What is the New Covenant, and What Makes it New?

Feb 17, 2022Mystery of the Blood Covenants1 comment

The New Covenant is in the New Testament portion of the Bible, but that is not what makes it new. Newness is usually measured regarding time. Comparing it to the Old Testament, the New Testament is newer by hundreds of years. Yet comparing it to present day, it is a couple of thousand years old.

Covenants, old and new

Both new things in this discussion, New Testament and New Covenant, are newer than the old. Yet it is the terms and conditions of a covenant agreement that they speak of that makes them both truly new.  The New Testament gets its name by being a testimony, as if from a witness in a court of law. It is the truthful account of a new type of covenant agreement. It has dramatically new terms and different conditions it offers to mankind by God. The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the story of Jesus coming to earth to make a New Covenant. It reveals His miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection.

The remaining books reveal more of the mystery of the New Covenant. After Jesus returns to heaven His followers take hold of the New Covenant. Despite persecution, His followers testify to Jesus triumphing over death and are willing to pay the price to share it. Freedom from sin and guilt, a new way of life, accompanies the covenant for all who accept it. This starts in Jerusalem and spreads to the ends of the earth.

Jesus offers a new and better covenant that will replace and supersede all the older covenants that the Old Testament testified to.  The modern English word covenant derives from the Latin convenire meaning “to come together, unite, and come into agreement.” To come into the type of agreement as important as the New Covenant, it must be more than just an agreement.

The New Covenant is a Blood Covenant

The Bible tells us, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” It has been proven in practice and instilled in the heart of man from the beginning. Having our blood in us sustains life and spilling our blood equates to death. It is hardly a stretch to then see how the blood of man and beast can easily come to represent their life, their very being.

What do you suppose would be a way to describe the significance of an agreement that would set it apart from the trivial, temporal or less important agreements?

How might you set forth that the agreement denotes that its participants are entering into a lifelong agreement that is as dear as life itself?

It would be, it has always been, to cut a blood covenant.

So, what is so new about the New Covenant?

Covenant makers shedding blood is at the heart of what separates the New (Blood) Covenant from all the old. In making all blood covenants blood is shed. It often includes the covenant makers cutting themselves to shed only a token amount of their life. If promises of obedience to its laws and statutes are broken, the covenant-breaker could face the loss of his or her life. God in his mercy provided a way for transgressors to sacrifice animals, such as a lamb, whose life they bring to substitute for their own.

God directs Moses to put in place a ritual of sacrifice where Abraham’s descendants could periodically atone for their covenant-breaking, also known as sin. The sacrifice of animals would annually atone for their falling short of the perfection God demanded in their keeping covenant.

God changes the rules   

One of the most important differences that make the New Covenant new, is this. Instead of requiring the sinner to bring a sacrifice, God provides His own sacrifice for mankind. The sinless Son of God, Jesus, takes the place of the sacrificial lamb. He who knew no sin, became sin for us. His death is accepted once and for all. And this is another important thing that is new. Those not born physically of the children of Abraham were not invited to participate in the older covenant God made with Abraham. The New Covenant is made for all men and women on earth, regardless of human parentage.

These are the most important things that make a New Covenant relationship with God new. It is paid for in full by the death of Jesus. Because we cannot earn or deserve this, it is a Grace-based New Covenant. And it is not offered only to the sons of Abraham. It makes whosoever will accept it become the sons and daughters of God.

Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Steve

    Well written brother. Thank you for sharing this.


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