What Is the New Covenant “Law” in Jeremiah 31:33? -- By: Femi Adeyemi
BSac 163:651 (July-September 2006) p. 312
What Is the New Covenant “Law” in Jeremiah 31:33?
Feִmi Adeyeִmi is a Visiting Lecturer at the ECWA (Evangelical Church of West Africa) Theological Seminary, Igbaja, Nigeria.
This is the first article in a three-part series “The Identity of the New Covenant ‘Law.’”
The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31–34 has been regarded by some biblical scholars as the highest point of the Old Testament Scriptures.1 This is because it promises (a) genuine spirituality (“I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it”), (b) intimate fellowship between Israel and Yahweh (“I will be their God, and they shall be My people”), (c) universal knowledge of God on the part of Israel (“they will all know Me”), and (d) absolute forgiveness of sin (“I will forgive their iniquity”).
This prophecy has also been called one of the most profound and moving texts in the Bible,2 towering “above any previous prophetic prediction.”3 Johnson notes that this covenant, which predicts a radical change in God’s dealing with Israel, belongs to the covenantal history of salvation. It has its roots in the unconditional Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, whose ultimate fulfillment is
BSac 163:651 (July-September 2006) p. 313
guaranteed by God.4 And Stewart states that to “say that the message of the new covenant is the climax and crown of Jeremiah’s teaching is to say the least of it. It is far more than that. It is the high-water mark of the Old Testament and the supreme achievement of Hebrew religion.”5 It is a unique covenant with unique features.
However, some scholars hold that Jeremiah’s New Covenant prophecy is not unique at all. They conclude that each of its features was already known in the Mosaic Covenant.6 Kaiser says the New Covenant should be called a “renewed covenant,” that is, a renewed form of the Mosaic Law.7 Another writer says that the covenant predicts only a “soaring idealism” and an “unrealistic progressive process of interiorization.”8
Other References to the New Covenant
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