The New Covenant
and Its Blood

“This is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
—Matthew 26:28

JESUS WAS IN THE “upper room” (Mark 14:15) with his disciples the night before he was crucified when he asked them to drink of the “cup” which, he explained, represented the blood of the ‘new testament,’ or covenant. (Matt. 26:27,28) It was on this occasion also that he invited them to partake of the “bread,” saying that it symbolized his broken body, his flesh, which previously he had said he would give for the life of the world.—John 6:51

There is much said in both the Old Testament and the New Testament concerning God’s covenants, the understanding of which greatly enhances one’s appreciation of the Divine plan for the reconciling of the sin-cursed and dying human race to God.


The word covenant itself, meaning an ‘agreement,’ suggests its relationship to God’s plan of reconciliation, for the human race has been out of agreement, or out of harmony, with God. In Hosea 6:7 (Marginal Translation) we read that Adam transgressed the “covenant.” This indicates that a covenant existed between God and Adam; that they were in harmony with each other, and would have continued if Adam had not “transgressed the covenant.”

But Adam did transgress! He broke the law of that covenant, that bond of friendship and fellowship which existed between himself and his Creator. God then invoked the penalty of the covenant, which was death—“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) Alienated from God by reason of his sin, with death commencing to work in him, Adam’s children were born imperfect, and because of their imperfection they, too, came under condemnation. Not having God’s favor they could not live, so, as Paul explained, all in Adam of necessity die.—I Cor. 15

Although death has continued to reign, God has indicated to those of the fallen race whom he has chosen to serve him that he had a plan to change the situation. He entered into a covenant with Abraham, promising that through his “seed” he would bless all the families of the earth. (Gen. 22:16-18) This indicated that God had not abandoned his human creation; that he intended, through this ‘seed’ which he promised to Abraham, to “bless” the people, implying that in his own due time they would be reconciled to him.

In the New Testament Paul calls our attention to a limiting factor in the downward course of the human race, saying that “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” (Rom. 5:14) This is most revealing. Adam’s transgression was willful. He could have elected not to eat the forbidden fruit, but he chose the course of disobedience. However, the situation was not the same with his offspring. They were born in sin, hence under condemnation, without themselves being willfully responsible for their position. Paul explained, death continued to reign, even though all were not, as Adam was, willful sinners.


But this universal and unchecked reign of sin continued only until Moses. Then there was a change. Not a change sufficiently effective to prevent even a single member of the fallen race from dying; nevertheless, by God’s design a strong deterrent against the ravages of sin was provided for the one little nation of Israel. It was the Law, which became the basis of a covenant into which the Lord entered with that nation, with Moses serving as mediator.

It was God’s Law, and therefore a standard of perfect righteousness required by him on the part of all who would enjoy his favor, and who would desire to be at peace with him. Paul wrote that the Law was “spiritual,” meaning, simply, that it came from God. (Rom. 7:12,14) The Law promised life, but, as Paul explained, what was ordained to give life, they found to be unto death.—Rom. 7:10

Under the leadership of faithful servants of God, the nation of Israel at times seemed fairly enthusiastic in their effort to keep the Law and enjoy the blessings which it provided. Doubtless in every generation there were individuals who endeavored earnestly to maintain their covenant relationship with God upon the basis of keeping the Law. But they all failed. To keep the Law was beyond the ability of any member of the fallen race.

God knew this, but he wanted the Israelites to try, for he wanted this demonstration of the need for the atoning blood of the Redeemer. Paul explained that the Law was therefore a “schoolmaster,” which would teach the necessity of looking to Christ and to the provision of his shed blood. (Gal. 3:24) Very few of the Israelites throughout the long centuries of the Jewish Age continued their efforts to keep that Law, and hence failed to learn the lesson which it taught. Truth-enlightened Christians have learned, and, in the age to come, both Jews and Gentiles, when awakened from the sleep of death, will learn the lesson which that ‘schoolmaster’ was designed to teach.

