A More Excellent Ministry
- "A Ministry" = a standing office committed to Christ, & subordinate to God
- "Obtained it" = inheritance; eternal purpose; call of God w/ Spirit above measure
- "More Excellent"
- "By how much" = more excellent as much as the covenant is more excellent
Office of Mediator = giving himself as a ransom; surety
- different parties must be involved in covenant (Gal 3:20)
- inability to immediately treat each other (Deut 5:23-27)
- Absolute trust in mediator by both parties
- Go-between must represent both parties (have both natures)
- Voluntary consent to office
Duties as mediator
- remove cause of enmity between parties
- purchase/procure all benefits for party
Give assurance to parties
- Christ declares such in the gospel and ordinances
- Christ enables us to accept and accomplish terms of covenant
- Office of Mediator = giving himself as a ransom; surety
was a mediator of a covenant
- terms prepared by sovereign act of God
need of mediator specific to this covenant (not to all covenants in general)
of a better covenant
What was the old covenant?
Covenant with Adam?
a law only that proceeded from the nature of man as imago dei
also a covenant
- by annexing promises and threats
- expression of these in external signs
accepted by man
- by innate revelation
- acceptance of trees as signs
- a law only that proceeded from the nature of man as imago dei
Cov w/ Adam not here intended
- "old" covenant here referred to as testament, which requires a death; CoA required no death
- CoA abrogated by sin (though not the law) long before entrance of NC, but author here argues the "old covenant" abrogated by entrance of NC
Church of Israel never under CoA because the promise of Abraham was given to them and to their seed
Gal 3:17 says no annulling Ab promise of life, thus Israel not under CoA for life
- if they were under CoA, they were all cursed eternally (which is false)
- Gal 3:17 says no annulling Ab promise of life, thus Israel not under CoA for life
- covenant here intended was walked in by Israel
- Covenant with Adam?
- What was the old covenant?
- Gen 3:15 - had in it the nature of a covenant
- Promise given to Abraham was a covenant
None of these are the "first" covenant here intended
- they are consistent with NC and contain the essence of NC (Rom 15:8)
- covenant of grace (as opposed to works w/ Adam); of which Christ was the mediator from the foundation of the world, namely from first promise Rev 13:8
Difficulties of the Context Answered
- if CoG in effect from foundation, then where is the privilege of the gospel-state in opposition to the law?
if CoG is here intended, in contrast to CoAdam, then the other ("first" "old") must be CoAdam, which we disproved
Answer: meaning of "nomotheteo"
- author "does not here consider the new covenant absolutely and as it was virtually administered from the foundation of the world"
nomotheteo = established; reduced into a fixed state of a law or ordinance
- all obedience required, worship appointed by, privileges exhibited in, grace administered are all given for a statute, law, ordinance in the church.
- what before lay hid in promise now brought to light
- "that covenant which had invisibly, the way of a promise, put forth its efficacy under types and shadows, was now solemnly sealed, ratified, and confirmed in the death and resurrection of Christ"
- when NC given out in promise, no worship or privileges expressive of it
- Answer: meaning of "nomotheteo"
- Answer: "as a promise, it was opposed to the covenant of works; as a covenant, it was opposed to that of Sinai."
Every covenant between God and man resolved into "promises"; essentially promise=covenant (Gen 9:11; Jer 33:20)
- thus Eph 2:12 "covenants of promise" such as are founded on and consist in promises (not that the promises of each covenant are the same)
God thus expresses his greatness and goodness (as opposed to sovereign authority and holiness revealed if only a law, not a promise)
- thus God promised in order to encourage obedience (Gen 15:1; 17:1)
thus promise communicates grace instead of our merit
- even CoAdam was a condescending, gracious offer of eternal enjoyment with God (Rom 4:2)
A promise holds forth something yet unattained by man (ie eternal rest for Adam)
- Without promise, dead sinners would have no use or advantage in a covenant
- if power to perform duty is not promised to dead sinners, covenant can be of no advantage
- all already guilty of sin, thus if no promise of pardon of sin, no purpose in new covenant
- The other covenant had its promises peculiar to it
- (NC promises not renumerative to our obedience)
Difficult because must grant one of following:
- CoG was in force under the OT
The church was saved without the CoG (or any benefit of Jesus Christ, who is the mediator of it alone)
"I will take it here for granted, that no man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect."
- "I will take it here for granted, that no man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect."
They all perished everlastingly
- this is false
Some (Reformed) say different outward administrations of the same covenant
- but Scripture says they are two distinct covenants
Agreements about "two administrations":
- way of reconciliation the same. "none was ever justified or saved but by the new covenant, and Jesus Christ, the mediator of it"
- OT writings declare justification by faith in Christ
- "that by the covenant of Sinai, as properly so called, separated from its figurative relation to the CoG, none was ever eternally saved."
