Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christopher Cone - the New Covenant & the Church

Addressed to The Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at Baptist Bible Seminary, on September 24, 2009, and later published in Journal of Dispensational Theology, December 2009, and currently scheduled to be included in a forthcoming single volume handling the issue of the New Covenant in greater detail.


Though Paul does not in these passages invoke either a new and separate covenant with the church nor a shared application of the previously revealed one, some argue that he does the latter in Ephesians 2:11-3:6, a passage in which gentiles are described as, among other things, “strangers to the covenants.” (2:12) In 2:12 Paul presents five conditions of unsaved gentiles, and he does not assert that all of these conditions are reversed at the time of salvation. Notice the remedy he diagnoses: those formerly far off have been brought near (2:13), having access through Him in one Spirit to the Father (2:18). Believing gentiles have been made fellow citizens with the saints (believing Jews) (2:19). But fellow citizens of what? Are we now partakers of Jewish covenants? Are we now of the commonwealth of Israel? Have we now become “spiritual” Jews? No on all counts. The mystery is precisely identified in 3:6 that we are fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise (note, not promises). We are brought near to the Jews by virtue of our oneness in the body of Christ, but nowhere in this grand section are we co-partakers or fellow citizens in any aspect outside of that body. This is according to promise. Paul’s first mention of the promise in Ephesians appears in 1:13 referencing the Holy Spirit. We could also consider the seventh aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:3) and compare this with John’s concise description of the promise – eternal life (1 Jn. 2:25). Whether the promise here references the related aspects of the ministry of the spirit, gentile blessings under the Abrahamic covenant, or eternal life, there is no stated or implied connection between the church and the covenants of Israel. Paul says we were once strangers to the covenants of promise and that now we have been brought near (eggus). Near is not inside or upon...keep reading

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