Covenant Theology and the New Covenant

Introduction

The first eleven chapters of Genesis reveal how God dealt with the whole human race. In chapter twelve, however, God began a revolutionary, new, divine program. No longer would He deal with all of humanity directly. Instead, He created a new race of people who would act as His intermediaries. God tapped Abraham and began a new race of people–the Jews. Through them, and them alone, would God reveal Himself to mankind. Thus, the world became divided into two races: Jew and Gentile.

Before God called Abraham, He established the Noahic covenant with the human race.1 Beginning with and after Abraham, God established several new covenants. All of them would be with the new race, the Jews. In addition, God revealed Himself through Jewish prophets, and Jews became the recipients and custodians of the written Word of God (Romans 3.1-2). These divine actions meant the Jews became the repository of God’s revelation to man and the mediators of divine blessing. Thus, the only path of God’s blessing to Gentiles lay through Jews.

God’s decision would result in a massive theological problem. According to the plan God had revealed in the covenants and through His prophets, Gentiles would be blessed through Israel. The zenith of blessing would be the Messianic kingdom (Zechariah 14.9). But the promised blessings and the kingdom required Israel to accept her Messiah, for the Messiah would implement all the blessings. But the Jews rejected their Messiah (Acts 2.22-23, 3.13-14). This rejection precipitated a theological crisis. How could Jews be blessed in light of their rejection of the Messiah, and furthermore, how could Gentiles be blessed since their blessing depended on Israel? The answer to these questions from God’s revelation in the Old Testament was clear: they couldn’t. No program or mechanism existed to bless Jew or Gentile in light of Jewish rejection of the Messiah.

Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13), however, taught that Gentiles, especially the Church, the body of Christ (in which there is no Jew or Gentile, Galatians 3.28), had received God’s blessings apart from Israel. Paul taught this truth throughout his letters and illustrated it with his example of the olive tree in Romans 11. How could Paul write this in light of God’s revelation for 2,000 years that Gentiles could not be blessed apart from Israel?

The theological system commonly known as Covenant Theology fails to address this problem. It largely employs a “replacement theology” in which the Church replaces Israel. Such a system essentially dismisses God’s promises to national Israel. Most in the Dispensational school also fail to recognize this problem and provide a credible explanation.2 This article will examine how God could bless Gentiles apart from Israel, remain true to His word, and yet keep His promises to national Israel.

The Mosaic Covenant: Conditional?

Whatever differences theologians have, most view the Mosaic Covenant as “conditional.” Was it? The answer to that question depends on how “conditional” is defined. Moses recorded the following after God delivered the Jews from the slavery of Egypt:

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’. So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. (Exodus 19.4-8).

From this text, one can reasonably conclude that the Mosaic covenant was conditional. It contains the expected “if . . . then” element of a conditional statement as well as an assent by the people: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” But the essential conditional sense of the covenant is in the realm of time. In other words, the fulfillment of the covenant was not a matter of “if” but “when.”

God’s words to Israel were sovereign. Israel was required to obey and keep the covenant if the nation was to be blessed. While national Israel largely failed due to unbelief, especially in the matter of recognizing and accepting the Messiah, the Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ declared they will succeed. They will become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Isaiah 60.1-5; Zechariah 8.20-23 cf. Romans 11.26-29). This outcome is certain. If it fails, God will be revealed as a liar and Satan will have defeated God. We should not be flummoxed that Israel has failed so far. God is eternal and extremely patient. His ways are not our ways and He is always on time. Fulfillment is not a question of if but when. And “when” is the card God holds closest to His chest.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed how and when Israel would receive these blessings. He told the Jews they would not see Him until they said, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23.37-39). They will utter these words. They will repent. They will recognize Him as their Messiah-King. John the Baptist and Jesus preached a message of repentance (Matthew 3.1-2; 4.17). The Jews of Jesus’ generation failed: they refused to repent. But a future generation of Jews, a generation that will endure and survive the Tribulation, will succeed (John 10.16). Success will be defined as national repentance (Zechariah 12.1-14; Romans 11.26 cf. Acts 2.37-39, 3.17-21). Paul, in his great dissertation on Israel in Romans 9-11 wrote, “all Israel” would be saved. “All Israel” was exactly this: all Israel. It constitutes every Jew living at that the end of the Tribulation. These Jews will go into the Messianic kingdom and will compose the Jews who will form the nation of Israel in the Millennium. When the Jews repent, the Lord will be able to keep His promise and return to establish His kingdom. God will fulfill all His promises to the nation. The covenants will go into full effect. Israel will become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19.6). The Jews will become a channel of blessing to Gentiles. This is future history. But when God states He will do something we can rest upon it. It will happen.

Usage of the Term

The first usage of the word “covenant” occurs in Genesis 6.18 (cf. Genesis 9.9-17) with God’s warning Noah of the coming Flood. The Hebrew word for “covenant” is בְּרִית and occurs 285 times in the Old Testament. The word for “covenant” in the New Testament is διαθήκη and occurs 33 times.

As noted above, God established all of His covenants, with the exception of the Noahic covenant, with the Jews. Biblically, “covenant theology,” is “Jewish theology” or what might better be termed “Israelology.” Christianity has no covenants. Thus, “covenant theology” with respect to Christianity is meaningless. The chart below illustrates that the covenants God established in the Old Testament applied almost exclusively to Jews.

Divine CovenantsRecipientFirst Declared
NoahicAll mankindGenesis 6.18, 9.9-17
AbrahamicAbraham (Jewish progenitor)Genesis 12.1-3, 15.7-21
MosaicJewsExodus 20.1-17
SabbaticJewsExodus 31.12-18
Palestinian (Land)JewsDeuteronomy 30.1-10
DavidicJews (Davidic lineage)2 Samuel 7.12-13
NewJewsJeremiah 31.31-34; Ezekiel 36.24-28

Use of the Word “Covenant” in the New Testament

The chart below lists the books and verses of the New Testament where the word “covenant,” διαθήκη occurs.

Use of Covenant (διαθήκη) in the New Testament (33x in 30 verses)
Book(s)Passages
Gospels (4x in 4 verses)Matthew 26.28; Mark 14.24; Luke 1.72, 22.20;
Acts (2x in 2 verses)Acts 3.25, 7.8
Paul’s Epistles (9x in 9 verses)Romans 9.4, 11.27; 1 Corinthians 11.25; 2 Corinthians 3.6, 14; Galatians 3.15, 17, 4.24; Ephesians 2.12
Hebrews (17x in 14 verses)Hebrews 7.22, 8.6, 8, 9, 10, 9.4, 15, 16, 17, 20, 10.16, 29, 12.24, 13.20;
Revelation (1x)Revelation 11.19

Gospels

While the Gospels are in the “New Testament” they are Old Testament works. The “New Testament” as popularly understood is a problematic construct. Jesus’ earthly ministry was exclusive to Jews and Israel operated under the Mosaic Law, i.e., Old Covenant or Old Testament. Throughout His ministry, Jesus appealed to the Law (Old Testament). He gave no indication it was not in effect or would cease (Matthew 5.18; Luke 16.17) and His ministry was to fulfill the Old Testament promises (Romans 15.8).

