Pt 2-Covenant: Exchanging of Robes



The Covenant Between
Jonathan and David

Remember that beriyth refers to a contract made by passing between pieces of cut flesh and Karath means to cut or make a covenant. Also keep in mind that covenant was the most solemn, binding, intimate, inviolable compact known in the ancient world and was held in high esteem by all ancient societies in contrast to our modern society. This discussion will examine the Old Testament covenant between Jonathan and David and the practical application of this Old Testament picture to the life of a New Covenant believer. New Testament passages which parallel the Old Testament picture of the events of 1Samuel 18:1-4 can help you understand from another vantage point some of the events which transpired when we entered into the New Covenant by grace through faith.


One of the most famous man to man covenants was between King Saul's son Jonathan and David, who had been anointed to be the next king by the prophet Samuel (1Sa 16:12, 13). 1 Samuel 18, follows David's slaying of Goliath which catapulted him (at least for the moment) into the good graces of King Saul who brought him into his court (1Sa 18:2).

1Sa 17:58+ And Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" And David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

1Sa 18:1+ Now it came about when he (David) had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of (Keil say literally = “The soul of Jonathan bound itself to the soul of David", NIV = "became one in spirit with" NIV) David, and Jonathan loved him as himself (literally = "as his own soul") 2 And Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant ("cut a covenant" Karath beriyth) David because he loved him as himself. (TLB paraphrase = "Jonathan swore to be his blood brother") 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.

Keep in mind that in 1Sa 16:13+ the Spirit came upon David in power. As the Standard Reference Library comments...

We may assume that the Spirit guided David's hand on the harp strings that banished an evil spirit from Saul (1Sal 16:14-23), guided the same hand as it hurled a stone at Goliath (1Sa 17:49), guided David's mind in his military strategy (1Sa 18:5) and the administration of justice (2Sa 8:15), and inspired the many psalms of David (2Sa 23:1, 2).

Here in 1 Samuel 18:1-4+ we see even prior to cutting a covenant, the souls of Jonathan and David were knit together or as the NIV renders it they "became one in spirit" (NET has "became bound together in friendship"). Note that this knitting is a reflection of the fact that Jonathan loved David as himself. As an aside, the Scripture does not record at what point Jonathan realized that David had been anointed by Samuel (1Sa 16:13) as God's choice for Israel's next king.

Henry Clay Trumbull comments that...

From that hour the hearts of David and Jonathan were as one. Jonathan could turn away from father and mother, and could repress all personal ambition, and all purely selfish longings, in proof of his loving fidelity to him who was dear to him as his own blood.' His love for David was " wonderful, passing the love of women."' (The Blood Covenant)

Jonathan initiated the cutting of a Covenant (Karath beriyth) with David because he loved him as himself. He loved David as his soul or as his own life. Now, thinking back on other covenants between men (Ge 21:22-34, 26:26-31, 31:43-55 - see Summary), how does this covenant differ from most of those other covenants between men? Clearly it is based not on fear as most of the other covenants but on friendship.

Ralph Davis comments that...

Jonathan was apparently taken with David immediately. “Jonathan loved him like his very self” (v1 NJB). Because of this they made a covenant. Jonathan, so verse 3 indicates, took the initiative: “So Jonathan — along with David — cut a covenant because he loved him as himself.” If we press the verb, the bond was inaugurated by severing an animal and by both parties passing between the pieces as if to say, “If I am unfaithful to my word in this covenant, may I end up in pieces as this animal.” (Borrow Looking on the heart Volume 2 - 1 Samuel 15-31)

Excursus on Love
that Motivated Cutting Covenant

Twice in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 the Scripture records that Jonathan loved him as his own soul. The Hebrew verb 'ahab (Strong's 157) describes God's love for His children (Hosea 11:1 "When Israel was a youth I loved him"), human love for God (Deut. 6:5 "you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might"), and the love for every man which is commanded by God (Lev 19:18 "you shall love your neighbor as yourself").

In another use of love which helps under Jonathan's love for David in 1 Samuel 18:1,4 we read that...

"David came to Saul and attended him, and Saul loved (aheb/ahabhim greatly; and he became his armor bearer." (1Samuel 16:21+).

Later in 1 Samuel 18 we read that...

"all Israel and Judah loved (aheb/ahab) David, and he went out and came in before them. (1Samuel 18:16)

The first use of the Hebrew verb for love is found in Genesis 22 where God tests Abraham's faith by commanding him to...

"Take now your son, your only son, whom you love (aheb/ahab), Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." (Genesis 22:2)

Some writers have suggested that the "love" between Jonathan and David was indicative of a homosexual relationship. Against this interpretation is the fact that the Hebrew verb 'ahab is never used in the Old Testament to signify what is clearly (as determined from the context) a homosexual desire or activity. Instead the Old Testament uses the Hebrew verb, yada, which means "to know" to indicate close relationship in a sexual sense in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Thus yada refers to homosexual relationships in the following texts...

Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations ('yada) with them." (Genesis 19:4, 5)

While they were making merry, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows (literally "sons of belial", belial being transliterated as a synonym for Satan in 2 Cor 6:15+) , surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations ('yada) with him." (Judges 19:22+).

Finally, note that the verb 'yada is never used to describe the relationship between Jonathan's and David.

The phrase "loved him as HIMSELF" is literally "loved him as his SOUL". Clearly the relationship of Jonathan and David touched the very depth of their beings. Thus in the present context, the Hebrew noun for soul (nephesh) conveys the idea of Jonathan's inner man and reflects the totality of his being. The point is that Jonathan loved David as much as he loved his own life and, as verse 4 indicates,. there was nothing Jonathan would not do for David. ’’David is seen in Jonathan’s clothes that all may take notice he is Jonathan’s second self.’’

Finally, conservative commentators such as Constable do not interpret the relationship between Jonathan and David as anything other than a covenant of deep friendship, writing that...

Jonathan loved David as he loved himself (1Sa 18:1, 3; cf. Lev 19:18). He loved David, as he should have, since David had committed himself to glorifying God and fulfilling His will even at the expense of his personal safety. Some homosexuals have tried to use the writer’s statements of Jonathan’s love for David as support that their lifestyle has good biblical precedent. However the Hebrew word ‘aheb, translated “love” here, nowhere else describes homosexual desire or activity. Rather when homosexual relations are in view the Holy Spirit used the word yada, translated “know” in the sense of “have sex with” (cf. Gen. 19:5; Jdg. 19:22). (Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible)

The Standard Reference Library comments that "Some individuals in Jonathan's position might have been jealous of David, but not he. A valiant warrior himself, Jonathan had received the same kind of admiration from the people as was now being showered upon this newcomer. Yet far from being envious, Jonathan was filled with admiration for David. Instead of seeing David's accomplishments as the basis for hostility, Jonathan saw them as the basis for friendship; and he became one in spirit with David. One quality of a person who would be a friend and have a friend is the capacity of seeing and appreciating in another that which is noble and admirable. This Jonathan possessed to a marked degree. As Saul's son, he could be considered the rightful successor to his father's throne; yet he did not hesitate to offer his love and friendship to David, even when it was clear that David would be Saul's successor. (The Standard Reference Library – Old Testament Volume 2: The History of Israel)

Adam Clarke writes that...The most intimate friendship subsisted between them; and they loved each other with pure hearts fervently. No love was lost between them; each was worthy of the other. They had a friendship which could not be affected with changes or chances, and which exemplified all that the ancients have said on the subject; "Friendship produces an entire sameness; it is one soul in two bodies: a friend is another self." (Bolding added)

Larry Richards adds that...When we remember that Jonathan would normally have succeeded Saul as Israel’s king, his friendship for David is especially impressive. The OT contains no finer example of what it means to be a friend. The story of how David returned Jonathan’s friendship is found in 2 Sam. 9. (The Bible Reader's Companion)

Believer's Study Bible writes that...Neither the word for love here, ahav (Hebrew), nor the relationship of the two men suggests any abnormality. The word ahav was a technical term in covenant texts for the bonding together by pacts of loyalty and reciprocal responsibility. It refers, then, to a relationship between two parties who could depend on one another. (Believer's Study Bible)

R K Hughes writes that "This love did not develop in a month or even a day, but in a flash! It was because David’s sizzling soul met such a deep need in Jonathan’s — “At last I have found someone who lives like me!” He really did love him as himself, and in doing so was loving his neighbor as himself — and he was thus fulfilling the Law of God....Jonathan, the king’s son, stands humbly in his undergarment, while the shepherd boy dons the prince’s robe and armament. Jonathan’s act was one of honor, equality, and vulnerability. To wear the robe of a king was an immense honor, as testified by Haman’s fateful request to wear the Persian king’s robe and parade through the streets (cf. Esther 6:6, 7, 8, 9). Jonathan’s symbolic divestiture formally abolished David’s status as a shepherd and placed him side by side as an equal. His disrobing was a conscious display of vulnerability and real risk. The Shakespearean gesture meant, “My life for your life” — and he meant every bit of it. (Borrow Disciplines of a godly man)

Exchange of Robes:
Putting on the Other Party

Jonathan demonstrates his commitment to this solemn covenant by giving David his royal robe. In a symbolic sense, (especially as this practice was understood in ancient times) in the context of covenant, David is "putting on" Jonathan. David is taking on the identity of his covenant partner Jonathan. In essence the two have become one.

Note that this new relationship heralds an end of independent living for both partners since they now are called to live for each other. There is to be a surrender of self interest for the covenant partner and we see that Jonathan willingly gave up his right to be king!

Compare these profound truths (end to independent living, etc) to the marriage covenant (Ge 2:24 - see Covenant As It Relates to Marriage). Are you as convicted as I am, even after 52 years of marriage!

An ancient writer said that

Friendship (Notes on term friend associated with covenant) is an entire sameness and one soul; a friend is another self. (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge)

Ralph Davis comments that...

Jonathan also stripped himself of his robe and gave it to David, as well as his war coat or armor, his sword, bow, and belt (v. 4). All this was both significant and surprising; significant because the clothes signify the person and his position — hence Jonathan renounces his position as crown prince and transfers, so far as his own will goes, the right of succession to David. (See Note 2 below) No one in the Near East would do that. (It’s like telling your real estate agent, “Let’s set the price fifteen thousand dollars lower; I’m not concerned to get as much as I possibly can for my house.” And his or her reaction is…?) You did not transfer your crown rights to an upcomer, you eliminated him! But Jonathan does not ape the boring expectations of his culture. S. G. DeGraaf is on the right track when he says, “This deed on his part was an act of faith. Only faith makes us willing to be the lesser. Faith causes us to surrender the rights we pretend to have over against the Christ, who is truly Israel’s king.”

[Note 2 -...Rummel refers to an Akkadian document discovered at Ugarit in which Utrisharruma, a thirteenth–century king of Ugarit, makes a divorce settlement with his queen. The couple’s son, the crown prince, may go with his mother if he wants, but in that case he will abdicate his right to the throne. He must indicate this decision by leaving his clothes on the throne. Compare also Nus 20:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 1Ki 19:19, 20, 21. In the last scene of 1Samuel 19 Saul, rendered harmless by the power of God’s Spirit, strips off (pasat, 1Sa 19:24; same verb as in 1Sa 18:4 of Jonathan) his clothes, which may signify that even Saul, against his will, acknowledges that he has forfeited the kingship (cf. Robert P. Gordon, Borrow Gordon's 1 & 2 Samuel, 165]. (Borrow Looking on the heart Volume 2 - 1 Samuel 15-31)

Matthew Henry offers the apt description that...

David is seen in Jonathan’s clothes that all may take notice he is Jonathan’s second self. Our Lord Jesus has thus shown His love to us, that He stripped Himself to clothe us, emptied Himself to enrich us...He clothed Himself with our rags.

Philippians 2:6-8

In Philippians Paul explains how it was possible for Jesus Christ to take man's "robe" writing that ...

although He existed in the form (morphe = stresses essence of one’s nature-his continuous state or condition In His preincarnate state Christ possessed every divine attribute) of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (clutched, embraced, prized, held onto), but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Php 2:6, 7, 8-note)


All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord
by Martin Luther

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

For all eternity Jesus wore the "robe of Divinity" as co-equal with God (Php 2:5, 6, 7-note). In order to take on the "robe" of humanity He stepped down from His exalted position as the only begotten Son of God as Paul carefully outlines...

(1) He chose not to demand or cling to His rights as God. He continued to fully exist as God but during His incarnation refused to hold on to His divine rights and privileges. (Note that equality refers to exact equivalence!)

(2) He emptied Himself. Although He remained fully God He emptied Himself completely of certain aspects of His prerogatives as God. (Note that in the gospels He still was able to perform miracles, forgive sins and know the hearts of people.)

(3) He took the form of a bond-servant (see doulos). Form is the Greek word morphe [word study] which stresses essence of one’s nature. Thus Jesus existed in the form (morphe) of God and now in the form (morphe) of a bond-servant. In other words, He did not just put on the external raiment of a slave but actually became a slave in the fullest sense. (Note that bond-servant is doulos [see word study])

(4) He was made in the likeness of men. Likeness means that which is made to be like something else, not just in appearance but in reality. Jesus possessed all the attributes of men and was not simply a reasonable facsimile of a man, not like Adam before the Fall but with all the frailties, limitations, and suffering that were the result of the Fall. All except that He was without sin. He 2:14 [see note] is a good "commentary" stating that

Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same

(5) Being found in appearance as a man. This phrase teaches that Jesus was recognized as a man by those who observed Him during His time on earth. The word appearance is schema which contrasts with form (morphe) and likeness (homoioma) which both refer to the the very essence and basic nature. Schema on the other hand refers to outward shape or from. Here Paul describes Jesus' whole outward appearance which bore no difference to that of other men. Note that Paul's use of of schema is not meant to suggest that Christ’s humanity was only apparent and not real for that point is addressed in both #3 and #4 above.

(6) He humbled Himself. The word humbled (tapeinoo) has the root idea of that which lies low and thus means to be brought low, referring especially to one's attitude. Greeks saw humility as shameful, but Jesus took the attitude of lowering Himself relative to God and to other men! This is an astounding, unfathomable truth. Believers need to remember this great truth when the slightest impulse arises to become self-assertive and self-seeking (or anything else focused on "self").

(7) He became obedient to the point of death. Jesus in taking on man's robe, died in man's place, in perfect submission to His Father. He took on the robe of humanity in order that he might bear our sins (1Pe 2:24, 2Cor 5:21) and that we in exchange might put on His robe of righteousness by entering the New Covenant. What an incredible exchange of robes! This is a foundational truth of the New Covenant in His blood. “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Ro 5:6-note).

Hosanna to the Prince of Light
by Isaac Watts

Hosanna to the Prince of light,
That clothed Himself in clay,
Entered the iron gates of death,
And tore the bars away.
Death is no more the king of dread,
Since our Immanuel rose;
He took the tyrant’s sting away,
And spoiled our hellish foes.

In summary, we observe that Jesus exchanged His robe of Divinity for the likeness of a man. He fulfilled His destiny as a Man by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross thus becoming our Substitute for sin. This is the New Covenant in His blood. Now when the Father looks at us he sees us in the righteousness of His Son. As discussed more below, our new position calls for a new practice.

