… He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:15-17)
Theodoret of Cyrus, writing in the 5th Century, notes that the new creation will not be fully realized until after the general resurrection of all happens in the eschaton. It is only then that we and creation will be freed from corruption. In this life, even the deified still suffer corruption and die. The incorrupt and immortal life will be ours only when God’s Kingdom is fully established. Until then, even though God’s Kingdom is breaking into this world, we still do not experience the fullness of the new creation. Once the new creation happens, life will be nothing like we know it today. That is a joyful experience which we must await. Theodoret says:
He [St Paul] said this also in writing to the Corinthians: ‘So that if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, by new creation he refers properly to the transformation in things coming after the resurrection from the dead: at that time the creation will be freed from the corruption affecting it, and human nature will be clothed with immortality. He shows saving baptism to be a kind of image of the future realities: in it we lay off the old person and are clothed with the new, and by setting aside the burden of sins we receive the grace of the Spirit. (COMMENTARY ON THE LETTERS OF ST PAUL Vol 2, p 24)
In Baptism we put on Christ, yet in this world and in this life, Baptism remains but an image of the future reality of the new creation. St Paul wrote: “Not all of us shall sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). God’s Kingdom will come before all humans have died. All of us will not experience death (sleep), but all of us will experience the transfiguration of becoming the new creation in which corruption, suffering and death have all fled away. Life in the Kingdom will not be just an endless version of life in this world, but a new creation which we cannot even imagine.
… because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:21-23)
Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)