Acts

The first usage of the term “covenant” in Acts is in Peter’s second sermon to the Jewish nation. In this sermon, Peter continued the message of repentance John the Baptist and Jesus preached (Matthew 3.1-2, 4.17; Mark 1.14-15). Peter appealed to the Jews to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 3.11-26). He reminded them they were the “sons of the prophets” and heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. The second use of the term is found in Stephen’s defense before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7). He too reminded his judges that they were the descendants of Abraham and heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Hebrews

Of the 33 usages of διαθήκη in the New Testament, more than half (17) occur in the book of Hebrews. This should not be surprising since the covenants belonged to the Jews. The watchword of the book of Hebrews is “better.” Hebrews teaches the New Covenant is better than the Old (Mosaic) Covenant. Of the 17 verses in which διαθήκη occurs, 5 are direct quotes from the Old Testament prophets about God’s promise to establish a New Covenant with national Israel. Jesus initiated the establishment of the New Covenant at the last supper (Matthew 26.28; Mark 14.24; Luke 22.20). The Twelve disciples were representatives of the nation since the Lord had promised they would rule over the nation (Matthew 19.28). But while the Lord inaugurated the New Covenant, it has not yet taken full effect. For that to occur Israel must repent.

Revelation

In Revelation, the heavenly Ark of the Covenant is present (Revelation 11.19). God commanded Moses to construct an earthly tabernacle as a representation of heavenly reality (Exodus 25.8-9, 40; Acts 7.44; Hebrews 8.5 cf. Exodus 25.40). The tabernacle was an earthly model of God’s throne complex. While earthly things are indeed real, compared to heavenly things they are but shadows. This is why we find an Ark in heaven. Plato was right. His theory of Forms or Ideas provided insight into this truth and his illustration of the cave demonstrated how earthly realities were but shadows of heavenly (true) realities. C. S. Lewis portrayed this in his novels The Great Divorce and The Last Battle.

These passages confirm the record of the Old Testament. The covenants belonged to Israel alone–Gentiles had no part of them (Romans 3.1-2; Ephesians 2.11-12).

The Church and the New Covenant

God’s promise of the New Covenant was made to Israel (Jeremiah 31.31-34; Ezekiel 36.24-28) just as all the other covenantal promises had been. The New Covenant, however, was different from the other covenants. The others promised earthly, physical blessings to Israel. The blessings of the New Covenant are primarily spiritual, rather than physical.

As noted above, God laid a new administrative foundation with the Abrahamic Covenant. Gentiles would be blessed through Israel. Thus, we read,

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12.1-3).

The Abrahamic Covenant was the foundation of all future covenants God would make with Israel. The source of all covenantal blessings–to Jew and Gentile–was the Messiah. The great message of hope of the Jewish prophets throughout the Old Testament was the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom (Zechariah 14.9). Numerous prophetic verses revealed God’s plan for blessing Gentiles through Israel and the Messiah (Isaiah 2.4, 11.10, 42.1-7, 49.5-7, 60.1-3 cf. Luke 2.25-32; Isaiah 61.4-7,  62.1-5; Jeremiah 3.15-18; Zechariah 8.20-23).

Conspicuously absent from the Old Testament is the Church. God provided no evidence He would create the Church, the body of Christ, in which Jew and Gentile would be equal in Christ. Jesus, in His earthly ministry, revealed nothing of the Church. The Twelve (even at Pentecost) knew nothing of it. Everything at Pentecost was Jewish and Peter addressed Jews only. How do we learn about the Church? The risen, glorified Christ revealed this great truth to Paul. Paul alone received this revelation and taught that it was a secret (μυστήριον) until God had revealed it to him (1 Corinthians 3.10-11; 1 Timothy 1.15-16 (πρῶτος=”first”);3 Ephesian 3.1-9).

Since the Church was kept secret, the fact it would participate in the New Covenant could not have been known. As Paul disclosed the secret of the Church, he also revealed it participates in the spiritual benefits of the New Covenant. As noted above, the provisions of the New Covenant differed substantially from those of Israel’s other covenants. The other covenants involved physical blessings, e.g., land, nation, kingdom, etc. But the promises of the New Covenant are spiritual, i.e., forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Members of the body of Christ experience forgiveness of sins, the indwelling Holy Spirit, knowledge of the Lord, and a new heart (2 Corinthians 5.17).

The chart below illustrates how God communicated His plan of Law to Moses and His plan of Grace to Paul. God revealed the Law to Moses who communicated it to Israel. God revealed His plan of Grace through Paul who taught it to the Church. This “grace” plan was composed of “secrets” God had revealed to no one before Paul.4

God’s Plan for IsraelGod’s Plan for Gentiles/Body of Christ
God ↓ (dispensed)God ↓ (dispensed)
Law (to)Grace (to)
Moses ↓ (for)Paul ↓ (for)
Israel/Believing IsraelGentiles/Church, i.e., Body of Christ

Paul and Covenant

God commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). Since this was his ministry (Galatians 2.7-9) how did Paul deal with the subject of covenant with regard to Gentiles and especially with the Church, the body of Christ. Paul used the term “covenant” 9 times in his letters. Do Paul’s writings align with those of other writers? The answer is “yes” but with a twist.

Romans 9.4 In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote the following concerning the Jewish people:

who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises (Romans 9.4),

Less anyone doubt Paul meant racial Jews, we have only to look at the previous verse:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, (Romans 9.3).

Ephesians 2.11-12

Writing the Ephesians, Paul explicitly declared that Gentiles were excluded from Israel’s covenants:

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Could words be more clear? Paul confirmed the Old Testament record that God made covenants with Israel. Gentiles were “excluded (ἀπαλλοτριόω) from the commonwealth of Israel” and “strangers (ξένος) to the covenants” But Paul  also taught the Church, the body of Christ, participates in and enjoys the blessings of one covenant: the New Covenant. Is this a contradiction?

Romans 11.27

Paul revealed God’s plan for the future of national Israel in light of their rejection of their Messiah in Romans 9-11 Paul confirmed everything that the prophets had written. God was not finished with national Israel. He vigorously argued God had not replaced Israel with the Church. In Romans 11.25-27 he wrote:

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written “The Deliverer will come from Zion, (Isaiah 59.20) He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, (Isaiah 59.21; Jeremiah 31.31, 34) When I take away their sins.” (Isaiah 27.9)

Paul argued God would fulfill His promise to Israel He declared in Exodus 19.4-6.5

1 Corinthians 11.25

Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper with the Twelve (Matthew 26.26-29; Mark 14.22-25; Luke 22.14-23). The apostle Paul received his information about its significance, not from the Twelve, but directly from the risen Lord. Paul wrote:

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11.23-26).

This passage was Paul’s first mention of covenant in relation to the Church, the body of Christ. From it, we learn that while covenants pertained to Israel, members of the Church, the body of Christ, are to keep the Lord’s supper. Why is this, if, as we have seen, all the covenants God made beginning with Abraham were with the Jews? The significance of the Lord’s supper is it represents the Lord’s death for our sins. His death paid the price for our sins so that God could forgive us. His death for our sins is a spiritual benefit and forms the basis for the New Covenant. And as we have seen, the New Covenant’s blessing are primarily spiritual rather than physical.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, Paul went on the discuss the New Covenant. He declared,

who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3.6).

Paul stated the Jews’ hearts were hardened (Romans 11.25, πώρωσις, cf. Romans 11.7) but that the veil, “blindness,” “hardening”  is removed when one turns to the Lord.

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ (2 Corinthians 3.14).

One of the wonderful truths Paul revealed was that anyone who believes his gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4), whether Jew or Gentile, is saved and is not subject to the Mosaic Law. The believer in Christ is freed from the bondage of the Law. This was one of Paul’s great themes which he taught throughout his letters (Romans 6.14; Galatians 4.28-5.1). Paul wrote the entire book of Galatians to make this point. Sadly, most in Christendom still teach that the believer in Christ is under Law in some form or fashion.

Galatians 3.15-18

15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

Paul wrote the Galatians to correct the false teaching that they were to live under the administration of the Mosaic Law. Some Jews (most of whom were believers in Jesus the Messiah) were teaching Paul’s converts they were subject to the Mosaic Law. Such teaching was undermining Paul’s teachings of grace (Galatians 1.6-9; cf. Acts 15.1, 5, 10-11). To counter this error, Paul used the Old Testament (which the Jews of Judea would understand) itself to prove his doctrine. He argued the Abrahamic covenant took precedence over the Mosaic covenant (Galatians 3.17-18). The covenant God gave Moses at Mt. Sinai did not supplant the covenant He had established with Abraham. Why did Paul make this point? The doctrines Paul received from the risen Lord were doctrines of grace, not Law. Paul used Abraham as his example of one who was justified by faith alone, faith + 0 (Romans 4.1-4) and Abraham came before Moses.

Galatians 4.21-26

21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. 24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.

Paul used covenantal language to illustrate the argument made in Galatians that believers of his gospel are not under Law but under Grace. From God’s perspective the Law was perfect (Romans 7.12). But man’s fallen nature is unable to keep it (Romans 7.14). Because of this, the Law was bondage. Grace, however, is freedom. We “keep the Law,” that is, the morality of the Law, through the operation of the Holy Spirit but we are not under the Law as an administrative system. Rather, we are under the administration of grace (Romans 6.14) not under the administration of Law. Grace operates via love and the indwelling and controlling Holy Spirit. This is an entirely new relationship and system of administration.

The Question Answered

Paul wrote relatively little about the New Covenant. But he taught the Church, the body of Christ, participates in it. The spiritual benefits of the New Covenant are forgiveness of sins and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These became available because of Christ’s work, i.e., His death and resurrection. Paul wrote that believers possess these blessings. How could Gentiles (who compose the vast majority of the body of Christ) receive covenantal blessings since all blessings were to come through Israel and Israel had rejected the Messiah?

Part of the answer to this question is that God keeps secrets (Deuteronomy 29.29). One of these secrets God had kept was that of the Church, the body of Christ. At the proper time, He revealed this secret to Paul who became His “agent” as “apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). In 1 Corinthians 15.8, Paul wrote, “and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” What did he mean by “untimely born?” Paul’s salvation occurred when he recognized and believed Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9.5, 20, 22). His salvation prefigured, hence “untimely born,” the future salvation of the Jewish nation. The word “untimely born” is ἔκτρωμα, (ἐκ + τραῦμα or τρῶμα), i.e., out of a wound and means an “abortion,” “miscarriage,” “untimely birth.” According to Old Testament prophecy, Israel will be reborn in a day (Isaiah 66.8). Paul had this prophecy in mind when he wrote Romans 11.26 and declared “all Israel” would be saved. Jesus had promised the nation He would return when they said, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23.39).

Paul’s spiritual birth pictured the Jewish nation’s salvation. Because of this, he could be God’s representative to provide blessings to Gentiles and especially the Church, the body of Christ. As noted above, the Church was a “secret” which God revealed to Paul. Paul stated he laid its foundation (1 Corinthians 3.10) and was the “first” (πρῶτος), i.e., first in succession and the pattern or prototype of the Church (1 Timothy 1.15-16). God, through Paul, as a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3.5), could keep His promise of the Abrahamic Covenant intact and bless Gentiles, even though Israel had rejected her Messiah. God knew all of this from eternity past but kept it secret (Colossians 1.25-27; Ephesians 3.1-9). Thus, while Israel has temporarily rejected their Messiah, Gentile blessings, specifically, God’s blessings to the Church, have been mediated, not from national Israel, but from Paul (1 Corinthians 15.8; Romans 11.13; 1 Corinthians 4.16; 11.1; Philippians 3.17). God used Paul to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant until national Israel repents.6 

Covenants are agreements or contracts between two parties. Each party has a part in the agreement. When we examine the covenant God made with Noah and later, the covenants He made with the Jews, we do not find this pattern. God’s covenants were unilateral. Noah had no part of the Noahic Covenant. Abraham had no part of the Abrahamic covenant. David had no part of the Davidic covenant. The Jews had no part of the Palestinian (Land), Sabbatic, or New covenants. As for the Mosaic covenant, the people did have a part in it since they had agreed, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19.8). How much choice did they really have? Hebrews says God imposed (ἐπίκειμαι) the Law upon them (Hebrews 9.9-10). The Jews failed to keep the Law but one day they will keep it. Given all this what are we to conclude? God’s covenants are really promises. They are declarations of God’s sovereignty about what He will do.
Covenant theologians see the plan of God through the lens of covenant. Their theological system is a construct consisting of a covenant of works and a covenant of grace, which operate under a covenant of redemption. While works, grace, and redemption are Biblical truths, the Bible does not teach them as covenants. One cannot find a “covenant of works,” a “covenant of redemption,” or a “covenant of grace” in the Bible. Biblical covenants are the Noahic, Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Sabbatic, Davidic, and New. The operational structure of the theological system known as “covenant theology” is not a Biblical system. Because of this, it creates theological confusion. For it to work, texts are interpreted inconsistently. Some texts are viewed as literal, i.e., soteriology, Christology, pneumatology, etc., while others, i.e., eschatological and ecclesiological, are viewed allegorically or typically. National Israel (the recipient of Biblical covenants) disappears and is replaced by the Church. The result is a patchwork theological system. The worst of it is if covenant theology is right, God cannot be trusted to keep His word. One can have “covenant theology” or a sovereign God. One cannot have both. Dispensationalism views God’s dealings with mankind through dispensations rather than covenants. Structurally and interpretively, this system has a Biblical basis and texts are generally viewed consistently. “Dispensation” (οἰκονομία) is a Biblical word and means stewardship or administration. Paul used it in writing to the Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians (1 Corinthians 9.17; Ephesians 1.10, 3.2; Colossians 1.25) about God’s dealings with man. The problem for Dispensationalists is they also abandon Biblical concepts and a consistent hermeneutic in key areas. The result is what one would expect: bad theology. For example, in the context of our above subject, some dispensationalists argue the Church does not participate in the New Covenant or that there are two New Covenants–one for Israel and one for the Church. Some Dispensationalists teach the Church began to at Pentecost. These errors result from unsound exegesis.
See the author’s study: Paul: Chief of Sinners?
See the author’s study: Paul’s Mystery.
While some argue the Church is Israel, I have yet to find anyone who argues it is Jacob (Romans 11.26)!
Once national Israel repents and accepts Jesus as the Messiah, they will again assume their position as the agent of Gentile blessing. They will fulfill this role in the Messianic Kingdom and fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies.

©2012 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.


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81 Responses to Covenant Theology and the New Covenant

  1. Steve Page says:

    This is an excellent work thank you for the time you put into it.

    I don’t understand one thing that you wrote. ” Abraham had no part of the Abrahamic covenant.”

    In Genesis 12 the Lord said “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you, and I will bless you.” Abraham did those things and was blessed.

    There is no “if” there, but it’s clearly implied. Also, there may be no record that Abraham (Abram) agreed, but he obviously did because he began to fulfill the conditions.

    In V.6, after Abraham went to the land that the Lord directed him to the Lord said,(V.7) “To your descendants I will give this land.”

    Then when Abraham finally parted with his family (13:8 Abraham and Lot parted ways) the Lord it’s written, “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

    Later the Lord said, “I will make you descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws (Gen. 26:4).

    It appears the Lord is saying that Abraham kept the covenant, and so He will keep His promises to Abraham.

    So I guess you can see why I’m confused.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Steve,
      By my statement, “Abraham had no part of the Abrahamic covenant” I meant that when God confirmed the covenant in Genesis 15, that He put Abraham to sleep. Normally, the confirmatory ceremony required both parties to walk between the sacrificial animals. But in this case, God alone moved through the animals. Thus, God signified that He was making a unilateral, unconditional covenant. In Genesis 12, in God’s declaration of the covenant, Abraham’s role was that he believed it (and was justified in God’s sight), which Paul used to illustrate his doctrine of faith + 0 for salvation.

