What is new about the New Testament? Part 1.

posted in: Bible 0

By Rob Lampard

Introduction

What’s ‘new’ about the New Testament?  For anyone interested in the message of the Bible, this is a question worth considering.  Here’s another reason why it should provoke Christians in many parts of the world.

 

Islam claims to be God’s final revelation to mankind, made known to us through the prophet Mohammad.[1]  If that is so, an obvious question is this:  How does the message of the Quran improve on that of the Bible?  That, of course, is a question for Muslims to answer.  But this is not a credible question for Christians to put to Muslims if Christians don’t themselves know how the message of the New Testament develops and exceeds that of the Old.

A Summary Answer

On a simple level, the answer to our question might seem obvious: Jesus is new.  The promised Messiah has arrived in person.  That which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament has become, or more accurately begun to become, a reality.  On another level, the Old Testament is a very large document.  So surely we might be able to develop this theme in more detail – probably considerably more detail?  And how does the New Testament itself answer our question for us?

 

Here’s a simple list of ‘new’ things which the New Testament itself references, listed in the order it mentions them:

 

  1. New wine (Matthew 9:17 = Mark 2:22 = Luke 5:37)
  2. New treasures (Matthew 13:52)
  3. New teaching (Mark 1:27, Acts 17:19)
  4. New languages (Mark 16:17)
  5. New Covenant (Luke 22:20, 1Corinthians 11:25, 2Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:8, 8:13, 9:15, 12:24)
  6. New birth (John 3:3-8, 1Peter 1;3)
  7. New commandment (John 13:34, 1John 2:8)
  8. New life (Acts 5:20, Romans 6:4)
  9. New access (Romans 5:1-2, Hebrews 10:20)
  10. New way of life (Romans 7:6)
  11. New life-style (1Corinthians 5:7, Ephesians 4:23-24, Colossians 3:10)
  12. New creation (2Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15, Ephesians 2:15)
  13. The New Order (Hebrews 9:10)[2]
  14. New Heaven and Earth (2Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1)
  15. New name (Revelation 2:17, Revelation 3:12)
  16. New Jerusalem ((Revelation 3:12, 21:2)
  17. New song (Revelation 5:9, 14:3)
  18. New everything (Revelation 21:5)

 

Beyond that, there are doubtless many allusions to new things where the exact word is not used.  This is perhaps especially so in the books of Hebrews and Revelation, to which we’ll devote specific consideration in part 3 and 4 of this blog.  Before that, part 2 will expand on the topics of the new authority with which Jesus taught, the new covenant, and the new life which his ministry to people results in.

 

[1] For a more detailed description of how Islam hangs together, see my separate blog of that name.

[2] Some readers might detect echoes of the film Star Wars 7 here.  Unlike in that film, the New Order mentioned here is a wonderful rather than threatening thing.

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