The Apostles’ Teaching of 2 Covenants, part 3

Introduction

The Apostles came to view the Books of the Old Testament as relating to an entirely different relationship from that of the Christian. In fact, they viewed the covenants of the Old Testament as being altogether separate from Christ’s Covenant. They treated the religion of the Old Testament as a completely different covenant from that of Christ, and the result was a clear-cut doctrine of two covenants. This clear distinction is demonstrated in the following passages.

Romans 7

Here, Paul uses the analogy of marriage to demonstrate what happens to a bride when her husband dies; she is free from the binds of marriage, and able to enter into another covenant.  In the analogy, the husband represents the Law (Old Covenant) and the wife represents those who were under the Law. When the husband (Law) dies, the wife (us) is free to marry (enter the New Covenant).

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 7:4

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:6

            In this chapter, Paul points out to us that those who lived under the Old Covenant terms were released from those terms when that Covenant died on the cross along with Christ, and that as a consequence, we are not bound by the terms of the Old Covenant.

Romans 10

Here Paul discusses the fact that in the New Covenant, Christ is righteousness, and that those who are “in Christ” are righteous because Christ is righteous. Under the Law, righteousness was defined by a written code, and we were left to follow it; something resulting in a hopeless situation.

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10:3-4

2 Corinthians 3

In this chapter, Paul has put together an amazing comparison and contrast of the two Covenants in vv. 6-18:

 

Old Covenant

New Covenant

Tables of stone New covenant
In letter In Spirit
Kills Gives life
Glory Greater glory
Fading Permanent
Brings condemnation Brings righteousness
Israelites look… We behold…
   At Moses’ face    Glory of the Lord
   Which is veiled    With unveiled face
Veil lies over their minds Veil is taken away
Mind hardened We are being transformed
  The Lord is the Spirit
  There is freedom

 

It was all or nothing… there was no middle ground. Moses had mediated a Covenant that faded as he faded, and now all things were new in Christ. The Ten Commandments were part of the old treaty, and if parts of the Commandments were to be kept, it was because they had been re-authorized by Christ through His Apostles, not because they had been part of the old Law.

Galatians 2 

We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:15-16

            Under the Law, men were justified by keeping the standard of the written code. This is no longer possible because the code has been done away with at the cross. Even if a man can keep the Law, in all of its 613 dictates… he will not be justified, as even the Jew, a descendant of Abraham cannot be justified by it any longer. Justification comes by our living “in Christ” as Christ would have us to live; justified by Christ’s righteousness and not by our own.  Under the Law, a man’s conscience can never be free from guilt. It is only through Christ that a man can be freed.

Galatians 3

Paul’s treatment here of Jesus as the “seed of Abraham” is one of his strongest arguments.

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Galatians 3:8

            Abraham had more than one son by more than one wife, but only through the son of promise was this blessing passed: Isaac.  Now, Jesus was in the place of Isaac, and only through Him would blessing be passed. You were either the blood of Isaac or you were not; now you are either the blood of Christ or you are not.

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

Galatians 3:16

            Abraham had entered into covenant for himself. After Abraham, people entered into covenant by the blood of Isaac. From Calvary forward, people entered into covenant by the blood of Christ. Abraham believed God, and that was considered righteousness by God. Now, all men must believe God, and the result is that they are counted righteous by the righteousness of Christ. His strongest statement follows:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26 ff.

            At the Second Jerusalem Conference, Peter had boldly stated that Jews, like Gentiles, were saved by faith in Christ apart from the Law. Here, Paul takes away the last shred of pride in being a physical descendant of Abraham; he declares the Gentiles to be Israelites: If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

A Jew not in Christ was “not my people” (Romans 9:25). A Gentile in Christ was part of “all Israel” (Romans 11:26). The “all Israel” about which Paul spoke was related to the covenant of the “deliverer from Zion”:

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:26-27

Galatians 4

In this chapter, Paul uses an interesting metaphor: Hagar represents the two major covenants of the Old Testament, the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants. Paul claims that the Law was added to the Abrahamic covenant, and in effect only until the last promise of the former covenant was fulfilled in Christ. Sarah represents the New Covenant, and the result of the New Covenant is the ouster of both Hagar and her son.

These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written:
“Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”

Galatians 4:24-30

            Jerusalem is another name for the church when so noted:

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

Hebrews 12:22 ff.

            When Paul said “cast out” he was really referring to the casting out of all non-Israelites by faith. For him, there was absolutely no possibility of two covenants operating side by side, one for the Jew and one for the Christian. There were two covenants, but the first one was over… and that was all there was to it!

Ephesians 2

Here, Paul is dealing again with the same issue. Once there had been two kinds of people: Jew and Gentile. The wall between them had been created by the Law of Moses (2:15). Now, the wall was gone forever!

by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:15-20

            The Old Law was gone, but the history of redemption continued seamlessly. Because the New Covenant in Christ was the fulfillment of both the Abrahamic and Mosaic systems, it continued the history of the relationship forward into the future for the rest of time, and the old systems ceased to function.

Hebrews 7

For it is declared:  “You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 7:17

            The Law of Moses provided a priesthood from the Levites. If Jesus is a priest, it is an illegal priesthood!  But the argument is made that Abraham bowed down to Melchizedek, thus indicating that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham. If this is so, then Aaron and Levi are also subservient to Melchizedek, and ought to bow before him. Jesus, as a priest of the order of Melchizedek is also superior to Abraham, Aaron and Levi: therefore all Levites and all Jews must bow down to Him. This creates a choice: The Law or Christ. If the choice is for Christ, the priesthood of the Law is replaced:

For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.

Hebrews 7:12

            The Law was abolished.

 

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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3 Responses to The Apostles’ Teaching of 2 Covenants, part 3

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you for this teaching on Covenants. I went back to read parts 1 & 2 also. I’m enjoying your blog very much, thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

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