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Breaking with the Old

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Part 9: Understanding Covenant

(Content of this section: Discover how the New Testament writers use the word covenant)


Before we can continue further, we need to take a moment to consider what a covenant is. If you look up a definition of what a covenant is you’ll get an answer something like, “A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties.” This is to some degree helpful since it gives us a handle on the basic concept of a covenant and we can go from there to coming to an understanding of what God has agreed to do for us, His people whom He has brought into a covenant relationship with Himself.

There’s a problem with this simple definition of a covenant that we need to be alert to! As helpful as this definition may be, it does not fully tell us what the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is talking about when he uses the word covenant, as found in “first covenant” and “second covenant”, “New Covenant” and “Old Covenant.”


In fact, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews and all the writers of the New Testament were referring to more than just the agreement that a covenant represents. In their writings we hear them referring to the whole ecosystem surrounding the agreement as well as the agreement itself. Here’s a verse that demonstrates that,

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1 - NKJV


In this scripture, the writer is telling us about the first covenant. He says it possessed ordinances and the earthly sanctuary. “The ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary” is actually a description of a good part of what forms the supporting ecosystem surrounding the agreement of the first covenant.

Preview of content in next part:

  • Discover how each covenant was wrapped in its own unique dispensation
  • Here is set forth the two different dispensations of the covenants

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