With Whom is the "New Covenant" Made?

The New Covenant is foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-35 (KJV):

31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

The question would be two-fold: a) who is included in the phrase "house of Israel"; and b) are there any inspired applications of Jeremiah 31:31-35 by Jesus or his spirit-guided disciples.

We note that Jesus said: "I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) Surely this included his Jewish apostles and disciples. Jesus sent these apostles to "go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:6) This "house of Israel" would have included all those early Jewish disciples who accepted Jesus by the thousands. For Peter speaks: "Let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Would this "promise" include only literal Jews? Peter continues when he promises: "For the promise is to you and to your children (house of Israel) and to all those afar off (Gentiles; compare Isaiah 49:5 6, 8 12 with Ephesians 2:11-13), just as many as the Lord our God may call to him."

Did Peter consider the Gentile believers as part of that spiritual nation? He gives his own inspired answer when he writes to Gentiles (1 Peter 2:4-10 KJV):

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Surely we can testify with a surety that the new covenant was made with the "house of Israel" and that said "house" include the Jewish disciples of Jesus as well as those Gentile believers who flocked to him? Do we have any other inspired writers who make applications of Jeremiah 31:31-35? Indeed, a most outstanding one, for he quotes the entire passage in Jeremiah when he writes:

14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament [new covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:14, 15 KJV)

And, again, it is the "blood of Jesus" and none other that inaugurates this "new covenant" with the "house of Israel."

14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God." (Hebrews 10:14-21 KJV)

And he writes again in his letter:

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

We confess that this "house of God" includes both Jews and Gentiles as this same writer states in Ephesians 2:19-22:

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Thus, that Passover night, our Lord pointed to that blood of his which would soon be poured out to inaugurate that "new covenant" foretold by Jeremiah. There in that upper room were the "foundation stones" of his apostles as Jewish members of the "house of Israel" with whom the "new covenant" was made. Our Lord told these:

15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:15-20 KJV)

So, we have the inspired words of Jesus, Peter and Paul to confirm the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-35 as applying to those Jewish and Gentile disciples of Jesus as members of the "Israel of God" -- the "real Israel." (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; Galatians 3:29) They were in the legal contract called the "new covenant" which was enforced by the blood and flesh of one man -- Jesus Christ the Nazarene.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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