily lures us by deception and design to submit to temptation thereby committing sin.

The significance of ενδυσασθαι is that it does not teach nor suggest dualism. One cannot be a Christian and non-Christian at the same time. The bible does not teach that inside of us is "a white dog and a black dog" and whoever we feed the most wins. Christ's death freed us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin. However, until we are in the presence of Christ we are not yet freed from the presence of sin which is why Paul called this body, "this body of death." There is a "principle" or law of sin that yet remains in this body and tempts us to sin. Oh, that we delivered from it even now! 

Here is a side-note for your benefit. This was not planned but I stumbled over it when I was trying to figure out why my beloved ESV did not translate the infinitive correctly. 

It seems that ενδυσασθαι is found in a number of Greek manuscripts. But endusasqe is found in a few manuscripts, including the Alexandrian text types, which are the basis for the NASB, ESV, NIV, and others. This form of the word is translated as an imperative or a command. 

The Byzantine and Western texts have better distribution. We can easily see why a scribe or copyist would would change the ending from an infinitive to an imperative rather than change the imperative to an infinitive.

I use the majority text as my working Greek Text and I am more partial to the Byzantine Text rather than the Critical Text. I have never really been a huge fan of the Alexandrian Text. If a "shoving match" develops over a translation of a word between the Alexandrian Greek Text and the Byzantine or the Majority Greek Text, I will take the Byzantine or the Majority Texts over the Alexandrian Text every time. 

Hence, I believe our word is an infinitive, and I stand by the translation "that you have laid aside the old person" and "and [that you] have put on the new person who has been created after God's likeness." This idea also better fits the fact that we are dead to sin, the old man was crucified in Christ, and we are new creatures or creations with the old being done away with. The infinitive fits the theology of the New Testament and the Apostle Paul better than the imperative usage.


Persis said...

Very clear post, Gregg! If we believe the white dog/black dog scenario, we're essentially denying what happens at regeneration. The focus is still what we need to do to overcome the black dog, not rest in what Christ has done.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Amazing to me Gregg you made this post perfectly clear.


Mike said...

Old man - New man: one of the great mysteries of God!