The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) -- By: Michael Borg

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Author: Michael Borg


The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Michael Borg

Walter Kaiser once wrote: “Hardly has the exegesis of this passage begun when the interpreter discovers to his great delight and consternation that he is involved in some of the greatest theological questions of our day. No matter what he says, some evangelicals are bound to be scandalized because of their commitments.”1 Jeremiah 31:31-34 is a watershed passage that divides covenant and dispensational theologies.2 But it further divides Presbyterian and Baptist theologies as well.3 Consequently, this text influences one’s hermeneutics and ecclesiology.

This article will argue from a Reformed and Presbyterian perspective that God promises His covenantal people a renewed covenant that is the same in substance as previous administrations of the

covenant of grace but new in form/mode, thereby exalting His covenantal faithfulness in bringing His people to the full realization of redemption. Because a full treatment of views cannot be here given, this article will necessarily be limited to several individuals who represent their respective theological systems. We will proceed by first briefly noting the structure of the passage before turning to an exegesis of the text itself.

Structure

Jeremiah 31:31-34 is often regarded as the climax of Jeremiah’s Book of Comfort (chaps. 30-33). Broadly conceived, Jeremiah 1-29 is focused on God’s judgment against His people and against the nations. But there is a decided change of tone beginning in chapter 30 as God speaks of the time when He will bring His people back from exile (see 30:3). The Book of Comfort is largely a section of Jeremiah where God promises restoration and salvation to His people.

The majority of commentators agree that Jeremiah 31:31-34 ought to be treated as a pericope. One telling grammatical note is the repetitive use of “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD” in both 31:31 and 31:38. Some commentators argue that 31:35-37 cannot be separated from what precedes it,4 though all of chapters 30-33 are integral to understanding the theological emphasis of You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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