- old covenant institutions were to represent and direct to Christ
- Because of these agreements, most Reformed divines say old covenant was not another covenant, but only a different administration
According to them, the differences in these administrations are:
- saw the gospel in a shadow, but now see it clearly (2 Cor 3:18; Mk 8:23-25)
- we now receive a more plentiful communication of grace
in the manner of our access to God
- now immediately through Christ
- under old through outward and typical elements
- the way of worship required under each
- the distribution of the grace of God (Israel v all nations)
- other things also added (see Calvin Inst 2.11, etc)
- because that's what Scripture says, and Scripture opposes them (first/last, old/new)
- because CoG in Christ is eternal, immutable, always the same, subject to no alteration, no change or abrogation
"old covenant" != covenant with Adam
"new covenant" != CoG absolutely, as it was in effect as a promise before now
called a promise, but not a covenant in the OT (Acts 2:39; Heb 6:14-16)
- Abrahamic covenant related to promise, but this covenant was with respect to other things, especially the proceeding of the promised Seed from his loins
"The apostle indeed says, that the covenant was confirmed of God in Christ, before the giving of the law, Gal 3:17. And so it was, not absolutely in itself, but in the promise and benefits of it." It's full establishment (nomotheteo) was future only, because:
- it lacked solemn confirmation and establishment by the blood of the only sacrifice that belonged to it (Heb 9:15-23)
- it was not the rule and measure of all worship
- ("although by 'covenant of grace' we oftentimes understand no more but the way of life, grace, mercy, and salvation by Christ; yet by 'the new covenant' we intend its actual establishment in the death of Christ.")
While the NC remained a promise only, and had not been formally established, it is not inconsistent for God to institute a different covenant with different worship, because:
- Sinai did not disannul or make ineffectual the promise of the NC or change the NC as the only way of salvation (Gal 3:17-19)
- Sinai did not divert from, but directed to the future establishment of the NC
- Sinai had a present use and advantage to the church in Israel
- called a promise, but not a covenant in the OT (Acts 2:39; Heb 6:14-16)
- "These things being observed, we may consider that the Scripture does plainly and expressly make mention of two testaments, or covenants, and distinguish between them in such a way, as what is spoken can hardly be accomodated to a twofold administration of the same covenant." One described in Ex 24:3-8; Deut 5:2-5; the other promised in Jer 31:31-34; 32:40, which is the new or gospel covenant (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24). They are compared and opposed in 2 Cor 3:6-9; Gal 4:24-26; Heb 7:22; 9:15-20.
"To that end we must grant two distinct covenants, rather than a twofold administration of the same covenant merely, to be intended."
The way of reconciliation and salvation the same under both
therefore Reformed say "That this being the principal end of a divine covenant, if the way of reconciliation and salvation be the same under both, then indeed are they for the substance of them but one"
- this would be true if it were equally true of both "old covenant" and "new covenant." "If reconciliation and salvation by Christ were to be obtained not only under the old covenant, but by virtue of it, then it must be the same for substance with the new. But this is not so; for no reconciliation with God nor salvation could be obtained by virtue of the old covenant, or the administration of it, as our apostle disputes at large, though all believers are reconciled, justified, and saved, by virtue of the promise, while they were under the covenant."
- therefore Reformed say "That this being the principal end of a divine covenant, if the way of reconciliation and salvation be the same under both, then indeed are they for the substance of them but one"
- The way of reconciliation and salvation the same under both
- "old covenant" != covenant with Adam
It was not for the life and salvation of the church
Sinai did not and was never intended to abrogate or disannul the Cov of works (in the law of creation), in fact it reinforced that covenant because:
- "It revived, declared, and expressed all the commands of that covenant in the Decalogue; for that is nothing but a divine summary of the law written in the heart of man at his creation... [and thus] it was called "the ministry of condemnation," causing fear and bondage, 2 Cor 3:7"
"It revived the sanction of the first covenant, in the curse or sentence of death which it denounced against all transgressors." Deut 27:26
- It revived the promise of that covenant that of eternal life on perfect obedience. Lev 18:5
- "Now this is no other but the covenant of works revived. Nor had this covenant of Sinai any promise of eternal life annexed to it, as such, but only the promise inseparable from the covenant of works which it revived, saying, "Do this, and live... Therefore it is, that when our apostle disputes against justification by the law, or by works of the law, he does not intend the works peculiar to the covenant of Sinai, such as were the rites and ceremonies of the worship then instituted; but he intends also the works of the first covenant, which alone had the promise of life annexed to them."
- Sinai did not and was never intended to abrogate or disannul the Cov of works (in the law of creation), in fact it reinforced that covenant because:
- Sinai also did not abrogate or disannul the promise, which went before it (Gen 3:15)
Sinai not made with "our fathers" Abraham, etc (Det 5:3) but with the people then present Deut 29:14, 15; which would seem to disannul that promise to them, but it did not because:
- showed impossibility of obtaining reconciliation and peace with God by any way other than the promise (by its revival of the CoW)
- represented the ways and means of the accomplishment of the promise (sacrifices and tabernacle)
- God has dealt in different ways and at different times with the church (Heb 1:1) and did so differently until the "dispensation of the fullness of times" Eph 1:10
- It revealed transgressions and drove to Christ Gal 3:19-24 ("Much light might be given to the mind of the Holy Spirit in these words, and that in things not commonly discerned by expositors")
to what end?
because of transgressions; that God's purpose be not thwarted by the overflow of sin
- revived CoW, thus some bounds fixed ("by the law is the knowledge of sin")
To shut up unbelievers who would not trust in the promise by cursing them by reviving CoW
- because of transgressions; that God's purpose be not thwarted by the overflow of sin
- "That although the law does thus rebuke sin, convince of sin, and condemn for sin, so setting bounds to transgressions and transgressors, yet did God never intend it as a means to give life and righteousness, nor was it able so to do."
- It directs men to the promise
- CoG was contained and proposed only in a promise before it was solemnly confirmed in the blood of Christ; Cov at Sinai did not constitute a new way of righteousness, life, and salvation; believers sought for this by the CoG
- W/ Sinai was a form of outward worship suited to the dispensation of times, which was disannulled at establishment of NC
The Seed that would bless all nations was promised to the line of Abraham. Thus:
they should be separate (Num 23:9; Gen 49:10)
- "although God might have accomplished his promise really in raising up Christ from among some of his posterity, yet could it not be proved or evidenced that he had so done, by reason of the confusion and mixture of the people with others."
- they should be separate (Num 23:9; Gen 49:10)
- there should be a reminder as to why they were separate Heb 3:5
Because he gave them Canaan, he ordered their lives as well
- but this was measured with grace until the Seed came Mal 4:4-6
- a multitude of precepts difficult to observe Heb 9:9-10
- by threatening death for violation Num 17:12,13
- in a spirit of bondage to fear
- this included some laws that were only relevant to the land of Canaan (sabbatical year, sacrifices, etc)
- "There was a renovation of the rule of the covenant of works for righteousness and life. And this they would have to be given to them for those ends, and so sought for righteousness by the works of the law."
- They mistook the typical representation of the mediation and sacrifice of Christ as the very thing itself.
- Paul labors to correct these errors in Romans and Galatians
Opinion of the Church of Rome
- different promises: old = temporal; new = spiritual/heavenly
precepts: old = external obedience (outward man); new = inward obedience (inner man)
Wrong because of Deut 6:5 "without which no outward obedience was ever accepted with him"
- Wrong because of Deut 6:5 "without which no outward obedience was ever accepted with him"
sacraments: old = only outwardly figurative; new = operative of grace
- old not only figurative 1 Cor 10:4; nor are new operative apart from faith
delivered at different times Ex 19, 24; Heb 1:1,2; Eph 1:10
delivered in different places
Mount Sinai Ex 19:18
- Mount Zion Is 2:3
- Gal 4:24-26
- Mount Sinai Ex 19:18
- dread and terror Heb 12:18-21; Ex 19:16;20:18,19; Deut 5:23-27
- given by angels Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19 (put in subjection to angels Heb 2:5; Col 2:18)
- Spoken by Christ
- from heaven, not earth Heb 12:25
- and on earth Jn 3:13
- done in meekness and condescension; love, grace, compassion
- angels servants of Christ Rev 19:10
- old = Moses Gal 3:19; Heb 3:5; Deut 5:24-27
- new = Christ 1 Tim 2:5
- old precepts = perfect, sinless obedience to Decalogue and other precepts
- new = "accomplishment and establishment of the covenant of works, both as to its commands and sanction, in the obedience and suffering of the mediator. On this the commands of it, as to the obedience of the covenanters, are not grievous; the yoke of Christ being easy, and his burden light."
