Announcing the New Covenant

(Posted by Paige)

Here is a curious question that arose in our Hebrews study recently (starting our second year at ch. 8!):

We understand that the Old Covenant was inaugurated with blood (Ex. 34) and its terms were verbally established for God’s people through the giving of the Law. If the New Covenant was similarly inaugurated with blood (Luke 22), when was its content verbally established?

I suspect possible answers might include one or all of these: at the articulation of the Abrahamic Covenant; in Jeremiah 31; whenever Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is at hand; whenever the gospel was/is proclaimed after the resurrection of the Son. More? How does the NT itself fit into this picture?

Just curious how any of you would frame an answer, and what you would choose to emphasize as the verbal establishment for God’s people of the terms of the New Covenant. Thanks!

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38 Comments

  1. September 14, 2013 at 9:47 am

    A poor layman’s stab at an answer on an early Saturday morning: Acts 2.21, Peter’s sermon (!). Probably someone smarter than me will pick an actual Word our Lord spoke; but I assert that until Pentecost, even the apostles themselves did not know how to ‘interpret’ the Lord’s death and resurrection. And that may be the first instance where as opposed to those of the Old Covenant looking forward to their Messiah, we in the New look back on that great and terrible day when our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died, and (later) was raised so that we might live.

  2. John Drake said,

    September 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I’d suggest the Upper Room, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood'” (Luke 22:20)

  3. John Harutunian said,

    September 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    As an Anglican, it’s clear to me that the New Covenant was verbally established when Jesus said “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”
    (Luke 22:20).

  4. paigebritton said,

    September 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I agree that the passage in Luke is the place where the New Covenant is established. But a covenant has terms — “I will do,” as well as some “you will do.” Blessings and curses spelled out. This is what I’m wondering about: is there one place, or many (and which ones?) where the terms of the New Covenant are articulated?

  5. jamin said,

    September 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I agree that Jesus’ words in the upper room should take priority in this kind of question; when God in the flesh says “this is the new covenant,” something profound has happened or is about to happen.
    The so-called terms of the new covenant are found in probably three places: Jeremiah 31 before Christ, Acts 2 at the outpouring of Christ’s Spirit, and Hebrews 8 after Pentecost (which quotes Jeremiah). I dont see a need to force theology and demand that it occur in a definite singular point in time like at Sinai (esp for a covenant that is “not like the one” made with Moses, as the author of Hebrews puts it.)

  6. David R. said,

    September 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Whenever the Word is preached and the sacraments administered (WCF 7.5)?

  7. Dave Sarafolean said,

    September 14, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Paige,

    How about Hebrews 10 where Psalm 40 is cited? Beginning in 10:5 we read, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
    “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”

    The writer locates that declaration as probably being made when Jesus began his public ministry with the words, “I have come to do your will, O God.”

    Furthermore, in Hebrews 10:16-17 the text of the New Covenant is cited from Jeremiah 31 in conjunction with the finished work of Christ. Thus, the covenant vows were declared at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, the fulfillment of the New Covenant was announced in the upper room, and the completion of the covenant was done by Christ in the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9 & 10).

    Check out this interview…

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/hebrews-10-dej

  8. Mark B said,

    September 14, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    You say:
    ” We understand that the Old Covenant was inaugurated with blood (Ex. 34) and its terms were verbally established for God’s people through the giving of the Law. If the New Covenant was similarly inaugurated with blood (Luke 22), when was its content verbally established?”, and “How does the NT itself fit into this picture?”

    Most of the answers given above are part of the picture, we just need to take it further. The time of the establishment of the New Covenant was the Incarnation to the end of Apostolic era, and the specific written details of it is the New Testament. The NT is the decree of his covenant verbally established. We have it because He gave it to us through the oversight of the Apostles and providentially preserved it over time.

  9. Pete Rambo said,

    September 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Paige,

    You ask a fascinating question.

    Jesus said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. “ Jn 7:16 KJV

    The Father, through the author of Proverbs (4:2, KJV) says, “For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law (torah).”

    At the end of the Sermon on the Mount we read, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:” Matthew 7:28 KJV. (He didn’t teach anything new. He simply expanded to the heart what was generally practiced as an outward work.)

    What was Jesus speaking? The Father, through Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18 (NASB) says, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in His mouth and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

    Read Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Jesus, like all true prophets, could not teach anything that even sniffed of departing from the commandments. See v. 4! And, He did say, “I did not come to abolish the law… until heaven and earth pass away…” Matthew 5:17-19

    Scripture teaches that Jesus will return and reign from Mt. Zion.

    Isaiah 2:1-5… v. 2… “it will come about in the last days…” v. 3b says, “For the law (torah) will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

    But that makes sense because James referred to Jesus as “the Lawgiver and Judge.” (4:12) (Even some Jewish sages/rabbis believe the Messiah was on Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Law! Pg 64 of Return of the Kosher Pig by Rabbi Itzhak Shapira quoting ancient sources as he, a Messianic believer in Yeshua, makes the case for a Divine Messiah from Rabbinic writings. Fascinating scholarly book to see the battle for Yeshua from the other side!! http://www.kosherpig.org or his Youtube videos… But, I digress.)

    So, what is this ‘new’ thing? (Your question)

    The Father says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (NASB)

    So, what exactly did He reveal to Jeremiah in 31:31-34?

    1. ‘new’ covenant… The Hebrew word for ‘new’ means ‘refresh, renew, restore’ etc according to the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon. i.e., the covenant that Israel had broken and been scattered as a result of breaking, would be renewed opening the door for all who come, to be grafted in through the blood of Messiah.
    2. The ‘new’ covenant is with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. This is a tough pill for Christendom to swallow, because we’ve been taught our whole lives that the covenant is with us. The reality is, we are grafted into Israel through the blood of Messiah! See Ephesians 2. The whole chapter, but particularly v. 12. We become members of the commonwealth of Israel. What does ‘adoption/grafting in’ really mean? Different rules? Different system? Different treatment? How then do we become ‘one new man?’
    3. The law (torah) will be put in their/our hearts. When Jeremiah wrote this, do we honestly think he believed a new law would be given when the first was called ‘perfect,’ ‘holy,’ righteous,’ etc?

    Jeremiah goes on to reveal how sure this is in 33:14-22. Notice ‘covenant,’ ‘house of Judah,’ house of Israel,’ ‘David,’ ‘My servant,’ ‘heaven,’ ‘earth,’ and ‘Levitical priests.’ God affirms that He WILL do this.

    We’ve been taught that the ‘Law of Moses’ is BAD!

    Scripture says, ‘How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law (torah) of the Lord.’ And, ‘in keeping them there is great reward.’ And, ‘I love your law (torah)’ And, ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’ (covenant loyalty language…) etc, etc.

    We’ve been taught that the Law of Moses is ‘too hard.’

    Scripture says, “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.”

    We’ve been taught that the Law of Moses is done away with.

    Scripture says, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law” and “until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law…”

    Paige, the terms of the covenant have been written down and are well established. Unfortunately, those terms are the ‘elephant in the room.’ Christendom has to begin to deal with why they allowed Paul to be twisted to say things he never said (2 Peter 3:14-17), and why we allowed pagan syncretism in the door through Constantine and many of the early church ‘fathers.’

    I could write much more, but for those curious, the statement of faith for the congregation I lead is published at: http://davarchaim.org/statement-of-faith/

    Shalom.

  10. Nathaniel said,

    September 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    To dovetail off of what Pete said (which I agree with), you must also remember that what we call the “Bible” today was not what the early church knew as the “Bible.” Paul, in writing to Timothy admonishes him to remember the sacred writings that he learned as a child and that they were what pointed him (Timothy) to the Messiah. Paul is referring to the OT…the Torah, Prophets and Writings. The constant references in the NT are always pointing back to the OT. Therefore, they knew the terms of the covenant…it was spelled out in prophecy and in Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible).

    Jesus made a way available for all mankind to enter into right relationship with the Father, and to walk according to his teachings and instructions that He had already established with Israel.

    Ephesians 2 is a great chapter to read, and as verse 10 points out, “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Notice, God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them…the good works we were created for.

    Jesus is the Word made flesh…that includes Sinai as well as when He was on this earth as a man. He never changes…He is the same yesterday, today forever. So, if the early apostles, continued to follow the terms of the covenant given at Sinai, and Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law (Mt. 5:17-18), but to fulfill it, then maybe the NT doesn’t go over the terms quite as clearly because it’s already been spelled out in the OT?

    Just my thoughts…

    shalom.

  11. paigebritton said,

    September 16, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Hi, Pete & Nathaniel & Travis lurking:
    I’m familiar with your line of argument, and I can see that you are convinced of it and eager to promote it, tag-team style. But no, this is not an acceptable answer to “where are the terms of the New Covenant articulated.” In both Jeremiah 31 (“not like the covenant that I made with their fathers”) and the larger argument of Hebrews itself, the stress is on the discontinuity between the Old and the New, not just in terms of a mediator but also regarding requirements, rituals, and expectations. “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

    I don’t want to seem to be quenching dialogue here, but I would not find it helpful for you to argue your position strongly on this thread, okay? I am most interested in hearing from those who also understand there to have been an abrogation of the Mosaic Law in the establishment of the New Covenant. Thanks!
    pax,
    Paige B.

  12. Pete Rambo said,

    September 16, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Paige, understood.

    Three quick points and then I’ll go get a bowl of popcorn.

    1. Hebrews 8:8 “For finding fault with ‘them’ (the priesthood) NOT ‘for finding fault with ‘it’ (the Covenant.)

    2. Hebrews 8:13 “When He said ‘a new covenant’ He has made the first obsolete…” The word ‘covenant’ is NOT in the Greek. Some translator with a presupposed bias supplied that word. Thank him for the ensuing confusion.

    3. According to Merriam-Webster, ‘abrogate’ means ‘annul,’ ‘abolish,’ or ‘to treat as non-existent.’ Jesus said, ‘I did NOT come to abolish… whoever then annuls will be least in the Kingdom.’ Take your pick. WCF or Jesus, but apparently they don’t agree on that point.

    I pray daily for my brothers in the pulpit. May our gracious Father open their eyes before it is too late.

    Shalom.

  13. rfwhite said,

    September 16, 2013 at 9:21 am

    PB: I’m not quite sure that I’m tracking your question as well as I’d like, but here’s a suggestion from what I’ve seen so far. With respect to what I think you’re driving at, I prefer to follow the general thesis that the Gospels introduce the new covenant mediator, that the book of Acts introduces the new covenant ministers, and that the Epistles provide the terms of the new covenant (regulations for God’s household under the new covenant). At their core, and comprehensively speaking, the terms of the new covenant in the Epistles are continuous with and an elaboration of “all that [Jesus the new covenant mediator] commanded,” including all that Jesus said and did in relation to His own person and work, in relation to the gospel of forgiveness by grace through repentance and faith, and in relation to the law of love.

  14. Mark B. Hanson said,

    September 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I would place the verbal establishment of the new covenant in Jesus’ words in the Great Commission. He commissions his apostles (and through them, us) to “teach them to observe” all that Jesus commanded. The entire commission shows an abbreviated covenant structure, and has striking parallels with Deuteronomy 6.

  15. mary kathryn said,

    September 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    My pastor husband says he thinks it might be the Sermon on the Mount, which is a conscious partner to the OT law, and lays down the “regulations” of an agreement. My first gut instinct (for unknown reasons) was when the Father spoke at the Son’s baptism, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Father, at last satisfied and pleased with a man who was willing to offer his life for his fallen brothers — that satisfies the agreement as well.

  16. paigebritton said,

    September 17, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Thanks, Pete, for understanding, and for keeping it short. (I might have time for short, but no guarantees.)

    Enjoy your popcorn!

