The New Testament Is Not the New Covenant

The parts of the Bible written before Christ are called the Old Testament and those written after Him are called the New Testament.  There’s nothing wrong with naming them that way except that people can assume that they are two sets of documents each representing a separate covenant.  This, of course, is not true.

In the times of Jesus and His apostles, there was only one set of Scriptures and it is what we call the Old Testament.  It contained the covenant between God and Israel.  This covenant included a reference to a new covenant that God would make (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  When Jesus Christ came, He made it clear that He had come to enact that new covenant.  The new covenant was actually implicit in the old.  That is, the old covenant referred to the Law of Moses, and spoke to things of the flesh.  The new covenant would be to take those same words but allow them to apply to spiritual matters.  For example, when Jesus was raised from the dead He made it known that references to Zion or Jerusalem would henceforth refer to heaven – that is, spiritual Zion or spiritual Jerusalem. 

What we call the New Testament was therefore not the new agreement (that is, covenant with God).   That new agreement was the Old Testament understood in new terms.  What we call the New Testament therefore could perhaps be more accurately thought of as “the apostles’ teaching” Acts 2:42) – which was really “the Lord’s teaching” since He was the apostles’ source for this point of view.  Of course, the Lord was simply being consistent with what the Old Testament prophets had seen all along (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Romans 15:4).

There is nothing wrong with calling the New Testament by that name, but just remember that the new covenant is actually the old covenant interpreted in spiritual rather than physical terms.  Another term for this is the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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