Intermediate Edition

II. Key Elements of the New Order


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Chapter 14  Part II

Key Elements of the New Order

Through Christ’s mission God enhanced his relationship with his people and the world. Two defining aspects of this new order are God’s new covenant with his own people and the kingdom of God.

As well as having instituted these two things in his mission, Jesus Christ continues to play a key role in both of them. Jesus Christ’s role as high priest is arguably the central aspect of God’s new covenant with his people. Jesus Christ’s reign as Lord of all things involves reigning over the kingdom of God. Additionally, his reign extends to reigning over all things that are as yet to be subjugated to God’s kingdom, which awaits consummation.

God’s New Covenant

The first covenant (with its priesthood and law) was inadequate and superseded by the new covenant – through Christ

But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry [to the priests’ ministry], since the covenant that he mediates is also better [than the first covenant] and is enacted on better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one. … 13When he [God] speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.   Hebrews 8:6-7, 13 NET

The covenant which God made with Israel proved inadequate as Israel could not keep the covenant (by obeying its law) and consequently could not be righteous before God. But God has abolished the old covenant and introduced a superior new covenant – through Jesus Christ and his mission.

Under the new covenant, God’s people: have God’s laws in them; know him; and are forgiven

“For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people. 11And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. 12“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”   Hebrews 8:10-12 NET

Under the new covenant God’s laws have become internal principles  (v. 10), not just commands from an external source. Moreover, God’s people know him and their sins are truly forgiven (v. 11-12). Bear in mind that the reference to “the house of Israel” (v. 10) is applicable to the new people of God, inclusive of Gentiles.

Jesus Christ as High Priest

See also:

Jesus Christ is the high priest of God’s people – representing them before God in the superior heavenly sanctuary

[The writer, to believers:] We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.   Hebrews 8:1b-2 NET

In the replacement of God’s old covenant with Israel by God’s new covenant with all who are now his people, the priesthood of the old covenant has been replaced by Christ’s superior priesthood.

Jesus Christ sacrificed for sin once and for all

But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.   Hebrews 10:12-14 NET

Jesus Christ intercedes for God’s people

[John, to believers:] I am writing this to you, my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf—Jesus Christ, the righteous one.   1 John 2:1 GNT

In his ongoing priestly ministry for God’s people, Christ continues to intercede before God for them, speaking to God on their behalf.

The Kingdom of God

NT teaching on the kingdom of God (or of heaven) follows on from OT teaching on God’s reign (cf. 7. God’s Sovereignty). It indicates that Christ’s coming inaugurated a more far-reaching, spiritual dimension of God’s reign. Its domain is in the hearts and minds of those who submit to God. This kingdom also has both a present and future dimension – existing now, but only being fully consummated at the end of the age. Then God’s authority will be fully imposed in all spheres of existence – once and for all.

The kingdom of God came in Jesus Christ’s mission

Now after John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. 15He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!”   Mark 1:14-15 NET

With Jesus’ mission, the time had come for the kingdom of God to “come near” (NRSV).

The kingdom of God is spiritual in its nature

[Jesus:] “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. 21No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”   Luke 17:20b-21 GNT

The final clause of v. 21 probably means that God’s kingdom is within the hearts of its people (cf. CEV text note), indicative of its spiritual nature.

The kingdom of God is dynamic

He [Jesus] also said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who spreads seed on the ground. 27He goes to sleep and gets up, night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28By itself the soil produces a crop, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29And when the grain is ripe, he sends in the sickle because the harvest has come.”   Mark 4:26-29 NET

The growth of God’s kingdom illustrates its dynamism and power. “By itself” (v. 28) indicates that the growth of the kingdom is not brought about simply by human effort. Rather it is in a way that is in fact beyond human comprehension (v. 27b).

Jesus Christ as Lord of All

God has made Jesus Christ Lord of all things, to rule over all creation on God’s behalf.

The NT speaks of Jesus Christ’s lordship as being initiated or affirmed, in him being pronounced Lord of all upon his post-resurrection exaltation to God’s right hand. However, note that some verses suggest that in some sense at least he was Lord of all things prior to this, speaking of his prior power or authority over all things.

God has made Jesus Christ Lord of all

You know the message he [God] sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.   Acts 10:36 GNT

As a result [of Jesus being obedient and dying] God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.   Philippians 2:9-11 NET

Note that vv. 10-11 above speak of all people in the future acknowledging Jesus Christ’s status as Lord, which itself is a current reality.

God has given Jesus Christ power over all things

Jesus knew that the Father had given him power over everything and that he had come from God and was going back to God.   John 13:3 NCV™

In the end, all Jesus Christ’s enemies will be made his footstool – totally conquered

But when this priest [Christ] had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet.   Hebrews 10:12-13 NET

Pray for persecuted Christians