  17. paigebritton said,

    September 17, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Dr. White:
    Yes, thank you, that’s exactly the sort of thing I was after. I have been thinking that the idea of the verbal articulation of the NC could be framed differently by different teachers, and I was hoping you’d have some input. I like the way your suggestion elegantly traces the development of redemptive history from the incarnation to the closing of the canon.

    Have you ever read anyone’s exploration of this kind of parallel with the Old Covenant, that is, about where the NC’s terms are spelled out? I had not even thought about it until a bright student of mine asked.

  18. rfwhite said,

    September 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    PB: You asked, Have you ever read anyone’s exploration of this kind of parallel with the Old Covenant, that is, about where the NC’s terms are spelled out? The general thesis I mentioned is that of M. Kline in his book, The Structure of Biblical Authority. My memory, which may well be faulty, is that H. Ridderbos also develops aspects of the answer to your question in his books, The Coming of the Kingdom and Paul and Jesus.

  19. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Pete,

    You wrote:
    “At the end of the Sermon on the Mount we read, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:” Matthew 7:28 KJV. (He didn’t teach anything new. He simply expanded to the heart what was generally practiced as an outward work.)”

    The full quotation is as follows …

    17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to FULFIL.

    18 For verily I say unto you, TILL heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    In other words, Jesus never said that the Law will never be abolished; rather He said that it will not be abolished.

    Christ came to fulfil the Law — so as to END the Law.

    Romans 10:4 …
    “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

    Romans 10:5-8
    For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

    BUT the righteousness which is of FAITH speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

    7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

    8 But what saith it? The WORD (i.e. the PROMISE FAITH) is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach (PROCLAMATION).

    This is the righteousness which St Paul calls the righteousness of faith ALONE — that ignited the Reformation as rediscovered by Luther …

    That is … Law is the OPPOSITE of Righteousness … as prophet Habakkuk (2:4) said: “The just shall live by FAITH (NOT the law of God but in His PROMISE alone)”

    Colossians 2:11-15 …
    11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made WITHOUT hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

    12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the FAITH of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

    13 And you, being DEAD in your sins and the UNcircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having FORGIVEN you all trespasses (i.e. APART from the Law);

    14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was AGAINST us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his CROSS;

    15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, TRIUMPHING over them in it (viz. the Christus Victor motif of Jesus triumphing over sin, death, the demonic, and the LAW).

    16 Let no man therefore JUDGE you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

  20. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Pete, you also wrote:

    “Isaiah 2:1-5… v. 2… “it will come about in the last days…” v. 3b says, “For the law (torah) will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

    But that makes sense because James referred to Jesus as “the Lawgiver and Judge.” (4:12)”

    John 1:17 …
    “For the law was GIVEN by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ.”

    Here St John says that the Law is NOT grace and truth. Jesus Himself claims to be the only way, truth, and life.

    Thus, the Law is NOT life — it can only judge and condemn. It is NOT the way of righteousness …

    The Law can only put DOWN the sinner …

    James 4:8-10 …

    Cleanse your hands, ye SINNERS (the very same people that James called BRETHREN in his opening); and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

    9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

    10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

    The Law does not and CANNOT comfort the Christian …

  21. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

    “We’ve been taught that the ‘Law of Moses’ is BAD!”

    Indeed, the Law of Moses as spiritual/ inner righteousness is bad …

    The Law of Moses as physical/ outer righteousness — for the sake of the other is good and holy and precious … and necessary.

    Mark 2:
    21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

    22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

    Mark 2:26-28
    How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

    And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

    Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

    And if we are IN Christ (as priests, prophets and kings), therefore, we too are LORD of and over the Sabbath …

  22. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

    St Paul on the covenant:

    Galatians 3 …
    15Brethren, I speak after the manner of MEN; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

    16 NOW to Abraham and his seed were the PROMISES made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

    17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the LAW , which was four hundred and thirty years after, CANNOT disannul, that it should make the PROMISE of none effect. (IOW, St Paul does not pair the Covenant with the Law but with the PROMISE).

    18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

    If promise, then the Covenant IS the TESTAMENT, and if Testament, then …

    Matthew 26 …
    Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my BODY.

    27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

    28 For this is my BLOOD of the NEW TESTAMENT, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

    That is to say, in Jesus Christ, both Covenant and Testament are ONE. For the Covenant promise to take effect, the Subject must be alive. For the Testament promise to take effect, the Subject must die.

    Hence, death and resurrection.

  23. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

    And hence the CROSS of Jesus Christ and the Cross ALONE …

    And hence Galatians 6:14 …

    “But God forbid that I should GLORY, save in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

  24. Jason Loh said,

    September 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

    The Law demands; the Covenant/ Testament promises …

    And if Testament, then the promise is (to quote Oswald Bayer and Jack Kilcrease) is always an act of divine SELF-donation … God GIVES His very self … by surrendering and conforming and submitting to humanity … even unto death on the Cross …

    The Law is, therefore, the very OPPOSITE of the Covenant/ Testament.

  25. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Jason,

    Jesus said, If ye love me keep my commandments. John 14:15.
    Jesus said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Matt 28:19,20.

    So nice try with all the antinomianism. But as we see in the John 14:15 quote above, the law is love.

    Faith is not righteousness itself, faith is the way by which the imputed righteousness of Christ is received.

    It seems as though you entirely discount the truth that Jesus Christ was as much the mediator of the Covenant of Grace under the administration of the “Law” under the Mosaic system as He is under the New Covenant.

    As John 1:1 teaches us that when God spake all these words saying (Ex 20) You can be sure that is was God the Word, even God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who was doing the talking.

  26. Tim H said,

    September 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    “God GIVES His very self … by conforming to humanity”?!

    Please, Jason, this really goes too far.

  27. Pete Rambo said,

    September 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Jason,

    Honestly, I’d love to discuss some of the things you posted, but promised PB I’d take a seat. My original post was an honest assessment of the question presented. Pursuing discussion with you here would hijack the thread.

    If you would like to discuss elsewhere, with your permission, I’m happy to copy/paste the original post, my answer and your posts onto my blog ( http://www.natsab.com ) where we can discuss/debate, etc… Frankly, I’d like to address your posts, point by point. But not here.

    Shalom.

  28. michael said,

    September 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I agree with the comments of the Pastor’s wife Mary that “Our Heavenly Father” began the articulation first, that, I would add then that Jesus nuanced articulating this immediately to Satan as recorded in both chapter four of Matthew and Luke. Afterwards we see the plundering of his (Satan’s) house, Jesus revealing the redeeming qualities of the New Covenant, demonstrated.

    I’d further point to the Gospel of John chapter seven.

    Speaking to His brothers Jesus said:

    6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.
    7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.

    Later on Jesus comes to the “legal” festival established as what these heirs of the Old Covenant are to observe annually by God through Moses and there is then a confrontation with these Old Covenant “authorities” as Jesus further continues by demonstration the articulation.

    Recall what He said articulating the fact of both our and their inability to keep the Covenant?

    Here’s the exchange I have in mind:

    John 7:14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.
    15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning,[fn] when he has never studied?”
    16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
    17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s[fn] will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
    18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
    19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”

    No one can keep any covenant Old or New.

    Dr. White’s articulation, Mediator, Ministers and methods/terms is enlightening!

    The purpose of the Law (the Old Covenant) was not to abolish it. Rather it was established to set a trap for Satan, his angels and those who are not of the Elect so the armor (the Law) Satan used to defeat God’s people could be taken away and they could legally then be destroyed, they being Satan, his angels and those who are not of the Elect.

    Recall:

    When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. (Luke 11:21, 22 ESV)

    And:

    “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53 ESV)

  29. Shawn Keating said,

    September 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I would go with the giving of the Great Commission.

  30. Jireh8 said,

    September 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Isn’t Genesis where we find the first reference to what Christ will accomplish?

    Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
    between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

  31. paigebritton said,

    September 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    I think the Great Commission and the promise given in Genesis 3:15 are indeed part of the spelling out of the New Covenant (or Covenant of Grace) in words…but I think neither one is enough on its own to qualify as a statement of the whole. Interesting, isn’t it, how much of the New Covenant is articulated in the OT? But clarified certainly in the NT, and progressively so (as Dr. White pointed out).

  32. Corry said,

    September 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    First time on this blog, and not a blogger at all. My wife just put me onto this helpful site – thanks to those who run it.
    A few thoughts about the topic:
    The parenthetical clause in Hebrews 7:11 establishes the principle that the Law is given on the basis of the mediator – hence the necessity of the Law to change with the change of priesthood (7:12).
    The Mosaic Law runs through 59 chapters (Ex 19-Num 10). The New Covenant conditions are summed up in several lines. The point is, that when we have a mediator who can save to the uttermost, Law is no longer necessary. As Aaron could not mediate salvation or remove sin, the burden of sin remained on the individual and nation. Therefore, the Law stipulated what could be covered (not forgiven), what could not be covered and required expulsion (cut off – death), and all the purity laws which reminded Israelites that they could never remain clean before God. Even the highest priestly function in Israel, the Day of Atonement, was the Holy Spirit showing us that the way to God was not available (Heb 9:8). Once the eternal priest is introduced, the whole Mosaic system collapses, simply because this Priest covers all transgression, and his people are never contaminable again – they are permanently holy, even as corpses (1 Cor 6:19).
    So why isn’t law mentioned, we don’t need it. The requirement (law) of God is placed in our hearts – this is not the Torah, but the NC law – Faith in the Lord and love one another.
    More directly to the question: the Hebrews writer makes the point that once the new covenant is introduced in Jeremiah and described as “new”, the old is made obsolete – so this may be the the only pronouncement that was necessary.
    This is the way I have come to understand these things – could be completely wrong.

  33. paigebritton said,

    September 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Hello, Corry, welcome aboard!
    Your take doesn’t sound “completely wrong” to me…seems a sound summary of Hebrews, and of the discontinuity between the Old and the New. I would hesitate only at limiting the pronouncement of the NC’s terms to Jer. 31, because I think the clarity provided by the whole NT, progressively built through Gospels-Acts-Epistles, was a necessary follow-up to that prophecy. There’s real content to that “law written on our hearts” in the NC (hence God’s provision of “pastors & teachers,” right? :).
    pax,
    Paige B.

  34. John Harutunian said,

    September 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Sorry, Corry, but I’d really have to disagree. Hebrews 9:8 doesn’t say that the way to God was not available, only that the way to the Holy Place had not yet been “manifest” or “disclosed”. And of course the fact that something hasn’t been “disclosed” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t [objectively] exist. Also, check out Jesus words in Matthew 5:17-:19, where he makes it clear that none of the commandments are to be annulled.

  35. Corry said,

    September 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I think that the perspective that is brought to us by Hebrews is that the Priesthood is not peripheral to the Law, but the reason why it exists. The reason why the Law is ‘weak and useless’ is because it appoints priests who are not able to save. So for the Hebrews writer, the OC/NC systems are to be understood by their cultic administrations. The Law is a set of ordinances given to accommodate the failure of Levitical administration. Without effective mediation, Jews were required to be blameless before God. The only person who could attain the promises of the Law would be the one who could maintain it fully and perpetually. That is why historical covenantalism has always understood the Law as a republication of the covenant of works. The fact that it required perfect obedience, in and of itself, testifies to the complete inadequacy of the Aaronic mediation.
    Perhaps we should be asking why God appointed Levi to call Israel’s assemblies and represent the nation before Him, when they were under a paternal curse that included “Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly” (Gen. 49).
    Thanks for the feedback Paige and John.

  36. John Harutunian said,

    September 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    >I think that the perspective that is brought to us by Hebrews is that the Priesthood is not peripheral to the Law, but the reason why it exists.

    But isn’t it the other way around? Man was unable to keep the Law; therefore priests were appointed to make sacrifices.

