Old and New Covenants

Is there a discontinuity between the old and new covenants? Is there a break, a separation between the two or is it simply a transition from one to another? Essentially, I’ve been wondering a lot about the doctrine of election. In the old covenant, it is quite clear that elect, the chosen, are the Israelites and all of their pagan neighboring nations are not included in this covenant. However, the new covenant seems so radical. Paul writes about how are all made one in Christ and that the distinctions that separated people groups, those walls are now broken down. Paul also speaks of the ministry of reconciliation that the church participates in.

When I referred to the discontinuity between the two above, I’m wondering if the Event of Jesus Christ was so radical, so revolutionary that is wasn’t simply a new covenant covered in the veneer of Jesus Christ, but actually something ridiculously new . . . a covenant that all would be a part of, that wouldn’t discriminate between races and nations and skin colors. The break then in the two covenants is that the new covenant is not just a covenant between Christians and God (which would only be an adaptation from Israelite-God relationship in the old covenant) but rather that this new covenant was radical enough to include all people. That God’s love and grace and mercy was no longer limited to those with the mark of circumcision, but was now extended to all those with the mark of God, with all those who were created in the image of God. If this is the case, as I am suggesting, there must be some sort of discontinuity between the two covenants . . . they no longer function in the same realm because the new covenant does not follow the same rules as the old.

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2 Responses to Old and New Covenants

  1. Jon says:

    interesting thoughts…keep contemplating…

  2. mk says:

    bc: another good post, asking a very worthwhile question. One of the things I point out to my bib studies class is that Israel’s “election,” to used Reformed language, wasn’t exclusive since there are examples of righteous gentiles who are affirmed as doing the will of YHWH (e.g., Tamar the Canaanite, Rahab the hooking Canaanite, Ruth the Moabitess {btw, how many times is Ruth called a Moabite in the book of Ruth? Seven, God’s number}, and Uriah the Hittite, also called a Hittite seven times in the David-Bathsheba saga). These people are affirmed because they are loyal to the commands of YHWH. Israel’s choseness is to a task, to be a “light to the nations,” that is, to show the other nations what life-giving Shalom life with YHWH is like. The covenant was to obey and be loyal, which they didn’t do so hot of job at. . . the New Covenant was new because of how much more it demanded, e.g., loving enemies, and turning cheeks. Same covenant–none of which passes away according to Jesus– just more full and extensive. . . at least that’s my working hypothesis now. . . sorry for the stream of consciousness writing here. I fear I’m all over the map, but too lazy to edit, and I have other pressing matters to get to. 🙂 cheers!


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