- no promise of grace to communicate spiritual strength
- no promise of eternal life
- promises of temporal things in the land of Canaan inseparable from it
- "all things are otherwise, as will be shown"
- "that which gives any thing the formal nature of a covenant or testament. There may be a promise, there may be an agreement in general, which has not the formal nature of a covenant, or testament, and such was the covenant of grace before the death of Christ, but it is the solemnity and manner of the confirmation, dedication, and sanction of any promise or agreement, that give it the formal nature of a covenant or testament. And this is by sacrifice"
- old = beasts Ex 24:5-8
- new = Christ Zech 9:11; Heb 10:29; 13:20 "And the Lord Christ dying as the mediator and surety of the covenant, he purchased all good things for the church; and as testator bequeathed them to it." (see Owen's comments on 9:18-23)
- old = Aaron's line alone
- new = Son of God (see Owen on Hebrews 7)
- (see Owen on Heb 9)
- old = tablets of stone Ex 31:18; Deut 9:10; 2 Cor 3:7
- new = "fleshly tables of the hearts" 2 Cor 3:3; Jer 31:33
old = discover sin, condemn it, set bounds to it Gal 3:19
- discover by conviction Rom 3:20
- condemn by condeming "in an application of the sanction of the law to his conscience."
- set bounds by the judgments and punishments
old = "ministry of death" & "condemnation"; bondage
- "renovation of the terms and sanction of the covenant of works [Adam] contributed much to that. For the people saw not how the commands of that covenant could be observed, nor how its curse could be avoided. They saw it not, I say, by any thing in the covenant of Sinai; which therefore 'gave birth to bondage.' The entire prospect they had of deliverance was from the promise."
from manner of delivery (fear)
- from severity of penalties annexed to the transgression of the law
- "ministration of death" and "condemnation" declared the punishment of every sin to be death. "So was it the "letter that killed" them that were under its power.
- from the obscurity of the gospel. "While they of old were in the dark as to these things, they necessarily have been kept under much bondage."
multitude of laws, rites, and ceremonies made worship a burden Acts 15:10
- freedom from the commanding power of the law; we are still subject to the law, but not in order to life and salvation; it is thus fulfilled by mediator Rom 10:4
- freedom from condemning power of the law Rom 7:6; Gal 3:13,14; Heb 2:15; Jn 5:24
- freedom from conscience of sin Heb 10:2
- freedom from the whole system of Mosaic worship Acts 15; Galatians
- freedom from all the laws of men in things pertaining to the worship of God 1 Cor 7:23
- by grant of the Spirit of Adoption Jn 1:12; Rom 8:15-17; Gal 4:6,7; 2 Cor 3:17
- "it is obtained by the evidence of our justification before God, and the causes of it." (no longer in veiled shadows, but now fully revealed and manifest)
- "by the spiritual light that is given to believers into the mystery of God in Christ." Eph 3:9
- by opening the way into the holiest Heb 9:8; 10:19-22
- by all the ordinances of gospel worship
- "It is certain that God did grant the gift of the Holy Spirit under the old testament" (See Vol. iii p.125 of Owen's miscellaneous works)
- but always a promise of a more distinguished effusion Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:16-18; Jn 7:39; Acts 19:2
- Holy Spirit sent as comforter only in new Jn 14-16
- Augustine said "the kingdom of heaven" only in New Testament
- "It is true, God reigned in and over the church under the old testament; but his rule was such, and had such a relation to secular things, especially with respect to the land of Canaan, and the flourishing condition of the people in that respect, as that it had an appearance of a kingdom of this world." Even the disciples were confused on this point
old = typical, shadowy, removable Heb 10:1
the old's typical relation to the new was its very glory, but compared with new they have no glory
- the old's typical relation to the new was its very glory, but compared with new they have no glory
old = posterity of Abraham in land of Canaan Ps 147:19,20
- initial preaching of gospel confined to them Matt 15:24; Rom 15:8
- Matt 28:19; Mk 16:15; Jn 11:51; 12:32; Acts 11:18; 17:30; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:11-16; 3:8-10; Col 3:10,11; 1 Jn 2:2; Rev 5:9
- old = made nothing perfect; it could accomplish none of the things it did represent (See Owen on Heb 7)
- old = to be removed
- new = abide forever
- "It may be that other things of a like nature may be added to these mentioned, on which the difference between the two covenants consists; but these instances are sufficient to show that they are distinct. For some, when they hear that the covenant of grace was always one and the same, of the same nature and efficacy under both testaments, that the way of salvation by Christ was always one and the same, are ready to think that there was no such great difference between their state and ours as is claimed. But we see that on that supposition, the covenant which God brought the people into at Sinai, the yoke they were to abide under until the new covenant was established, had all the disadvantages just described. And those who do not understand how great and glorious the privileges are that are added to the covenant of grace, in the administration of it, by the introduction and establishment of the new covenant, are utterly blind to and unacquainted with the nature of spiritual and heavenly things."
Socinians argue that because NC "established on better promises" that there were no promises of life under the OT
- "established" refers to formally ratified in covenant
- old promises = respected land of Canaan (thus new is better)
- "The old covenant had express promise of eternal life: "He that does these these things will live in them." It was, indeed, with respect to perfect obedience that it gave that promise; however that promise it [did have]"
- old covenant's institutions of worship had the nature of a promise because they pointed to Christ
"The question is not, What promises are given in the law itself, or the old covenant formally considered as such? But, What promises had they who lived under that covenant, and which were not disannulled by it?... To say that the first promise, and that given to Abraham, confirmed with the oath of God, were not promises of eternal life, is to overthrow the whole Bible, both Old Testament and New."
Verse 7: The Necessity of a New and Better Covenant
Assertion: If the first covenant had been blameless
- "For" = this reason proves all that has gone before
- "that first" = old covenant
- "not blameless" = insufficient for sanctification and salvation of the church (does not mean old covenant was not in and of itself holy, just, good, blameless, perfect with respect to its ends) Gal 3:19-22; Acts 13:38,39; Rom 8:3
- the fact that there is a promise of a new covenant proves the insufficiency of the former
Verse 8: The New Covenant
Introduction of the testimony ("for finding fault with them, he says")
- "For": confirmation of the previous argument
- Its Connection
- NC not introduced without consideration of anything else, but because of insufficiency of former
some say "finding fault" = covenant itself (rather than members of it)
- "if not without fault" = old covenant
it was on occasion of the old covenant, not the people, that the new was introduced
not safe to say a covenant made by God is the problem
- the weakness of it arose from sin (Rom 7)
- and no complaint of the covenant itself (though to the ends of the NC it is insufficient)
- the Author: the Lord
- Behold: calls for a more than ordinary diligence in its consideration and attention
time of accomplishment: "the days coming"
= days of Christ; Heb 1:1,2; 2:5; Matt 11:3
- this time was approaching
- its certainty as comfort, though 600 years away Mal 3:1
- = days of Christ; Heb 1:1,2; 2:5; Matt 11:3
"testament" because "confirmed by the death of him that makes it"
old covenant = "testament" as well, because:
- made by death/blood Heb 9:18
- God granted the land of Canaan by it
- old covenant = "testament" as well, because:
A recapitulation, collection, and confirmation of all the promises of grace that had been given to the church from the beginning Lk 1:70
- The first promise contained in it the whole essence and substance of the covenant of grace
All these promises reduced into an actual covenant
- accomplishment of promised grace in sending of Christ
- confirmation and establishment for the church received in death of Christ "as a sacrifice of agreement or atonement"
- the promises are established as the rule and law of reconciliation and peace between God and man
- the promises become the only rule of the ordinances of worship of the church (see 8:6)
- see comments on 8:6
- the promised still required the death of a testator to secure it
there was another covenant "superadded" to the promises: Sinai
- people could not be under two covenants at once (as an administration or rule of worship)
a recapitulation of all the promises of grace
- "Therefore all hte proimses made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the other patriarchs, and the oath of God in accordance with which they were confirmed, are all of them made to us, and do belong to us no less than they did to them to whom they were first given, if we are made partakers of this covenant." Heb 13:5
the Lord: God Himself "He has made with me an everlasting covenant" because:
- established freely by grace of God; "no cause outside Himself for which He should make this covenant"
- the wisdom of its contrivance
- God alone could provide a surety for this covenant
- contains a sovereign law of divine worship
- contains such efficacy of grace that only God can make it good/accomplish
- The reward promised is God Himself "I am your reward"
the house of Israel and the house of Judah
- Acts 2:39; "to them and their children" = Judah; "all that are far off" = house of Israel in dispersions
= whole entire posterity of Abraham
- because Christ came from them
- because ratification transacted among them
- because they first received the terms and grace of it
- because they spread the gospel Dan 9:27
= typical, and spiritually symbolic of the whole church of God
- "Because of this fact alone it is that the promises of grace under the old testament are given to the church under these names, because they were types of them who should really and effectually be made partakers of them."
- It is really established with believers, which is typified by the nation of Israel
- because all have law written on their hearts and their sins pardoned "according to the promise of it, as the people of old were brought into the land of Canaan by virtue of the covenant made with Abraham. These are the true Israel and Judah, prevailing with God, and confessing to his name."
- consummated: Perfection and unalterable establishment
new with respect to Sinai
- "to that end by this covenant, as here considered, is not understood the promise of grace given to Adam absolutely; nor that to Abraham, which contained the substance and matter of it, the grace exhibited in it, but not the complete form of it as a covenant."
