The Greek word for ‘new’ used in the context of the new heaven and new earth is similar to the Old Testament Hebrew. They both translate to ‘renew’ when referring to the new heaven and earth. The base words mean qualitatively new as opposed to old and former and hence also implying better because it is different.
Consider the use of the word ‘new’ in the following passages.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him…put off…your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-24
It is the same physical man, but totally different and better.
What is meant by ‘the new man which was created according to God’…?
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over…all the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over…the earth.’” Genesis 1:26-28
Image means likeness. Image and likeness in both Old and New Testaments mean reflection, shadow, and the essential nature of. There is always a prototype, and not merely a resemblance of something. The image of God also means perfect in knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and immortal. Sin and its resulting curse really fouled things up for both man and the earth; however, the day will come when both sinful men who so choose and the cursed earth will be redeemed to its original state.
Man was created in two basic parts, i.e. his physical body from the dust of the earth and his spirit which was breathed into him.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
With the advent of sin man was consigned to physical death and his body was returned to the earth while his spirit returned to the One that created him awaiting the final destiny.
“Then the dust will return to earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
According to the Bible the spirit of man belongs to God and at the time of physical death it will either be preserved in paradise or reserved in Hades (hell) until reunited with the physical body which will then live forever. A great truth is that there is no such thing as cessation of being for any man at death. A spirit preserved in paradise is protected, i.e. kept safe until the reunification of the body and spirit for eternal life in heaven while a spirit that is reserved in hell is kept under guard until the reunification of the body and spirit for eternal separation from God in the everlasting lake of fire.
The preservation of the spirits of the just and the reservation of the spirits of the unjust is documented in the New Testament.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of Our LORD Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23
“…then the Lord knows how to…reserve the unjust under punishment for the Day of Judgment…” 2 Peter 2:9
Hell and paradise are immediate and irreversible for those who physically die. Each is a precursor for the final destiny of those who either accept God’s free gift of redemption based on Christ’s death on the cross or those who reject it.
Therefore, paradise and hell are just the intermediate places for the spirits awaiting the resurrection of the body. The final destiny of the dead is then either heaven, i.e. renewed earth and New Jerusalem or the lake of fire.
To be continued…