top of page
  • Writer's pictureBOO

SM #15: The End of the World as We Know It (Real Righteousness, part 2)

Updated: Apr 20

For Amen I tell you, until the heavens and the earth pass away, not the smallest letter or even a part of a letter will pass away from the Law, until everything comes into being. ~ JESUS (Matthew 5:18)

SUMMARY: Read this and skip the rest (if you want)

  • We should interpret the teaching of Jesus within the context of the actions of Jesus.

  • Matthew recordes ten miracles in the two chapters following the Sermon on the Mount, probably paralleling the Ten Plagues that led to Israel's freedom. Except all of Jesus' miracles are restorative rather than destructive.

  • Jesus' miracles, and his later teaching, ignore or override specific laws of Moses (like touching a leper). So, something is indeed "passing away".

  • The passing away of heaven and earth is likely a figurative way of talking about an "earth shattering" event - the birth and life and death and resurrection of the Son of God.

  • Later in Matthew, Jesus declares that his own teaching is more enduring than the Torah of Moses, since his words will "never pass away".

  • When this earth shattering event happens, something new will "come into being". The old is ending and something new and beautiful is being birthed through Jesus.

  • Some Christians try to maintain aspects of the Old Covenant while adding on the New Covenant. These Christians claim to "follow the Bible" - if it's in the Bible, we should do it.

  • A better approach is to leave the Old Covenant behind as "obsolete" and completely move into the New, while always honouring and learning lessons as we reflect back on the Old Testament as part of our Scripture. As New Covenant Christians, we don't "follow the Bible" - we read the Bible so we can follow Jesus.

CORE (The heart of the message):

The end of the Old Covenant and the birth of the New Covenant is an earth-shattering event that Jesus describes in apocalyptic language. This transition changes everything about how we relate to God and one another and even our own Bibles, now according to love instead of law.

CONTEXT (What’s going on before and after this passage):

This study is the second of a four-part series to help us unpack what scholars agree is Jesus' thesis statement for the entire Sermon on the Mount. Because it is the central theme of the central sermon of Jesus, it is worth taking the time to understand it well.

We are dealing with some theologically dense material. For some of us this is exciting news. For others, it will feel too intellectual to be practically helpful. (If this describes you, skip ahead to our study called "SM #18: How to Eat the Bible" and move forward from there.) Either way, keep in mind that learning how to relate to our own Bibles will influence the kind of people, and the kind of Church, we become.

As we discussed in our previous study, our passage is embedded within what scholars consider to be Jesus' main thesis statement. All four verses of the thesis presentation hang together and give each other proper context.

[17] Do not think that I have come to cast down the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to cast them down but to fill them up. [18] For Amen I tell you, until the heavens and the earth pass away, not the smallest letter or even a part of a letter will pass away from the Law, until everything comes into being. [19] Therefore anyone who loosens one of the least of these commands and teaches this to others will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. [20] For I tell you that unless your righteousness goes above and beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of the heavens. ~ JESUS (Matthew 5:17-20)

To help us interpret this passage, we should keep in mind that Matthew’s first recorded acts of Jesus after the Sermon on the Mount include Jesus repeatedly breaking ritual purity laws. Matthew records ten miracles in rapid succession in Matthew 8-9, probably paralleling the ten miraculous plagues associated with Moses freeing Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Whereas Moses’ Old Covenant freedom-miracles are all destructive, Jesus’ New Covenant freedom-miracles are all restorative. Whereas Moses turned water into blood, Jesus turns water into wine (John 2). This shift helps prepare us to see the ultimate shift of God: not killing the firstborn of his enemies to secure the freedom of his people, but offering his own "firstborn" Son to die for our freedom.

The ten New Covenant miracles recorded in Matthew chapters 8-9 include such miracle hits as healing a leper with a touch (see Matthew 8:3 in light of Leviticus 5:3; 13-14; Numbers 5:2-3), allowing a bleeding woman to touch him (see Matthew 9:20-22 in light of Leviticus 25-30), and pursuing contact with a dead girl in order to resurrect her (see Matthew 9:18-25 in light of Numbers 5:2; 19:11-14). Jesus interprets his own sermon through his post-sermon actions, and so should we. And Jesus will also go on to override divorce laws (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9), oath laws (Matthew 5:33-37), justice laws (Matthew 5:38-39), and dietary laws (Matthew 15:11; Mark 7:14-19). Keep your eyes on this one – he’s up to something!

Jesus breaks the Law of Moses by touching lepers. Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the effect flows in the opposite direction, and the lepers become clean.

CONSIDER (Observations about the passage):

For. This small word (Greek, gar) connects this verse with the one before. It reminds us to keep all four verses of Jesus’ thesis statement in mind while we focus in on exegeting one of them.

Amen. Sometimes when Jesus wants to make a strong point, he does this unusual thing: He says “Amen” first about something he is about to say (and sometimes he even double-amens himself). Amen is an affirming word that Jewish believers (and then Christians) would say at the end of something someone else said that they approved of. It roughly means “Right on” or “I agree”. You can probably think of other amen-equivalents we use today. Saying it at the beginning of your own statement, the way Jesus does, was not normal and is one of those small verbal peculiarities that makes Jesus’ teaching style unique. It is one of Jesus’ signature phrases that helps set him apart – Jesus sees himself as worth Amening.

Until the heavens and the earth pass away. A key interpretive question is: Does Jesus mean this literally or figuratively? Is he saying that the Law endures as long as the universe endures, so we better get to obeying it? Or is he using poetic language to talk about the end of an era? We use similar apocalyptic language today when we talk about “earth-shattering” events or ideas. In Jesus' day, Rabbis often used Hebrew hyperbole (intentional, picturesque and powerful overstatement) to make their point. Jesus clearly does this in other places (see Matthew 5:29-30, for instance) and is likely doing the same thing here. The question is, what earth-shattering passing away does Jesus have in mind? His death and resurrection? His second coming? Pentecost? Or is this end of an era – the era of Law now giving way to the era of grace and truth (John 1:17) – a progressive transition marked by a number of key New Covenant events? For instance, Jesus says that the coming of John the Baptist somehow marked the end of the age of law (Luke 16:16-17). And Jesus says his death would be “the New Covenant in my blood” (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). Yet the New Covenant is predicated upon the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit available to all (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-29), which happened at Pentecost. Then there is the cataclysmic destruction of the Jerusalem temple and end of the sacrificial system, which Jesus prophesies with similar earth-shattering language: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken“ (Matthew 24:29) – something Jesus says will take place before that current generation passes away (24:34-35). More about this below, but for now we can say one thing with certainty: whatever Jesus means by this phrase, Jesus sees his own teaching as more enduring by comparison. About his own teaching, Jesus says: “The Heaven and the earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Whenever it is that the Law comes to an end, the teachings of Jesus will keep right on going.

The Arch of Titus depicts Romans parading the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple after their military victory

EXCURSUS: What is the link between the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and Christ’s “Second Coming”? Throughout Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in terms of the coming of the Son of Man, and says it will all happen within one generation (Matthew 24:27-30; 34-35). To give this prophecy context, the Old Testament records instances where God judges a nation by using another nation as his instrument of judgement (e.g., Deuteronomy 28:15-57; 2 Chronicles 36:15-19; Isaiah 10:5-11; Jeremiah 4:11-18; Habakkuk 1:5-12). The temple was destroyed by the Romans, the circling “birds of prey” Jesus identifies in Matthew 24:28 (the word used there can mean eagle or vulture). Jesus takes credit ahead of time for the Roman advance on Jerusalem in the first century, saying this will be his personal return to judge the system! The prophet Isaiah (in 19:1-2) records God using “riding on a cloud” language for his coming in judgement, just like Jesus uses in Matthew 24:28-30. It seems that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD was, at least in part, Jesus’ second coming in judgement. This doesn’t nullify a future coming of Christ and the consummation of all history, but it does help us see how Jesus’ fully established the New Covenant once and for all, including closing down the Old Covenant sacrificial system for good. (By the way, this vivid and validated prophecy of Jesus which came true one generation later is stunning evidence embedded in history of Christ’s miraculous powers. It is also the main reason why skeptical scholars refuse to believe the gospels were written before 70 AD, insisting that the prophecy is so accurate, it must have been added to the lips of Jesus by writers after the events took place. But all other dating points to early writing of at least the synoptic gospels, where this prophecy is recorded. For instance, Luke would have mentioned the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple as a final exclamation mark at the end of the book of Acts had it already taken place. Instead, the apostle Paul is still alive and the Temple is still standing at the time of Luke writing Acts. And Luke wrote his Gospel before writing Acts, and at least Mark is dated before Luke. We are left with a real written record of Jesus’ miraculous insight.)

The siege of Jerusalem and eventual destruction of the Temple really was the end of the world as they knew it for Israel

The Greek word for "eagle" is the same word for "vulture" as used in Matthew 24:28

The smallest letter or even a part of a letter. The two words here are “Iota”, which was the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet, plus the word for “horn” which referred to a small pen stroke, like the mark that makes the difference between an O and a Q, or a C and a G, or a P and an R. Today we might talk about dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s. The “horn” of a letter could also refer to what today we call “serifs” – those little flourishes that appear only in some fonts. For reference, this paragraph is written in a font with serifs (tiny bobbles or lines), while the rest of this 1820 study is written in a sans serif font. Jesus is redeeming rather than rejecting every bit of every law of the Bible, all 613 commandments (248 positive and 365 negative). Bottom line: We can’t separate, slice, or dice up the law. We can’t keep what we like and throw away the bits and bobs that we don’t like. The Law all endures until it all passes away all together.

Until everything comes into being. This is a parallel phrase to “until the heavens and the earth pass away”, making them mutually interpreting ideas. Jesus keeps putting qualifications on the enduring nature of the Torah of Moses. Yes, the Law will last (and Bible-lovers breathe a sigh of relief), that is, until the new thing happens (and Bible-lovers say “huh?”). Jesus tells his disciples that there will come a time when the world as they know it will end, but that will also just be the beginning, a time when something new is birthed into being. The Greek word here (ginomai) means to become, to come into existence, to emerge, to transition from one way of being into a new way of being, and so it tends to point forward to something new. If we let it, this phrase should generate some interest, anticipation, and excitement. What is this new thing coming into being that is going to change everything?! As we've already discussed, Jesus is referring to the birth of the New Covenant - an entirely new way of being in relationship with God and each other. But when does this new way of being take effect?! This New Covenant birthing process happens decisively at the crucifixion of Christ, when the curtain in the Jerusalem Temple was torn from top to bottom in an act of Divine vandalism (Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-38; Luke 23:44-46). But as discussed above, the birth of the New Covenant also includes demarcation events before and after the cross. It began with Christ’s incarnation and takes its next step with the ministry of John the Baptist - Jesus says specifically that the Law was in effect "until John" (Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16). Moving forward, the coming of the New Covenant includes Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, as well as the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the final “no turning back now” event that Jesus prophesied – the destruction of the temple sacrificial system in 70 AD. (Matthew’s Jesus uses the same Greek word, ginomai, when prophesying the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24:34.) This multivalent approach to the birth of the New Covenant makes sense of the biblical data, and of life. For instance, when is a baby born? When the head is out? The shoulders? The whole body? First breath? When the umbilical cord is cut? Or, when does a river that flows into the sea actually become the sea? There is always a transitional time. In terms of Old Covenant transitioning into the New Covenant, that transitional time is primarily the first century AD, and yet, even today in the 21st century, we still await the final consummation of it all. And in the meantime, Jesus will teach his disciples by word and example how to live in the New Covenant world where law gives way to love.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we enter the holy place boldy by the blood of Jesus, who inaugurated a new and living way for us to pass through the curtain, which is his flesh. (Hebrews 10:19-20)

When he speaks of a “new covenant”, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)

CONFESSION (Personal reflection):

I confess that I wouldn’t like the Bible if I didn’t know it was all really leading me to Jesus.

I remember reading through the Old Testament and making it as far as mid-way through the book of Joshua. After repeated chapters of violence, somewhere around chapter 10, I wrote in the margin of my Bible “I don’t like this page of my Bible”, closed it, and spent some time away from it, waiting for the thunderbolts to strike. In the quietness of those moments, I felt God’s assurance of his Christ-like, cross-shaped love. So I returned to my Bible, and under what I had already written, I added “I don’t think God likes it either.”

I’m not trying to make a theological point, but sharing the struggling development of a young Christian. I didn’t have the robust theological tools to explain the difference I was seeing, but the difference was and is a real thing to be reckoned with: passages of God inflicting extreme and wrath-full violence VS passages of God graciously receiving our extreme and wrath-full violence while forgiving us for all of it. Somehow, each of us will need to resolve the theological tension, cognitive dissonance, and emotional conflict between what appears to be the other-sacrificing life-taking God of the Old Testament and the self-sacrificing life-giving God of the New Testament. It is the difference between the God who slays his enemies (and teaches his people to do the same) VS the God who lays his life down for his enemies (and teaches his people to do the same).

Some Bible stories don't make for good bedtime stories.

It might be tempting to argue that these two visions of God cannot be reconciled and that we simply have to choose between them rather than hold both together. And some have tried this approach. In the early church, one popular theologian named Marcion of Sinope (85-160 AD) taught that the Old Testament Scriptures are so different from the teaching of Jesus that they must be written by a different god altogether and should be abandoned by Christ-followers. But Jesus doesn’t leave that option open to us. He tells us that every word and every letter of the Old Testament is really all about him, not some other false deity.

At times the God of the OT does seem like an alcoholic father – moody, irascible, and therefore a little hard to love. Jesus’ love for this Book, however, should teach us to “hang in there” with it, give it time, be patient with it, believe that it does have words from God.

~ Frederick Dale Bruner (The Christbook)

I have had some version of this conversation many times: I’m asked about some objectionable Old Testament passage (usually something to do with extreme violence) and I respond something like, “Ya, I find that revolting too. That’s why it makes me want to follow Jesus all the more!” Then they respond, “You can’t answer every Bible problem with Jesus!” And I say something like, “Yes I can, in fact I have to. If you want me to talk about the Hebrew Bible without connecting it to Jesus, you probably really want to talk to a Rabbi. That’s their job, not mine.”

Over the years I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of Rabbis about this very issue, and they have always been gracious, kind, and articulate. I learn so much from them! But for me, I can’t make sense of it all without Jesus.

At the same time, I have found it important to acknowledge Jesus is the reason for the tension in the first place. Let me explain… I’m still uncomfortable with large portions of the Bible, but I’ve realized something important: most of my discomfort with parts of the Bible developed specifically because I have become morally influenced by the ethics of Jesus. For instance, Old Testament violence only becomes philosophically problematic once our understanding of morality becomes increasingly shaped by Jesus’ nonviolent love ethic. Jesus creates the problem, and I’m glad he does! Otherwise, Bible-believers could just accept the coherent (if less compassionate) idea that the God of the universe is often wrathful and violent and that’s just the way things are. We might not like that, but it would be a coherent and consistent position to hold. Then along comes Jesus, the Bible-character who calls all Bible-believers to repent of that Bible-influenced but thoroughly unbiblical idea. When Jesus (and his followers) start saying that Jesus shows us what God is really like, well, now we have a conundrum.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. ~ The apostle John (John 1:18)
The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. ~ JESUS (John 12:45; also see 14:7-10)

Today, I still don’t have all the answers I wish I had on this topic, but I have started to embrace the tension itself as positive evidence that my heart is being shaped by Jesus and his love ethic. And when someone says to me, “I really struggle with all the violence in the Bible”, I respond, “Good! That means your heart is being shaped and your faith is being formed by Jesus!”

Struggle can be an expression of faith. I don't lie awake at night struggling with the question of whether or not unicorns are real. I frankly never think of them, because I just don't believe in them. I don't wrestle with the idea of unicorn historicity and its implication for my life. But I do wrestle with the Bible, with God, and with myself over many issues.

Just like Jacob wrestled with God, I wrestle with Scripture, not because of a lack of faith, but precisely as an expression of my faith in Jesus.

This painting of Jacob wrestling with God by Anabaptist artist Jack Baumgartner captures so much. The violence and intimacy intertwine as the curtain is pulled back. Naked Jacob (for nothing is hidden from God) now has his heel grabbed, as he once grabbed his brother's heel at birth, forcing Jacob to kneel before God.

COMMENTARY (Thoughts about meaning and application):

Jesus is tying three truths together:

  1. The Law endures until a time of cataclysmic transition.

  2. At that time of the Law’s end, something new will be birthed into being.

  3. Jesus' own teaching will endure as our guide past the end of the Law.

It all seems straightforward, and yet raises questions at the same time: When does the law end and the new thing come into being? Will the Bible have any use after that point? Will we read the Bible in heaven? And in the meantime, how do we make use of every letter of the law today? Or should we even try?

Different Christian groups respond to these questions differently. For instance…

  • DUAL COVENANTALISTS (Seventh Day Adventists and most Protestants) suggest we should still work diligently to follow every Old Testament command as much as possible today, even if we have to make some New Testament adjustments. To help Christians navigate what laws to follow and what ones to ignore, these Christians will often speak of three categories of Laws: Civil, Ceremonial, and Ethical/Moral - a tripartite division begun by Thomas Aquinas (13th century) and later popularized by John Calvin (16th century). They will point out that the civil laws governed the state of ancient Israel and the ceremonial laws governed the sacrificial system, so they don’t apply to Christians today (e.g., see Hebrews 9:11-14). But the ethical or moral laws endure, they say, and we should all follow them. This group, for instance, would at least agree that the Ten Commandments (often called the Decalogue) endure as a good moral guide for Christians, even though they might disagree on whether it is okay to adjusting the Sabbath keeping command (referring to Saturday) to allow for the transition to Sunday worship. This group might also be more inclined to get into debates about whether Christians should get tattoos (according to Leviticus 19:28) or have Christmas trees (according to Jeremiah 10:1-5). And what about clothing woven of two kinds of materials (Leviticus 19:19) or getting a haircut (Leviticus 19:27)? Are these enduring moral laws that should apply to Christians? This position leaves the door open for lots of debate and, unfortunately, division.

  • NEW COVENENTALISTS (Radical Reformers / Anabaptists / New Covenant Theologians) emphasize that Jesus-followers should not try to straddle both covenants to learn how to live, but should focus on following the teachings of Jesus. They point out that the Law of Moses does not come with clearly demarcated sections for civil, ceremonial, and ethical laws. The whole Torah comes as a package deal. Likewise, Jesus and the New Testament writers never discuss this divide-into-categories approach, but always treat the Torah as a whole. In fact, the New Testament writers specifically emphasize that following the way of law is an all-or-nothing proposition (e.g., Galatians 3:10; 5:3). And the apostle James writes that “whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all” (James 2:10). These purely New Covenant Christians believe the Old Covenant law endures as a pointer to Jesus but not as our ethical standard (see Ephesians 2:14). They also remind us that, unless we are Jewish, the Old Covenant was not even our covenant in the first place, so many Christians might be pushing our way into a debate that is not ours to begin with. Gentile believers enter into covenantal relationship with God at the point of Jesus and his New Covenant. Sometimes called “Red Letter Christians”, these believers emphasize the authority of Jesus and his teaching (often in red lettering in Christian Bibles) as normative for all Christians. The Old Testament is viewed as inspired background information to lead readers to Jesus and to help us understand the life and times of Jesus better, but it is not our source of moral guidance.

Which approach have you heard most in church? Which approach do you think is the most correct? What do you think are the possible strengths and weaknesses of each approach?

Both Christian groups are trying to honour the Old Testament while also explaining why Christians don’t follow all of it. After declaring that through Jesus a person is justified (made righteous) “by faith apart from the works of the law”, the apostle Paul concludes, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:28-31).

So how do Christ-followers “uphold” the law? We know from other parts of the New Testament that the early apostles came to believe that Christ-followers do not have to obey the law of Moses (e.g., see the Church’s developing thinking about key Old Testament issues like dietary laws and circumcision in Acts 10-11; 15; Romans 7; 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 2-4; etc). In fact, Paul says that trying to follow the letter of the law is the way of condemnation and death (see 2 Corinthians 3:6-9, where Paul is referring to the Ten Commandments). Other statements by the apostle Paul are equally clear and conclusive:

You are not under law, but under grace. ~ The apostle Paul (Romans 6:14)

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. ~ The apostle Paul (Romans 7:6)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. ~ The apostle Paul (Galatians 5:18)

And yet Christians can still “uphold” the law, meaning we hold it up in honour and respect as the backstory of the person we love most dearly.

Now, is it possible to follow Jesus without knowing much about the Old Covenant? Absolutely. Gentiles in the first century started following Jesus without knowing much about his Jewish backstory. The Holy Spirit was given to them by faith in Jesus, not after graduating from an Old Testament survey course.

In fact, it seems that God can use anyone’s own cultural, religious, and personal backstory to lead them to Jesus (see Paul’s superb sermon to the Greeks in Acts 17). This is brilliant and beautiful. Everyone has their own personal “Old Testament” (their cultural, religious, and personal history) in which God has planted clues to lead them to Jesus. We simply have to help one another pay attention to the ways God has always been with us, guiding us, and leading us to Jesus.

But the fact that God meets with us within our own backstories is no excuse to ignore the Jewish backstory of Jesus. If we want to grow and mature in our relationship with Jesus, our spiritual lives will deepen the more we learn about and appreciate his Jewish roots.

This is like any friendship or romantic relationship. When we first get to know someone new, who they are in this moment is where we begin. FIRST IMPRESSIONS matter, but that's not where we stop. Next we will go beyond first impressions, observations, and experiences to ask questions that help us learn about their CURRENT INTERESTS and life circumstances – job, hobbies, family, and other interests. And then, if we really want to know someone in a deeper way over time, at some point we should become interested in their BACKSTORY, history, hangups, hurts, and hopes.

With Jesus we move through the same process.

  • FIRST IMPRESSION? Loves sinners; not so hot on religion.

  • INTERESTS? Talks a lot about love and seems really interested in the hearts of hurting people. Plus, there's this thing he's totally involved with called "the kingdom of the heavens". Better look into that.

  • BACKSTORY? This is where the Old Testament kicks in: it is Jesus’ backstory. So if we want to grow in our relationship with Jesus and understand him better, we should delight in diving into the Hebrew Bible.

Is the Law pointing at us in condemnation, or pointing to Jesus who saves us from all condemnation? (PS: Charlton's beard is epic.)

From a "Radical Reformation" point of view (the view taken here), we don’t obey the law, but we learn from the law so we can obey Christ (Matthew 28:20). There is a difference. In this sense, it is misleading to speak about the Bible as "authoritative". When we use that kind of language, we might unwittingly encourage the attitude of opening up our Bibles anywhere and thinking we should try to follow its commands. That approach is called a "flat" reading of Scripture, and it has resulted in "Bible-based" Christians supporting everything from slavery to holy war. But authority resides in a Person, not a book, not even an inspired God-given book. The book we call the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God to lead us to the person of Jesus, and Jesus holds all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18).

Like John the Baptist, the Bible points us to Jesus and says “Behold!”

CONCLUSION (One last thought):

When we read Jesus’ words that every bit of the law, every letter and part of a letter, will endure until the world as we know it is ended and a new thing is birthed, it makes sense to see this ending and beginning as having already taken place through the coming of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is already over and the New Covenant has already begun. And yet, as we learned in our last study, we continue to cherish all of Scripture, because the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, is really all about Jesus. Like the apostle Paul says, we “uphold the law” (Romans 3:31). Yes, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the Old Covenant is indeed “obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13), absolutely. But notice that author doesn’t say that the Old Covenant Scriptures are obsolete. What a significant nuance. The Old Covenant of Law is done. But the scriptures of the Old Covenant continue to lead us to Jesus.

CONTEMPLATE (Scripture passages that relate to and deepen our understanding of this topic):

Matthew 5; Luke 16:16-17; 24:13-49; John 1:1-18, 45; Acts 17:11; 20:20-24; 26:22–23; Romans 1:1-3; 4:23-24; 6:14; 7:1-6; 10:1-4; 13:8-10; 15:4; 1 Corinthians 9:8-12; 10:11; 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:8, 19-25; 5:1-6, 14; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 2:17; 1 Timothy 3:14-15; 5:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 4:2-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 8:13 (and really the whole book of Hebrews); 1 Peter 1:12-16; 2:21

CONVERSATION (Talk together, learn together, grow together):

  1. What is God revealing to you about himself through this passage?

  2. What is God showing you about yourself through this passage?

  3. How do you reconcile the enemy-killing violence in the Bible with the enemy-loving peace teaching of Jesus?

  4. What is one thing you can think, believe, or do differently in light of what you are learning?

  5. What questions are you still processing about this topic?

Recent Posts

See All


Jun 25, 2023

This helps me deal with the deceptive question “Is the Bible infallible”.

As a record of what happened? Yes.

As a source of information? Yes.

As a guide to what Jesus read, said, and did? Trees

As a guide to follow in leading my life? No. I’ll follow Jesus.


Jun 26, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Tony! I love the mutually reinforcing ideas of reading the Bible with a christocentric AND a christotelic hermeneutic. See the (new) conclusion of the post before this one. Cool beans!

bottom of page