Original Research

Some reflections on the ‘new covenant’ in Hebrews 12:24

Gert J.C. Jordaan
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 50, No 4 | a2140 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v50i4.2140 | © 2016 Gert J.C. Jordaan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2016 | Published: 30 November 2016

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Gert J.C. Jordaan, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus,, South Africa


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Abstract

In Hebrews 12:24 Jesus is called the Mediator of a διαθήκη νέα [new covenant], instead of aδιαθήκη καινή, as elsewhere in the New Testament. This peculiar reference to the new covenantis investigated within its relation to ‘the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better thanthe blood of Abel’ (Heb 12:24). In the investigation considerations from the micro- andmacrocontext of the structure of Hebrews are taken into account, as well as intertextua considerations. Special attention is given to the revelation-historical meaning of the blood ofAbel who was murdered by his brother (Gn 4:1–16). The outcome of the investigation is thatHebrews 12:24 uses the phrase διαθήκη νέα since, in contrast to the rest of Hebrews, it does notcompare the new covenant to the old covenant with Israel, but to the situation of humankindin their depravity after the fall into sin. Although God’s promise of a seed (Christ) in Genesis 3:15 already brought a shimmering of hope for salvation to fallen humankind, the blood of themurdered Abel witnessed to the fact that in itself humankind was destined for God’sjudgement, without a possibility of reconciliation with God. However, in his covenant of graceas already foreseen in the promised seed, God created a completely new possibility, namelythe prospect that the blood of Christ will bring about complete reconciliation with God andsalvation from his vengeance. Within the hopeless situation as witnessed by the blood of Abel the covenant leading to the reconciliatory sacrifice of Christ was a completely new outcome – aδιαθήκη νέα.


Keywords

Hebrews; new covenant; the blood of Jesus; the blood of Abel; forgiveness of sins; sin and reconciliation; fulfilment of Old Testament promises; New Testament Theology

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