The Idea of the New Covenant as presented in the Gospels and the Pauline letters may sound “new” to modern Christ-followers. But is it really?

Jeremiah declared that in the future the LORD would establish a New Covenant with both the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This covenant, unlike the previous one, would be characterized by God’s Torah being written on the very hearts of the Ancient People of God (Jer. 31:31-34).

But were there Jews in the first century who did not follow Jesus, but believed that they lived in the days of the New Covenant? The answer to this question is yes.

When several important archaeological discoveries were made, it became clear that first century Jesus-followers were not alone in laying claim to the idea of the New Covenant. For example, we read that some Jews called their faithful: “…to observe the Sabbath according to its true meaning and the feasts and the day of the Fast according to the utterances of them who entered into the New Covenant in the land of Damascus… To love everyone his brother as himself, and to strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy and the stranger…” (CD 8:15-17).

The Jewish followers of Christ Jesus differed with them in that they were persuaded that the New Covenant was inaugurated not near Damascus, but near Jerusalem (Matt. 26:26-30) and that through the blood of Jesus. So, was the New Covenant really “new”? No, not at all –  in fact, it was a very old Jewish idea.

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100 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, it is completely *new*. Those in the new Covenant, as stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34, are to be *recognised* as those whom God has written His Laws into their hearts, i.e., they will *only* be those who have the capacity to obey God's Laws completely *naturally* out of *conviction* and not merely by faith or belief. The new covenant is to be instituted by the *Comforter* Who "would judge the World, because we *failed to believe* Jesus Christ". *The Spirit of Truth* Jesus Christ promised us! John 16:13. But Who and where is He? And who is seeking Him?
    • Those so called "NEW" completely (as you call it), are very old Northern and Southern Kingdoms (Israel and Judah) :-) in Jer. 31:31-33.

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    • Is it really completely new? God said: Mic 2:7(JPS) Do I change, O house of Jacob? ... Mal 3:6(KJV) For I the LORD change not; ... Joh_10:35 ... and the scripture cannot be broken;
      If we cannot trust completely in God's Word as standing in truth, then how can we have any faith?
      The only change made from OLD to NEW was the TYPE of Blood for atonement. Nothing more.
      From temporary corruptible animal blood to ETERNAL SINLESS (Lamb of God) BLOOD which covers us all if we choose it.
  2. I think Yeshua taught Torah. He said that He said that none of the commands have changed and will not change until the end of time as we know it. So, what's new? The new is the old rediscovered. Shalom
    • With you, Delores. Yeshua was Jewish and he kept everything exactly how his father made it. No changes. Ever. I also believe that Christians practice the Sabbath on the first day of the week, different from the day on which our Creator rested.

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  3. Regarding the "old" Covenant(s) given through Moses:
    1. God rendered it "obsolete" when He made a "new" and "better" Covenant (HEBREWS 8:6,7,13)
    2. When God made the "new" Covenant He did not take the "old" one and cross out a few things and write in a few new things. He calls it the "NEW Covenant", not the REVISED Covenant. His approach seems similar to that of building a new house instead of fixing up an old one.
    • Actually the Hebrew in Jeremiah for "new" (hadash) often means "renewed." Now if you are saying that the covenant given through Moses is obsolete, what do you say are the terms of the "New Covenant"? According to Jeremiah, the New Covenant is the Torah (what Moses gave) written on hearts (instead of on stone).

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    • Exactly. The writer of Hebrews used the idea of the last will and testament of a dying person. Any old will and testament was completely superceded and rendered null and void the minute a newer one was signed...no matter what was wiled in the previous versions they had no legal standing whatsoever. The new will and testament would only go into effect upon the death of the testator. Hence Jesus came to fulfill the old will and testament of God and peach the new one. It took effect at his death.
  4. So are you saying that the New Covenant is the same covenant as the ones with Abraham and Moses, just inaugurated in Jerusalem with the blood of Yeshua? Or is the New Covenant merely promised in the Tanakh and comes as an new/different covenant to us today?
    • It sounds like you get it, Jon. Yes, the New Covenant is a separate covenant, just like Abraham's and Moses' are separate, but the terms are still consistent with God's character and instructions (Torah), not contradicting previous covenants. Yeshua established it in Jerusalem.
  5. Since the scriptures were speaking to the Jewish people at that time, should one conclude that the laws that were to be written on the heart where the laws of Torah? There were no New Testament scriptures at the time of Jesus preaching, so should Gentile Believers in Jesus understand the scriptures best through a Jewish mindset, even though they do not have to become Jewish to express their faith.
  6. Thank you Dr Eli, it is fact that the New Covenant is actually older than the Old. Its design was planed in eternity before creation and proclaimed by God as Adam sinned Genesis 3v15. It runs throughout the Old Testament as Israelites of old saw in the sacrifices for example that Messiah would come and suffer to redeem His people Heb 1v1. When we grasp this truth how amazing is our God. Thank you so much brother Eli.
  7. Absolutely, Dr. Eli -- I basically agree with Delores; however, I would refer to what Jesus said about the Tanakh, as clarified, or editorialized rather than "rediscovered"; and although the NT was codefided when He appeared -- nothing could be more obvious than that Jesus accurately presented truths of the Tanakh (For example, Matthew 19:7...). Jesus did articulate Tanakh truths accurately where many writers tried to...which were shrouded by traditions -- Maimonides' expectations of the Messiah were, for example, far off exegesis.
  8. The New covenant was a continuation of the blessing portion of the Abrahamic covenant and was sealed by Jesus Christ on the cross.
  9. "new" can mean new in the sense that the audience did not hear of this message interpreted this way. Some see the atom as a physical entity but as a wave is newer information and furthermore, new in the sense that it is composed of more particles, not just of protons, neutrons and electrons but of particles described of in terms of colours.
    • Actually, let's look at the Hebrew name of the "New Testament". Brit Chadasha. Brit means "covenant" Chadasha means "renewed, rebuilt, repaired" and that fits precisely with what took place. The TYPE of Blood (Divine sinless eternal Blood of the Lamb of God). The Covenant is still in place, still legally binding at Mt. Sinai and still is today and all the descendants of Israel are still legally bound, so death would be the punishment. Enter Jesus Christ who gave us a RENEWED Covenant by virtue of the change of Blood.
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