Despite the continued failure of every Jew, no matter how earnest his endeavor, to gain peace with God and life under the Law, the nation was not left without hope, for the Lord made a definite promise to them of a “new covenant.” This promise is recorded in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The promise of a New Covenant was given subsequent to the division of the nation into the northern, ten-tribe kingdom, and the southern, two-tribe kingdom. These two segments of Israelites are frequently referred to in the prophecies as “Israel” and “Judah.” In making his promises of future blessings, however, the Lord included them all, so the New Covenant was to be made “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”

This New Covenant was not to be like the covenant he made with their fathers when the Lord “took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake.” The promise indicates that the essential difference between the two covenants would be in the fact that the latter, or New Covenant, would not be “written and engraven in stones,” as was the former Law Covenant, but that the Lord would put his “law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.”—II Cor. 3:7; Jer. 31:32,33

In the promise of the New Covenant it says that “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for,” as further explained, “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” Then the whole world will be reconciled to God, all in harmony with him, being restored to that original ‘at-one-ment’ with God enjoyed by Adam prior to the time when he ‘transgressed the covenant.’


God made promises revealing his purpose to re-establish his law in the hearts of men and to reconcile the sin-cursed race to himself. From the beginning of human experience with sin, he began to call attention to the basis upon which this would be accomplished—through the shedding of blood. For this reason he showed his favor to Abel by accepting the animal sacrifice which he offered.

The slaying of the Passover lamb in Egypt, and the sprinkling of its blood upon the lintels and doorposts of the houses, constituted another picture emphasizing the necessity of the shedding of blood. In this instance, the firstborn of Israel were first saved, and the next morning all Israel was delivered from bondage, picturing the deliverance of all mankind from the thralldom of sin and death.

Just a little later, when the Law Covenant was made with the nation, there was again the shedding of blood. For two days Moses and his assistants were slaying “oxen,” and collecting the blood in basins. On the third day, when the Law Covenant was inaugurated, this blood was used to sprinkle “both the book [of the Law], and all the people.”—Heb. 9:19,20; Exod. 24:5-8

Following the inauguration of the covenant, the Tabernacle was built, and its services initiated, and again there was the shedding of blood. Important among these services were the yearly Day of Atonement ceremonies in which a bullock and a goat were slain, and their blood taken into the Most Holy of the Tabernacle and sprinkled upon the mercy seat for sin, to make reconciliation, first for Aaron and his house, and then for all the people.

Obviously, all this shedding of blood, beginning with Abel and continuing in one ceremony or another to the coming of Jesus at his First Advent, pointed forward to his blood. Paul explains that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin, (Heb. 10:4) but the blood of Jesus can. It is sin that has alienated the human race from God, and that sin must be taken away, atoned for, expiated, before the people can be reconciled to God. Before he can ‘put his law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,’ the New Covenant must be made.

The making of this New Covenant and the expiation of sin is the great objective of the Divine plan of reconciliation. It is the ultimate in the “restitution of all things,” to be accomplished during the thousand years of Christ’s reign. (Acts 3:19-23) How fitting, therefore, that Jesus should speak of his blood as being the ‘blood of the new covenant.’ It is, indeed, his blood that will make possible the regaining of perfect human life by all of Adam’s race during the age to come.


There are certain texts of scripture which, if interpreted apart from the general testimony of the Bible on this subject, might be thought to indicate that the promised New Covenant was inaugurated by Jesus at his First Advent, and that it has been gradually expanding since then as more and more believers come under its terms. In this we have much the same situation as that which exists respecting the Bible’s testimony pertaining to the promised kingdom of Christ. Many have contended that the kingdom was established at Pentecost, whereas merely the selection and preparation of Jesus’ associate rulers began there.

Jesus is the “KING OF KINGS” (Rev. 19:16) in his kingdom, but there will be 144,000 selected from the human race to reign with him. (Rev. 14:1) They will be both kings and priests. Jesus will also be the chief Mediator of the New Covenant, the principal one in bringing about the reconciliation of the world to God; but those who reign with him as kings will also be associated with him in the work of reconciliation. Paul speaks of these as “able ministers of the new testament [covenant].”—II Cor. 3:6

The work of the Gospel Age has been the selection and preparation of these for the high position they will occupy with Jesus during the thousand years of Christ’s kingdom, when the New Covenant will be made with the ‘house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,’ and with all mankind. Their training involves the necessity of sacrifice, of laying down life itself in proof of their fidelity to God and to the Divine principles of righteousness which they will be called upon to establish in the minds and hearts of men.