  37. Corry said,

    September 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    That is always the assumption that we make, and t is hard to know why the Hebrews writer makes the point found in 7:11. But it fits his argument very well – each covenant is built upon the mediator. Aaron is what makes salvation impossible (Heb 10:4), Jesus makes salvation happen for all He represents. A close reading of Exodus does suggest that Israel had priests prior to the Law (Ex 19:22-24). But I don’t know if this is what the Hebrews writer is relying on. But Aaron is problematic at many levels, not least being that “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book” (Ex 32:33). Aaron was not just a passive sinner, but the most active sinner in the crime against Yahweh. Hebrews makes note of the damnation of the high priest also, with the cryptic reference “we have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat” (Heb 13:10) – this is a reference to the High Priest.
    Anyway, thanks for the discussion John.

  38. October 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Pete and Nathaniel:

    To begin with; this subject of Covenant Theology versus New Covenant Theology is not of the substance whereby one is a heretic for having different/erroneous opinions. There is no Scriptural sanction for that assessment. However, if one believes that the New Christ ‘Covenant’ is an updated, refreshed administration of the old Mosaic covenant, one bumps up against much confusion, inconsistent, incoherence, inner conflict and inscrutability in one’s understanding and praxis.

    Many have given good responses. And I don’t feel I need to amplify their arguments. I would rather like to take a different tack; namely that of arguing from justice. A principle attribute of justice, which has both Scriptural and rational backing, is that of scrutability. We are not accountable for that which we are ignorant (Romans 2:14-15). And one of the problems of Covenant Theology, which is what you uphold, is that the changes that the New Refreshed Covenant, as you would call it, does to the old. If the 4th Commandment of the Decalogue is essentially nullified (Romans 14:5-6) or even changed to the 1st Day, it is a change and not a mere expanded interpretation. It stretches credulity to think otherwise; especially since the Hebrew Sabbath began on the evening prior, not from an arbitrary point in the middle of the night. And there are many elements in the Sermon on the Mount that are a clear contradiction of Mosaic regulations.

    Those who uphold Covenant Theology attempt to suggest that there are three parts to the Mosaic Code, of which one (usually), the moral part is considered in force with Christ, even if we are not condemned by it if we are in Christ. The problem is that there is no Scriptural or rational criteria by which we can separate the moral from the other elements (ceremonial and civil). When one actually attempts to delineate the categories, that divining line becomes inscrutable for many of the laws. And outsiders make good mockery of the confusion, incoherence and inconsistency, as Timothy Keller has complained. It is very difficult to credibly defend the arbitrary delineations.

    As a principle of law and justice: to break or change a covenant/contract, which has no amending formula, is to void the covenant/contract. Old Testament Scriptures frequently warns against such changes (Proverbs 30:6) as does Christ (Matthew 15, Mark 7). And one cannot pick and choose which of the 613 regulations of that Mosaic shall be no longer in effect, nor redact the punitive elements associated with each regulation. For one side to arbitrary reset the rules is a miscarriage of justice and arbitrary caprice.

    The mistake by a lot of New Covenant adherents is that they suggest that the Mosaic Code is no longer in effect at all. It is simply not in effect for those in Christ, for whom Christ has fulfilled the Law on their behalf (Romans 10:4). For those without Christ, to the extent that they concur with the Law and invariably fail to remain faithful with that which they concur, they shall be judged. This is the meaning of Romans 2:14-15 and Matthew 7:2.

    The purpose of the Mosaic Law was to fashion an earthly state as an example for God’s glory. It was built on coercive justice as its seminal theme. The Christian covenant is built on grace as its key motif and its purpose is to establish principles in part to assist in attracting people to a kingdom that is not of this world with consensual abidance to its principles. Different purposes (telos) requires different principles, just as fashioning different products requires different procedures to produce it most efficiently. The problem with mixing the Mosaic and Christian covenants is the conflation between seeking justice and being merciful. The tension and confusion is incoherent and something awful to reconcile, both rationally and psychologically. And pushing the Law of Grace/Mercy onto earthly kingdoms is also incoherent and subjects Christianity to ridicule.


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