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

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 19:1 (Winter 2010)
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. Diprose1

Chapter 9
The New Covenant And Eschatology

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.

The New Covenant And “The Last Days”

Much of contemporary Christendom does not contemplate any divine intervention in the foreseeable future. This is partly due to the activity of what Peter called “scoffers” who cover with ridicule all talk of Jesus’ second coming (2 Peter 3:3-4). Such scoffers prefer to think that, at least for a long time into the future, things will just go on as they always have.

This contrasts with the view of the New Testament writers, according to whom we are living on the edge of eternity. Paul describes the period which began with Christ’s first advent as “the fulfillment of the ages” (1 Cor. 10:11). The letter to the Hebrews echoes this by describing what has followed the first appearing of the Son of God as the “last days” (Heb. 1:2). These expressions suggest that what Christ accomplished in his first advent has set in motion a process which will lead inexorably to the climax of history.

The biblical teaching on the new covenant provides a framework for understanding contemporary history in this way. Jeremiah 31:31-34 defines the spiritual provisions of the new covenant and, significantly,

the letter to the Hebrews documents the fulfillment of this prophecy in the context of the first advent of Christ. Moreover, the proclamation and progress of the gospel of grace during the apostolic era saw ever widening circles of peoples experiencing the spiritual provisions of the new covenant. Although these provisions and the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on which it is grounded were widely neglected during subsequent centuries, the Word of God has repeatedly broken through the chains of tradition, so that the gospel of God’s grace is increasingly going to the ends of the earth. The result has been that an increasing number “from every tribe and language and people and nation” are experiencing eternal forgiveness and the presence of God in the community of the new covenant. ...

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