A Theology Of The New Covenant: The Foundations Of New Testament Theology -- By: Ronald E. Diprose

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 18:1 (Summer 2009)
Article: A Theology Of The New Covenant: The Foundations Of New Testament Theology
Author: Ronald E. Diprose


A Theology Of The New Covenant: The Foundations Of New Testament Theology

Ronald E. Diprose

Chapter 7: The New Covenant Community

Ron Diprose is the academic dean at Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano. This work was published in Italian by I.B.E.I. edizioni as a Lux Biblica monograph in 2002. The original title was La Teologia del Nuovo Patto: Elementi Fondamentali della Teologia del Nuovo Testamento. This is the seventh of nine parts.

Introduction

Should the multiplication of megachurches be welcomed or resisted? Is the division of the local church into cell-groups for spiritual nurture compatible with the New Testament idea of the “Christian community”?1 Should most of the ministries of a local church be entrusted to paid staff? Should more planned liturgy or a return to more traditional hymnody be favored over new worship songs? James Stamoolis, who is a careful observer of ecclesiastical trends, believes that changes in how churches are organized and in the way Christians relate to other Christians in local churches should be evaluated in the context of a more general issue—the question of interpretation, or biblical hermeneutics.2

One of the key issues to be faced in relating biblical hermeneutics to recent trends in church life is the definition of what the church actually is. By bearing

in mind that the Holy Spirit was given in a new way at Pentecost,3 we are led to expect the life of the church to be somewhat different from that of the Jewish synagogue. Similarly, by bearing in mind that Christ has offered the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, we will expect the ministry of the local church to be somewhat different from that of the Jewish temple. In other words, in order to know what are the irreducible characteristics of the church that Christ is building, we need to begin by recognizing that it is the community of the new covenant and, as such, is bound to reflect what is germane to that covenant.

Preparation For The New Era

The gospel of John tells us how Jesus, the prophet par excellence, prepared his disciples for the culminating events of the incarnation and for what was to follow (John 13-17; cf. Amos 3:7). The occasion of what we will call Jesus’ “farewell discourse” was the Passover meal.4 The discourse itself followed the institution of the Memorial Supper (

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