Bible Study: Three Minute Message (maybe 5 minutes)

"A New Covenant" by Dr. J.W. Bernard

(its beginning & end compared w/ the Old Covenant)

"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:  Not according to the (old) covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them our of the land of Egypt; which My (old) covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord; But this shall be a (new) covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days saith the Lord, 

These four verses inform us that the Old Covenant began with blood on the Passover day of the Exodus.  However, the conditions of the Old Covenant were not given until later at Mount Sinai.  This old covenant was presented to Israel as conditional.  Israel must "obey My voice and keep My (old) covenant" (Ex. 19:3-6). 

  1. Not only did Israel fail to obey His voice under the Old Covenant, but Jeremiah says that "a New Covenant" was promised to Israel and Judah.  
  2. Not only did Malachi mention the New Covenant, but he adds that a Messenger would accompany the New Covenant (Malachi 3:1).    
  3. Not only was the New Covenant promised to Israel and Judah, it was not mentioned in the New Testament during the gathering of Israel and Judah until the Last Supper (Matthew 26:28).   
  4. Not only did Israel fail in their conditions under the Old Covenant, they failed to obey the New Covenant and receive the Messenger, Jesus Christ.  
  5. Not only was this New Covenant and Parousia Israel's only hope, the Gentiles had no promises or hope.  
  6. Not only was Israel required to believe the message of the New Covenant and receive its Messenger, they were to take the message to the Gentiles.  
  7. Not only did they fail at getting the message out to the Gentiles, they, themselves failed to receive the New Covenant and its Messenger. 

The two covenants were compared with each other in Paul's letter to the Galatians. 

Paul (Romans 9:31,32) says that as soon as Israel believes, the Old Covenant would become dead to them and the New Covenant would be realized.  

At the Passover (Matthew 26:28), the New Covenant began.  Paul said that what he had received from the Lord, is the same as that which he delivered unto the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).  Then he said that the Lord's Passover meal spoke of the New Covenant period between the cross and the parousia.  "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Corinthians 11:26).  Under both covenants, Israel looked for a blessing.  However, under the old covenant Israel was to "forgive" in order to be forgiven (Mark 11:25,26).  They were to give in order to receive and they should not judge or condemn others (Luke 6:37) or they would not be forgiven.  This is contrasted against the age of Grace in which we live, out from under the covenant conditions.  Paul gives instruction that is not like the Lord's: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).  Before the Lord's Passover meal, the Old Covenant is alone in it's operation.  At that time, there was no New Covenant.  Only Jeremiah's promise of it was known to Israel in the land.  The New Covenant was presented at the Lord's last meal with them and did not begin until Calvary.  Like the first Passover, it could not be realized and the blessing experienced until the blood was shed.  The New Covenant began when the blood of Christ was shed at the Cross.

Notice that Paul reminded us that those under the Old Covenant had been blinded (Matthew 12 & 13) and the veil was still upon their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14).  However, the veil is done away in the Christ of the New Covenant.  Then in Romans 11:7, Paul says that only a few of Israel had believed and the rest were blinded.  It wasn't long until the blindness of Israel was complete and at Acts 28:23-29 Paul turned his back upon them and goes only to the Gentiles.  The New Covenant continues in the ministries of Peter, James and John (Galatians 2) and is mentioned by Paul right up until the end.  However, concerning Israel and Judah, it ends at the Parousia ("till I come." Arrival of Christ).  

After the end of the Old Covenant at Calvary, Paul tells the Corinthians that the end of the New Covenant would be at the Parousia:  "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  For He hath put all things under His feet.  But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him.  And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).  When the end comes at the Parousia, Christ will deliver the kingdom back to the Father.  This was accomplished when all authority was given to the Son and the Son gave it all back to the Father.  This happened after the Parousia in A.D. 70.   

