1) The New Covenant

1.3.1 The New Covenant

To answer the question at the end of the previous chapter we will look at 1 Thess 4:8,9:

  1. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
  2. Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

Although v.8b is a near quotation of Ez 36:27, Paul has altered the form of the verb ‘give’ from future to a present participal, indicating “a present and continuing reality in the christian community.”p.33

And then in v.9 the promise of Jer 31:34 that ‘And no longer shall each one teach’ is now fulfilled in ‘you yourselves have been taught by God’. The New Covenent is not like the Old.

In support of the thesis that this is key to the self-understanding of the Christian community we will look at 2 Cor 3 where Paul is defending his apostolic credentials. As in Gal 3:2, he argues that:

…through his preaching, the Christians of Corinth have received the Spirit of the living God (v.3). The cogency of his argument here depends on two factors wich he, and obviously his readers, regard as self-evident: (a) what essentially constitutes the christian community as such is the possession of the Spirit, and (b) the fact that the Spirit is imparted through his own preaching is an adequate (indeed, the only adequate) authentication of his apostolate. We are here at the very heart of Paul’s understanding of christianity and of his owen apostolate.p.34

Paul uses imagery from Jer 31 and Ez 36 “…because he takes is for granted that the Corinthians share with him the conviction that christianity is essentially the realisation of the promise of the New Covenant contained in the pages of Jeremiah and Ezechiel.”p.35

In v.6 he describes himself as a ‘minister of the New Covenant’ and in v.8 this ministry is the ‘ministry of the Spirit’.

It important to note that the Church’s understanding that they are the People of the New Covenand is not “…the result of a deduction made from scriptural texts: it is an inference made from the experience of the Spirit, interpreted in the light of scriptural texts, and itself illumining them.”p.35

Updated 2009-09-27 (build:50) by Andrew Fountain