  2. Michael Lee says:

    Dear Dr. Samdahl,

    I have been so deeply blessed by your many articles. I continue to read them in order to gain a better grasp, several of them two or more times. I’m currently preaching through the letter of James (this week, we’re in 2:21-26), and I believe you would view James as expressing a strong hope for the national acceptance of Jesus as Messiah, in order for the Lord to return and set up His Kingdom on earth. (He obviously went down fighting!) Hence, the requirement for faith and deeds to line up, i.e., give evidence of true repentance and national solidarity.

    With our congregation being entirely composed of Gentile believers (yet in the heart of a Jewish population), I’ve been struggling to know how to apply this text – from a pastoral standpoint. I want to understand how faith and deeds go together for the church, and I thought of Paul’s passages of being led by the Spirit and understanding our union with Christ. For this particular case, and while preaching through James in general, how can I bridge the gap between text and congregants? Or, does a clear break need to be spelled out in order to preserve the integrity of James’ message while I address the members of our non-Jewish congregation?

    It is a complete thrill for me to interact with you, and I am so thankful for you and your ministry!

    In Christ,

    Michael Lee

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Michael,
      Please see my latest article, Faith and Works in James: Resolving the Problem. Hopefully, it will be helpful.
      Don

  3. Todd Ott says:

    Hi, I wonder what your belief is about (you can answer here or point me to your articles that answer the questions) Israel or the Church being under the Mosaic Law during the Tribulation or the Millennium.
    Also, many teach that there are three harvests: 1) the Barley Bride (winowed because the chaff is easily removed) before the Tribulation, 2) the rest of the Church (crushed in the Tribulation because the chaff is difficult to remove and 3) grapes of wrath. What do the three harvest really symbolize and when are they harvested?
    And finally, do you have an teachings on the Feasts of the Lord, and how they relate to end times events chronology?
    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Todd,
      Israel is clearly under the Mosaic Law during the Tribulation based upon what Jesus said in Matthew 24 about praying that the abomination of desolation does not take place on the Sabbath. In the Kingdom, I have not studied the matter of Law in the Millennium regarding Israel so I don’t want to say too much about this. They will offer animals sacrifices and serve as priests according to God’s promise (Exodus 19.6). Under the New Covenant the Law will be written on their hearts. I’m not sure what you mean about the harvests. They certainly have nothing to do with the Church and the Church has no part of the Tribulation. I have not studied the Feasts, but again, they all relate to Israel, not the Church.

      • Toddott says:

        Well, the Feast of Firstfruits celebrates the firstfruits of the Barley harvest (which is used to make a loaf of unleavened bread). Barley has a very soft hull and the chaff can be removed by throwing it in the air and letting the wind (Spirit) remove the chaff. Pentecost celebrates the wheat harvest, and two leavened loaves are waved before the Lord (Why two?). Wheat has a harder hull and requires crushing. The teaching says that only those worthy, i.e. the (Barley) Bride will be rapture pre trib. The unworthy wheat will be left to be crushed during the Tribulation. Tabernacles celebrates the fruit harvest. The unrighteous grapes will be crushed at Armageddon at this time.
        It’s interesting that you are unfamiliar with the Feasts of the Lord.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          I am familiar with Israel’s feasts but not the above interpretation. Israel’s feasts pertain to Israel, not the Church, the body of Christ. The Bible is quite explicit that the Church has nothing to do with the Tribulation. No Church language exists in the book of Revelation. It is addressed to Jewish assemblies (Revelation 2-3).

        • Greg Wilson says:

          Toddot: You may find an enlightening teaching on the interpretation of the three pilgrimage feasts and their prophetic relationship to the resurrection of righteousness. Author: Jack Langford, separation truth.com

      • Becky says:

        Hi Don, i have recently been looking into promises and/or blessings for Gentile believers. I ended up on a road that got me to wondering about the strangers who sojourned among Israel. I read how there was one law for both groups, thus from the little bit i studied it appeared that the strangers did receive some blessings by “coming under” Israel’s roof. I came back to present day and am thinking about Gentile “believers” (not at all suggesting they are not believers by my quotes; rather, Gentiles who say they believe in Jesus and in His death, burial, and resurrection) who have grafted themselves into Israel. The one thing i have seen is that some of these believers spend their time exclusively with unbelieving Jews, keeping the law, the feasts, getting into Talmud, etc. They remind me of the strangers in the OT. Did the “strangers” sojourning with Israel ever cease, or do they still exist, especially in Israel’s eyes? I dont see mention of them in the gospels. And where Paul mentions strangers, is he speaking of those who did not sojourn with Israel, or is he also including those who did? I have also wondered if these “misled” believers will be raptured or if they fall under Israel’s “umbrella.”

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Beginning with the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12.1-3) blessings to Gentiles had to come through Israel. National Israel missed its opportunity to be a blessing when it rejected the Messiah (Paul’s point in Romans 11). God broke Israel off temporarily from the place of blessing (the olive tree) and grafted in Gentiles. But the Abrahamic still operates because Paul as a Jew (instead of recalcitrant national Israel) became the representative believing element of the nation and the channel of blessing to Gentiles (Romans 15.16-19).

          • Becky says:

            Hi Don,
            So it is unfortunate in a way that Gentile believers these days try to “graft” themselves into the ways of unbelieving Jews by keeping the law, etc. when just by the simple fact that they believe, they are grafted in (I am planning on reading your olive tree study after this). That is truly an awesome thought, that Gentiles who believe are grafted in and many dont even know it. Years ago, i attended a Torah forum where Gentile believers actually refused to call themselves Christians and said they would rather fellowship with unbelieving Jews. It was really quite shocking to me and I couldnt understand that at all because Paul makes it very clear that there is no fellowship between believers and unbelievers. So i had them in mind when i asked you if “strangers” still “existed” to this day, at least in their own minds. But after thinking about your answer, I wonder now if these people were even saved. Come to think of it, many of them had some weird belief about how the “Son of God” did not mean literally the Son of God. And many were pretty hostile about Paul. It was actually during that time period that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to following Paul. I had never attended a forum before and I was up against some pretty ruthless people. I just stuck solely to the Word. Anyway, thanks again.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Becky,
              Stay with Scripture and especially Paul and you will always find your way through. The risen Lord told Ananias “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9.15).

  4. Gregg Buckley says:

    Hi Dr. Samdahl,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your above article, and agree with the majority of it’s content.

    My post here though has more to do with a response that you’ve made to a Mr. Todd Ott above.
    You say that, “the Church has no part of the Tribulation”.

    With that, how then would you interpret Revelation 7:9-17.?

    Do you believe that those that are described here are solely those that come to believe that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, during the time of the Tribulation and that none of those individuals consist of being those from the Church, or Assembly?

    And if so….. what in your opinion happens to the Church prior to the Tribulation?

    Thank you for your time and consideration regarding these questions.
    Be Blessed in Yeshua our KING of kings.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Revelation 7.14 identifies them as those martyred in the Tribulation. The Lord has removed the Church from the earth when the body of Christ has been completed (Romans 11.25; 1 Corinthians 15.51; 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18). Revelation is addressed to Jews (Revelation 2-3) and they are the primary agents (Revelation 7.1-8) during these seven years according to Daniel’s prophecy. God will pour our his wrath upon Israel and the nations according to God’s prophetic plan first revealed by David in Psalm 2. Paul revealed the earth is composed of Jews, Gentiles, and the Church (1 Corinthians 10.32). What we see in Revelation are the former two.

      • Gregg Buckley says:

        Hi Dr. Samdahl,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I would first like to respond to a statement that you have made above to Todd Ott in your response to him.
        You say, “Israel’s feasts pertain to Israel, not the Church, the body of Christ.”

        I do not wish to sound contentious here, but other than the fact that Yeshua fulfilled the first 3 feasts, being sacrificed and crucified on Pesach, (or Passover), being buried on Chag HaMotzi, (or Unleavened Bread), and being raised on Reshit Katzir, (or First Fruits), was it just merely coincidence that the Ruach HaKodesh or Holy Spirit was given on Shavu’ot, (or Pentecost)?

        In respects to your above reply to me, I happen to be of a different opinion regarding the first 3 chapters of the Book of Revelation. Now that certainly doesn’t mean that what I believe is right, however I can also support this opinion with Scripture as well.

        In 1 Peter 4:17. he says that the Assembly, (or Church) will be judged first, and I also believe that the 7 epistle’s to the 7 Assemblies, (or Churches) within Revelation chapter 2 through 3 consists of that judgment. And that those that fall into the category of the Assembly of Philadelphia are a remnant who have been judged and accounted worthy (Luke 20:35., 21:36.) which will then be granted access through the “open door” (Revelation 3:8., 4:1. and Matthew 25:1-13.).

        Those that are indifferent (though they may believe in Yeshua as the Son of the Father), then fall into the category of those from Laodicea, (Revelation 3:14-19.) and they are the ones that are then a remnant that will have to be refined through the fire of the Tribulation to earn their white garments.

        Yeshua says in Revelation 3:5.;
        “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

        Therefore conversely then, If one does not act accordingly and overcome by “keeping the word of His patience”, he “shall NOT be clothed in white raiment”, and “WILL have their name BLOTTED OUT from the book of life”.

        It is my opinion that many, (having quenched and grieved the Spirit and chose only to be more concerned with themselves) will regret that Day.

        This of course is just my opinion though.
        Be Blessed in Yeshua.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Gregg,
          You have proved my case by your own words. Everything you quote pertains to Israel, not the Church. Grace and peace.

  5. Theresa says:

    Where did Gentiles come from?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      All non-Jews are Gentiles. Are who are not descended through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are Gentiles.

      • John Calkins says:

        Yes, All non-jews are Gentiles. But all the Israelites of the house of Israel carried away by the Assyrians are also considered Gentiles, though they are through the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is because God divorced them in Jeremiah 3:8 and in Hosea 1:9 God said they would not be his people and he would not be their God. And Hosea 1:10 & 11 says they will still exist.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          John,
          Jews are Jews and Gentiles Gentiles. Jews don’t become Gentiles. It is racial designation.

          • John Calkins says:

            The Jews are members of the House of Judah. It was made up of the tribes of Benjamin, Judah, and probably most of the Levites since Jeroboam, the first king of the house of Israel that rebelled set up new places of worship and picked his own priest. 1Kings 12:28-31 Also included were any members of any tribe living in Judah and Benjamin at that time. 1Kings 12:17
            Later when the Assyrians carry away the idol worshipping house of Israel any of them who escape probably become part of the house of Judah, Jews.
            Members of the house of Israel that rebelled were never called Jews. They were carried away and disappeared. God divorced this house of Israel that rebelled in Jeremiah 3:8, and said this house of Israel would no longer be his people, and he would no longer be their God in Hosea 1:6-9.
            The house of Judah, Judah, or the Jews, were never told they they were not Gods people.
            Who were the people in the Babalonian captivity? Read Ezra and Nehemiah. Judah, Benjamin and the Levites are the only tribes mentioned by name, the Israelite tribes that make up most of the house of Judah. There is no mention of any other tribe, just Israelites, and Judah, Benjamin and Levi are Israelites along with the remnant of the house of Israel with them.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              John,
              The word for Jew, יְהוּדִי, was originally used for the tribe of Judah but later referred to any member of the 12 tribes. Before the Assyrian captivity representatives from the 10 tribes had returned to Judah. Jesus was “King of the Jews” not just the tribe of Judah. James addressed all 12 tribes (James 1.1). All 12 tribes are addressed in Revelation 7. I do not know where you learned what you wrote but you have been misinformed. The Bible does not support your statement.

              • John Calkins says:

                I already said and agree there were children of Israel with Judah, and Ezekiel 37:16 agrees. I said the house of Judah was made up of the tribes of Benjamin, Judah, and probably most of the Levites since Jeroboam, the first king of the house of Israel that rebelled set up new places of worship and picked his own priest. 1Kings 12:28-31 Also included were any members of any tribe living in Judah and Benjamin at that time. 1Kings 12:17.
                I cannot find where in the Bible the people of the house of Israel, between the time they rebel and separate and their being carried away by the Assyrians, are called Jews in the Old Testament.

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  John,
                  Peter addressed all 12 Tribes at Pentecost. James wrote to all 12 tribes (James 1.1). See יְהוּדִי. The gospels are full of references to the Jews, which included members of all tribes. You have to understand that after the kingdom split members of the 10 tribes began to migrate to the southern kingdom so all 12 tribes were also represented in the south.

  6. b Wellskopf says:

    Great job and thank you for the work you put into this! It was so refreshing to hear you clarify that even though members of the Body of Christ have no covenant ties with God (Eph 2:12), we do share in Israel’s spiritual blessings (Rom 15:27) of the New Covenant. I am so grateful for the amazing grace of our God and how He so freely gives us these blessings in Christ!
    But while I am confident in my salvation under the Gospel of Grace, I am not clear what salvation was or will be for covenant people. You say that we are saved by “faith + 0”, and I agree, but the “faith + works (of faith)” required of the Jews would seem to make their salvation conditional. No doubt all the Covenants (except for the Mosaic) are unconditional promises, but they pertain to the nation. What about individual salvation?
    By virtue of the covenants, it would appear that Jews are born “saved”, but it also seems clear that only a remnant actually remain that way (Isa 10:21- 22, Rom 9:6). In fact Jesus even declared some to be children of Satan! (Jn 8:44) Clearly they are not saved. And whether we read in the Old Covenant about a person being “cut off from his people” (which also means being cut off from their ONLY conduit to God), or in the New Covenant (Heb 8:13) when they were required to be water baptized (Acts 2:38), or endure to the end in the future Tribulation (Mt 10:22; Mk 13:13), it seems to me like Jews could individually lose their right to their covenant promises if they fail to do these things.
    I do understand that when we talk about being “cut off” in the Old Testament, we have the possibility of only the loss of physical life, but why couldn’t it be both physical and spiritual? I also know, based on your article “The Gospel of the Kingdom”, that you believe that “enduring to the end” refers only to the physical salvation, but isn’t that self-evident? To me it seems that enduring has to do with overcoming, and as Gregg Buckley pointed out, the counterpoint of “He who overcomes…I will never erase his name from the book of life” (Rev 3:5) is that people, who do not… will be. It also appears that the call for “patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” was in direct response to those who did not and “will be tormented with burning sulfur” (Rev 14:9- 12). And what did Jesus mean when He says “whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him”? (Mt 10:33)
    So this is where I really struggle. How can I reconcile all this with the fact that in the New Covenant there is the unconditional promise to “remember their sins no more” (Heb 8:12), which of course is based on the blood of Christ just like our salvation is? This brings me right back to believing Jews must have eternal security just like we do.
    I’m sorry this got so long but could you please help me understand?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. Salvation today is believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4)–faith + 0. Understanding salvation of OT believers is difficult because the Scriptures do not provide explicit information about it. However, it is clear that salvation before Paul was faith + works. See my study Faith and Works in James. Overcoming and enduring till the end only applies to the Tribulation generation. See my study, Understanding the Book of Revelation for help here.

      • Donte Sumpter says:

        I always looked at OT salvation the same as NT salvation. Faith like Abrahams faith will produce salvation. I always looked at it that way.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Donte,
          We find no clear statement in the Old Testament about salvation. Until Paul, faith alone was unheard of with the exception of Abraham. Paul’s doctrine of salvation, the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4) was wholly different than salvation in the Old Testament and the salvation the Lord taught in the gospels.

          • Joe says:

            Doctrine

            Please add to and correct me here please… Old testament “Jewish” believers died and went to Abraham’s bosom in Paradise and Christ took them (souls)with him to Heaven when he ascended. Did gentiles before Abraham go to AB in Paradise? Gentile believers residence after Abraham but before the Church? Occupants of AB will be reunited with new bodies and will populate earth during millennium? Church age believers will reign over the earth (and beyond?)with Christ? Who occupies the New Jerusalem? Where is the NJ? Thank you

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Joe,
              We’re just not told some of these things. I assume Gentile believers went to AB and that they will populate the earth during the Messianic kingdom. We’re not told if we will or not. It would make sense for us as we are joint-heirs with Christ but we’re not told this specifically. I just can’t answer some of these questions. All I can say is that whatever the Lord has for us it will be better than we can imagine.

  7. Joe says:

    Like you don’t have enough to do already but here is something I bet some of us would like to have……An narrated outline of the bible including your thoughts on such things as the pre Adamic earth (between Gen. 1&2…) and Gen 6 and the significance of the dates and time/life spans with Noah and his contemporaries…..on up through Revelation. ……I it were provided in book form I’d buy a few copies. …..I know you’re busy with Doctrine.org. but thanks anyway.

  8. Tim Engwer says:

    I liked this article and agree with your understanding of things. The one thing that confuses me is the book of Hebrews. I understand that it was written to Jews. The thing that confuses me is that it sounds like the writer is saying that the new covenant is fulfilled by the church especially when he appeals to the passage in jeremiahabout the new covenant. Could you please clarify this for me?

  9. Don: In regard to Romans 11:27 and Isaiah 59:21, when “all Israel shall be saved” aka saved as Tribulation remnant Jew, under which covenant will they be saved ?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Greg,
      National Israel will be saved by believing the gospel of the kingdom–that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. This was the gospel that saved Peter, Martha, and Paul (Matthew 16.16; John 11.27; Acts 9.20). When this occurs Israel will operate under the New Covenant. The New Covenant is essentially the Old Covenant empowered (Ezekiel 36.24-32; Jeremiah 31.31). Israel will fulfill God’s destiny for her (Exodus 19.4-6).

      • Greg Wilson says:

        Don:
        Let me restate my question: “Does the Gospel of the Kingdom represent Israel’s salvation covenant ?”

        1. In Romans 11:26 Paul states in part: “And so all Israel shall be saved:” quoting Isaiah 59:20 where Paul interprets Isaiah via inspiration, adding that this covenant is the one whereby “all Israel shall be saved”.

        2. In Romans 11:27 Paul states in part: “For this is my covenant unto them…” again quoting Isaiah 59:21.

        Whereas, Paul teaches that there is a Salvation Covenant for remnant Israel (those who turn from Jacob’s transgression Isaiah 59:20).
        Therefore, if all Israel shall be saved is based on “a covenant” how do I determine which covenant Paul refers to ?

        Is the Gospel of the Kingdom “a salvation covenant” ?

        In Christ, Greg

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Greg,
          It is the New Covenant Jesus initiated in Matthew 26.28 (Ezekiel 36; Jeremiah 31).

          • Greg Wilson says:

            My question was based on my KJV, unlike the gross deviation of the NASB:
            Galatians 3:17 KJV
            [17] And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Greg,
              In Galatians 3, Paul made the argument that the Mosaic Law did not annul the Abrahamic covenant. The New Covenant provides power to fulfill the Old Covenant (the Law). The Old Covenant only had the power to condemn.

  10. Max Adamski Jr says:

    I have read quite a few of your articles and have agreed with everything you said. However, do any of your articles discuss dispensationalism?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Max,
      I do not discuss dispensationalism directly and doubt I use the term in my articles. They are dispensational but I avoid the term to let readers see for themselves what the Scriptures say.

  11. “God tapped Abraham and began a new race of people–the Jews. Through them, and them alone, would God reveal Himself to mankind. Thus the world became divided into two races: Jew and Gentile.”

    Just in your opening paragraph alone is error

    Abraham was never a Jew

    Abraham and began a new race of people – Hebrews

    & thru Jacob/Israel; the Israelites – NOT just the Jews

    the Jews are only 1 Tribe out of 12

    The only way to become a Jew is to

    1] be born from the Tribe of Judah

    2] be born from the House of Judah

    3] Convert

    Abraham did/was none of those things

    Isaac and Jacob did/was none of those things

    The man (Great Grandson) Judah didn’t even have a Tribe until several generations into the program

    I can only imagine the rest of the article based on theses errors alone – I have no interest, will or time to go further

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      David,
      If you had read carefully, you would see I did not write Abraham was a Jew. He was a Syrian. Out of him came the Jews–Abraham, Isaac, Jacob was the line. Judah was a son of Jacob whom God later named Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel came from him. The words Jew, Israel, Hebrew are synonymous. The notion Jew means only Judah is erroneous. The word יְהוּדִי was originally associated with Judah but came to mean any Israelite. Jesus, Paul, Peter, all the writers of the New Testament recognized this. If you will take the time to read the Scriptures this will become clear.

      • @If you had read carefully, you would see I did not write Abraham was a Jew
        vs
        What you said in your original article
        @“God tapped Abraham and began a new race of people–the Jews.

        The Jews did not begin with Abraham – they begin with Judah – Jacob/Israel began the Israelites not just the Jews

        & This – @Out of him came the Jews–Abraham, Isaac, Jacob was the line

        Wrong! – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were never Jews – so in that you confirm your erroneous view and teach the same.

        @…Jacob whom God later named Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel came from him.

        That much is Correct – Thankyou

        @The words Jew, Israel, Hebrew are synonymous

        Wrong!

        All Jews are Israelite; All Israelites are Hebrew; But; Not All Hebrews are Israelite & Not All Israelites are Jew

        @The notion Jew means only Judah is erroneous

        This is strictly correct – did you not read

        The only way to become a Jew is to

        1] be born from the Tribe of Judah

        2] be born from the House of Judah

        3] Convert

        @The word יְהוּדִי was originally associated with Judah but came to mean any Israelite. Jesus, Paul, Peter, all the writers of the New Testament recognized this.

        This is not correct – The NT also speaks of (ie recognizes) ‘the 12 Tribes – The commonwealth of Israel – This comes from Eph.2:12, Rom.11:25 & Gen.48:19 not the Jews; not just the Jews

        ? – How many just Jews were at Gen.48 & 49?

        PS – Thankyou for your honesty to post this – not many would

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          David,
          Your disagreement is not with me but with the Lord. Addressing the Jews, the Lord stated Abraham was their father (John 8.37). Abraham became the father of the Jews through the Abrahamic covenant. God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12.1-3) that went through the line of Isaac (Genesis 17.20-21) and then through his son Jacob (Genesis 28.10-15). Jacob became Israel who had twelve sons, one of whom was Judah. As for יְהוּדִי, take it up with Gesenius. Your assertion that Jews, Israel, and Hebrews are not the same is also untrue. The Scriptures use these terms synonymously. This article may help address your confusion: http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp265.htm.

