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I've asked this question to several people over the years, only professing Christians and particularly those who tout them selves as 'New Testament Christians'. And this is an important question as Mathew 26:28 tells us that this is the Covenant offered in Christs very own blood: Mat 26:28 For this is my blood of the New Covenant (testament), which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Any one with apt comprehension can identify the parties to this Covenant as quoted in Hebrews 8 and Jeramiah 31, yet even more so for some one with legal background such as a contract lawyer the party and terms here specified are clad tight:

Jer 31:31  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  Jer 31:32  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:  Jer 31:33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Jer 31:34  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. 

Jer 31:35  Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:  Jer 31:36  If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 

Now this is repeated in Hebrews 8, as I had said. By expository bible study and exegeting this text to understand what Christ is affecting in his blood what do you all arrive at for the what, who, why, and how?

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1. The Covenants of Men

When an agreement was reached about wages of a penny a day, Matthew 20:13, the word used is συμθονεο, sumphoneo (sun, together, and phoneo to speak strongly). The same word is used when two agree together on earth about any matter, Matthew 18:19. Another, stronger word is used when the Jews agreed together, in council, to cast believers out of the synagogue, John 9:22, or to conspire against Paul and to murder him, Acts 23:20 - συντιτηεμι suntithemi (sun, together and tithemi, to lay down or establish). Yet another word is used when the Jews 'covenanted' with Judas for thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus - 'ιστεμι, histemi (stand, set up, establish).

These are all agreements among men where parties negotiate and bargain and come to a conclusion.

None of these words are used, by the Holy Spirit's inspiration, in matters of the New Testament.

2. The New Testament

Instead, the word διαθεκε diatheke (dia through and theke, a secure containment) is used thirty three times in the Greek scriptures. Tyndale, in his 1534 New Testament, translated this word by 'testament' thirty one of those times. The KJV translators have chosen, unusually, not to conform to Tyndale on this particular matter and have only called it 'testament' twelve times.

The word διαθεκε diatheke is defined for us in Hebrews 9:16 and 9:17 where the writer says :

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

The other types of agreement among men, above, are defined otherwise, as seen by the words used. But a διαθεκε diatheke, is defined for us in Hebrews 9:16 and 17.

The Testament which the Holy Spirit conveys through the writers of the Greek scriptures concerns a Testator and it only comes into force when the Testator dies. In fact, it is even stronger than that - it is prevented from coming into force until the Testator is deceased.

3. The Object of the New Testament

The objective was made clear six centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem :

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: [Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 KJV]

This prophecy, originally delivered through Jeremiah, 31:33, promises two things : an internal rule of the heart from God himself (and, therefore, it must be of Spirit) and a shared inheritance, that is to say an inherited relationship between Deity and corporate humanity.

Inherited, of course, after the death of Another.

It promises a better rule than that of the legal commandment. It promises a better human existence than one in Adam. It promises a better communal worship than that of external ritual and earthly government.

4. The Terms of the New Testament

The terms are not temporal, they do not relate to this present world. It is an 'everlasting covenant' Hebrews 13:20. The promises are not dependent on man's works or man's abilities. It is not a covenant with man, at all. It is promised; it is assured; it is everlasting.

And, more - Hebrews 9:15.

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

This testament is mediated. By the one mediator between Deity and humanity - Christ Jesus. There is no other name whereby men might be saved, than his name. He is the one who mediates it to every single needy soul who needs his mediation. And he does it personally - to each and every, single soul.

And by his mediation, the transgressions (which the first - 'old' - covenant could by no means remove) are thoroughly and utterly taken away by the shedding of his precious blood : Matthew 26:28 :

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

5. The Beneficiaries of the New Testament

The 'many' referred to by Jesus, above, are clearly they whom Jesus also described as :

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

. . . which is clearly not a matter of digestion, but of faith. And it is to 'he' - it is personal and individual, neither congregative nor corporate.

6. The Messenger of the New Testament

Mark makes it clear in the first verses of his gospel account that 'the beginning of the gospel' involves the ministry of John the Baptist (the baptism of repentance) and the coming of the one prophesied by Malachi - 3:1 -

... the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant ...

Jesus Christ, the Lord, come in flesh, is the Messenger of the Covenant, he is the Testator of the New Testament, He is the Meidator of the New Testament and his is the blood of the Everlasting Testament.

7. The Inauguration of the New Testament

The rich man who wanted to pull down his barns and build bigger, Luke 12:18, used the word apotheke to describe a containment secure against animals foraging or thieves stealing his agricultural wealth. Apo is a matter of dimension - it's big.

Jesus uses the word theke when he tells Peter to put up his sword in its theke, John 18:11. More likely than a sheath, is a secure containment at home, bearing in mind what Jesus said about bearing a sword. Put it in its secure box at home : is what I understand to be his exhortation, but whatever - it is a secure containment.

As to the Testament - the diatheke - the 'through' theke - I suggest a coffin or a sepulchre is in view. A secure place to store a body until resurrection, is, I understand, to be the meaning.

The Testament comes into force through a securely contained body : in death.

  • That's is a great and elaborate way to show the connection between all the verses in the numbered points made; but exegetically what does Jeremiah say? And of further interest: this is the bilateral nature of the language with one party (Yhwh) Covenant making a unilateral arrangement contingent upon his ability to put the law in the heart and mind with forgiveness and knowledge. As it pertains to Christian doctrine, this is not just a hermeneutics question, it's a general new covenant question upon which the Christian religio is founded. Thanks – Lowther Dec 2 '18 at 15:17
  • @Lowther You're welcome. – Nigel J Dec 2 '18 at 15:29
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The purpose of the new covenant was to finally bring about at the end of the Jewish age all of the promises made in the law and the prophets that could not be fulfilled because the Jews were, as all unregenerate men, slaves to sin and subject to death:

[Jer 31:31-33 KJV] 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The last part, "they shall be my People" is a reference to Judah:

https://i.stack.imgur.com/HBfj5.jpg

They become God's people again, but this time they are the holy "Israel of God" - the elect remnant/144,000 new covenant Jews.

This little flock of Jews were the first fruits of God and they followed the Lamb (Jesus) wherever he went. The apostles were among these spiritual virgins (who had never been idolaters/gentiles).

This last days "mighty army" appeared in the last generation of the temple-centric system of things, just before the visitation of 70ad:

[Eze 37:10-14 KJV] 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD.

Once all had been fulfilled, judgement fell and Israel, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and with it the old and new covenants fell into obsolescence.

  • Good thoughts. How do you explain from an exegeting of the text given in Jeremiah 31 a place for "gentiles" as party to the covenant? – Lowther Dec 25 '18 at 12:35
  • Or if I'm reading your final statement correctly you are saying the new covenant too has become obsolete? If so what covenant do Christians of today have? Please give the verses of evidence – Lowther Dec 25 '18 at 12:37

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