Relevant Biblical Passages: Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8; 2 Cor. 3
The New Covenant. When the topic of the New Covenant comes up, it is important to remember that the key passage is found first in the Old Testament, not in the New, and that it was spoken in a context which expected a near fulfillment, with no awareness of its future “fulfillment” in Jesus Christ. The following questions focus on the original Old Testament context – then call for a comparison with the New Testament citation in Hebrews 8:
Focusing on Jeremiah 31:31-34:
- Who were the original recipients of this promise? When would it become effective?
- Scripture says that it was not like the earlier covenant. How did it differ?
- Does Jeremiah help us to understand where the flaw was in the original covenant?
- What is to keep the same flaw from developing with the renewed covenant?
- Does the passage imply that confrontational evangelism will fade away when the New Covenant is realized?
- How is “forgiveness” related to the renewed covenant? Does Jeremiah suggest that the knowledge of forgiven sins may be the most powerful motivator of all – “For I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more”?
- The same passage is quoted in Hebrews 8:6 and reference is there made to a “better” covenant. What makes it better?
- Christians have often seen the torn veil in Matthew 27:51, rent asunder at the crucifixion, as a symbol that the temple services were bankrupt at the point Jesus died. Yet the disciples still worshiped in the temple after the ascension (according to Luke 24:53). Did they not yet understand?
- In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul contrasts the new and the old, with the new being written “not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” In view of all that Paul says elsewhere about the enduring nature of the law (cf. Romans 7 and 8), how should we understand his words?