Modern Bibles consist of an Old and New Testament. A “testament” is simply a will (as in “last will and testament”), a legal covenant, or a contract. Therefore, the New Testament in our Bibles represents the New Covenant – or the Law of Christ. Beginning with the book of Matthew, the New Testament follows nearly four hundred years of silence from God (the inter-Testament period). It opens with the four books of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These respective books/men each give their personal account of the life of Jesus. Since a testament is the same as a covenant, does the new covenant begin where the New Testament in our Bibles begins?

How Scripture answers "When did the New Covenant begin?"

The new covenant begins after the death of Jesus Christ1,2,5, who is its mediator2 in heaven3. Jesus’ death — when the old covenant ceased1,4 — is recorded near the end of each of the Gospel accounts (in our “New Testaments”). As a result, it’s notable that the entire life of Jesus on earth…as well as the saving of the thief on the cross by Jesus…happened under the Mosaic Law. It’s not until fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, where we see the evidence of the new covenant being in effect with the apostles preaching the gospel message3 and declaring the inauguration of the “last days” as was foretold by the prophets.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
You who were dead in your sins and uncircumcised in the flesh, God made alive with Him by forgiving our sins since He forgave our sins by removing the Mosaic Law with its legal demands that opposed us.  He set it aside by nailing it to the cross, triumphing over, dismantling, and disgracing the rulers and authorities.
In the immediate context, Paul is warning the Colossians to not fall away by being captivated (enamored) by empty philosophies or anything that is not according to Christ (vs 8).  He continues by specifically calling out the Mosaic Law (“a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees”) – the law that Christ replaced.  Under the same theme of not falling away, he tells them not to allow others to judge them against things pertaining to the Mosaic Law such as food, drink, feasts, Sabbath days (vs 16).   In Christ, they are not obligated to observe those things.
Scripture-block application to this question

The end of old covenant died with Jesus on the cross.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Therefore, He [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant [or will, testament], in order for those that are called to inherit the promise of eternal life because a death occurred redeeming them from sins committed under the old covenant. For where a covenant is involved, the one making it must die for it to take effect. It is not in force when the maker of it is alive.

Hebrews is a letter encouraging Jewish Christians to “hold fast” because their faith in Christ is “better” than the Mosaic law they were under in numerous ways. At this point, the writer is contrasting the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices in place under the Mosaic Law and replaced with Christ and the new covenant.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus, as the mediator of the new covenant, had to die before it became effective.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Let every person of Jewish descent know for certain that God has made Him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ, the very one you crucified.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost where he recalled several prophetic statements from Joel and David (vss 16-36). By divine inspiration, Peter interpreted these statements to apply their fulfillment to Jesus and the ushering in of the “last days.”

On believing his message (that Jesus was the Christ), they asked what they needed to do to be saved. More were continuing to be saved and they began meeting together as the Lord’s church (

vss 41-47
Scripture-block application to this question

Peter is preaching the first sermon of the new gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Don’t think that I [Jesus] came to cancel the Mosaic Law or the Prophets since I have actually come to fulfill them. What I’m saying is true. Not before all of this world is destroyed will any part of the Law be disregarded until all is accomplished.

After beginning His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ by describing the characteristics of a [new] kingdom citizen (vss 2-14), Jesus clarifies that His coming fulfills the Old Law and does not replace it.

He continues to give specific examples of how their behavior would need to exceed that of the religious leaders of their day (vs 20 “scribes and Pharisees”).

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus’ own claim while preaching about this new kingdom and new covenant, was that it fulfilled or completed the Old Law. Its fulfillment occurs when “all is accomplished” which correlates to Jesus’ final words on the cross (“It is finished” – John 19:30).

So I said, I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another. And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. Then I said to them, If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them. And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.
This is in the midst of a long series of “on that day” prophecies (chapters 8-14). This section contains several New Testament, inspired-writer-confirmed Messianic passages including 11:13 (“thirty pieces of silver”), 12:10 (“him whom they have pierced”), and 13:7 (“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”).

Additionally, when we collect the descriptors and characteristics of these successive “that day” references, we see what appear to be additional metaphorical descriptions of both the New Covenant period (beginning on the day of Pentecost) and of final judgment day:

  • God “will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days” (8:11) – new covenant
  • a “sowing of peace” (8:12) – new covenant
  • “many peoples and strong nations…seek the Lord” (8:22) – Gentiles added
  • king coming with “salvation…humble and mounted on a donkey” (9:9) – Jesus
  • God will “save them, as the flock of his people” (9:16) – Jesus
  • “From him shall come the cornerstone” (10:10) – Jesus
  • God “became the shepherd of the flock doomed” (11:4) – Jesus
  • annul the covenant with wages of “thirty pieces of silver” (11:13) – Jesus
  • “every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies” (12:4) – prophecy ceases
  • “feeblest…shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God” (12:8) – joint heirs with Jesus
  • pour out a “spirit of grace” (12:10)
  • mourning when “they look on me, on him whom they have pierced” (12:10) – Jesus
  • a fountain opened “to cleanse them from sin” (13:1) – redemption
  • “They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.” (13:9) – Joel 2/Acts 2
  • Lord “king over all the earth” (14:9) – Jesus risen, at right hand of God
  • Not just the High Priest, but even the horses (unclean animals) have “Holy to the Lord.” inscribed on them. (14:20)
Scripture-block application to this question

God, through Zechariah, speaks of a time when He would be the peoples’ shepherd. A time marked by when He “broke” and “annulled the covenant…made with all the peoples”. It’s also marked by when “they weighed out as [His] wages thirty pieces of silver.”

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