Old vs. New Covenant; Catholic POV wanted

Here’s a question I’ve been curious about, and it is one I’m still thinking through and would love some input from my Catholic brothers and sisters (protestant takes on it would be interesting too).

So, we have the Old Covenant which the Mosaic Law was a part of. At that time and under that Covenant there was a high priest, a separate priesthood, sacrifices that only covered sin for a short period of time, and the sacrifices needed to be repeated. There was one day set aside for specific reasons (Saturday) and everyone had to follow that. Faith was intimately connected to action; God says a thing, and the person trusts God and the result is action.

Then we have the New Covenant. From the RCC’s perspective there’s a high priest (Jesus) and a separate priesthood. There is an acknowledgment of the once and for all sacrifice of Christ, and that sacrifice is made present again and again through the mass. The sacraments only cover sin for a short period of time, and needs to be repeated. There is one day set aside for specific reasons (Sunday) and everyone had to follow that. Faith is intimately connected to action; God says a thing and the person trusts God and the result is action.

So, what from the Catholic perspective, was the need of a New Covenant? We’d all agree it is a better covenant, so what is the main difference in outcome for us on a daily, yearly, and lifetime basis?

Where you said sacraments only cover sin for a short period is where I’d disagree. If someone’s sins are forgiven in penance or venial sins at the Eucharist, their eternal guilt is forever remitted.

As well, the NT sacraments actually impart the life of Christ and grace. The OT rites were mere shadows of that. For instance, as Jesus expounds in John 6, the manna was only good for temporal life, whereas the NT type, the body of Christ, brings about eternal life. Receiving the Eucharist genuinely imparts grace and conforms us to Christ. So the OT rites that prefigured the sacraments were inadequate. That’s why there is a New Covenant which fulfills what those figures taught.


Scott Hahn discusses the New Covenant here…catholic.com/radio/shows/consuming-the-word-8596

From what I can remember, the new covenant became the new testament (not the books in the Bible) which to the early Christians, meant the Eucharist.

I’d say the better question to ask is what the purpose of the Old Covenant was if it was the New Covenant and Christ’s sacrifice that redeemed mankind? And to that, I would say to prepare the way for the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension - to foreshadow the glory that was to come through Our Savior.

Beat me to it.

The old is a foreshadowing of the New, and God used the old to prepare His people for what He wanted to do in Christ.

To add:

Scott Hahn’s book: A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture is an excellent resource.

Even better is that you can follow an online Bible Study with him and his book at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology @ salvationhistory.com, specifically:

Covenant Love: Introducing the Biblical Worldview

Highly recommended!



If the Old Covenant could forgive sins, then you would actually be right, there would be no need for a New Covenant at all. But that’s what St. Paul’s entire point is. The Old Covenant could not forgive our sins. It is the New Covenant that accomplishes what the Old could only signify:

*Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?..*For the Law was but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 7:11, 10:1-4)

The Old Covenant had no power to forgive the people’s sins, only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross could accomplish that. That’s why we needed it.

Remember, Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. (My 5:17) So it makes sense that the same structure he himself established in the Old covenant would continue into the new. But now instead of only symbolizing forgiveness, it actually gives it.

Thank you all for the thoughts thus far, and for the references! :curtsey:

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