christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

is the old covenant obsolete? part three

Previously: is the old covenant obsolete? part two

We have been looking at Heb 8:6-13 to see what the writer of Hebrews meant by this:

“When He said, ‘a new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”

So I looked up “obsolete” as used in Heb 8:13 in the Greek. The literal Greek translation of this verse is:

“In that He saith ‘new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become worn out and waxeth old is nigh disappearing.” Blue Letter Bible Greek Textus Receptus with KJV translation

Notice the word “obsolete” is not in the Greek. But it does say that the first covenant is becoming worn out and ‘waxeth old’ (very interesting that the verb tense is one of continuing action, not accomplished action).

Why use the term ‘waxeth old’? The writer is referring back to the passage in Jeremiah that he quoted:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—” Heb 8:7-8, quoting Jer 31:31

The Hebrew word for ‘new’ in “new covenant,” means “refreshed, renewed” as an abstract concept (as it is used in Jeremiah). But as a noun, it is the same word used for the new moon which is sighted every month to determine the start of the biblical months and thus when the feast days of the Lord are to occur. The writer of Hebrews is continuing to use the waning and waxing of the moon as a metaphor in referring to ‘new’ and ‘old’, in other words, as Jeremiah, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, originally did.

You see, the moon does not go away and is no more. It is always there. So the Law does not go away and is no more. But our relationship to the Law has changed. In the old covenant, that which ‘waxeth old’ and is getting ready to disappear is that we had to obey the Law by obligation against our nature. That is one ‘fault’ or deficiency of the old covenant. In the new covenant, we delight to obey the Law according to our nature, because it has been written on the tablets of our hearts. For in the new covenant, we are transformed by the new birth.

The old covenant is not obsolete as we saw that term was never in the Greek to begin with. But in the new covenant, now we can proclaim with the psalmist:

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” Psa 40:8

Continued: that which has been nailed to the cross


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