  12. Joe says:

    Doctrine, If David does not respond can/will you answer my questions to David? thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      I’ll cut to the chase. David believes only those from the tribe of Judah are Jews because יְהוּדִי was the original source for the word “Jew.” I’ve encountered this argument several times. It is nonsense. The reason I wrote him to take it up with Gesenius is because Gesenius, a great Hebrew scholar, wrote a standard Hebrew lexicon and explains the term. Thus: the word יְהוּדִי was originally associated with Judah but came to mean any Israelite. Further evidence is Pilate’s statement in John 18.35 and Acts 19.14. Sceva, as chief of the priests had to be of the tribe of Levi, not Judah, and is called a Jew. In Acts 21.39, Paul stated he was a Jew and of the tribe of Benjamin. David’s argument is so lame that only those who are completely ignorant of the Scriptures or gullible fall for it.

  13. Joe says:

    good point about Paul referring to himself as a Jew.

    To me it’s similar to those promoting post-trib by using “the Elect” as the Body of Christ/Church in Matt 24:31. Or use of ‘church’ as only a group of believers.

    I (we) appreciate the time you’ve spent in study to make our study easier.

    Are things lining up in the Middle East or what?…..Russia in Syria. Wow!

  14. Joe says:

    I should have said ‘the Greek word for church’…..(the mob at Ephesus)

  15. Franz says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent article!

    I am wondering if it wouldn’t be more correct to see the New Covenant as purely for Israel? According to the biblical image of Israel being the ‘wife of Yahweh’ with the Mosaic covenant being the original marriage contract (e.g. Ezekiel 16:8), but Israel being adulterous (Jeremiah 3:1-5) and ultimately divorced by God (Jeremiah 3:6-10), the New Covenant is God’s remarriage to Israel with restored blessings (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 16:60-63, Isaiah 54:1-8, Isaiah 62:4-5, Hosea 2:14-23). As of today, this promise clearly lies in the future and is only fulfilled at Christ’s return and Israel’s full national restoration.

    This whole narrative is different from that of the church, which is described not as Yahwe’s adulterous wife but rather as the virgin bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), now being sanctified (Ephesians 5:25-27) as a preparation for the future marriage feast (Revelation 19:6-8).

    Based on this, I wouldn’t say that the church participates in the New Covenant. Rather, the church participates in the gift of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection (a gift that is available for both Jews and Gentiles).

    It would be great to know your thoughts about this.

  16. Peter Robinson says:

    Dan

    Thanks for this article, which I found extremely instructive on the doctrines and application of the Biblical Covenants.

    However I am slightly confused in your observations that “some dispensationalists argue the Church does not participate in the New Covenant or that there are two New Covenants–one for Israel and one for the Church.”

    Could you please read the following explanation from William MacDonald in the Believers’ Bible Commentary and tell me if you think his assessment of the New Covenant is a correct one?

    The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-12; Luke 22:20)

    The New Covenant is clearly made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer. 31:31). It was future when Jeremiah wrote (Jer. 31:31a). It is not a conditional covenant, like the Mosaic Covenant, which Israel broke (Jer. 31:32). In it God unconditionally promises (note the repetition of “I will”): Israel’s regeneration (Ezek. 36:25); the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:27); a heart that is favorably disposed to do the will of God (Jer. 31:33a); a unique relationship between God and His people (Jer. 31:33b); universal knowledge of the Lord in Israel (Jer. 31:34a); sins both forgiven and forgotten (Jer. 31:34b); and the continuance of the nation forever (Jer. 31:35-37).

    Israel as a nation has not as yet received the benefits of the New Covenant, but will at the Lord’s Second Advent. In the meantime, true believers do share some of the blessings of the covenant. The fact that the church is related to the New Covenant is seen in the Lord’s Supper, where the cup represents the covenant and the blood by which it was ratified (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). Also Paul spoke of himself and the other apostles as ministers of a New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6).

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Peter,
      William MacDonald’s explanation is accurate. Acts 28 dispensationalists do not believe the Church participates in the New Covenant and some dispensationalists taught there were two new covenants, one for Israel and one for the Church. Both views are wrong.

  17. Chuck May says:

    But while the Lord inaugurated the New Covenant, it has not yet taken full effect. For that to occur Israel must repent.

    I attend a mid-Acts dispensational church in Virginia. I find I must defend our doctrine quite often with friends and family. The topic of the New Covenant came up and I found answers were hard to find. I brought this up at our Bible study. Our discussion and study only seemed to lead us to more study and more questions. However, the quote I pasted above from your article is the answer I was hoping to find. Can you elaborate at all? It leads me to assume the New Covenant has been “paused” (for the lack of a better term) just as God’s prophetic Kingdom program for Israel has been set aside or paused. Is this a safe assumption? When do you think the New Covenant will be in full effect? Do you think it will take full effect immediately or will it be progressive? We have discussed it taking effect after the Second Coming, but cannot agree on when. During the Millennial Reign or at the great White Throne? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

    In Christ,
    Chuck May

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      Read Ezekiel 36.22-3 and Jeremiah 31.31-40. These are the great New Covenant passages. It will reach full flower in the Messianic Kingdom. This is when the prophecy will be fulfilled (Pentecost held that hope but Israel refused to repent). It will and continue into eternity in the New Heavens and New Earth. The new covenant deals only with spiritual aspects, i.e., the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Church, the body of Christ, experiences this benefit due to the work of Christ on the cross, the redemption He has provided. Paul declared we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13; Romans 6.3-4) and that God has given Him as a down payment of our redemption (2 Corinthians 1.22, 5.5; Ephesians 1.13-14). Grace and peace.

  18. Laurie K says:

    Hello,
    I am a bit confused. I know Christ had to shed His blood & die @ the cross for the initiation of the New Covenant for Israel – Heb. 9:14-17. (and Jer. 31:31 shows it was for them), but I’m mixed up as to: if the New Testament/Covenant applies to the church, the body of Christ. I know the apostle Paul mentioned The New Covenant, but was that in regards to the Jews/Israel, or the church, or both? People like Jesse Johnson w/ Grace Ambassadors would think otherwise. http://graceambassadors.com/prophecy/new-covenant/a-strange-teaching-on-the-new-testament Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Laurie,
      I address in the article that the Church partakes in the spiritual blessing of the new covenant, i.e., the indwelling Holy Spirit. The prophecy given to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. will be fulfilled in the Messianic kingdom.

  19. Scott says:

    Dear Sir,
    As a point of order, in paragraph two you wrote “Before God called Abraham, He had established only one covenant (the Noahic covenant) with the human race.1 Beginning with and after Abraham, God would establish several covenants. All of them would be with the new race, the Jews.”

    The Jew’s were not established until long after the Covenant’s with both Abraham and Moses were in place. Abraham was the first Hebrew, but he was not a Jew. God established Israel with Abraham’s Grandson, Jacob, in Genesis 32:28. But Jacob was not a Jew either, he like his father was also a Hebrew. Jacob had 12 sons which form the 12 tribes of Israel with the exception that the two oldest sons were replaced with two of Jacob’s Grandson’s. It was Jacob’s forth son, Judah, where the term Jew comes from. When Judah settled into their region of the promised land, they were known as Jew’s, just like people from Mexico are known as Mexicans. Today, all Jew’s are descendants of the House of Judah which consists of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other ten tribes of Israel make up what is known as the “House of Israel”. Those within the house of Israel are Hebrews, not Jews, but every bit God’s chosen people. I hope this helps with your understanding.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Scott,
      The word for Jew is יְהוּדִי. Originally, it referred only to the tribe of Judah. But later it referred to any member of the 12 tribes. Before the Assyrian captivity representatives from the 10 tribes had returned to Judah. Jesus was called “the King of the Jews,” all twelve tribes, not just the tribe of Judah. So the term “Jew” refers to any of the tribes of Jacob. All 12 tribes are Jews. James addressed them in James 1.1. Peter wrote them in 1 Peter 1.1. And John wrote them in Revelation 7. I do not know where the teaching you wrote comes from but it is erroneous. I have answered such comments several times which indicates a large source of false information.

  20. Bradley Keefer says:

    Don,
    What about Genesis 3:15? How would you define this? As I don’t believe in Cov. Theology and am dispensational, I would have thought this would be a redemption covenant of some sort. As God is telling Satan how He is going to deal with the issue of sin I.e. The Messiah on the Cross..

    Also, wouldn’t the Israeli (land) covenant fall under the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 15?

    One more, I see your point on the Mosiac covenant not being conditional, but how do you explain Jer. 31 in saying, “I will make a NEW Cov, NOT like the former….” Or in Hebrew 8-9 talking about how the first covenant (Mosic) is obsolete?

    Great Article by the way!
    Yeshua Bless!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bradley,
      Thank you. Genesis 3.15 was God’s promise of how He was going to redeem mankind and solve the problem of evil. Biblical covenants are clearly spelled out and most relate to Israel. Covenant theologians have defined covenants of grace, works, redemption. These are “theological” covenants, i.e., theological constructs, not Biblical covenants. The Land covenant was a reaffirmation and extension of the geographical aspects ofAbrahamic covenant. The New Covenant is essentially the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) empowered by the Holy Spirit. See my article, Covenants of Israel for more.

  21. Angel says:

    Hi Don,
    Thank you for this message. When I read that our blessings came through Paul, the hebrew of hebrew, then I undertood Gal 3.13-14….which bothered me because in spite of Israel as a nation rejecting their Messiah, we as gentiles memebers of the body of Christ are partakers of His nature and the blessings( sins forgiven and indwelling of the Holy Spirit).
    My question is:Does Hebrew 12.22-24 apply to the church, the Body of Christ at all?
    Thank you Don for your time and patience with us…..

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Angel,
      Hebrews was written to Jews. In Hebrews 12.22, the “you” are Jews. The sense of this passage is to point Jews to Jewish believers who were obedient to God in th past and encourage the current generation to follow them. So this is not written to us as members of the body of Christ but we can draw application from it.

  22. George says:

    1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

    Hi bro Don, seeing the above verse is about covenant ” conditional ” salvation, can we say that having eternal life is conditional with regards to the little flock, Eternal life here can be lost for people having etrrnal life, like Simon the sorceror who believed was baptized got the Holy Spirit ( and therefore eternal life) by the apostles laying hands but subsequently lost it as he returned to his sinful ways. can we fit an example such as this to the above scripture or do you have a better example. Thanks always for your help:)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Salvation cannot be lost. If you have eternal life, how long does it last? Either Simon was saved or he wasn’t. I think he was for the text reads he believed.

  23. Bobbi says:

    Is there specific wording in Romans 9-11 or elsewhere that denotes only those Jews living at that time will be saved? ( Mayhap because they will be the ones to repent?)
    Is remarkable that the Jews have survived and prospered . God is surely faithful.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bobbi,
      Jesus’ ministry began with, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” Before the kingdom came be established the Jews have to repent. Jesus told them this in Matthew 23.37-39. When Paul wrote in Romans 11.26 “all Israel will be saved” he mean all who repent. They will be the ones of Matthew 23. Everyone who enters the kingdom will be a believer.

  24. Bobbi says:

    Don,
    So are you saying we just participate in the Abrahamic covenant, and we have no covenant relationship of our own with God? And Hebrews has no application to the church? Wow. So are we part of Hebrews 12:22-24, But ye are come to Mount Sion, the general assembly, Church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven and to God, the Judge of all, …?
    Also in Bullingers Revelation Commentary, he said Israel has, an earthly inheritance and a heavenly one. What’s the heavenly one?
    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bobbi,
      We participate in the Abrahamic Covenant in the sense that once God called Abram, He began a new program in which all blessing to the world would be mediated through the covenant line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. See my article, Covenants of Israel. Hebrews was written to Hebrews. The purpose of Hebrews was to teach Jews there was no salvation apart from Jesus the Messiah. He was “better” and fulfilled the Old Testament types and shadows. God instructed Moses to construct the tabernacle according to the heavenly pattern. The tabernacle was an earthly representation of God’s heavenly throne complex. The New Jerusalem is in heaven and will one day come to earth. That is the heavenly inheritance of Jews.

  25. Bobbi says:

    One more question for now, is do you have any insight on Lords Supper. If we are not of a church group, can we partake alone or how do we do that and is it to be every week?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bobbi,
      Paul gave instructions about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11. All believers can celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The Scriptures give no indication as to frequency. The only teaching we have is, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

  26. Jim says:

    This is an excellent apology of the secret revealed to the Apostle Paul.
    In reference to the vision Peter received in Acts 10, would you say this secret was being revealed to Peter at this time with the distinction being that Paul would be the ambassador of this message where Peter continued to shepherd the Jewish believers?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jim,
      I do not think Peter had any idea what was going on with God’s command to go to Cornelius’ house. We have no record he every went to another Gentile. By the way Luke’s account reads it seems the significance of that visit did not dawn on him until the Jerusalem Council. It was one of those, whoa! wait a minute! now I get it! moments.

  27. Jim says:

    Thank you for your response. I see a few issues here. First, the Jewish believers were not warm to the idea of Gentile conversions without first recognizing the Abrahamic Covenant through circumcision. For the first decade, the Church was a Jewish nation. They integrated their culture into their belief, thus incorporating the Mosaic Covenant into their practice.
    Would you suggest this was a component of the ‘hardening’ issue that the Jews are experiencing now, that the Gentiles are not to share in His blessing? I understand the national rejection of the Messiah, but this issue divided the Church and the Jewish Christians corporately kept to themselves in the first century, thus fading away its influence.
    Therefore, the Church had a new identity, one they had no name for until they labeled it ‘Christian’.
    Why do you suppose the original Church leaders did not participate in this ‘secret’ now revealed?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jim,
      Paul wrote the book of Galatians to address this problem. God’s program of Israel became suspended with Jewish rejection of the Messiah. The Council of Jerusalem settled the issue of salvation (Acts 15.11) but the Jews in Jerusalem could not give up the Law. This is clear from James’ words to Paul in Acts 21. Paul wrote in his last letter that he had lost all of Asia (2 Timothy 1.1 5). He lost them to teachers who taught the churches they had to be under the Mosaic Law. This means he lost all the places where he had spent great time–Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Antioch Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, etc. This explains why Christianity became corrupt with heresy from the very beginning. We see the fruit of this false teaching in churches 1,900 years later. How many teach Paul’s unique apostleship, understand Paul’s secrets and Pauline theology, understand the difference between Israel and the Church? The same errors of 1,900 years ago are in churches today. Thus, my warfare is against 1,900 years of bad theology.

      • Jim says:

        Unfortunately, I agree with your rationale. It breaks my heart to see how “anything but grace” is what so many pursue.

  28. Jim says:

    If you do not mind, I would like to go in a bit of a different direction to get your perspective…
    Knowing God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, and that Adam and Eve chose self-interest over obedience, and knowing that God created man for His glory and for worship (obeying the command to avoid the fruit of the tree), and knowing no such tree will be in heaven, how do His redeemed worship in heaven without the choice to obey?
    I am not asking as one who is a skeptic but as one chewing on the topic.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jim,
      We’re given no information about this but apparently God will have proven all He wished to prove: life without Him is disaster. Mankind will have fulfilled its role in resolving the problem of sin and the angelic conflict. In the new heavens and new earth, the possibility of sin will not exist for all creation will have learned experientially that life apart from God is death.

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