The Idea of the New Covenant as presented in the Gospels and the Pauline letters may sound “new” to modern Christ-followers. But is it really?
Jeremiah declared that in the future the LORD would establish a New Covenant with both the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This covenant, unlike the previous one, would be characterized by God’s Torah being written on the very hearts of the Ancient People of God (Jer. 31:31-34).
But were there Jews in the first century who did not follow Jesus, but believed that they lived in the days of the New Covenant? The answer to this question is yes.
When several important archaeological discoveries were made, it became clear that first century Jesus-followers were not alone in laying claim to the idea of the New Covenant. For example, we read that some Jews called their faithful: “…to observe the Sabbath according to its true meaning and the feasts and the day of the Fast according to the utterances of them who entered into the New Covenant in the land of Damascus… To love everyone his brother as himself, and to strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy and the stranger…” (CD 8:15-17).
The Jewish followers of Christ Jesus differed with them in that they were persuaded that the New Covenant was inaugurated not near Damascus, but near Jerusalem (Matt.28:26-30) and that through the blood of Jesus. So, was the New Covenant really “new?” No, not at all – in fact, it was a very old Jewish idea.
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