NEW COVENANT: New or merely “Newer”?

In this broadcast (White Horse Inn: The New Covenant), it was mentioned at least twice, that, the New Covenant isn’t “NEW” but “NEWER”. Such a distinction makes Jesus to have inaugurated a new covenant that’s merely a refreshed understanding of the old covenant, rather than a new one that supplants an old one (Heb.8.13).

Mr. Riddlebarger made reference to both of the Greek terms for “NEW”, emphasizing one (kainos) and not the other (neos). This seems to miss that both apply to the New Covenant (see Heb.8.812:24), making this covenant both new in quantity (recent) and quality (fresh), not merely NEWER as stated.

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2 responses to “NEW COVENANT: New or merely “Newer”?

  1. Pingback: NEW COVENANT: New or merely “Newer” « gospel muse: | Gospel Feeds

  2. Matthew: This approach is actually “old” and not “older”! :-)

    I draw your attention to J. Barton Payne’s (1922-1979) title for his book, The Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962). Payne is very clear in his Preface concerning his operative theological presupposition which explains his choice of a title: “Since there is only one saving death of Christ, it follows that there is only one testament. Chronologically considered, however, the testament possesses both an older aspect and a newer aspect. The difference between these two rests upon the historical question of whether the death of the Savior is still being anticipated or has become a matter of commemoration….the theology of the older testament becomes in fact the theology of the Old Testament.” (no page numbering) In his obituary in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society this personal conviction is reinforced: “Due to his influence Covenant Seminary now displays in its chapel the blue banner of our Scottish antecedents with the motto “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.” For Barton Payne those were not just words; they were the driving motivation of his life.” [JETS 23:1 (March 1980), pp. 95-96.] Payne’s book was dedicated to John Murray, by the way. It constitutes:
    1) the expansion and conversion in 1961 while teaching at the Wheaton College Graduate School of Theology of a syllabus,
    2) which in turn had been produced by the author in 1956 of mimeographed lecture outlines,
    3) which themselves grew out of ten years of teaching the subject in seminary classes (“Preface”).

    It should come as no surprise therefore that his students, those who were trained with such textbooks, or those who share an identical theological presupposition would continue to speak in such terms. If they were perfectly honest and consistent, then they would never speak of an “Old” Covenant, but only of a lower case comparative “older” Covenant. Likewise, if they were perfectly honest and consistent, then they would never speak of a “New” Covenant, but only of a lower case comparative “newer” Covenant. It seems quite obfuscatory or negligent of them to do otherwise. The bottom line is that in reality they do not believe in a “New Covenant” at all! Any apparent discontinuity between the “older” and “newer” aspects of their one testament are just that, apparent, and not really discontinuous in fact. The true Biblical discontinuity between the Scriptural covenants is hopelessly confused in their stress on the unity and continuity of their extra-Biblical/theological covenant.

    On another subject, Payne’s comment in his Preface on Vos is interesting: “The most frequent reference is made to Geerhardus Vos’ excellent work, Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: 1948). Vos, however, is somewhat incomplete and was outdated before it first came to be published.” Does this then make Vos “old” or merely “older” in Payne’s estimation? :-)

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery
    Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
    Greentown, PA

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