My Take on the New Covenant (Part 10): In Summary

Read the series.

In this final part I want to gather things together and summarize what has gone before. In the latter half of the full piece I interact with some other views. I shall not concern myself with running over that ground here. I shall only outline the major pillars of my position on the New Covenant:

  1. Jeremiah 31 is not to be thought about as definitive of the New Covenant. There are many other passages which, although they don’t name the covenant as the NC, are rightly considered as important OT New Covenant passages (e.g. Deut. 30:1-6; Isa. 32:9-20; 42:1-7; 49:1-13; 52:10-53:12; 55:3; 59:15b-21; 61:8; Jer. 32:36:44; Ezek. 16:53-63; 36:22-38; 37:21-28; Hos. 2:18-20; Joel 2:28–3:8; Mic. 7:18-20; Zech. 9:10; 12:6-14.; 59:15-21).
  2. None of the great theistic covenants of the Bible (i.e. the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Priestly, Davidic covenants) have a provision of redemption set within them. That means they can never be fulfilled! Sin bars the way.
  3. However, the problem of unfulfillment is overcome by Jesus Christ in the New Covenant.
  4. Since it deals with sin and salvation, the NC deals with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Two key NC passages, Isaiah 42:1-6 and Isaiah 49:1-8, speak both to Israel and to the nations. Isaiah 42:1-3 is quoted by Matthew 12:17-21, and is applied especially to “the Gentiles.” He might have quoted Isa. 11:10; 42:15; 60:3; Jer. 16:19, and Mal. 1:11.
  6. Further, Isaiah 42 and 49 identify a person as a covenant who will bring salvation to both Israel and the Gentile nations. The NC is the “salvation covenant.”
  7. The Apostle Paul uses NC terminology and applies it to Christian redemption in Colossians 2:11-14 and Philippians 3:3.
  8. Not only that, but Paul explicitly says that Christians taking the Lord’s Supper are celebrating “the blood of the New Covenant” (1 Cor. 11:25). Paul also declares that his ministry is a ministry of the New Covenant in 2 Cor. 3.
  9. Jesus said that His blood was NC blood (e.g. Lk. 22). His disciples partook of the symbolism of it, and they formed the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20).
  10. Hebrews 7 – 10 names Jesus as our High Priest, which He can only be on the basis of the New Covenant, since that is the covenant He mediates as High Priest.
  11. Jesus Christ and the New Covenant are One. He is the covenant mentioned by Isaiah 42:6 and 49:8; as the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29), He is the covenant “animal” that makes the NC with His own body and blood (Heb. 9:16-17). There is (and never was) any salvation outside of Him. Therefore, the NC is not to be viewed as an agreement external to Him Who made it.
  12. We must beware of impeding our own understanding of God’s Word by wandering away from Scripture to fragmentary pagan notions of treaty and covenant. We will be in poor shape to “hear” the Scripture if we fail listen with both ears and read with both eyes. This is all the more important when the matter under consideration is the oaths of God!
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There are 10 Comments

Mark_Smith's picture

Nice series. I loved it. How do you deal with passages like Ezekiel 36 and 37, which are embedded in multi-chapter long prophecy about God's dealings with future Israel? In Ezekiel's case, God says He will bring the nation back from its scattering in the Exile, and bring them success. It goes much further than that, though, and clearly speaks of the Millennium. It is in that context that the new heart and spirit and new covenant are mentioned. What is the Gentile (read church) connection here except to say the nations will come to a future Jerusalem to worship in this perfect future (which I read as the Millennial reign)? It is promise meant for Israel, and is eschatological?

Paul Henebury's picture

Thanks Mark.  I see the prophecies in these chapters as picturing Israel in the Millennium under the NC.  These links should help: link, link.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Paul, I really appreciate this series.  It is excellent!

 

G. N. Barkman

Paul Henebury's picture

It is encouraging when someone like you praises my work.  I do find it somewhat ironic that lots of Dispensationalists resist my arguments but provide no refutation of them.  Thanks. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Years ago, Marvin Rosenthal of Israel My Glory rocked the world of Dispensationalism by launching his book on the Pre-Wrath rapture of the Church.  I remember reading it with both appreciation and disagreement.  Appreciation because he raised many of the problems with the pre-tribulation rapture position that had troubled me.  It seemed that he was raising all the right questions.  Disappointing because his solution, the pre-wrath rapture seemed to be strained.  I agreed with his questions, but disagreed with his solution.

I find myself in a similar situation with Paul's evaluation of the Covenants.  He deftly deals with many of the questions that caused me to gradually discard my Dispensationalist upbringing.  However, discarding those questionable interpretations led me down a different path.  I found satisfying answers in viewing the New Covenant as the fulfillment and replacement of the Old Covenant, and the Church as the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel.  The way NT authors dealt with OT passages guided me to my present understanding.  This explains why I can read Paul's analysis with appreciation, even though we arrive at a different understanding of Israel and the Church.  Paul departs from Dispensationalist interpretation at many of the same places I do.  We are, in many ways, very close together, and in others, still far apart.

Perhaps, as I continue to study, I will move closer to Paul.  But perhaps, as he continues to study, he may move closer to me.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened.  (But I do NOT consider myself in the same league with Paul as a scholar.  He's so far ahead of me that I can barely see his shadow.  I don't believe I will  live long enough to catch up, but I am happy to read his excellent analysis and benefit as I am able.)

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have gradually moved away from hardline dispensationalism. I am increasingly uneasy with the pre-trib position, but have not re-examined it for several years. I can look down the road and see myself as a historic premillennialist in a few years. It calls to me ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Paul Henebury's picture

TylerR wrote:

I have gradually moved away from hardline dispensationalism. I am increasingly uneasy with the pre-trib position, but have not re-examined it for several years. I can look down the road and see myself as a historic premillennialist in a few years. It calls to me ...

Chuckle!!

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Paul Henebury's picture

Greg, 

there's comfort and security in sticking to a theology and asking no further questions.  I am not afraid to ask questions, even when I personally think I can be dogmatic on a point.  But Dispensationalism does itself no favors when it myopically repeats its teachings without cross-examining them to "improve" them.  I think that there are only a very few places to fall when it comes to eschatology (in the larger sense), but how one arrives there and what one makes of it all is often a result of good or bad methodology.  

Thanks Greg, for your interaction on these posts.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Mark_Smith's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

Thanks Mark.  I see the prophecies in these chapters as picturing Israel in the Millennium under the NC.  These links should help: link, link.

Paul,

Perhaps I wasn't clear. That this speaks of Israel is obvious. What bothers me is when people think this is speaking of the church, or Gentiles (i.e. you and me).

Paul Henebury's picture

Mark,

Let me try this again... I think you are asking "Do you see the Church included in Ezek. 36 - 37?"  If that is your question I answer No.  Do I see the Nations in those chapters?  Yes.  They are obliquely mentioned in Ezek. 36:23:

the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes."

I take this as a reference to the influence of renewed Israel over the Nations for good in the Kingdom. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

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