- "it must be considered in the establishment of it, and its law of spiritual worship"
Verse 9: The Newness of the New Covenant
Reasons for a Different Covenant
- "nor does the efficacy of the mediation of Christ extend itself byeond the verge and compass of the NC; for he is only the mediator and surety of this covenant"
- "finding fault with them"
- there was some defect in the covenant itself; it unable to communicate the grace of the NC
thus new because:
- sins of the people
- insufficiency of first covenant to bring full blessing
- which had no eternal duration
"their fathers" (Sinai)
- to remove their boasting; he has more grace and mercy to communicate than were ever communicated to their fathers
- to warn them (because their fathers broke the covenant Heb 3)
Who were those fathers?
- "that day" = Ex. 20:6
"that I firmly laid hold"
- their helpless condition in Egypt
- God condescended
- the power of this work
all these things had respect to their actual deliverance
- this redemption is a type/shadow of spiritual redemption
this covenant was Sinai, and the fathers were those who came out of Egypt and perished in the wilderness
- the specific individuals present at Mt. Sinai are here intended. They broke the covenant
because) which they continued not in my covenant
- ratified in blood Ex 19:8; 24:3,7; Deut 5:27
- immediately "continued not in it" by making golden calf
- thus first generation is in view by phrase; not subsequent transgressions of Mosaic covenant
quotation problem: Heb="Although I was a husband to them"; Grk="I regarded them not"
- apostle's argument does not rest on this phrase
- not a real contradiction because it can be interpreted either way to achieve the same meaning
some say apostle knew the LXX was wrong, but quoted it as accomodation to Hellenistic Jews, because it was not central to his argument
- but author likely didn't quote from LXX; and wasn't written to Hellenistic Jews
author expressed the mind of the Holy Spirit
- see Edward Pococke in Miscellan concerning translation
- "God used the right and authority of a husband with whom a wife breaks covenant; he 'neglected them,' shut them out of his house, deprived them of their dowry or inheritance, and slew them in the wilderness."
- thus a new covenant will be given that is "by the grace administered in it, [is] preventative of that evil success which the former had by the sin of the people."
- "not according to it"; "It is neither a renovation of that covenant nor a reformation of it, but utterly of another nature, by whose introduction and establishment that other was to be abolished, abrogated, and taken away"
Verses 10-12: The Promises of the New Covenant
Introduction of the Declaration of the New Covenant
- "For" = the reason the new covenant is "not according to" Sinai
- covenant = "a compact or agreement on certain terms mutually stipulated by two or more parties"
- normally includes precepts or laws of obedience
But no mention of any condition on the part of man; only free gratuitous promises
- is only part of the covenant mentioned here; or
is the covenant of grace absolute without any conditions on our part?
covenant does not require conditions Jer 33:20,25; Gen 9:10,11
- "nothing therefore can be argued for the necessity of conditions to belong to this covenant from the name or term"
- covenant does not require conditions Jer 33:20,25; Gen 9:10,11
- this covenant is a testament; without any conditions on recipient
the whole covenant is here intended; else author's point would be moot or untrue
- if there is a condition, then we could frustrate it; thus it could not prove author's point
there is no condition required for our entering the covenant
- otherwise it would be inferior to Horeb, which was instituted by God's grace Deut 7:7,8; 9:4,5
- that would be contrary to nature, ends, and express properties of this covenant
- "all that God requires in us is proposed as that which himself will effect by virtue of this covenant"
- "For he will take us ordinarily into this covenant in and by the rational faculties of our natures, that he may be glorified in them and by them."
"therefore if anyone will call our attendance to such duties of the condition of the covenant, it is not to be contended about, though properly it is not so, because:"
- God works the grace of the covenant before our ability to perform any duty
- performance of duties is not the discriminating factor; "many are called but few are chosen"
- Some are made partakers despite their opposition to its outward dispensation (ie Apostle Paul)
- "And this is the great ground of them who absolutely deny the covenant of grace to be conditional; namely, that the first grace is absolutely promised, on what and its exercise the whole of it does depend."
- faith is condition for justification; but that faith is itself a gift, not a condition, of the covenant of grace
- the grace and mercy it "collates"
- the future reward of glory which it promises
- the former are conditions for the latter, but they are given by God as covenant blessings
- "It is the will of God in and by Jesus CHrist, his death and blood shedding, to give freely to us the whole inheritance of grace and glory. And under this notion the covenant has no condition, nor are any such either expressed or intimated in this place."
- "the whole Israel of God, or the church of the elect, is principally intended by this means" see v8
after those days
after Mt. Sinai?
- no, that would make nonsense of the prophecy, because it was already given after Mt. Sinai
- after Mt. Sinai?
Babylonian captivity and return?
no covenant was then made; obliged them to the old Mal 4:4-6, which was to be removed
"the promise is not of new obligation, or new assistance to the observance of the old covenant, but of making a new one quite of another nature, which then was not done"
- "the promise is not of new obligation, or new assistance to the observance of the old covenant, but of making a new one quite of another nature, which then was not done"
- no covenant was then made; obliged them to the old Mal 4:4-6, which was to be removed
"regarded them not" was because they rejected new, not because they disobeyed old Heb 3; Rom 11
- "To that end the making of the new covenant cannot be said to be after their rejection, seeing they were rejected for their refusal and contempt of it."