These ‘able ministers of the new covenant’ themselves enter into a covenant with the Lord—not the foretold New Covenant, but a “covenant … by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5) There is nothing said in connection with God’s promises of the New Covenant to indicate that those with whom it will be made will be called upon to sacrifice. Just as the original Law Covenant promised health and life, and blessings in “basket” and in “store” (Deut. 28:5), so it will be with the New Covenant. It is a restitution covenant, and those in whose hearts and ‘inward parts’ its laws are fully written, and lived by, will be perfect—mentally, morally, and physically—and will live forever as human beings.


We have noted that there was a certain preparatory work which preceded the inauguration of the typical Law Covenant. It was a work of sacrifice. While in the type the sacrificial work required only two days, in the antitype it is spread out over the entire Gospel Age—approximately two symbolic days of a thousand years each. This sacrificial work of preparation for the New Covenant began with Jesus. That is why he referred to his blood as the blood of that covenant. It continues with his followers, who are invited to suffer and to die with him, thus sharing in the “better sacrifices” necessary for the preparation of the New Covenant.—Heb. 9:23

It is after this sacrificial work is completed that the New Covenant will be inaugurated. That will be the antitype of the wonderful display of God’s glory which accompanied the making of the original Law Covenant, including the glory which shone on Moses’ face as he descended from the mountain bearing the tables of the Law. (Exod. 34:29,30) In II Corinthians 3:3, Paul speaks of those “tables of stone” and the Law which was written on them, and then explains that by the Spirit of God his law is now being written in the “fleshy tables” of our hearts.

This suggests the manner in which, as Paul explains later in the chapter, we are made ‘able ministers of the new testament [covenant].’ As in the type, the ‘tables of stone’ accompanied Moses when he came down from the mount with his face ablaze with the glory of God, so the promise is that those who are faithful in suffering and dying with Jesus, will appear with him in glory.

The ministry of the typical Law Covenant was a ministration of death, because the people could not measure up to the requirements of the Law that was “written and engraven in stones.” (II Cor. 3:7) But the ministration of the “spirit” which is now writing God’s law in the ‘fleshy tables’ of our hearts, preparing us to be able ministers of the New Covenant, will give life—restitution life—to all who then come into the covenant.—vss. 3-8

Paul speaks of the glory of Moses’ countenance, and how great it was, even though it “was to be done away.” Then he adds, “How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather [more] glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. … Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.”—II Cor. 3:7-12

In the next chapter (II Cor. 4), verse seventeen, Paul again refers to the ‘glory that excelleth,’ describing it as “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” a glory which is preceded by our present “light affliction.” We have the afflictions now, while we lay down our lives in keeping with the ‘covenant by sacrifice’ into which we have entered with the Lord. If faithful, the promised glory will be ours later. As Paul explains, this glory that excelleth, the glory which will accompany the inauguration of the New Covenant, is as yet but a hope. In Romans 8:24 he explains that “hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” These scriptures are conclusive in establishing the fact that the glorious inauguration of the New Covenant is yet future, that the preparatory work of sacrifice still continues. Those who are called to be able ministers of the New Covenant continue to present their bodies “a living sacrifice,” knowing that such sacrifices are acceptable through the blood of the Redeemer.—Rom. 12:1


Paul explains that even the “blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean” had a certain purifying effect, that it “sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh.” Then he adds, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”—Heb. 9:13,14

We are being purged to ‘serve’ the living God, as ministers, or servants, of the New Covenant. “For this cause,” Paul adds, “He [Christ] is the mediator of the new testament [covenant].” (vs. 15) He does not mediate between God and us to bring us into that covenant, but purges us that we may offer ourselves in acceptable sacrifice, and thus qualify to be associated with him, as members of his body, in the future mediatorial work of the New Covenant.

Confirming the general testimony of the Scriptures, Paul states that the sacrificial work of the New Covenant will first of all result in the “redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament,” that “they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (vs. 15) It was the house of Israel and the house of Judah that transgressed under the old covenant, so when the mediator class is complete—the Sion class—there “shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” in harmony with the promise of the New Covenant, for the “gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:26,27,29) The nation of Israel are the ‘called’ of Hebrews 9:15, called under the old Law Covenant, but they must await their ‘eternal inheritance’ until the ‘better sacrifices’ of this age are complete.

