Is the covenant we’re under – a NEW covenant or RENEWED covenant?
We’re coming up soon to the Passover where Christ clearly stated that the cup of red wine they were drinking was “the NEW covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25).
There is much discussion in some circles whether the covenant Yeshua established is a “brand new” covenant or the same as the old covenant given at Mt. Sinai but simply “renewed”. So you’ll hear many preachers of some (not all) of the Hebrew Roots groups and Messianic groups repeating the phrase “Renewed Covenant”.
So, is there any difference? I submit there is a massive difference in consequence of our doctrinal understanding, our behavior and the joy we can experience if we think we are essentially still under the old covenant just brushed up a bit – or if we are under a totally brand new covenant that didn’t exist before.
Please read that last sentence again.
And some of you feel it is not a big issue, and think it’s just a matter of semantics; a striving over words. One man said in my hearing, “New, renewed – so what? What’s the difference? It’s no big deal. It’s just semantics.”
I think it is a huge deal in the consequences of our understanding whether we feel we are under a renewed covenant or a brand new one. I will be giving a full-fledged sermon in the next 2-3 weeks about the covenants – Old and New – but let’s whet your appetite with this blog: are you in a RENEWED covenant or a NEW covenant, and does it matter?
Click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right to read the rest of this blog explaining why making the correct distinction between the former covenant and present covenant, as Scripture does, is so important to worshiping God in truth. In fact, you’ll miss much of the joy of the new covenant if you don't “see” that it’s a BRAND NEW covenant.
I believe we are in a brand new covenant for several reasons. We are not just in a rehash of the old covenant that’s been polished up a bit. You’ll relish and enjoy the new covenant we are in perhaps far more than you have been, after you’ve heard, read and studied the topic as I go through it in a full length sermon.
Many use the argument that it is a “renewed” covenant because just as we speak of a “new moon” each month, it really is still the same old moon, but just renewing its appearance.
In the Hebrew, it does appear that the word “new” – in context of how it is used –canindeed mean “renewed” or “brand new”. I typically see each “camp” showing only their scriptures that “prove” that the covenant is new or renewed. But we need to be honest with scripture and see them all. So we have to put all the scriptures on the topic of the covenant we have in Christ in context and see if it is renewed or brand new. And we’ll get to the Greek in a minute too.
THE Hebrew and Greek for “new”
The truth is: in the Hebrew, the word translated “new” can mean “brand new” or it can mean “renewed”. We have to see by context what is meant.
I’m referring to the adjective hadas, also spelled chadash (silent C) (#2319 adjective), from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words:
“OT: 2319 C. Adjective.
Chadash OT:2319, "new; renewed." This adjective appears 53 times in biblical Hebrew.
Chadash means "new" BOTH in the sense of recent or fresh (as the opposite of old) and in the sense of something not previously existing. The first nuance appears in Lev 23:16: "Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord."
The first biblical occurrence of chadash Ex 1:8 demonstrates the second meaning: "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." This second nuance occurs in Isaiah's discussion of the future salvation. For example, in Isa 42:10 a new saving act of God will bring forth a new song of praise to Him: "Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth...." The Psalter uses the phrase "a new song" in this sense; a new saving act of God has occurred and a song responding to that act celebrates it.
The "new" is often contrasted to the former: "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" Isa 42:9. Jer 31:31-34 employs this same nuance speaking of the new covenant (cf. Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31).”
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Here’s what the Complete Word Study Dictionary of Old Testament Words says about “new” – hadas (Strong’s # 2319) in Hebrew, and basically they say what I just said: that the word is used both in the sense of brand new – never having existed before, and in the sense of renewed. So here is what they say:
“2319: An adjective meaning new, fresh. It is used to describe many different items as renewed or fresh: king over Egypt (Ex 1:8); house (Deut 20:5); covenant (Jer 31:31); heaven and earth (Isa 65:17); wife (Deut 24:5); harvest of grain (Lev 23:16); garment (1 Kings 11:29,30); vessel (2 Kings 2:20). It is used to indicate something new in an obsolete sense, never seen or done before (Eccl 1:9,10). It refers to a new song of praise God's people will sing to Him (Ps 33:3; 40:3[:4 ]; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1); and to a new spirit that God implants within them (Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26).”
(from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament Copyright © 2003 by AMG Publishers. All rights reserved.)
So obviously the new king over Egypt who didn’t know Joseph was a brand new king, not a refreshed old Pharaoh (Exodus 1:8). A man who had a “new wife” (Deut 24:5) – obviously that was a wife who had never been his wife before. And if God is putting a new spirit into people – it is a spirit, I assure you, they have never had before. It’s a brand new spirit, a brand new experience, for them.
In the Greek, there are two primary words used for our English word “new” – kainos and neos. Kainos denotes brand new. Neos means “newer” or “fresher” in terms of time. So kainos – is used for the new creation we are in Christ; a “new man” (Ephesians 2:15) in that it is a new character that has never been before. So kainos is also used for the new (kainos) name we shall receive (Rev 2:17). And we’ll be singing a new song to God (Rev 5:9), not one we have sung for decades. There will be new heavens and new earth, for the old ones have passed away. They’re not being renewed! They’re brand new.
However sometimes both Greek words are used for the same thing, so we have to read them in context once again. That’s the truth. A “new wine” can be translated from “neos” – as it’s a fresh and recent grape harvest and production. But the “new wine” of the kingdom (Matthew 25:29; Mark 14:25) comes from the word “kainos” because it’s representing a new and different character from anything seen in the world today!
Hence the “new covenant” is defined with both words frankly (now that’s being frank and honest with you):
- It’s a brand new covenant – one which has never been before – kainosis used in this context – in Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Hebrews 8:8, 13; Hebrews 9:15. And yes, the word “new” IS in the original Greek in Luke 22:20.
- Our Father’s new covenant with us is also newer in TIME – SO “NEOS” is used in Hebrews 12:24, as it is newer in time also.
But the predominant use for the “new covenant” comes from the Greek word “kainos” – something brand new, never used before, or qualitatively different from other similar subjects.
So in terms of the “new covenant” in the New Testament , it’s NOT the old covenant brushed up.
GOD HIMSELF says this new covenant will NOT be like the old one He gave them at Mt. Sinai. NOT like it. Read that in Jeremiah 31:31-32 when He says He “will make a NEW (kainos in Hebrew s 8:8 – new in character, brand new, never seen before) covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”, and that it will “NOT BE according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt…” (Hebrews 8:8-9; Jeremiah 31:31-32).
So in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8:8-9, Yahweh himself is saying the new covenant will NOT BE like the one he made at Mt Sinai. It’s not like a rebuilt transmission, a renewed transmission – NO, my brothers and sisters -- but a brand new transmission (pardon my poor analogy) that has never been used before!
Quite frankly, if you want to believe we’re in a renewed covenant, then that explains why those who believe that also believe they still have to abide by all 613 laws and statutes in “the law of Moses.” And they will have to ignore most of Hebrews 7, 8, 9 and 10 and Galatians 4 and 2 Corinthians 3.
But I will challenge ANYONE who says they abide by all 613 rules of the Old Covenant to show me that they do in fact abide by every singleone of those 613 laws every single day, all the time. I wonder if most have even read the entire list to check them out.Most people I’ve had the conversation with quickly see that there are a few dozen rules they simply do not keep fully or accurately. For example, do you dwell in literal booths at the Feast of Tabernacles – literal booths made from the 4 specific species of trees, for exactly 7 days (not 8)? Do you ladies follow the menstrual laws and everything you sit on during that time becomes unclean? Do you wear blue-threaded tassels (tzit-zit) but not too long (as Christ taught)? And remember, if you’re looking to that for your salvation, you’re going to have to keep every single one perfectly, every single time – or you’re still failing.
SO this is why I hope you hear my sermon on the much more glorious new covenant, ratified in heavenly Jerusalem, not in Mt Sinai. When you understand how this new covenant is brand new, you will see things in it that will bring you much joy.
A couple other points worth saying:
- Galatians 4:21-25 speaks of TWO distinct covenants – the old one typified by HAGAR and Ishmael, and the NEW one typified by Sarah and the son of the Promise, Isaac. Read it yourself. Paul is not mincing any words here. These are TWO distinctly different covenants in his inspired view. “For these are TWO covenants…the one from Mt Sinai … and the one from Jerusalem above which is free, and the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:21-25).
- It’s called the “SECOND covenant” – not the same old first one cleaned up. Would you refer to the same item that just been cleaned up -- as “the second”?
- It’s said to be replacing the other old one, which is becoming old, obsolete. (Hebrews 8:13)
- This new covenant is called a “better covenant” than the previous one (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6)
- It is said to be much more glorious than the first one (2 Cor. 3:7-11).
Our Father likes “new” – brand new. He likes a new Jerusalem. That is why there will be a new heavens and new earth, for the former will have all passed away someday. That’s why he gives us a NEW heart – something we’ve never had before. With that NEW heart, he says he takes out the old stony one and gives us a new one – all of which fully happens once we are resurrected into our BRAND new glorious spirit body, when this corruption puts on incorruption fully at that time.
When I record the new (brand new for me) sermon about the NEW covenant, you will see how glorious this new covenant really is. It’s so much more than what most people point to – no longer needing animal sacrifices and most know that the new covenant gives us a new High Priest in Christ. That’ all super-terrific too, but there’s so, so much more!