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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – The Community's Conversion to Virtue (3:12-17)
The Community's Conversion to Virtue (3:12-17)

The tone of Paul's moral exhortation changes from negative to positive as he shifts his attention from pagan vice to Christian virtue. This shift of emphasis reflects the natural movement of conversion out of darkness into light. In the previous passage Paul addresses the community as a "new self" because with Christ they have put to death the "old self" and have risen to newness of life. In this passage Paul defines Christian character rather than prescribes rules to obey. For him, morality is a matter of what sort of person one becomes in Christ, where one "puts on" the capacity for doing the good that God has willed. Therefore, believers are transformed by the working of divine grace into people who have the character to do God's will. This new character results in and is clearly demonstrated by transformed relationships within the church (3:12-17) and the home (3:18—4:1).

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