Jesus, the fulfilled Messiah, ushered in the new covenant by His death, resurrection, and ascension. Scripture refers to this covenant as the better covenant, established upon better promises. Jesus mediates the better, new covenant (Heb 8:6). Three questions arise in order to gain a fundamental picture of the new covenant. First, what does the new covenant mean? Second, why does Scripture refer to it as the better covenant? Third, what promises does the new covenant provide to the believer in Christ?
New Covenant Meaning
God’s Word first mentions the term covenant in Gen 6:18. Covenant (Hebrew: בְּרִית; bĕriyth) indicates a divine ordinance between God and man (Blue Letter Bible, 2015), a legal relationship that God ordains by an oath to fulfill His specific purpose for humankind because of their frailty. God fulfills His purpose for humanity in covenant (Gen 14:4-6), as well as establishes (Exod 19:5; Deut 17:6) and knows His own people through it (Isa 43:10).
Israel did not keep the covenant God made with them because of their disobedience. Jeremiah prophesied that God would make a new and different covenant with His people (Jer 31:31). The law with its series of ceremonial ordinances, feasts, holy days, and a tabernacle for worship did not change humanity’s standing with God, thus, He required a better covenant. Unlike the old covenant written on stone tablets that the Israelites repeatedly broke, God would put the new covenant within them and write it in their hearts (31:33). He fulfilled all covenant promises from the new in Jesus the Cornerstone, the Son of God–God in flesh. With this better and new covenant they would know God, He would forgive their iniquities, and remember their sin no more (v. 34).
Now Christ, the Great High Priest, administers a new and better covenant. With His first coming, Jesus fulfilled what was promised by Jeremiah (Jer 31:34). He legally terminated Moses’ inspired law and made accessible a better covenant with God for all nations. Jesus forever settles humanity’s sin with God and gives them new birth (eternal life; John 3:5,16). New birth provides a new relationship with God that results from the themes of salvation: pardon (1 John 1:9; 2:2); sanctification (Heb 10:10, 2 Tim 2:21); justification (Gal 2:16-17, 3:24); regeneration (Ezek 36:26; Titus 3:5, ), adoption (Gal 4:5-7, Eph 1:5); assurance (1 John 3:19-24, 5:13); mortification (Rom 8:13, Gal 5:24); and glorification (Phil 3:20-21).
Critical to the new covenant, the new covenant gives a superior revelation of God to His people by the removal of their sins. The seven previous covenants did not remit sin. God forgave sin and justified the repentant on the basis of His provision yet to come with the Messiah (Rom 3:25). On the other hand, God forgives all sin on the ground of Jesus’ death and resurrection with the new covenant. Through the new covenant’s ability to put sin away with Christ’s shed blood, it stands as a channel for all covenant promises and its purposes for fulfillment in His people and creation.
Further, the Prophet Isaiah wrote that God gave His Servant (Jesus, the Messiah) for a covenant to Israel and a light to all nations (Isa 42:8-9). God provided Himself in the person of Jesus Christ (the incarnation; 1 Cor 1:29-30). Scripture prophesied all nations would be blessed through covenant by Abraham’s Seed Christ, thereby fulfilling the covenant God made with Him (Gen 15:1; 22:17-18).
Closing: A New Covenant Reality
The new covenant in Christ restores men and women in their relationship with God through the obedience of faith, repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and receiving of the Holy Ghost. The power of Christ’s shed blood releases us from sin’s guilt and dominion. All covenants of Scripture progressively flow to fulfillment into the new covenant by Jesus Christ. His calling ordained through prophecy under the old covenant becomes the calling and hope of new testament believers today. This last covenant is an everlasting covenant that fulfills the purposes and promises of God for both His church and humanity.
Pastor Daryl Cox
- Bernard, D. (1987). The message of Romans. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press.
- Conner, K. and Malmon, K. (1995). The covenants: The key to understanding relationship with mankind. Portland, OR: City Bible Publishing.
- Johnson, R. and Johnson, D. (2014) Revelation and how it relates to prophecy. Retrieved from https://wtw2onlinefa16.pbworks.com/w/page/81050750/Revelation%20and%20How%20It%20Relates%20to%20Prophecy
- Paron, S. (2014, August 19). Uncovering the meaning of servant of the Lord [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://specs12.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/uncovering-the-meaning-of-servant-of-the-lord/
- Paron, J. (2014) Understanding prophecy [Web blog post] Retrieved from https://specs12.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/understanding-prophecy/