During the Acts period, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5,6, "Our sufficiency is of God, Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Covenant."  Paul was ministering "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16) at that time.  However, after the Acts period (A.D.62), Paul only ministered to the Gentiles.  Why?  God was no longer dealing with them as His Covenant People.  They had become "Lo-ammi."  "...for ye are not My People, and I will not be your God." (Hosea 1:9).  Just as blindness happened to those "in the land" (Matthew 12:31,32; 13:13-15), blindness happened to those of the dispersion (Acts 28:25-29).  

A great change happened and Ephesians 4:12 speaks of the re-adjustment to it.  This new ministry of Paul was to re-adjust the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ.  This introduced a message that had never been revealed before called, "the Mystery" to the Gentiles.  The apostles and prophets of the earlier order were not necessarily fitted to mend the rupture that had been caused by Israel's rejection.  So, a special set of apostles and prophets was given by the Lord in His Ascension, whose primary business it was to bridge the gulf and to reset the saints into their new position.  Paul's first epistle to Timothy gives some re-adjustment instructions.  The Lord's Supper (that is connected with the New Covenant) is not repeated in these instructions or in any epistle written by Paul for the instruction of the Church and its ministry at the writing of Ephesians and Colossians.  This was called "the mystery" because it had never been revealed to anyone before (Ephesians 3:1-9). 

The ministry of the New Covenant was accompanied by miracles, gifts and powers until some years beyond the end of the Acts period.  In the prison epistles (Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon) that were written after the Acts period have no mention of the Covenants, except in the negative in one place in Ephesians 2:11,12.  This "covenant," body that Gentiles were so far away from, is contrasted with the "one new man"  body.  

The blessings of Abraham are not mentioned in the adjustment.  Gentiles are now blessed in the heavens alone.  No blessed hope of the parousia in these epistles because it is related to Israel and the New Covenant.  Ephesians 1:3 says that Gentiles are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  Colossians 1:27 says, "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ among you, the hope of glory." 

During the writing of Ephesians, Paul no longer claims to be a minister of the New Covenant as he did in 2nd Corinthians 3:6.  Paul's last epistle, Colossians 1:25,26 says, "I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given to me for you... even the mystery."  Ephesians and Colossians give us the instructions of how to live in the age beyond the parousia in "the mystery" and there is no mention of the New Covenant or any memorial ordinance.  The goal of the New Covenant was reached at the Parousia.  Christ is no longer the Mediator of the New Covenant.  He is now "all and in all" (Colossians 3:11) "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all and in all."     

The "hope" of the New Covenant was initiated at the Cross and finished at the Parousia for Israel and Judah.  The Ephesians "hope" that is connected with "the mystery" directs us all (where there is no such thing as Israel, Judah & Gentile) not to an event upon the earth.  It points the whole world to where Christ is now exalted in the heavens.  We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  The hope of Israel was being blessed upon this earth under the Old Covenant.  They would have realized the New Covenant and its Parousia by receiving it by faith and believing in Christ.  Today, we are not connected to any covenant connected with earthly promises concerning the Temple, Land and City of Israel.  All our blessings are described in Ephesians and Colossians as being above, where Christ sits in the heavens In this new adjustment, there is only "one baptism" and no "last supper" to observe. 

Notice in Romans 9:1-5, the inspired Apostle Paul states:

  1. I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
  2. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
  3. For I could wish that myself were accused from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
  4. Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
  5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

This passage delineates to the believers the status and privilege that the Jews had during the period covered by the book of Acts.  Please note verse 4, for there we see that Israelites were the recipients of the covenants (Old and New) both in terms of blessings and in judgments.

Now, nearly 2000 years later, how do we interpret and, yes, apply those teachings concerning the Covenants.  Please prayerfully open your spiritual perceptions and consider the scholarly work of mr. Mills' exegesis of those texts which concern this vital subject.  Ask for the 49 page book, "The New Covenant" by J. Eustace Mills.... Scripture Research, Inc. PO Box 51716, Riverside, CA 92517.  The book is free.