“A new commandment I give unto you”                   

This article is about how scripture applies to us by understanding the meaning of old and new covenant wording in the new testament.

Did you ever read some of Jesus’ words and think, “huh? I don’t understand…That sounds like the opposite of what I read in Paul’s epistles.”

We find a perfect example of this in Matthew 6:15, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Then you read Paul’s writing in Ephesians 4:32 that says: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

These two verses mean the exact opposite of each other… Jesus said that if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you. And Paul said that God’s already forgiven you, so pass it on to others.

So what’s the deal?

The answer is really very simple. These verses represent the terms of two different covenants.  And Jesus’ death is the dividing-line in scripture that separated those two opposing covenants. And this fact, is probably the most useful bit of knowledge in understanding how to apply teachings within the new testament. 

Jesus’ earthly life was the literal pivot-point between those two covenants. He often spoke to both the old covenant works of the law, and to new covenant grace. But when He spoke to law, understand that Jesus was being faithful to the administration of the old covenant of law that was in force at that time. But the instant that Jesus died, the new covenant was actuated, and the old covenant of law became obsolete, (Hebrews 9:16-17 & 10:12).  

Remember, Jesus was doing two things regarding the law during His earthly life. He was the fulfillment of its requirements as the proxy for every believer, and He was teaching the impossibility of man’s ability to comply to it.

Here’s another example of old covenant and new covenant differences in scripture:

(Old covenant law): Matthew 22:36-40, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

This is key: Notice the references to the law in that scripture; (remember, you aren’t under the law). And none of us could ever comply with this, (even on our best day). And God knows that you can’t comply to it, so He isn’t expecting you to comply to it. Instead, He’s expecting you to see the impossibility of your compliance to the law’s demands, and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for your righteousness.

Now, in the following verses, notice the new covenant identity in Christ’s new commandment…there is no requirement for you to love God with all of your being, (as the law required). 

Here at the last supper, Jesus spoke to new covenant grace before He died. (John 13:34-35), “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”    

And in 1 John 3:23, we see John writing again Christ’s new commandment…”And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

So in the new covenant, we freely love the Lord because He first loved us. He has given us a new heart; we don’t love Him as a requirement of law.

To be pleasing to God in the new covenant, is to believe on Christ, and to love people. (It really is that simple & doable).

So there you have it my friend, a look at contrasting-scripture through the lens of the old and new covenants. And you’ll find that when you’re having fun just loving people, it’s the happiest time in your life…just as God planned. 

Blessings to you.


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