While Jesus, the Head of the mediator class, finished his sacrifice, all of his body members have not. They are still being planted together in the likeness of his death, and the New Covenant cannot be in force until this aspect of the Divine arrangement is finished. “For,” as Paul explains, “where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”—Heb. 9:16


In Isaiah 42:1-7 we have a prophecy concerning Jesus, the great “servant” of Jehovah. In verse 6 we read, “I the Lord have called thee [Christ] in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people.” The thought is that through Jesus the promised New Covenant would be made with the people, and that he would be offered in sacrifice as a surety for that covenant.

The Apostle Paul knew that Jesus would not be alone in this. In II Corinthians 6:1 he refers to our being co-laborers, and beseeches us to receive not this “grace of God” in vain. In the next verse he quotes from Isaiah 49:8 concerning “a Season acceptable” and a “Day of Salvation,” then adds, “Behold! now is a well-accepted Season; behold! now is a Day of Salvation”—Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

Thus the Apostle Paul identifies Isaiah 49:8 as applying to the followers of Jesus; those who become “new creature[s]” in Christ Jesus. (II Cor. 5:17) In this prophecy a promise is made to these which is identical in meaning with the one made to Jesus in Isaiah 42:6. It reads, “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” (Isa. 49:8) How clear it is from this promise that the inauguration of the New Covenant must wait until these joint-sacrificers with Jesus have finished their course in death! Because, by God’s arrangement, the covenant becomes operative through their death, as well as the death of Jesus, the Redeemer. They also are a part of the ‘testator.’

If we are to understand the lessons presented to us in the Book of Hebrews we must realize that Paul places the church, antitypically, not as being represented by the camp of Israel, but as the antitypical priesthood, the servants of the antitypical New Covenant. Their preparation as ministers of the New Covenant and their work of sacrifice in connection therewith require the merit of the blood in order to be acceptable to the Lord. And this is the work of the Gospel Age. We are now fulfilling our covenant with the Lord by sacrifice, and at the same time being trained for the future work of glory as kings to reign with Jesus, and be ministers of the New Covenant, to work with him in reconciling the world to God.

The entire scope of this work was suggested by Paul when he wrote that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” This is the great objective of the Divine plan as it is centered in Christ. And to us, Paul added, has been committed “the word of reconciliation.” (II Cor. 5:18,19) It is upon this basis that we are ambassadors for Christ. Even in the development of the church class, the individuals being drawn to the Lord and later called into his service, need to be reconciled to God, so we are commissioned to say to these, “Be ye reconciled to God.”—II Cor. 5:20

Thus, in the great economy of God, we are being prepared for the future work of reconciling the world through the arrangements of the New Covenant, by now serving an apprenticeship and thereby demonstrating our complete harmony with the future work in which we hope to share. And we are invited to do this under conditions which call for sacrifice and suffering, even unto death.

Our covenant with the Lord is one of sacrifice. In Galatians, chapters three and four, Paul indicates also our relationship to, and development under, the original covenant God made with Abraham. That covenant calls for the development of a “seed,” and if we are in the body of Christ, we are a part of that ‘seed.’—Gal. 3:27-29

In chapter four, verse twenty-eight, Paul says that “we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” Isaac was undoubtedly a type of Jesus, but according to Paul the church is included in the picture. This would mean that the offering of Isaac as a sacrifice would foreshadow the sacrifice of both Jesus and his church—the ‘better sacrifices’ which lead to the inauguration of the New Covenant. Through this covenant the restitution blessings promised in the covenant with Abraham, are made available, first to ‘the house of Israel, and the house of Judah,’ and then to “all the families of the earth.”—Gen. 28:14

Surely, we can thank God for his “high calling” (Phil. 3:14) through Christ Jesus. We recognize, as Paul did, that the attaining of such an honored position in his plan of salvation is because “our sufficiency is of God.” (II Cor. 3:5) He covers us with a robe of righteousness, and as he held the hand of his beloved Son, Jesus, and helped him, we know from his promise that he will also help and preserve us, and together with Jesus give us as a “covenant of the people.”—Isa. 42:6; 49:8

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |