Jesus, the New Covenant, and how to answer this

I met a friend on another forum and we’ve been emailing about the Catholic faith. He wants a more clear picture of what Catholics believe and why. As he explores the Church, he wants to be certain that he’s got the facts so he can make informed and correct comparisons between Catholic and non-Catholic. The most recent topic is the New Covenant, but I’m not 100% sure how to answer him. He asks:

I know that we read in Hebrews, among other places, that by dying on the cross Jesus established a new covenant with God’s people, putting aside the old covenant. Do you know of anywhere in the Bible that Jesus directly teaches us that? I know he taught in many places against the practices of the Jews and the law, but is there any instance of direct instruction or inference of a new covenant? Thanks.

I wasn’t sure how to adequately answer. Can anyone offer more perspective?

[This was the answer I gave so far: [COLOR=“DimGray”]That’s a great question. I know Jesus spoke of the new covenant in the Last Supper accounts, specifically in Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24 and Lk 22:20. It is also mentioned in Lk 1:71-73. I’m not sure of anywhere else where He specifically mentions this in regards to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their ritual laws that went beyond what God had given them. He spoke of obedience (Mt 23:2-3) and fulfillment of the law as opposed to abolishing it (Mt 5:17), and there’s Paul’s testimony about the old covenant circumcision being replaced with baptism in Col 2:11-12, and a host of other places where “covenant” is mentioned in the NT.
Other than that, I’m not really sure how to answer.]

Not sure if this is the answer you are looking for but here is my take on the matter…
First - Jesus sums up all of the OT in just two commandments:

  1. Love God above all else
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
    (Mt 22:36-40)
    Second - Jesus leaves us with a single commandment:
    Love one another as I have loved you - by this the world will know that you are my disciples…
    (John 13:34-35)
    Third - Paul clarifies this in Romans
    Romans 13:8-10
    8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, **are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10*Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. **

So - the New covenant is a covenant of Love - not of Law…
Of course there is much top discuss on this topic…but that is where I would start…


I think the best verse is the one you already quoted, Matthew 26:28. I would just point out to your friend that Jesus there is quoting almost verbatim the words of Moses in Exodus 24:8 “Behold the blood of the covenant.” This is significant because this was the moment that the Old Covenant was ratified.

The disciples, who were Jews, would have instantly recognized what Jesus was doing here. He was acting as the New Moses and ratifying a New Covenant with his blood.

Thank you both very much. That does help give some better perspective on it. If that doesn’t answer it for him, I’ll ask him to be more specific.

2 Cor 3:6-18 may enhanced the superiority of the new versus old covenant.

That’s an imprecise understanding. Jesus said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [Matt 5:17]

Nothing was “put aside.” It’s not like God realized the Old Covenant was a miserable failure and decided to start from scratch and go a completely different direction. Jesus was the fulfillment and completion of the Law of Moses, not its replacement.

This can be an important distinction when considering the relationship between the Jewish faith and the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church should rightly be viewed as the fulfillment of the Jewish faith, not as its replacement. Had all the Jews come to accept Christianity in the Apostolic Era then it would be very obvious that the Jewish Church became the Catholic Church. While this is true, it is not as obvious because the Jewish faith continued, making it appear that the Catholic Church was some sort of offshoot of the Jewish Church, when, in reality, they are the same Church, and the post-Christian Jewish faith is actually the offshoot, maintained by Jews who continue to reject their own Messiah.

Excellent point!!

.]The Old Testament/Covenant foretold a new covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when **I will make a new covenant **with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 31:32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 31:33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Isaiah 42:1- et seq. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. … 42:6 "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 42:7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. …

“I know that we read in Hebrews, among other places, that by dying on the cross Jesus established a new covenant with God’s people, putting aside the old covenant. Do you know of anywhere in the Bible that Jesus directly teaches us that? I know he taught in many places against the practices of the Jews and the law, but is there any instance of direct instruction or inference of a new covenant? Thanks.”

"God as father is the essential foundation of our Catholic faith. Ever since the Protestant reformation, the covenant has been understood in the terms of a courtroom, God as judge, sinners as guilty defendants who were acquitted by Jesus Christ’s redeeming word. Now all that is true but I would suggest it has to be subordinated to a higher principle, that the covenant is a sacred family bond with God as the father. And a father requires more of a family member than a judge does of a defendant. So we think of the covenant as a sacred family bond that binds God the father to us as his family. Sure God is a judge, because he’s a father so all of his judgments are fatherly. How do the covenants help us understand the Bible? Think of this timeline, put Adam at one end and Jesus on the cross at the other end representing the OT culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ.
The first covenant God made was the Covenant with Adam.
The second covenant he made was the covenant with Noah.
The third was with Abraham.
The fourth was made through Moses to Israel at Mt Sinai.
The fifth covenant God makes is with David establishing this divine kingdom of Israel.

And the last covenant is the new covenant that Jesus comes to inaugurate.

Check this out, if you think of covenants in family terms you can see why God punctuates history with these covenants.

  1. The first covenant he made with Adam was a marital covenant, the family form of the covenant.

  2. The covenant with Noah was a household covenant between God, Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives encompassing a household.

  3. The third covenant with Abraham was a tribal covenant. Abraham was addressed as a Chieftain with authority over many.

  4. The covenant God made with Moses wasn’t with just one tribe but with twelve tribes. The twelve tribes became the national covenant.

  5. The fifth covenant was the kingdom covenant with David, a national kingdom covenant that begins to do a new thing with the people of Israel and starts to include all the gentiles and nations.

  6. And the last covenant was one Jesus established with his body and blood, an international covenant. For the first time, God has expanded his family to be a worldwide family. The word for that in Latin is Katholikos."
Post #10

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ tweeked the commandments of the Mosaic Covenant, repeatedly saying, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old . . . But I say to you . . . ," or something similar. (Matt 5:21-22; 27-28; 31-32; 33-34; 38-39; 43-44) Don’t these modifications to the terms of the Mosaic Covenant imply the establishment of a New Covenant?

Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.

In Christ, you have lived a perfect life in the Old Covenant. In Christ you live His new life in the New Covenant, where you practice a life of Obedience to Him as Lord.

Thus, in Him you are both a perfect Jew, and an obedient Gentile. No matter how you may currently act, when you are in Christ you are a perfect Jew.


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