The Nature of the New Covenant and its Implications for the Church Today
Jeremiah, like most of the Old Testament (OT) prophets, had a message of doom for the unrepentant people of God. The major tone of his writing is that of judgment. Yet in the midst of such hopelessness he speaks a word of hope that shines forth like light in darkness. A new covenant is promised that will bring spiritual restoration (Jeremiah 31:31-33). Arguably, this promise is the heart of the book.
This paper seeks to understand the importance of this covenant in the literary and historical context of the book, discover the nature and contents of the covenant, and determine the recipients of the covenant. The latter is centered around the question of the church's relationship to Israel. One's view concerning this issue has much to do with their understanding of the new covenant, so this issue will be examined at length.
Personal and Historical Background
Jeremiah prophesied in the days of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, the last kings of Judah. His ministry stretched from 627/26 BC until at least the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Jeremiah received His call as a prophet to the nations in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign (1:2), just five years before the book of the Law was rediscovered in the Temple (II Kings 22:8). Most of Jeremiah's prophecies, however, occurred after Josiah's death in 609 BC. Jeremiah saw both sweeping reforms instituted by Josiah, and spiritual degradation brought back to Judah by Josiah's sons. It was for these sins that the nation would be punished.
Politically, Jeremiah lived to see the decline of the mighty Assyrian empire, only to see the emergence of an even greater empire: Babylon. Nabopollasar, king of Babylon, destroyed Ninevah, the capital of Assyria, in 612 BC. The Babylonian empire continued to expand through Nebuchadnezzar, who assumed the throne in 605 BC. It was in this same year that he orchestrated the first deportation of the inhabitants of Judah Judeans. Daniel was included in this deportation (Daniel 1:1). A second deportation came in 597 BC (in which Ezekiel was deported to Babylon), before the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. To say that Jeremiah lived through political turmoil would be an understatement.
Literary Context and Structure
The great New Covenant prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is found in the "Book of Comfort" (30-33), the second of three books (sections). It is preceded by oracles of doom against Judah (1:1-25:13), and followed by oracles of doom against the Gentile nations (46-51). The Book of Comfort is the heart of a chiasm consisting of five oracles (23-26, 27-29, 30-34, 35-37, 38-40).1 The genre of the Book of Comfort is divided. Chapters 30-31 are mainly written in poetry, while chapters 32-33 are mainly prose. The famous new covenant passage, Jeremiah 31:31-34, however, is in prose.
After having established God's judgment on Judah for her sins, and having prophesied her utter destruction by Babylon, God turned His attention towards Judah's future restoration. He will not always discipline His people, for they would one day return to the land of their fathers and possess it (30:3), serve YHWH again (30:9), and be under Davidic kingship (30:9). While YHWH had wounded Judah with the wound of an enemy for all her sins (30:14), He would bring future healing and glory to her in the land (30:18-20). At that time Judah will be God's people and YHWH will be their God (30:22; 31:1). This future relationship is rooted in God's eternal love for His covenant people (31:3).
Contents of the New Covenant
While there are several OT passages alluding to or describing the new covenant, the term "new covenant" appears only in Jeremiah 31:31. It does not seem to be so much a name for the covenant as it does a description of the covenant. It is "new" in relationship to the Mosaic covenant that it was to replace (old).
One thing that is clear about the new covenant prophecy is that the new covenant would bring about a radical change in the way God would deal with mankind. There is a "clear discontinuity with the past."2 YHWH contrasted this new covenant with the old Mosaic Covenant He made with Judah's forefathers, saying, "It will not be like the old agreement that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt" (31:32a). Why is there a need for a new covenant? It is because Israel continually broke the Mosaic Covenant, even though God was faithful to His part of the covenant (31:32b). The Mosaic Covenant was a bilateral covenant that depended on both the faithfulness of God and of Israel. It was always Israel failing to uphold her part of the bargain, not God (13:23).
"To buttress the hope that Jeremiah prophesied for Judah, he had to answer a theological problem: the people of Judah had a stubborn heart-how could they ever obey Yahweh?"3 The answer to this problem was in a new heart: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts (31:33b).4 Israel could never keep the Law because while it gave the proper standard, it did not give one the ability to attain to its standard (Romans 8:1-3). In order to overcome this deficiency the Law had to be internalized, written not on tablets of stone as it had been for the Law (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 4:13; 5:22; 10:1-4), but on the tablets of men's hearts (31:33; Ezekiel 36:26-27). Laws written on stones can be broken (Exodus 32:19; Deuteronomy 9:17), lost (II Kings 22:8), and burned (Jeremiah 36:23), but not laws written on the heart. Jeremiah had a first-hand encounter with God's Word being internalized into His heart (20:9). While the heart is evil and deceitful and not able to be understood (17:9-10; c.f. 13:10; 23:17), God is able to transform our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26-27, also in the context of the new covenant).
Instead of God changing His relationship with Israel, divorcing her and marrying another nation because of her unfaithfulness to the covenant relationship with YHWH (3:1), God determined to change His covenant with Israel so that He could still maintain His relationship with her.5 This was based on God's eternal love for His people (31:3). The primary purpose of the new covenant was to transform Israel and Judah's hearts so that they could be faithful to, and have a relationship with the holy God. The new covenant was necessary if God was to ever have a faithful people.
This is further demonstrated in 32:39-40 where YHWH uttered similar sentiments: "I will give them a single-minded purpose to live in a way that always shows respect for me. They will want to do that for their own good and the good of the children who descend from them. I will make a lasting agreement with them that I will never stop doing good to them. And I will fill their hearts and minds with respect for me so that they will never again turn away from me" (NET Bible). Israel and Judah could only be faithful to YHWH if YHWH gave them a heart to do so. Without a changed heart man will always tend to follow the way of sin and disobedience, rather than the law of YHWH. See also Ezekiel 36:27.
Personal God, Personal People
The purpose of the new covenant was so that YHWH could truly be Israel and Judah's God, and that Israel and Judah could truly be His people (31:33c). While YHWH was already their God, and they were already His people by the election of Abraham, when it came to the covenant relationship between the two parties, there was a separation between them. They had broken the covenant and refused to allow YHWH to be their God, although He desired to be such. With the new covenant, however, a restoration would take place and the relationship would be restored. The theme of YHWH being Israel's God, and Israel being YHWH's people is also found in 7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22; 31:1; 32:38. See also Ezekiel 36:28.
Universal Knowledge of YHWH
One of the most unique elements of this new covenant would be the universal knowledge of YHWH. YHWH said, "People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. That is because all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me " (31:34a NET Bible). This prophecy speaks of the extent of the transformation provided by the new covenant.6 The Law focused on teaching others the Law. The knowledge of the Lord was always mediated by some other human being: Moses, priests, fathers, elders. There were provisions for fathers to teach their children, and for elders to read the Law to the nation (Deuteronomy 6:1-7; 31:11). Such would not be necessary under the new covenant, however. Israel's knowledge and apprehension of God would not be mediated through human agencies, but would be direct. They would have an instinctive knowledge of God, and spontaneous obedience toward Him. 7
The universal knowledge of YHWH spoken of above was based on forgiveness of sins. YHWH continued to say, "All of this is based on the fact that I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done" (31:34b NET Bible). Similar sentiments were uttered a couple of chapters later: "I will purify them from all the sin that they committed against me. I will forgive all theirs sins which they committed in rebelling against me" (33:8 NET Bible). Without this forgiveness and divine forgetfulness of Israel's sins Israel would surely be destroyed. What is interesting is the futurity of this forgiveness. We have already established that the new covenant was necessary to ensure obedience and righteousness from the Israelites. Without the new covenant available to change their hearts they would continue to sin as they had throughout their former generations. Surely until the new covenant was established they would continue to sin against YHWH and be imperfect in their obedience. The forgiveness available under the new covenant was not based on their own change of heart, but on God's work in their hearts. When God changed their hearts so that they would be tender toward Him, He would also forget their sins. It would occur simultaneously. God's forgiveness was a divine act of grace simultaneous to His divine act of giving them a new heart, not a merited response to Israel's own clean hearts prior to God's sovereign act of establishing the new covenant. We see God's utter sovereignty and great mercy at work.
While the above descriptions flow from the new covenant promise proper (31:31-34), the surrounding texts indicates several other promises connected with the time of this new covenant.
YHWH stressed the permanence of the people of Israel (30:10-11; 31:16, 35-37; 33:11), the land (30:3; 31:17; 32:15, 41, 43; 33:11; 42:12), and the city (30:18; 31:38-40; 32:44; 33:10, 13, 16). Jeremiah 31:36-37 says, "If those decrees depart from before me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus says the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD." Seeing that the heavens are immeasurable and we cannot search out the depths of the earth, surely Israel will forever remain a nation. There would be no reason to establish a covenant with a people in a particular land if the people will cease to be a people in the land. The covenant is not valuable to Israel if they are a temporal people. The permanency of Israel, the land, and the city of Jerusalem are part of the new covenant promises (See also 33:23-26).
There are many prophecies throughout the book that predict a future Davidic king to reign over Israel (23:5; 30:9; 33:15; 33:17; 33:20-22; 33:25-26). Whether this will be a literal resurrected David or the Messiah is beyond the scope of this paper. We can be assured, however, that Jesus is the ultimate Davidic king, and that Jesus will reign over Israel (Matthew 2:2; 21:5; Luke 1:31-33; 19:38; Acts 13:34; Revelation 15:3; 17:14; 19:16).
Recipients of the New Covenant
The covenant is said to be made with the "house of Israel and the house of Judah" (31:31). That this must be understood as literal Israel and literal Judah is evident because the new covenant will not be like the covenant that God made with their fathers when He brought them out of Egypt (31:32). Only national Israel could fit this description. We cannot spiritualize Israel and Judah to mean the church, because the church had no former covenant made with it for God to replace with a new covenant.8
The timing of the covenant would be "after those days" (31:33a).9 Commentators are agreed that "those days" refer to the days of the exile. At the time of Jeremiah's prophecy Israel had already been in exile for at least 136 years (beginning in 722 BC), and Judah had just gone into exile in recent years. The translators of the NET Bible are so sure as to this interpretation that they translate the Hebrew with the gloss, "But I will make a new agreement with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land" (italics mine). The new covenant, then, was only to be experienced after the whole house of Israel, both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, were to return from exile back to the land (30:3, 10-11, 18-20; 31:1, 4-9; 17-24, 36-38; 32:37; 33:7, 11c). While the southern kingdom returned at the end of the 6th century BC, the northern kingdom never did return from exile. Yet it was said that the new covenant would be made with the restored houses of Judah and Israel.
In addition, knowledge of the Lord is not universal in the present age, and neither has a Davidic ruler sat on the throne over Israel since Zechariah at the time Judah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (586 BC). Seeing that these were integral to the new covenant that God promised to Israel and Judah, and yet they have never seen fulfillment to this day. We must ask if there has never been a restoration of Israel and Judah to the land, a restoration of the Davidic throne, or universal knowledge of the Lord, did Jesus establish the new covenant at Pentecost?
While it would seem that YHWH could not have established the new covenant yet because a reunited Israel has not returned to the land, there has been no David ruler since the Babylonian captivity, and knowledge of the Lord is not universal, we will examine several NT passages that seem to affirm the contrary; i.e. the new covenant is in force.
When Jesus had His last supper with His apostles, He said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20), speaking of His impending death. Since a covenant was confirmed by blood and death (Hebrews 9:12-10:10), Jesus' death and blood established the new covenant just as He had said. Paul alluded to Jesus' saying in I Corinthians 11:25 in connection with communion, without the slightest indication that the commemorative service was not directly connected with the new covenant that Jesus said His blood would inaugurate.
Paul, in contrasting the Mosaic Law to the age of the Spirit boldly declared, "Who [God] has made us able ministers of the of the new covenant" (II Corinthians 3:6). There is no indication that this covenant to which hereferred was any different than the covenant prophesied by Jeremiah.
The author of Hebrews has the most to say about the new covenant. Arguing for the necessity of a superior covenant to the Mosaic Covenant the author quotes Jeremiah 31:31-33 (Hebrews 8:7-12), and goes on to argue that since Jeremiah said it was to be a "new" covenant, it implied that the old covenant (Mosaic) was near disappearing. Later, demonstrating that only the blood of Christ could purge people's consciences from sin, he argued that it was for this reason that "he [Jesus] is the mediator of the new covenant " (Hebrews 9:15). Similar sentiments are echoed in Hebrews 12:24. The Greek verb translated "is," estin, is a present active indicative, meaning Jesus is presently the mediator of the new covenant. This could not be said if the new covenant was yet future. The author of Hebrews, arguing for the superiority of Christ over the Mosaic covenant, indicated that all covenants are established in blood (Hebrews 9:16-18). That is why Moses sprinkled the Law and the tabernacle with blood (Hebrews 9:19-22). Christ, however, has sprinkled the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood (Hebrews 9:14-15, 23-28), rendering the Mosaic Covenant obsolete and establishing a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15; 10:9-10, 16, 29).
Gentiles and the New Covenant
The NT is clear that the new covenant has already been established in Christ's blood, and that the church, both Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 3:11), is enjoying its benefits. The question, then, is What relationship do Gentiles have to a covenant that was only promised to Israel and Judah?
It cannot be that the church is experiencing a different new covenant than that promised to Israel. The new covenant has already been inaugurated, and there is no hint that there will be another inauguration of another new covenant. The author of Hebrews was clear in this by quoting Jeremiah 31:31 as being the covenant experienced by the church (Hebrews 7:22; 8:8-12), and by demonstrating that it was Christ's sacrifice that established this new covenant, and the shedding of His blood was once and forever (Hebrews 7:27; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:10-12, 14). If Christ's blood is the basis of this covenant, and His blood will only be shed once, there can be no "newer" new covenant yet to be inaugurated. Indeed, both Jews and Gentiles are presently participating in the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah.
While the new covenant was only promised to Israel and Judah, God is able to expand its recipients beyond them to include Gentiles, all the while without breaking His promise. Such a position is based on what Rodney Decker has called a "complimentary hermeneutic." A complimentary hermeneutic argues that God can do more, but not less than what He promised.10 If I pledged to give $100 to the local Cancer Society, but then also give $100 to the local Red Cross, it cannot be said that I broke my promise by giving to the Red Cross as well as to the Cancer Society. It could only be said that I broke my promise if I gave the $100 to the Red Cross instead of the Cancer Society. While the OT speaks only of Israel's inclusion in the new covenant, this does not necessarily exclude any other parties, and neither does the inclusion of other parties render God's promise broken.11 God could only be said to break His promise if He failed to establish the covenant with the parties He expressly indicated He would.12 But "the expansion of promise need not mean the cancellation of earlier commitments God has made."13
Now it is obvious that the church has not experienced the land/material provisions of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31, 36; Ezekiel 36:28; 37:14). The NT only speaks of the soteriological provisions as being enjoyed by the church. I will demonstrate shortly that the material provisions of the covenant are yet to be realized in the future. But is it possible to divide the provisions of the covenant, claiming that some are realized in the church, while others will be realized eschatologically by Israel? There is a Biblical precedent for seeing such an eschatological division of covenantal benefits in the Abrahamic Covenant.
The Abrahamic Covenant consisted of three elements: the promise of a seed, a land, and blessing. The full provisions of the covenant were given over a period of time. Abraham received the promise of a seed, blessing, and land in Genesis 12:2, 7). This promise of the land and seed was reiterated and expanded in Genesis 13:14-17. The seed promise was given again in Genesis 15:5, and the land promise in Genesis 15:7. All of this was before the official ratification of the covenant in Genesis 15:8-21, wherein God only spoke of a seed and land (v. 18), but not of the land. Even after the covenant ratification, however, Abraham continued to receive more promises not mentioned prior. In Genesis 17:4-6 God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.14
Abraham did not experience all of the promises of the covenant in his lifetime. While Abraham's descendants were promised an everlasting inheritance in the land (Genesis 17:7-8), neither Abraham nor his descendants inherited the land until the time of Joshua's conquest centuries later, and this inheritance has been interrupted by exile, not everlasting (Genesis 28:4 et al). The everlasting possession of the land will only be realized eschatologically in the eternal kingdom of God. While Abraham was blessed materially (12:5; 24:1), the ultimate blessing that the nations would receive through His seed was yet to come in the ultimate seed, Christ (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Galatians 3:14-17).
Paul made it clear in Galatians 3 that as believers who have been baptized into Christ (who is the ultimate seed promised to Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed), sharing in the same faith as Abraham, they are Abraham's seed, and heirs of His promise that was obtained by faith. Yet the only promise mentioned for the church is that of blessing, not of land or seed (Galatians 3:7-8).
The conclusion of the matter is thus: if the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant were only made to the Abraham's seed, and yet it is clear from the NT that the church is enjoying part of the benefits of that covenant through Christ, then there is no principled reason to conclude that the church cannot participate in the new covenant, even though the inclusion of the church in the covenant was not foretold by the prophets. Furthermore, if the provisions of the covenant as could be given progressively (and even have more provisions added after the official inauguration of that covenant), and be divided to different recipients at different times (the land, seed, and blessing to the Hebrews; the blessings to the Jew/Gentile church), and be realized only eschatologically, then there is no reason to assume that the church cannot participate in the new covenant prophesied to Israel and Judah, partaking of only some of its provisions, and yet still allow for the named recipients of the covenant to receive the full provisions of the covenant eschatologically.
It cannot be argued, as some strands of historic Dispensationalism have, that the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has not been established because it has yet to be offered to Israel, its intended recipients. Most assuredly God did offer the covenant to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5,6; Romans 1:16, 2:9,10; 15:8). Not only did He offer it to the Jews, but they accepted it. The early church was entirely Jewish. There were no Gentiles in the church until the time of Cornelius' conversion (Acts 10). While it is true that only a remnant accepted the covenant, the first recipients were Jews as foretold by Jeremiah.
Neither can it be argued that because national Israel rejected Christ, God rescinded His offer of the new covenant to them either temporarily (historic Dispensationalism) or permanently (Covenant Theology). There was a remnant who did accept the covenant offer, and it was with this remnant that the new covenant was established (Romans 9:27; 11:5). The rest were rejected.
Paul explained this by the parable of the olive tree (Romans 11:17-24). Unbelieving Jews were broken off of the tree, and believing Gentiles were grafted in to partake of the spiritual blessings of Israel (Romans 9:30-33; 11:16-24; 15:27), but there were natural branches which remained. These were the Jews who were recipients of the new covenant offer. Not all Israel was cast aside (Romans 11:1-2, 5, 7), and neither was the offer of the New Covenant withdrawn from Israel because they rejected Christ. There was a believing remnant with whom Jesus established the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). "Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25), which indicates that part of Israel was not blinded. It was with this "seeing" remnant that Jesus established the New Covenant (Romans 11:16-29).
Unbelieving Israelites are symbolized by the branches broken off from the tree. God has rejected the majority of nation Israel because they rejected Him. This rejection is only temporary, however (Romans 11:25). God will yet fulfill His covenant promises with national Israel because His gifts and callings are without repentance (Romans 11:29).15 In the future all Israel will accept the covenant and be saved, not just a remnant (Romans 11:25-27). Paul alluded to Jeremiah 31:31-34 to demonstrate the surety of this promise (Romans 11:27).
The metaphor of the fig tree not only demonstrates the fact that God did establish His covenant with Israel as He foretold, and the fact of a future restoration of national Israel, but it also demonstrates the unity of the people of God, Jew and Gentile alike. Unbelieving Jews were broken off of the tree, and believing Gentiles were grafted in to partake of the spiritual blessings of Israel (Romans 9:30-33; 11:16-24; 15:27). God did not begin a different tree. The believing Jews remained in the same tree, and the Gentiles were added to that existing tree as unnatural branches, partaking of Israel's blessing and covenants (Romans 9:4; 15:26-27; Galatians 3:6-29; Ephesians 2:11-12; 3:4-6). Paul illustrated a continuation of God's fulfillment of His covenants and promises with Israel in this dispensation (Acts 26:6-7, 19-23; Romans 15:8), but adding the Gentiles to His one program. The church is a continuation of God's one program. "It is impossible to think of two peoples of God through whom God is carrying out two different redemptive purposes without doing violence to Romans 11."16 Truly Israel and the church are part of the one people of God.
Paul demonstrated this point in two key passages: Romans 4; Galatians 3. In Romans 4 Paul argued that Abraham is the father of both the circumcised (Jews) and the uncircumcised (Gentiles), because he was justified by faith before being circumcised (for Gentiles) and before the Law, yet he also received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith he had while yet being uncircumcised (for Jews). When either Jew or Gentile expresses the same justifying faith as Abraham, they receive the promise made to Abraham of inheriting the world (Romans 4:10-17).
Galatians 3 continues and elaborates on this idea of Abraham being the father of all the faithful, but from a slightly different perspective. Here, Abraham is the father of all the faithful. All those who have the same justifying faith as Abraham are children of Abraham, and receive the blessing promised to him (Galatians 3:7-9). This blessing comes on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, the ultimate seed promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:14-16). When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we become Abraham's spiritual seed, and thus there can be no more distinction between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29). The two have become the one people of God, all the while without losing their distinct identities.
The New Covenant was established in Christ's shed blood at Calvary. It was offered to the Jews, but accepted only by a remnant. God subsequently expanded its recipients to include Gentiles. While the New Covenant promised blessings such as a new heart, forgiveness of sins, the permanence of Israel and Judah in the land, universal knowledge of YHWH, and an eternal Davidic King ruling in Jerusalem, the church is only partaking of the salvific benefits of the covenant in this age. In the age to come, however, national Israel will also accept this covenant, at which time God will implement the material blessings of the covenant as well.
It is clear from Romans 11 that the church is distinct from Israel, and that national Israel has a future in God's plan. The church has not replaced Israel, yet the promises made to Israel in the OT have begun to be realized in the church, although their ultimate fulfillment is yet to be realized eschatologically. It is an "already, but not yet" phenomenon.
While distinct from Israel, the church is part of a single unfolding plan to redeem mankind (Romans 11:16-25; Ephesians 1:10; 3:14-15; Hebrews 9:15; 11:40). The church is not an interruption or parenthesis in God's program, or his dealings with Israel, but is an integral phase of His kingdom plan (Matthew 8:11,12, Matt. 19:27-29, Luke 13:26-29, John 10:16; Galatians 3:6-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; 3:4-6; Hebrews 11:39,40), and thus an integral part of the new covenant provisions.17
1. Pamela J. Scalise, Word Biblical Commentary: Jeremiah 26-52. Vol. 27. David Hubbard, Glenn Barker, John Watts, eds. (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 126.
2. Ibid., 130.
3. William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic Wm. Bush, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 346.
4. See Jeremiah 17:1; Deuteronomy 6:6; 11:18; 30:14 for other references which speak of the heart as a writing material.
5. Charles Feinberg, The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Isaiah-Ezekiel. Vol. 6. Frank Gaebelein, ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 576.
6. J.A. Thompson, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 581.
7. Feinberg, Expositor's, 577.
8. Ibid., 575.
9.Surely this refers to the same time as that which is referred to in Jeremiah 23:5-8; 30:3; 31:27, 31; 33:14-15 where the same general phrase is found.
10. Rodney J. Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant," part II of II, Bibliotheca Sacra 431:56 (Oct-Dec 1995): 448.
11. Rodney J. Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant," part I of II, Bibliotheca Sacra 431:56 (Oct-Dec 1995): 297.
12. This is just one reason why Covenant Theology should be rejected, because in claiming that the church has replaced Israel, it renders God's promise to national Israel broken.
13. Darrell L. Bock, "Interpreting the Bible-How Texts Speak to Us," Progressive Dispensationalism, Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L Bock (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1993), 103; quoted in Rodney J. Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant," part I of II, Bibliotheca Sacra 431:56 (Oct-Dec 1995): 297.
14. Other covenant blessings are mentioned in Genesis 17:2, 6-14; 22:17-18.
15. That this is speaking of national Israel is evidenced by the fact that Paul continually contrasts the Jew to the Gentile, and even refers to his own particular ethnicity when speaking of Israel (Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 14-15, 25). Only after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in will God restore national Israel into the same covenant blessings (represented by the tree) experienced by the Jewish remnant who remained in the tree, and the Gentiles who were grafted into the tree. In the end we will all be in the same tree as the one people of God.
16. George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom (London: Paternoster, 1959), 118.
17. Gordon L. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 1996), 316.
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