‘The differences between the church and Israel are rooted in the newness of the covenant by which God and his people are bound to each other. The new covenant under which the church lives (1 Cor 11:25 Heb 8:7-13) is a new form of the relationship whereby God says to a chosen community, “I will be your God; you shall be my people.” (Ex 6:7 Jer 31:33) Both the continuity and the discontinuity between Israel and the church reflect this change in the form of the covenant, which took place at Christ’s coming.…
Tim Ward explains how and why we can regard the Bible as a unified covenant book, notwithstanding the huge diversity found within its sixty-six separate writings. How can it be said that God’s covenant is communicated in the narratives of Chronicles, say, or in the wisdom sayings of Proverbs?
Commandments declare the stipulations of the covenant. Prophecy and epistles, in particular, expound and apply those stipulations in specific contexts; they are, in effect, the covenant preached in different contexts.
In the light of various posts on the ‘New Perspective on Paul’, I thought I’d better clarify what E.P. Sanders meant by this term.
It will be recalled that Sanders could find little evidence that the Judaism of the 1st century AD (and therefore the Judaism confronted by the Apostle Paul) was beset by merit theology – the idea that salvation can be ‘earned’ by one’s ‘good works’. Instead, says Sanders, it was characterised by ‘covenantal nomism’:-
Sanders summarises his position as follows:-
- God has chosen Israel and
- given the law.
David Pawson, in his book Defending Christian Zionism, asserts that there are not one or two, but five covenants in the Bible. They are: 1. Noahic, 2. Abrahamic, 3. Mosaic, 4. Davidic, and 5. Messianic. Pawson asserts, quite properly, that the New Testament only ever refers to the Mosaic covenant as ‘old’ and therefore replaced by the ‘new’ (Messianic) covenant (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). As Grudem explains (Systematic Theology, p521), ‘the Mosaic covenant was an administration of detailed written laws given for a time to restrain the sins of the people and to be a custodian to point people to Christ (Gal 3:19, 24).’…