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New Testament or Renewed Covenant?

The prophet Jeremiah tells us that in the last days God will make a New Covenant with His people:

"Here, the days are coming," says Adonai, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says Adonai."For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says Adonai: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know Adonai'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:30-33 CJB)

Before I discuss whether the coming covenant is "new" or "renewed" I would first like to discuss this promised covenant as it relates to Yeshua and the words of the New Testament (as most call it).

Yeshua the Messiah ushered in this New Covenant of which Jeremiah prophesied. This is an understood fact in Christianity or Messianic Judaism or to anyone that follows Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) regardless of what they call themselves.The Holy Spirit which was promised has come and writes the Torah on our hearts now instead of on tablets of stone. The New Testament writers proclaim with clarity that this fact is true if one only digs beneath the surface of the English/Greek language and take it back to the Hebraic understanding (as the New Testament was written by Jews and is a work of Jewish literature). In fact, the Apostle Paul in Galatians and the author of Hebrews states this principle very plain but the authors words are often taken out of context to say that the old covenant has been abolished with the coming of Yeshua (Jesus).

Nothing could be further from the truth. Why was a New Covenant needed? Was it because the Old Covenant failed or was not adequate in some way? No! A New Covenant was needed because man broke the Older Covenant that was given at Mt. Sinai as is stated in Jeremiah 31:32..."which my covenant they broke...". Man is at fault here not the covenant.

When we go back to Mt Sinai we find that the first set of tablets that were written by the hand of God were broken by Moses because of the sin of the golden calf. However, if we keep reading we find that Moses goes back to the top of the mountain and receives a second set of tablets and that with these he "renews" the covenant with the people. He did not make a "brand new" covenant, he simply "renewed" that which had already been confirmed and affirmed with the people. He made them recommit themselves. In many of the versions of the Bible that I refer too it even labels this section as "The Covenant Renewed" (Exodus 34:10).

When we look at covenants in the Bible we find that a "brand new" covenant does not annul an older covenant. They build on top of one another. All of His covenants still stand from the very beginning. Granted, mankind has messed them up in their failures but the covenants still stand (you still see night and day, morning and evening, the sun, moon, and stars, seed time and harvest, male and female, and a rainbow in the clouds, etc) Ultimately, in the end of days, Messiah will "renew" all things as they were in the beginning with the renewed heaven and earth.

In fact, the Apostle Paul makes this very argument in Galatians (3:15-18). He argues that the Mosaic covenant (the older covenant) did not annul the Abrahamic covenant (which came first). He argues that any covenant that is confirmed by an oath – stands! While mankind can break covenants (and always has), God does not. Hence, the older covenant that was given at Mt. Sinai was made with an oath and it still stands. The only thing that has changed is the "goal" of the older covenant has come (Yeshua) and He ushered in the "renewing" of an older covenant by His shed blood and by becoming the new High Priest. The author of Hebrews and the book of Galatians explains that the only change made to the "renewed" covenant was the change in priesthood. With the change in priesthood came a change in how one is to approach God and the laws contained in the older covenant regarding sacrifices. This old system with its Aaronic priesthood and atonement sacrifices (at Yom Kippur especially) has changed to a priesthood called the Melkizedek priesthood (an older priesthood) with Yeshua as high priest and he is now the mediator instead of priests from Aaron. Yeshua is the better way. Yeshua offers forgiveness of sins and not just the covering of sins.

Now, let us look at the English, Greek and Hebrew words used to define "new" or "renewed" covenant.

In English we have one word for "new", yet we can add qualifiers to the word so that the other person knows what type of new is being spoken about. For example: I can tell someone that I bought a "new car" or a "brand new car". A "brand new car" means that it has never had a prior owner, but a "new car" can mean that it was a used car but just new to me. The same would work for buying a home or clothes, etc. Context is everything. So, when we look to the word used for "new" in the English translations we must dig deeper into the "Greek or Hebrew" to define what type of "new" is being spoken about.

Greek and Hebrew have more than one word for new but they can be used interchangeably to all mean just "new" so one must be careful to make a distinction as to what type of new is being meant. Oftentimes the word "new" can be related to age; young age or older age of something.

In the prophecy of Jeremiah listed above the Hebrew word used for new is chadash:

"...when I will make a new (chadash) covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah'.

According to Strong concordance, Brown-Driver-Briggs Concordance and even Ancient Paleo Hebrew the word chadash (and its root word) means: "new, renew, fresh, to repair, make anew, to renew oneself" and it is tied to chodesh or the new moon that is seen each month. Now, we know there isn't a "brand new" created moon each month. It is the same old moon that disappeared for a day or two and then "reappears" as the "renewed", "fresh" moon – beginning a new Biblical month.

Another great example of this would be buying an old house and remodeling. It is still the same old house not a "brand new" house. It has just been "repaired, renewed, refreshed".

When the Jewish scribes translated the TaNaKh (Old Testament as it is usually called) into Greek for the Septuagint (LXX) they used the Greek word kainos in Jeremiah 31:31- "....when I will make a new (kainos) covenant..."

Upon examination of the word kainos we find the meaning very similar to that of chadash: "new, new in mode, new to the possessor, unusual, renovated, better, of higher excellence" (Mounce); "new; especially in freshness" (Strong); "new, as respects form, recently made, fresh, unworn, unprecedented, uncommon, of a new kind" (Thayer). Strong goes on to say that the other word for "new" in Greek "neos" denotes something "new" in age (young) but kainos does not. So, in other words the Greek word "neos" should be used to denote something "brand new" whereas kainos should be used to denote something that has just been renewed.

Now, in Hebrews 8:8 we find the author quoting directly from the prophecy of Jeremiah (listed above) and observe what Greek word is used:

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new (kainos) covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:" (KJV)

When we look in the New Testament at the Greek words used to describe the new covenant we find that 8 out of 9 times the word kainos is used (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; I Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 9:15). Only in Hebrews 12:24 is the word "neos" used to describe the New Covenant.

While the word neos and kainos can both be used to denote something "new", I believe that it is imperative that we look closer at the use of the word in both the Greek words used in the New Testament and the Septuagint of the Older Covenant, to define the author's intent.

There is also another word that could have been used in the Hebrew Bible to denote something "brand new" as in just created; whether in the natural or spiritual. That word is bara and we find it first used in Genesis 1:1 when God first created the heavens and the earth;

"In the beginning God created (bara) the heaven and the earth"

Although God continues His creation and uses the word bara, He uses something that He had already created in the beginning (dust for example) to make a new creature (man). Mankind had never been made before.

In I Peter 3:13 and in the book of Revelation we read about the new heaven and earth. Again, the word kainos is used. This would denote that the new heaven and earth that is actually coming is not a "brand new" creation but a "renewing" or "repairing" of the old heaven and earth. Scripture bears this out in many locations.

So, to answer the question left at the naming of this article – is it New Testament or Renewed Covenant? From looking at the words of the prophet Jeremiah and it's fulfillment through Yeshua and the choosing of words by the authors in the New Testament – I would certainly say that it is a Renewed Covenant, not a New Testament (as in brand new). The choice of testament (keeping with prophecy and the fact that God made covenants historically- not testaments) is really incorrect and should be covenant.

The Renewed Covenant! The older was broken through sin but Yeshua (the goal of the older) has ushered in a "repairing" of the old. This compares exactly with what Moses did back in Exodus 34 when he "renewed" the covenant with the people after the sin of the golden calf. He made them recommit themselves and likewise, we who were all guilty of sin, must recommit ourselves to God the Father through His Son, Yeshua.

My prayer is that this helps someone. Please reach out to me with your comments or questions.



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