The Nature Of The New Covenant: A Case Study In Ephesians 2:11-22 -- By: Joshua M. Greever

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 20:1 (Spring 2016)
Article: The Nature Of The New Covenant: A Case Study In Ephesians 2:11-22
Author: Joshua M. Greever

The Nature Of The New Covenant: A Case Study In Ephesians 2:11-22

Joshua M. Greever

Joshua M. Greever is professor of New Testament at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has authored several articles reflecting on Paul’s understanding of the relationship between faith and works, the nature of the church, and the intersection of faith and vocation in the Christian life.


Although it has traditionally been commonplace throughout church history to affirm the prominence of the new covenant in Scripture to some degree or another, recently new studies have sought to show in what way the new covenant is prominent and how it relates to the biblical metanarrative and specifically to the other major biblical covenants.1 In particular, recent discussion has centered on a perspective labeled “progressive covenantalism,” which attempts to provide a mediating position between dispensationalism and covenant theology.2 In this scheme the new covenant is seen as the culmination of the biblical storyline, such that all of God’s covenant promises in the OT have reached their fulfillment in the new covenant inaugurated by Christ. Jesus is the true Adam, the true Israel, and the true David, and therefore the true recipient of the covenant promises. This christotelic hermeneutic clarifies in what way Christ fulfills the OT’s covenant promises, such as the Abrahamic promises of land and descendants, and therefore it clarifies in what way the new covenant relates to those covenant promises.

In light of this recent discussion, this article seeks to use Ephesians 2:11-22 as a case study in order to examine more carefully the nature of the new covenant, particularly in Paul’s theology.3 The purpose is not to impose a particular theological system upon the text but to glean from the text certain observations that can speak to Paul’s theology of the new covenant. In the final analysis, I will contend that “progressive covenantalism” is fundamentally correct in its hermeneutical perspective, and I will offer several concluding observations regarding the nature and prominence of the new covenant in Paul’s theology.

Ephesians 2:11-22 And The New Covenant

Ephesians 2:11-22 is a particularly fruitful text for analysis of the new covenant, for in it Paul describes the Gentile...

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