- but a remnant remained
gradually made and established
- first entrance = John the Baptist Mal 4; Mk 1:1; Mtt 3:8-10
- incarnation of Jesus Lk 2:13,14
- solemnly enacted and confirmed in his death; the promise became a testament Heb 9:14-16
complemented by resurrection of Christ = old had its perfect end Matt 5:17-18
- Christ fulfilled the righteousness required (in old as revival of CoWorks)
- the curse of it was undertaken; sanction of the law was declared void
- first solemn promulgation = Pentecost; "answered the promulgation of the law on Mt. Sinai, the same space of time after the delivery of the people out of Egypt"
- the Holy Spirit abrogated the continuance of the old covenant in Acts 15
General Nature of These Promises
Socinians say the promise of law on heart is the promise of a more spiritual, rational, intellectual law that is easier to obey, or includes greater incentive to obey; but the obedience is still a matter of our own will
- "The text is not expounded, but corrupted by them"
- God says He will write the law; Socinians say He won't
- Regeneration itself is promised because NC must provide power to abide
Nowhere is the power of the NC ascribed to our reason or natural principles; but to the Spirit of God
- Our wills are involved, but not autonomous
Regeneration is promised in same way as forgiveness of sins; thus can't deny one without the other
it overthrows the grace of the NC
- our participation in the covenant is promised
- Christ would be made mediator of an uncertain covenant dependent upon our will
- thus NC couldn't be a testament
- it removes the difference between NC and OC
- NC could be fulfilled without anyone being saved
- Socinians say the promise of law on heart is the promise of a more spiritual, rational, intellectual law that is easier to obey, or includes greater incentive to obey; but the obedience is still a matter of our own will
Two Objections Removed
NC is future, but regeneration occurred prior to NC; thus NC does not promise regeneration
- "This objection was sufficiently prevented in what we have already discoursed concerning the efficacy of the grace of this covenant before itself was solemnly consummated."
- Regeneration springs from mediation of Christ
- This took place from time of the first promise
- thus what is here intended is the confirmation upon which such grace did depend
- NC is future, but regeneration occurred prior to NC; thus NC does not promise regeneration
Such a promise would imply the salvation of all with whom the covenant is made, but not all of them are saved
- The preparation and proposition of laws are not the making of the covenant
- All with whom this covenant is made are effectually sanctified, justified, and saved
Restoration of the Image of God in Us; sanctification
subject = mind and heart; the seat of natural corruption
- (Extent of grace in NC; Some say conditions are given to all, but effect only to some; Others say full effect, but limited to some people, regardless of "outward administration", to which Owen subscribes)
- subject = mind and heart; the seat of natural corruption
manner of producing the effect
- by God's free grace; a gift
- it is received by those it is given to, else not a gift
- "I will put" = "actual communication, not a fruitless tender"
moral only? or others also?
- "The 'laws of God' therefore are here taken largely for the whole revelation of the mind and will of God." Hebrew "law" originally means "doctrine" or "instruction"
- regeneration; made conformable to whole law of God
- heart is the will
- He will effectually work that obedience in us which the law in stone does require (10 commandments)
- was so in a "peculiar portion" by the old covenant which was disannulled
- relation under first covenant of works ceased
- because of our rebellion God would not offer life again by direct covenant with man
thus He provided a mediator
- "It was therefore with him that God firstly made this covenant"
Mediator must be Christ
- see Owen Misc. vol i: xxv - xxxiv; and rest of Hebrews commentary
- God could not deal immediately with sinful man without satisfaction for sin 2 Cor 5:19, 20; Gal 3:13,14; Rom 3:25
- no restipulation of man could be ground of entering the covenant; thus need a surety
- responsibility of dispensing grace given to mediator Jn 1:14; Col 1:19; 2:3; Eph 3:8; 2 Cor 1:20
- thus God became Christ's God, and Christ became His servant (see Owen Heb 1:5, 8, 9; 2:13)
- by thus being Christ's Father in covenant, he became our Father John 20:17; Heb 2:12,13; we became joint-heirs
- "Whatever God is in himself, whatever these properties of his nature extend to, in it all God has promised to be our God: Gen 17:1; Ps 9:9,10
- all-sufficient provider and all sufficient rewarder Gen 17:1; 15:1; Heb 11:6
- Rule and measure of God's actions toward us are the promises of the covenant
- respond "You are my God" Hos 2:23
- God owns them according to the tenor and promise of the covenant Tit 2:14; Jer 2:3
- includes "their voluntary engagement of obedience to him as their God" Hos 2:23
Verse 11: They will all know me
Negative part of promise (comparison with old)
- emphasis "they will by no means"
- teaching here is not universal, but of a certain kind
subject matter = knowledge of God; "Know the Lord"
- knowing Him as God; 1st commandment
- his mind and will, as to the obedience which the law required Deut 29:29
everyone taught everyone in old
- they will not teach = "not as to the act or duty of reaching, but as to the effect, or saving knowledge itself. The principal efficient cause of our learning the knowledge of God under the NC is included in this part of the promise"
- all of them in covenant will know
Some say this means no teaching, no ordinances, no professing church
- but they're inconsistent because they urge others to adopt their view, and thus they teach
- But this is completely contrary to the purpose of the author of Hebrews, who is saying "now"
- and comparing to old; "intends only that of the old, and exalts the new above it"
- "so there is no such difficulty in the words as to force us to carry the interpretation of them into another world"
sometimes in Scripture something is denied absolutely when it is only comparatively so Jer 7:22, 23
- "there was an outward teaching of 'every man his neighbor' enjoined under the old testament. The people trusted to and rested in this, without any regard to God's teaching by the inward circumcision of the heart. But in the new covenant, there being an express promise of an internal, effectual teaching by the Spirit of God... that outward teaching is useless and ineffectual...; not absolutely, but in comparison"
instituted by God Deut 6:6-9; Num 15:38,39
- to abide forever; "No promise of the gospel does evacuate any precept of the law of nature"
- included moral
- which is taken away by the NC
- thus this false outward teaching was to be ended
- as it is outward, it is compared and laid aside by inward teaching of NC
- as it respected the ceremonial law and pictures
knowledge of God hidden in types, veils, shadows
"Now this kind of teaching, by mutual encouragement to look into the veiled things of the mystery of God in Christ, is now to cease, at the solemn introduction of the new covenant, as being rendered useless by the full, clear revelation and manifestation of them made in the gospel."
- "they will no more need to teach this knowledge of God; for it will be made plain to the understanding of all believers. And this is that which I judge to be principally intended by the Holy Spirit in this part of the promise"
- "Now this kind of teaching, by mutual encouragement to look into the veiled things of the mystery of God in Christ, is now to cease, at the solemn introduction of the new covenant, as being rendered useless by the full, clear revelation and manifestation of them made in the gospel."
To Whom it was Made
- all of them
- "Where there is not some degree of saving knowledge, there no interest in the new covenant can be pretended."
knowledge of God Deut 29:6; Jer 24:7; Ezek 11:10; 36:23, 26, 27
object = God
- not by light of nature
- not by revelation of God in old covenant
- knowledge of God revealed in Jesus Christ
- object = God
The Promised Considered
To Whom it is Made
- all those absolutely and only those with whom God makes this covenant are intended ("those whose sins are not pardoned do in no sense partake of this covenant; it is not made with them.")
Objection: if it is not conditional and not made with all men, then men are pardoned before they believe
- "The communication and donation of faith to us is an effect of the same grace in accordance with which our sins are pardoned; and they are both bestowed on us by virtue of the same covenant."
- "The application of pardoning mercy to our souls is in order of nature consequent to believing, but in time they go together."
- "Faith is not required to the procuring of the pardon of our sins, but to the receiving of it. Acts 10:43"
- To Whom it is Made
What is Promised: Pardon of Sins
What is Meant by Sins
Guilt by transgressing the law
- Pardon is the dissolution of that obligation
"lawlessness" = "transgression of the law"
- Guilt by transgressing the law
- What is Meant by Sins
What is Meant by Pardon of Sins
- procured by propitiation by mediator
- dissolution of the obeligation of the law binding over the guilty sinner to punishment
- "Sin will never be called legally to remembrance"
- See Owen on Ps 130 (Misc. Vol vi)
Verse 13: The Necessity and Certainty of the Abolition of the First Covenant
Special Word or Testimony
- "new" (not "second" or "another")
thus the first is necessarily made "old"
- God called church from resting in old by promising new
- He declared its infirmities, weakness, insufficiency
God providentially weaken its administration
- after promise of NC, exiled in Babylon 70 years (first exile since Mt Sinai)
- upon return, neither the temple, administrations of covenant, or priesthood were ever restored to pristine beauty and glory
- God gave hope, not by promising to make covenant better, but by promising an end to it Hag 2:6-9
"that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away"
- "old" indicative of that which is to have an end Is 51:6
- Angels live forever, but they never get old, because they do not die
- the gradual removal of it; it departs as a thing by its removal out of our sight
To God be the glory.