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, many assume the New Testament of our Bibles is the same as 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 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 our New Testaments begin?

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

The new covenant begins after the death of Jesus Christ1,2,3,6,7,8,9, who was its mediator3,9 in heaven4. Jesus’ death — when the old covenant ceased1,2,5 — 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 after His resurrection9, that we see the evidence of the new covenant being in effect — where the apostles preached the gospel message4 and declared the inauguration of the “last days” as was foretold by the prophets.

John confirms (John 7:37-39) that it’s after the Son’s departure when the Holy Spirit would come for all those who believed in Him. We see that fulfilled in Acts 24. Have you entered into this new covenant relationship by being baptized in His name?

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
For in him [Christ] all of God’s glory was pleased to dwell.  Through Him, all things in heaven and earth are reconciled to God in peace by His blood on the cross.
Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae where he confronts false teaching in the form of “human philosophies and traditions”.  Earlier in this chapter, he references “the word of the truth, the gospel” which came to them and “indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing” (vs 6).
Scripture-block application to this question

The “peace” made by the replacement of the Old Covenant with the New Covenant came about “by the blood of HIs cross”.

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 Law [Mosaic] or the Prophets because I’ve 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; all of it will be 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.”

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

But now we have been freed from the law [of Moses] since we died to what was holding us captive, and we’ve turned to serve in the new way of the Spirit instead of the old way of the written code.

Paul is making the broader point of the richness and fullness of God’s grace toward sinful man (chap 5) before turning to man’s response to God’s saving grace (chap 6) and a series of rhetorical questions (through chap 7):

  1. 6:1 – “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!”
  2. 6:15 – “Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (where these verses fit to support his argument)
  3. 7:7 – “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means!”
Scripture-block application to this question

Jews who turned to Christ were “released from the law”. It was the “old way” but they were now serving in a “new way”.

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

But their [Israelites] hearts were hardened, because even now when the Mosaic Law is read the veil remains for them since it is only lifted through Christ. Indeed, whenever Moses is read their hearts are veiled unless they turn to the Lord.

Paul is commending the Christians in Corinth by drawing a distinction between the Old Law – written on stone – with the New Law of the Spirit – written on hearts – in which they labor (3:1-2).

Scripture-block application to this question

When Paul is writing this to the Corinthians, Christ had already taken away the “veil” that would have otherwise existed under the old covenant.

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son; listen to him. And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

A cloud overshadowed them [Peter, James, and John] and they heard a voice from the cloud tell them that this was His beloved Son and they should listen to Him. Then, at once, they looked around and saw nobody except Jesus.

Jesus has taken Peter, James, and John to a high mountain where they witness His transfiguration (vs 2-3) and Elijah and Moses talking with Him (vs 4).

Mark’s account parallels with Matthew (17:1-13) and Luke (9:28-36).

Scripture-block application to this question

God instructs that Jesus is the one to whom they should now pay heed, superseding Moses (representing the time of the Mosaic Law) and Elijah (representing the time of the prophets).

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Following this, Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about this until after He has risen from the dead (vs 9).

Leave your comment below…

…and if you’re wondering more about what we’re doing and why, here are some links we hope can help explain it (and maybe even get you excited about contributing):

what do you think?

related to 'When did the New Covenant begin?'

lend your own study to the discussion

PUBLIC COMMENT POLICY: While your email is required, it will not be posted publically.
All comments are vetted for potential spam before being published, but will not be restricted otherwise.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments