Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Imminent New Covenant with Immanently Better Promises
The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.
As we discussed in earlier posts, the New Testament writings show a transition between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. In looking at the expectation of the consummation of the New Covenant we will turn to Hebrews chapter eight.
Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The word translated as ready to vanish in this verse is the Greek word eggus. In the NIV it is translated as will soon disappear. The definition of eggus is at hand, nigh, ready or, near. There is no way that one could possibly postpone the fulfillment of this two thousand years and be truthful. If, the new covenant has not been consummated by now then the passage as written has failed. The audience to which this was written would expect that the Old Covenant would vanish within his or her generation. It is impossible that fulfillment could be put off two thousand years. We will see eggus quite often as we explore imminence in the New Testament.
For now though, we want to keep the focus on the New Covenant. The majority of evangelical theologians and denominations do not and would not embrace the idea that the New Covenant has been consummated in its intended fullness. They see the overlapping of covenants that was obvious in the New Testament writings. This is made manifest in the number of people who accept the already/not yet idea that is so apparent in the New Testament writings. They see the new covenant as already instituted but not yet consummated. This is precisely why it is important to look at the predominate theme of imminence in the New Testament. In the first century scriptures there is an expectation of imminent fulfillment. Once you become aware of it….it is everywhere.
In fact, not only were the first century Christians expecting imminent fulfillment of prophecy, the Jews too were expecting the end of the age and, the beginning of the age to come (olam ha ba.) They were expecting the New Covenant to be brought in by the Messiah.
How would the first century Jewish believers view ready to vanish away? Well, they would have tied the vanishing to the destruction of the temple prophesied by Jesus. They were told that the Old Covenant would vanish when the temple was destroyed. This destruction would be the day of the Lord, the coming of the Son of Man, the final judgment of the Old Covenant economy and the consummation of the New Covenant.
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