And Can It Be That I Should Gain
by Charles Wesley

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
(Beloved, do you see the New Covenant here?)
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
(Beloved, do you see the exchange of robes here?)
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Now let's summarize the parallels between the covenant Jonathan cut with David and the new covenant Jesus cut with believers.

  Who Initiates Covenant? What is Motive? What is the Heart Attitude? What Happens to Identity? What Happens to "Rights"?
Jonathan Jonathan
1Sa 18:3
1Sa 18:1, 3
Humility David "put on Jonathan" Jonathan gave up his rights to the throne
Jesus Jesus
Lk 22:20
Jn 15:13,
Ro 5:8-note
Php 2:5-note
Php 2:8-note
Believers put on Christ Gal 3:27
(see below)
Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped

When did Jesus (Who in the OT was designated as the "Covenant" and the "Covenant Messenger") cut the new covenant? On the night before He was crucified, Jesus announced the inauguration of the new covenant Luke recording...

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Lk 22:20, cp Mt 26:28, 1Co 11:25)

In making this declaration, He was fulfilling the prophetic promise in Jeremiah...

Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." (Jer 31:31)

Then on the next day Jesus consummated the New Covenant by spilling His blood on the Cross. It was at this time that Jesus cut covenant for you and for me. In that pinnacle event of all human history Paul teaches us that...

He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Co 5:21)

In First Corinthians Paul explains why Jesus took on the robe of humanity in order to become mankind's sin bearer, writing...

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. (1Cor 15:22)

In this important passage, Paul explains that are only two possible spiritual positions for every man and woman ever born. By "default", every person is born into Adam's family and "inherits" the "sin virus" (Ro 5:12) and is destined for eternal death. However, when one enters the New Covenant by grace through faith, God transfers them from their old position in Adam (in the kingdom of darkness, under the dominion of Satan, under the dominion of Sin, that rules as an evil "King" or "Slavemaster") to their new position in Christ (into the Kingdom of Light, with Christ as their new Master). In Adam, we wore Adam's filthy, dirty, rotting "clothes". Isaiah described it this way writing that...

all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (literally "menstrual rags"!) (Isaiah 64:6)

When we entered into the new covenant with Christ, our faithful Friend (Jn 15:13, 14, 15), did we experience an exchange of robes analogous to that which occurred between Jonathan and David?

Paul explains that when we entered the New Covenant our spiritual garment was supernaturally changed writing that...

you are all sons of God through faith in (union with) Christ Jesus (see in Christ). 27 For all of you who were baptized (baptizo) into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if (since = assumes this to be true) you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26, 27, 28, 29)

In this passage Paul explains several truths that now apply to every believer....

We are sons of God through faith in Christ based on our entry into the new covenant (Gal 3:26). This describes our "new position" - in the family of God (Gal 3:26, cp Jn 1:12, 13, 1Jn 3:1-note).

We have been baptized [word study] (past tense, accomplished fact at the moment of our regeneration) into Christ. In other words, we were identified with Him (comment) (Gal 3:27)

We have clothed (word study) ourselves with Christ (Gal 3:29) - This passage thus parallels Jonathan giving David his robe in 1Sa 18:

We belong to Christ (independent living should be "put off" as we live for the One we belong to) (Gal 3:29)

We are Abraham's offspring - Heirs of the promises given to him. Eg, promises such as (1) God is now our God and (2) through us the world is blessed. (Gal 3:29)

In the Revelation we see the "robe motif" once again, John recording...

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great TRIBULATION, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Ed: Clearly they have entered the New Covenant - they have exchanged their filthy robes of self righteousness for the fine robes of Savior righteousness) 15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (Revelation 7:9-14)

Edward Mote penned the following words which could well have been the "theme song" for the "exchange of robes" in covenant...

My Hope Is Built

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
(Can you see the concept of "covenant" in this line?)
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Do these truths help you begin to understand the exchange of robes that took place when you entered into the New Covenant?

Paul is saying that every believer has clothed themselves with Christ or has "put on" Christ, somewhat like a soldier who belongs to an army demonstrates his association by putting on his uniform. The believer who identifies himself with Jesus Christ through faith is divinely clothed with Christ which is a graphic way to describe Christ’s life, presence, and righteous nature enveloping the believer. Whatever the Lord Jesus is and has, becomes the believer’s. Because Christ has the love of the Father, so do believers. Because Christ has full access to the Father, so do believers. And because Christ has the full resources of the Father, so do believers.

When This Passing World Is Done

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) — see his biography

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary adds that..

Jonathan, the son of the king, gave all the material gifts. David, the poor man’s son, gave but love and respect. One is reminded of the gift of God’s Son to poverty-stricken humanity. (Pfeiffer, C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody or Logos or Wordsearch)

Adam Clarke...

Presents of clothes or rich robes, in token of respect and friendship (Ed: Keep in mind that "friendship" was related to covenant), are frequent in the East. And how frequently arms and clothing were presented by warriors to each other in token of friendship, may be seen in Homer and other ancient writers. (A Commentary and Critical Notes)

What were our clothes like before God saved us by grace through faith?

The prophet Isaiah explains that "all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6, Is 64:6KJV) (click comment)

How is Christ's robe described earlier by Isaiah?

Isaiah records that God

has clothed (Messiah) with garments of salvation... wrapped (Him) with a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10)

What happened to our old rags when we entered new covenant?

Paul explains that

By God's doing you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us... righteousness (1Co 1:30)

Paul adds in this second letter to the Corinthians that

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf (cp Ro 8:3-note, Ro 8:4-note), that we might become righteousness of God in Him. (2Co 5:21)


’Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies

by Charles Wesley

Accepted in the Well-beloved,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
I see the bar to heaven removed;
And all Thy merits, Lord, are mine.

So now, believers are "clothed" in the righteousness of Christ on the basis of the "exchange of robes" that occurred when we entered the New Covenant in His blood. In a practical sense it follows that what the world should now see is His righteousness in us. How would this occur? By seeing our new righteous behavior that corresponds to our new clothing which reflects our new union and new identity with Christ ("baptized into Christ"..."clothed with Christ"). In summary, by virtue of the new covenant we have entered, believers take on Christ's identity and now have a oneness with Christ ("two become one").

How does one know they have been clothed with New Covenant clothes?

Phil Newton addresses this question...

How do you recognize a true Christian? It would seem that such a question would be unnecessary in the church, yet in our day this is a most valid question. Many people masquerade as Christians when in fact they are not. Multitudes of others consider themselves Christians simply because of their association with the Church or due to their adherence to a certain set of beliefs, yet they give no evidence of true Christianity. Unless we can discern between true Christianity and false Christianity, we are in danger of accepting into the Church as Christian those who are still unregenerate.

A hundred years ago, Bishop J.C. Ryle spoke of this same subject in describing true Christianity.

A true Christian is not a mere baptized man or woman. He is something more. He is not a person who only goes, as a matter of form, to a church or chapel on Sundays, and lives all the rest of the week as if there was no God. Formality is not Christianity. Ignorant lip worship is not true religion....All are not true Christians who are members of the visible church of Christ.

The true Christian is one whose religion is in his heart and life. It is felt by himself in his heart. It is seen by others in his conduct and life. He feels his sinfulness, guilt and badness, and repents. He sees Jesus Christ to be that divine Saviour whom his souls needs, and commits himself to Him. He puts off the old man with his corrupt and carnal habits, and puts on the new man. He lives a new and holy life, fighting habitually against the world, the flesh and the devil. Christ Himself is the Corner-stone of his Christianity [Holiness, 234-235].

Contrast this description of true Christians with what is prevalent in our own day. What do you find? You discover multitudes who know nothing of the gospel and the work of Christ on the cross, yet consider themselves to be Christians. You find others who have no concern for walking in holiness or obeying the Lord or submitting to Christ’s Lordship, yet who adamantly call themselves Christians. There is a wide gap between profession and practice, between the Christian of the New Testament and the Christian of the 20th century church. To this our Lord gives the simple assessment, "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit" (Mt 12:33).

The danger of all this comes in the practice of the Church accepting the false and tossing aside the true. When we lose our ability to discern truth and error, true Christianity and false Christianity, we will begin to slowly disintegrate from within. Our standards will be shattered. Our doctrine will be trashed. Our mission to proclaim Christ to the ends of the earth will be lost. In fact, we will find ourselves no better off than the church of the Dark Ages, in which few believers could be found in the visible church. (Sermon from the Book of Acts)

A New Name
Acts 11:26

In addition, as other Biblical covenants emphasize, believers also experience a "name change". What do you think our new name might be? In Acts 11 Luke records the following event...

And it came about that for an entire year they (Barnabas and Saul) met with the church, and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26)

So our "new name" is "Christian" (see word study on Christianos) (5546 = Christianos from Christós = Christ from chrio = to anoint, so Christ = "Anointed One") a word found only 3 times in the NT (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1Pe 4:16-note) and the name given to the disciples or followers of Christ at Antioch. The meaning of Christianos is not totally clear but seems to mean an adherent of Christ. Some think this is a diminutive form of Christos, meaning "little Christ." Irregardless Christianos connects or identifies a believer with his Lord (as we see in the New Covenant). In a real sense a Christian means bearing the Name of Christ our Lord. In our modern world, most people who hear the term “Christian” consider it to be essentially the opposite of “pagan.” But the name carries the idea of “a Christ one, belonging to Christ.” Certainly it is a privilege to bear the name and to suffer for His name’s sake.

As covenant partners with Christ what is the new responsibility we have as result of our new identity? To live in such a way that others see Christ's life not ours (cf "Christ in you the hope of glory" see Col 1:27-note and "Christ...our life" see Col 3:4-note), cp Jn 2031, 14:19, 1Jn 5:12), ! Because of our new clothes and new identity we are called to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" our Covenant Partner (Col 1:10-Note)

A New Power
Romans 6

We see an amplification of this truth in Romans 6 where Paul explains that believers receive a new power which enables us to fulfill our awesome responsibility. Paul explains that...

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?

2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,

6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;

7 for he who has died is freed from sin.

8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

To summarize Paul's points we see that...

(1) We have died (past tense, completed action = aorist tense) to SIN (the power of Sin, Sin as our "master") Now we have a choice to not obey the power of Sin. (see note Romans 6:2)

(2) We were baptized (see word study) into His death (Identified with His death on Calvary) (see note Romans 6:3)

(3) Now we can walk in newness of life - we have access to "Resurrection power" (see note Romans 6:4)

(4) Our old self has been crucified with Christ = Our body of SIN has done away with (see note on old self) (see notes Romans 6:6)

(5) We no longer need to be slaves to our old master SIN (see notes Romans 6:6)

6:8: We have been freed from the power and rule of SIN (see notes on Romans 6:8)

The question we each need to ask ourselves is "Who do others see now?" Do they see Christ in me the hope (certainty) of (future) glory or do they just see me?

A New Motive
Romans 13:12-14

In Romans 13:12, 13, 14 Paul gives us a new motive to carry out our new responsibility? What motive do you see in this passage?

The night (spiritual darkness that enshrouds this present world) is almost over. (see note) The day is at hand (the day when the "Light of the World" returns to dispel all darkness = Second Coming of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ) Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Ro 13:12-note)

What does Paul say about our responsibility in this passage in Ro 13:12-note, Ro 13:13-note?

Lay Aside the deeds of darkness (note)

Put on (clothe ourselves with) the armor of light (note)

Behave properly as in the day

You may be thinking "I thought we were clothed with Christ when we entered into the New Covenant by faith". The answer is, yes, we have already "put on" Christ at the time of salvation. This "putting on" however represents a one time event and signifies our new, eternally secure position before God. Our position in union with Christ, identified with Christ, clothed with Christ, baptized into Christ occurred at a moment in time past and can never be altered. This doctrine is true forever. However, doctrine always demands "duty". In other words, believers now have a responsibility to practice a lifestyle and behaviors which are concordant or in keeping with our new position. In Ro 13:12, 13, 14 Paul is speaking to those who have already "put on" Christ in salvation and now he is calling for each believer to moment by moment "put on" the attitudes and actions associated with and made possible by our new life in Christ our covenant partner. The Bible uses other terms such as justification ("past tense salvation") to describe our position in Christ and sanctification ("present tense salvation") to describe our practice in Christ. (Click for several tables summarizing past, present and future tense salvation).

What will this new behavior look like according to Paul?

Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (Romans 13:13-note)

We won't continue to partake of things like carousing (riotous conduct, especially nocturnal riotous festivities), drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, sensuality, strife, jealousy (Romans 13:13-note)

According to Paul in Romans 13:14, what "clothes" do believers now need to put on daily and moment by moment throughout the day as the "opportunity" arises?

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (see epithumia = a drive or passion directed toward the object desired). (Ro 13:14-note)

William Barclay translates Romans 13:14 this way...

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ as a man puts on a garment, and stop living a life in which your first thought is to gratify the desires of Christless human nature. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

And so we note that Paul gives 2 commands meant to enable us as covenant partners with Christ to live out our new life in Him.

(1) Put on (tense = aorist imperative = do it now, it's urgent) the Lord Jesus Christ (note "Lord" = kurios = master, owner, possessor - we are no longer to live as if we were our own) Note: To put on Christ is to daily and moment by moment adopt His whole lifestyle and live as He lived

(2) Make no provision for the flesh (the corrupt nature inherited from Adam which is centered upon self, prone to sin, and opposed to God - Click further analysis of "flesh") in regard to its lusts (see commentary Ro 13:14) (See note)

Notice that the tense of "make" is present imperative which in concert with the Greek negative literally means "Stop doing this!" "Stop continually making provision!" implying that they were making plans for the strong desires latent in their old flesh nature, a fallen which, although "dethroned" is still present in believers. The difference now is that believers are "strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti 2:1-note); cp the role of "grace" as our instructor in Titus 2:11-note, Titus 2:12-note, "teaches" in Titus 2:12NIV) and enabled by Spirit (Ro 8:13-note) to say "yes" to Jesus (Spirit gives us the "want to") and "no" to the flesh (Spirit gives us the "don't want to") (see our responsibility to work out your salvation while God is working in us to enable that working out - Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note, cp Ezekiel 36:26, 27).

The word "provision" (word study) is pronoia (from pró = before + noiéo = think, so literally "think before"). We think about the sin that "pleases" us and make plans for it. The point is that most sinful behavior results from wrong ideas and lustful desires we allow to linger in our minds for as James teaches "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." (James 1:14,15-notes) Paul commands us to put provision aside as if it were dirty, filthy clothes.

A New Self =
A New Man
Ephesians 4:21-32

In Ephesians 4 Paul describes what happened to our "filthy rags" when we entered into covenant the Lord Jesus and He gave us His robe explaining that...

21 If (or since = following is assumed true) indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. 26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (see notes Ephesians 4:21-32) (Red = commands)

Summing up the truths as related to covenant we see that...

(1) We Laid aside OLD SELF (Old Self = all I was in the filthy garment of Adam before I put on Christ's robe of righteousness at salvation) (Ephesians 4:22 - see note)

(2) WE ARE BEING Renewed in spirit of your mind (This process began the moment we entered the new covenant and is occurring continually in our lives as the Holy Spirit takes the truth of the Word and renews our thinking at the core level, transforming us from glory to glory) (Ephesians 4:23 - see note)

(3) WE have Put on the NEW SELF…(See note) (Ephesians 4:24 -see notes)

Note that some commentators feel Ephesians 4:22, 23, 24 represents instructions to be followed. Others, feel these describe past tense events that took place the moment we were converted and thus equate with our position. Stated another way, our position now is that at a point in time in the past when we received Christ by faith, the Spirit did a work in us. At that moment we laid aside the Old Self and put on the New Self. In other words this spiritual exchange (new for old) was an instantaneous past completed action which was produced by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation.

Notice that in Ephesians 4:25 Paul begins with "therefore" (term of conclusion). The idea is that since at the time of salvation we have put off the old self and put on the new self, now empowered by the Spirit Who energizes the new person we are in Christ, we have a responsibility to daily put this new life into practice by putting off and putting on the following specific attitudes and actions, as described in Eph 4:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32. The chart below summarizes the "filthy rags" we need to take off and fling aside so that our practice corresponds to our new position and identity as those clothed in robes of Christ's righteousness...dear Christian, covenant partner of Christ, beloved of the Father, how are you doing in each of these areas?

  1. Eph 4:25 falsehood (lying)
  2. Eph 4:26 sinful anger
  3. Eph 4:28 stealing
  4. Eph 4:29 rotten words
  5. Eph 4:31 bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice
  1. Eph 4:25 speak truth
  2. Eph 4:26 righteous anger
  3. Eph 4:28 work for living
  4. Eph 4:29 Words that build up
  5. Eph 4:32 be kind, tender hearted, forgiving

Related Resources:

Our Daily Bread has the following devotional related to this passage...Spiritual Reupholstering - When we moved into our home 5 years ago, we discovered that the former owner had left us six dining room chairs. They were covered with fabric of beautiful African art—tasteful zebra stripes. We appreciated the unexpected gifts and used them frequently when entertaining guests.

When we recently moved again, those chairs needed a makeover to match our new decor. So I called an upholsterer and asked, "Shouldn't we just put the new material over the existing fabric?" He responded, "No, you'll ruin the shape of the chair if you just put new material over the old."

The work of God in our lives is similar. He's not interested in merely changing our spiritual appearance. Instead, He intends to replace our character with what is called "the new man," made in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). The flesh has a tendency to perform religious activity, but this is not the work of the Holy Spirit. He will completely transform us on the inside.

But the process is a partnership (Philippians 2:12, 13). As we daily lay aside our old behaviors and replace them with godly ones, the God of grace works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God wants to reupholster us. —Dennis Fisher (Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Dear Lord, You've given new life to me—
A great and full salvation;
And may the life that others see
Display the transformation.

When you receive Christ, God's work in you has just begun.

Oswald Chambers in a devotional entitled "Continuous Conversion" writes...

These words of our Lord (Matthew 18:3) refer to our initial conversion, but we should continue to turn to God as children, being continuously converted every day of our lives. If we trust in our own abilities, instead of God’s, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. When God through His sovereignty brings us into new situations, we should immediately make sure that our natural life submits to the spiritual, obeying the orders of the Spirit of God. Just because we have responded properly in the past is no guarantee that we will do so again. The response of the natural to the spiritual should be continuous conversion, but this is where we so often refuse to be obedient. No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must "put on the new man . . ." (Ep 4:24-note). God holds us accountable every time we refuse to convert ourselves, and He sees our refusal as willful disobedience. Our natural life must not rule— God must rule in us.

To refuse to be continuously converted puts a stumbling block in the growth of our spiritual life. There are areas of self-will in our lives where our pride pours contempt on the throne of God and says, "I won’t submit." We deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn weakness, we call strength. There are whole areas of our lives that have not yet been brought into submission, and this can only be done by this continuous conversion. Slowly but surely we can claim the whole territory for the Spirit of God.

A New Practice
Colossians 3

After spending two chapters explaining the truth about the believer's position in Christ, in Colossians 3 Paul turns to the believer's practice. He first reminds us about our new "robe" or our new position and new power.

1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Observe that the truth in Col 3:1 (note) assures us that we can now walk in newness of life, for if we have been raised up the implication is that we have "resurrection power" to live the Christ life. Knowing however that how we think always determines how we behave, Paul gives two commands we are to continually strive to obey....

(1) Seek (make this the habit of your live) the things above

(2) Set your mind (make this the habit of your live) on things above, not on things on the earth (as we think so we will act) (Col 3:1-note; Col 3:2-note)

In Col 3:3 (note) Paul reaffirms the truth that a supernatural transaction has taken place in us at the moment we entered the New Covenant -- we died (i.e., our old self was crucified with Christ) and this immutable covenant is secured by the fact that we are now permanently (perfect tense = happened at a point in time with continuing effect -- speaks of permanent effect) hidden with Christ in God. Dearly beloved, remember that nothing, absolutely nothing can negate or reverse this grand truth. You are secure with your faithful Friend and covenant Partner Christ Jesus...forever!

And in Col 3;4 (note) Paul explains how it is possible to fulfill our responsibility to live in a manner worthy of our Covenant Partner. How? Christ...our life! There is no verb (no "is" in the original Greek) so direct and complete is this relationship. Paul summarizes this same life changing, mysterious truth in Galatians 2:20 declaring...

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20 - see notes)

And as if this truth were not enough, Paul reminds us that (1) Christ will return and (2) we will be revealed with Him. These truth serve to motivate us to diligently seek to purify ourselves just as He is pure, to live for our Bridegroom Whose "clothes" we now wear, and as His bride daily performing righteous acts [put off's and put on's] which Revelation 19:8 (see note) describes as the "fine linen, bright and clean" we will one day soon wear at the marriage supper of the Lamb) (see notes Colossians 3:3; Colossians 3:4). Note that it has been estimated that roughly one in twenty verses in the NT speak directly or indirectly about the Second Coming of our Lord. Living in the light of His imminent return should motivate us to walk accordingly. John echoes this sentiment in his first epistle writing...

And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming....2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1John 2:28, 3:2, 3)

In Col 3:12-note Paul reminds us of our new identity in Christ's "garment of salvation" explaining that we are "chosen of God, holy (eternally set apart from this temporal world by God and for God) and beloved (which should motivate us to please the One Who "clothed" us)

Based on the truths Paul has summarized in Colossians 3:1, 2, 3, 4, what are some of the "filthy rags" we need to take off and fling aside so that our practice corresponds to our new identity as those clothed in robes of Christ's righteousness?


Col 3:5

  • immorality,
  • impurity,
  • passion,
  • evil desire,
  • greed = idolatry

Col 3:8, 9

  • anger,
  • wrath,
  • malice,
  • slander,
  • abusive speech,
  • lying

Col 3:12, 13, 14

  • heart of compassion,
  • kindness
  • humility
  • gentleness
  • patience
  • bearing with one another
  • forgiving one another
  • put on love

Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you (Ephesians 5:18 filled with the Spirit - see chart on parallel - filled with Spirit and with the Word)

Col 3:17 Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus

(see commentary Colossians 3:5, 3:6; 3:7; 3:8; Colossians 3:9, 3:10, 3 :11, 3:12; 3:13; 3:14; 3:15; 3:16)

Our Daily Bread has the following devotional related to this passage...

No Lie (based on "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds. — Col 3:9-note) - A college football coach resigns after admitting he falsified his academic and athletic credentials. A career military officer confesses to wearing combat decorations he did not earn. A job applicant acknowledges that her stated experience in "food and beverage oversight" was actually making coffee each morning at the office.

Within each of us is a tendency to embellish the truth in order to impress others. Whether on a job résumé or in casual conversation, exaggeration comes naturally—but we pay a price. Small lies usually grow larger as we try to avoid discovery. Then we wonder how we ever got ourselves into such a predicament.

The Bible says, "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Col 3:9, 10-note). In other words, if we've placed our faith in Jesus as our Savior, lying is inconsistent with what God expects us to be. The antidote to the poison of self-promotion is a growing Christlikeness—a spirit of mercy, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness, and love (Col 3:12, 13, 14-see notes Col 3:12; 13; 14).

If we genuinely care about people, we won't need to try to impress them at any cost. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, help me to please You by telling the truth,
Being honest in words and in deeds;
And help me to conquer my selfish desires,
To love others and care for their needs. —Fitzhugh

Honesty means never having to look over your shoulder.

Hebrews 2:9-18 Notes

How does Hebrews describe Jesus' taking on a "robe" in the likeness of man? Hebrews 2 teaches that ...

we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God (grace prompted by unbounded love moved Jesus to suffer in our place. ) He might taste ("taste" is a Hebrew metaphor that does not mean “to sample” but to partake fully, to taste with the mouth and yielding the metaphorical sense "come to know", the idea being that Jesus died, with all that that entails = conveys the truth that Jesus was our Substitute) death (ultimate curse of man’s lost destiny) for everyone (the cross conquering the curse and opening the way for man to receive a the crown again, having originally been given dominion over the earth)... 14 Since then the children share (koinonia = have fellowship, communion = having something in common with others, in this case flesh and blood) in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook (means to take hold of something that is not naturally one’s own kind = Jesus was not by nature flesh and blood, but willingly took hold of it out of love for us in order to die in our place and allow us to take hold of the divine nature which was not naturally ours, see 2Pe 1:4-note) of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Sin gives Satan power over fallen man and the wages of sin is death, thus he had the power of death and sought to keep unregenerate men in sin so that when they died they would go into eternal death) 15 and might deliver (with the "weapon" of eternal life testified to by His resurrection) those who through fear of death (the "king of terrors", see 1Cor 15:55 "O death where is your sting?") were subject to slavery all their lives (Death was like a cruel dictator who we feared because of the finality of his "decree" - believers have by faith placed themselves into the arms of their new Master and King Who conquered death and He will carry us safely through to the other side of the grave!). 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels (they do not experience redemption as does man), but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham (as described above, "Abraham's offspring" Gal 3:29). 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things (speaking again of Jesus taking on fallen man's "robe" in order that He might cut covenant and), that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest (He came not only to save us but to sympathize with us) in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted (Jesus identified with man and experienced what we experienced that He might sympathize with our weakness and yet without sin) in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (He 2:9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18-See notes He 2:9, 14; 15; 16; 17; 18)

Jesus was made for a little while lower than angels so that by the grace of God He might taste death for fallen men but first He had to partake of the "garment" of flesh and blood (our humanity). The Son of God died as a Man that he might

(1) Render powerless the Devil who had the power of death

(2) Deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives

(3) Give help to those who are spiritual descendants of Abraham

Jesus' identification with fallen man accomplished and specifically His suffering when He was tempted made Him ever able (the inherent power) to come to aid of (click boetheo = from boe = cry out + theo = run so means to run to aid of one who cries out for help) those with whom He is in covenant when they are being tempted. (See expansion of this thought in discussion of the exchange of armor and belt) (see related study - The LORD my Helper)

Live Like a New Man!

  • Have you cast off the filthy rags of unrighteousness you inherited from Adam and put on Christ's new "garment of salvation" by grace through faith?
  • Now that you have a new "garment of salvation" and "robe of righteousness" are you fulfilling your responsibility to your Covenant partner by living accordingly?
  • Are you daily and moment by moment putting off the filthy rags of the old self life and putting on the attitudes and behaviors of the new self, keeping your clothes "unstained by the world" (James 1:27-note) so that "so that when He appears, you may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." (1John 2:28)?:
  • Who does the world see when they see you? Whose "clothes" do they see?
  • To ask it another way, is your life a libel or a Bible to the lost world?
  • Beloved are you making your "bridal gown" bright and clean by daily putting off the deeds of darkness and putting on the deeds of light, thinking and acting like Jesus, your Covenant Partner, your Bridegroom when He walked upon the earth in "your clothes"?

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (such as the put off's and put on's) And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Re 19:8, 9-notes Re 19:8; 9)

The Lord Jesus Christ, your Covenant Partner and your Bridegroom declares

Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done (Rev 22:12+)

Lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, the attitude and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ for the day of His return draws nigh!


Other Old Testament Examples

Job declares that...

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me. My justice was like a robe and a turban. (Job 29:14)

The Psalmist writes...

Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy godly ones sing for joy. (Psalms 132:9)

Spurgeon writes No garment is so resplendent as that of a holy character. In this glorious robe our great High priest is evermore strayed, and he would have all his people adorned in the same manner. Then only are priests fit to appear before the Lord, and to minister for the profit of the people, when their lives are dignified with goodness. They must ever remember that they are God's priests, and should therefore wear the livery of their Lord, which is holiness: they are not only to have righteousness, but to bc clothed with it, so that upon every part of them righteousness shall be conspicuous. Whoever looks upon God's servants should see holiness if they see nothing else. Now, this righteousness of the ministers of the temple is prayed for in connection with the presence of the Lord; and this instructs us that holiness is only to be found among those who commune with God, and only comes to them through his visitation of their spirits. God will dwell among a holy people; and on the other hand, where God is the people become holy.

In a prophecy of the Messiah (see Messianic Prophecies), Isaiah records that...

Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.

And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. (Isaiah 59:17)

(Messiah is speaking) I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Isaiah goes on to explain why men need to receive the righteous garments of Messiah that...

all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Describing Israel's "spiritual clothing" (their spiritual deadness apart from Messiah's garments of righteousness) Isaiah records (quoting the Amplified version) that...

We have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction]" (Isaiah 64:6, Isa 64:6KJV)

John MacArthur commenting on Isaiah 64:6 writes that "As in Isaiah 53:6 ("all of us like sheep have gone astray"), the prophet included himself among those confessing their utter unworthiness to be in God’s presence. Isaiah employed the imagery of menstrual cloths used during a woman’s period to picture uncleanness (cf. Lev. 15:19-24). This is true of the best behavior of unbelievers (cf. Phil. 3:5-8). (The MacArthur Study Bible)


Click for an in depth discussion of the meaning of the Greek word baptizo.

James Boice points out the use of baptizo in classical Greek literature.

"Here we gain a great deal of help from classical Greek literature, for there is evidence that the Greek classical writers used the word baptizo from about 400 B.C. to the second century after Christ. In their writings baptizo always points to a change of identify [sic] by any means. Thus, to give a few quite general examples, it can refer to a change having taken place by immersing an object in a liquid, as in dying cloth; by drinking too much wine and getting drunk; by overexertion; and by other causes.

"Of all the texts that might be cited from antiquity the one that makes greatest clarity of the distinct use of the two words is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. In it he used both the word bapto, which we have already seen means `to dip,' and the word `baptize' (baptizo). It is a recipe for making a pickle. Nicander says that the vegetable should first be dipped (bapto) into boiling water and then baptized (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Quite clearly, both operations had to do with immersing the vegetable in the solution. But the first was temporary while the other, the operation of baptizing the vegetable, produced a permanent change. We could say that the baptizing had identified the vegetable with the brine....When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism... mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with Him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!"...What does all this mean? Does it exclude water baptism? Definitely not. Water baptism is clearly mentioned in the Word of God. The point is, Interpret the word according to its meaning and metaphorical uses in the light of its immediate context." (Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 1 Baker Books, 2005) (Bolding added)


The Greek word for Worthy (514) is axios [word study] which means weighing as much as, of like value or worth as much. The idea is that one thing has the weight of another thing and so is of like value or worth as much. Axios has the root meaning of balancing the scales—what is on one side of the scale should be equal in weight to what is on the other side. By extension, the word came to be applied to anything that was expected to correspond to something else. A person worthy of his pay was one whose day’s work corresponded to his day’s wages. Paul uses axios when writing to the Philippian saints to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Php 1:27-note). He is exhorting them to live their lives like what they are (citizens of heaven). Their conduct in a sense should "weigh as much as" (axios) that exhibited by their Covenant Partner Jesus during His time on the earth. In other words, they are to see to it that they practice what they preach, that their experience measures up to their new standing who are clothed in King Jesus' royal robe of righteousness. A good picture of axios is a set of scales that balance so that the same weight is on one side as on the other side. If Jesus is in me then enabled by the Spirit and depending continually on His grace, I need to live a lifestyle that will "Measure up" to Who is in me and which gives a proper opinion to the lost and perishing world (Mt 5:16-note). A "worthy walk" brings "forth fruit in keeping (axios) with repentance." (Mt 3:8) In other words, genuine repentance should have correspondingly genuine works, demonstrated in new attitudes and actions. Those who claim to know Christ, who claim to be clothed in His robe of righteousness, will demonstrate a new way of living that corresponds to ("has a weight that equates to" or is worthy of) the new birth garments. Saints are to walk "in a manner worthy of the calling with which (we) have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ep 4:1, 2, 3 -see notes Ep 4:1; 4:2; 4:3). The believer who walks in a manner worthy of the calling with which he has been called (our practice) is one whose daily living corresponds to the position of one who is wearing Christ's robe. In sum, our practical living should match our spiritual position.

To summarize, those who have entered into the new covenant with Christ are called to

  • walk worthy in the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:4-note; Ga 5:16-note, Ga 5:25-note) ,
  • humility (Ep 4:2 Note),
  • purity (Ro 13:13 Note; Ep 5:3-note)
  • contentment (1Co 7:17+)
  • faith (2Co 5:7+)
  • righteousness (Ep 2:10-Notes)
  • unity (Ep 4:3-Note; Php 1:27-Note)
  • gentleness (Ep 4:2-Note)
  • patience (Col 1:11-Note)
  • love (Ep 5:2-Note)
  • joy (Col 1:11-Note)
  • thankfulness (Col 1:12-Note)
  • light (Ep 5:8-note; Ep 5:9-note)
  • knowledge (Col 1:10-Note)
  • wisdom (Ep 5:15-Note), truth (3Jn 1:3, 4)
  • fruitfulness (Col 1:10-Note).

In short, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1John 2:6), because that pleases God (1Th 4:1-note).


In light of the "lateness of the hour" take a moment, beloved, to ponder the profound words of Adoniram Judson who literally gave up his life and worldly fame and success to take the gospel light to the spiritual darkness of Burma ...

"A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity...the same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever...each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny....How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness...! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked."

Regarding Paul's command that believer's continually "make no provision for the flesh" (Click in depth analysis of "flesh") J Vernon McGee has this pithy comment...

"Oh, how many believers are making every provision for the flesh but are making no provision to go into His presence. My friend, I beg you to put Christ first in your life and to get out the Word of God. This is all important"


For more detailed discussion of Old Man see Topic - Old Man (Old Self)

The "Old Self" ("Old Man") is the worn out, useless, and unconverted sinful nature. The "Old Self" is the me that was rebellious against God, and insubordinate to God's law, and blind to God's glory, and unbelieving toward His promises. The "Old Self" describes all that a person is before conversion or all that he is as a child of Adam. The "Old Self" is the unregenerate person that was in Adam and was spiritually dead. The "Old Self" is continually being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit. The corruption occurs as a result of giving in to deceitful, evil cravings which are pleasant and promising in anticipation but hideous and disappointing in retrospect.

Using the garment or robe analogy, the Old Self is all I was in Adam's clothes. Paul explains that

"as in Adam (in "Adam's clothes") all die, so also in Christ (in "Christ's new covenant attire") all shall be made alive" (1Cor 15:22).

Stated another way, if the Old Self isn’t dead, conversion has not occurred. When we entered the New Covenant with Christ by grace through faith, our Old Self was crucified with Christ (see note Romans 6:6), so that our body of sin (does not mean that the physical body is itself sinful but that our body can be the instrument which the power of Sin uses to carry out its deeds of darkness) was rendered inoperative (deprived of its force, influence and power over us).

Now you may be asking

"If my "Old Self" was crucified, why do I still have this propensity to commit sin?"

The answer is that we still possess what Scripture refers to as the "flesh" (Click in depth analysis of flesh) and the flesh is unredeemed. The term "flesh" (here not referring to the physical body) describes what remains of the "Old Self” or "Old Man" after a person is saved or redeemed. The "flesh" as our unredeemed humanness is a part of the believer that will remain with us until each of us receives our glorified body (Ro 8:23-note ), at which time we are finally free from the presence of sin and the pleasure of sin (we will no longer possess the "flesh"). Until that wonderful day of glorification, every believer possesses or "consists of" a redeemed self living with an unredeemed humanness ("flesh"), and that creates great conflict. Stated another way, the flesh is that part of a believer that functions apart from and against the Spirit (see Chart contrasting in the flesh vs in the Spirit). Flesh stands against the work of the Spirit in the believer’s new heart (cp Gal 5:17-note). The unsaved person often regrets the sinful things he does because of guilt and/or painful consequences, but he has no spiritual warfare going on within him, because he has only a fleshly nature and is devoid of the Spirit. The sinful things he does, though often disappointing and disgusting to him, are nevertheless consistent with his basic nature (his "Old Self") as an enemy of God and a child of God's wrath. The "Old Self" or "Old Man" therefore has no real internal conflict beyond whatever conscience may remain in his sinful state (Ro 2:14, 15-note). In the poem Maud, one of Tennyson’s characters yearns,

“Ah for a new man to arise in me,
That the man I am may cease to be!”

The Christian can say that a New Self (see below) has already arisen in him, but like Tennyson's character, he also must confess that the sinful part of his Old Self (i.e., the flesh) has not yet ceased to be.

John MacArthur has an interesting note on the difference between the Old Self and the New Self writing that...

The Old Man, the Old Self, is the unregenerate person. He is not part righteous and part sinful, but totally sinful and without the slightest potential within himself for becoming righteous and pleasing to God. The New Man (New Self), on the other hand, is the regenerate person. He is made pleasing to God through Jesus Christ and his new nature is entirely godly and righteous. He is not yet perfected or glorified, but he is already spiritually alive and holiness is at work in him. The new man will continue to grow in that holiness, no matter how slowly or falteringly, because, by its very nature, life grows. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote,


Holiness starts where justification finishes, and if holiness does not start, we have the right to suspect that justification never started either (Romans, vol. 3 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961], 2:12).


There is therefore simply no such thing as justification without sanctification. There is no such thing as divine life without divine living. The truly saved person lives a new and godly life in a new and godly realm. He now and forever lives in God’s realm of grace and righteousness and can never again live in Satan’s realm of self and sin. As the natural, sinful, unregenerate man cannot restrain the manifestation of what he is, neither can the regenerate man. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Moody)


The "New Self" is the essence of what believers now are in covenant with Christ. This term describes our new position in Christ which gives us new potential to practice daily the putting off of filthy rags of darkness and putting on of righteous deeds of light by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our practice should also include a continual reckoning that the "Old Self" is dead and thus we are dead to the power of Sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Before we were saved, Sin was our Master and we had no power to say "No". Now as those who possess a "New Self", we have the power of a choice and can choose not to sin. Now as we practice saying "Yes" to Jesus, it becomes more natural (really supernatural) to say "No" to the flesh (see above discussion) and its strong desires to satisfy self. To reiterate, because the "Old Self" died in Christ, and the "New Self" lives in Christ, believers must put off remaining sinful deeds and be being continually renewed into the Christlikeness to which they were called.

Old self = "WHO" we were was what was important
New self = "WHOSE" we are is what is important

John MacArthur explains the "New Self" as follows...

"The word new (kainos) does not mean renovated but entirely newnew in species or character. The NEW SELF is new because it has been created in the likeness of God. The Greek is literally, “according to what God is”—a staggering statement expressing the wondrous reality of salvation. Those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are made like God! Peter says we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pe 1:4-note). Many rescue missions have a delousing room, where derelicts who have not had a bath in months discard all their old clothes and are thoroughly bathed and disinfected. The unsalvageable old clothes are burned and new clothes are issued. The clean man is provided clean clothes. That is a picture of salvation, except that in salvation the new believer is not simply given a bath but a completely new nature. The continuing need of the Christian life is to keep discarding and burning the remnants of the old sinful clothing. The many therefore's and wherefores in the New Testament usually introduce appeals for believers to live like the new creatures they are in Christ. Because of our new life, our new Lord, our new nature, and our new power, we are therefore called to live a correspondingly new life–style. (MacArthur, J: Commentary on Ephesians, Moody Press )

Excursus on
"Knitting of Souls"

1Sa 18:1 says "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David". It may be helpful to see how some other Bible Versions handle this passage. The versions below are not literal but are interpretative translations (bolding added)...

Bible in Basic English: Now after David’s talk with Saul was ended, the soul of Jonathan was joined with the soul of David, and David became as dear to him as his very life.

God's Word Translation: David finished talking to Saul. After that, Jonathan became David's closest friend. He loved David as much as he loved himself.

NET Bible: When he had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan and David became bound together in friendship.

NIV: After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself

New Living Translation: After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends.

Revised English Version (not the RSV): “Jonathan had given his heart to David”

Modern KJV: And it happened when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was joined with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as he did his own soul.

In 1 Samuel 18:1 the verb knit (qashar) shows that the very souls of these two men were bound together. Symbolically, when Jonathan gave David his robe David was "putting on Jonathan". In other words, Jonathan was giving his identity to David in this covenant. In this covenant between two men, we see a clear difference from the Genesis covenants between men, for in Jonathan's covenant with David was one of friendship not of fear.

Observe that several of the translations interpret this relationship as friendship, which in the ancient near east was a concept closely related to covenant and generally conveyed a much closer bond than the word "friend" in our modern culture. One ancient writer described friendship as "an entire sameness and one soul; a friend is another self.’’

In our modern vernacular we would call them "soul mates" and in light of cutting covenant we might even say they were "blood brothers". The Apostle Paul gives a New Testament picture of a "Jonathan-David" like relationship with Timothy, his beloved son (in the faith) in his letter (from a Roman prison) to the saints who composed the body of Christ at Philippi encouraging them with the news that...

"I hope (does not mean "hope so" but expresses a absolute certainty in something future) in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged (Greek eupsucheo which is literally “be well in the soul”) when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned (expresses a strong feeling for someone often to the point of being burdened) for your welfare. For they all (continually) seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus (so here we see that all those who have "clothed themselves with Christ" seek His interests, not their own personal interests). But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father." (Php 2:19, 20, 21, 22-notes)

Why was Timothy Paul's kindred spirit? Paul explains (1) that he could be assured that Timothy would give a reliable report of the saint's (spiritual) condition, (2) that he would be "genuinely concerned" for them, (3) that he would not seek after his own interests (i.e., he was single-minded) and (4) that Timothy was a man of proven character or tested value.

The Greek word for "kindred spirit" is the adjective isopsuchos, derived from two words, ísos meaning equal or exactly alike and psuche, meaning soul or mind, this combination meaning "equal souled", "one-souled" or like-minded. "Kindred spirit" describes two individuals who are activated by the same motives, desires and goals, in this case to please the One with Whom they were in Covenant. Timothy is a wonderful example of a saint who wonderfully fulfilled his responsibility to his new covenant identity of one who had been clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

The message of the covenant between Jonathan and David is similar to the relationship between Paul and Timothy in that the two souls had become one. David clearly still possessed his own unique personality but as result of cutting covenant was now clothed with the robe that symbolized his covenant partner Jonathan. In the practical outworking of this identity, the recipient clearly surrenders self interest (Php 2:19, 20, 21, 22-notes above). In a mystical sense (like in the marriage covenant where "two become one" Ge 2:24) there is a merging of the two natures into one and it is shown by the fact that they have common motives, interests, goals, etc.

The discerning reader might ask why was Jonathan's soul knit to David? The text gives us only one obvious answer "because he loved him as if he was his own soul". But then why did Jonathan love David as himself? The text does not clearly answer but Matthew Henry offers the following thought which is plausible...

Jonathan, who was heir to the crown, entered into covenant with him, God so ordering it (Ed note: providentially arranging), that David's way might be the clearer when his rival was his friend. (bolding added)

Could God have providentially ordained their relationship as closest of friends? If God is sovereign and in complete control of every circumstance in our life (which He is!), then this explanation is at least a reasonable consideration. In 2 Chronicles 36:22 as one example of God's working in history in the heart of an individual, we read that

in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia-- in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah-- the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom..."

Cyrus' degree allowed the Jews to return home after 70 years of Babylonian exile. So clearly God could have ordered the steps of Jonathan and David by moving in the hearts of these two men.

The word "soul" (Hebrew nephesh, Strong's 5315) can have several nuances in the OT including life in general, a person, or a person's whole being. In the present verse, "soul" signifies a person's entire being. For example when David prays "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me" (Ps 103:1-note) he is blessing the LORD with his entire being. The point is that the friendship between Jonathan and David was not just a passing acquaintance, but one which reflected the fact that they cared for each other from the depths of their innermost beings (their very souls).

The verb "knit" (qashar is used in a similar manner in the following passage in Genesis 44:30, 31 where Jacob's son Judah is addressing (unbeknownst to him at the time) his brother Joseph, who is second in command to Pharaoh:

Now, therefore, when I (Judah) come to your servant my father (Jacob), and the lad is not with us, since his (Jacob's) life (Hebrew nephesh = soul) is bound up in the lad's (Benjamin's) life (Hebrew nephesh = soul), it will come about when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he (Jacob) will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow.

This passage in Genesis shows that the basic meaning of "bound up" is that there is a special “bond of love” between the two people The thought is that Jacob’s life or desire to go on living depends on Benjamin’s life, and therefore on his safety and safe return home. This gives one a picture of the closeness of the relationship of between Jonathan to David. Many men have never experienced a friendship to this level (other than with our spouse and sadly in some marriages not even there!) and therefore it is somewhat difficult to fully comprehend the essence of this bond.

Hughes comments that "Jonathan saw that David viewed life from the same divine perspective (God is sovereign and does as He pleases, and all of life is to be lived for Him). And when he saw this, his soul reflexively clung to David’s. Here was a man whose heart beat with his!...a Christian friendship exceeds anything that exists between nonbelievers — for such a friendship is founded on a supernatural mutuality of soul. The Holy Spirit makes your souls chorus the same cries. You assent to the same authority. You know the same God. You are going the same way. You long for the same things. You dream mutual dreams. You yearn for the same experiences of holiness and worship. Jonathan’s soul bound itself to David’s soul. You know when this happens, and it is wonderful. (Borrow Disciplines of a Godly Man)