Critical Introduction to the New Testament. Continuity and Application in Contemporary Life

Academic Paper, 2020

14 Pages, Grade: 95



I. Continuity and Integration
1.1. The New Testament fulfils the Old Testament
1.2. A promise for a New Testament
1.3. The Presence of Eyewitnesses
1.4. The Universal nature of the New Testament

II. The New Testament and Contemporary Life
2.1. Problem statement
2.1.1. What is there within the New Testament text to suggests it has limited or specific application?
2.1.2. What is there within the text that suggests it has universal application?
2.1.3. How may one distinguish between specific and universal application?
2.2. A proposed solution


Abstract: Christians often read the Bible meal - a few verses or a single chapter at a time. As a result, they may overlook the context and draw unwarranted conclusions. The critic, on the other hand, looks for the inconsistencies that inevitably throw him on the track. In this paper, the problem of proving the continuity of the New Testament is approached in a way that ties it together by means of a theme or connectivity. Moreover, since the material is now two thousand years old, modern New Testament students are faced with the problem of application, especially how to understand the original intention behind the New Testament for current human history. In this regard, the author discusses the application of the New Testament in contemporary life, with particular attention to how to distinguish the universal and limited or specific application of the texts as well as to provide a solution that reiterates the meaning and the means of salvation.

Key Words: New Testament and Contemporary Life, Gospel an Eyewitness, Biblical Application, Biblical Interpretation, Universal Nature of the Scriptures.

I. Continuity and Integration

While a wide range of Christians read the Bible, and sometimes biblical pieces related to their circumstances, it has been argued that they often overlook the scriptural context and draw unwarranted conclusions, to meet their needs. While they make the Bible tell what they want, the critic, on the other hand, looks for the inconsistencies that inevitably throw them on the trail. However, Jews and Muslims, for their part, are challenged by the question of biblical authority, a problem that confuses many people but presents them with particular difficulties. In other words, the two overriding questions are what Christians mean by New and Old Testaments and the relationship between them. This problem is compounded by the fact that Jews do not accept the New Testament while Muslims accept both, in theory. However, the common Messianic theme of the two covenants ties them together so that the evidence points to the meaning of New Testament continuity and integration.

It is indeed not difficult to determine which of the two testaments is more acceptable to many Christians today. Without any hesitation, the majority would say that they feel more drawn to reading the New Testament than the Old Testament. As Lulian (2018) points out, for any open-minded reader, there may be many possibilities, as the main reasons, for the aforementioned preference. We will reflect on these evidences in this piece of writing.

1.1. The New Testament fulfils the Old Testament

According to Lulian (2018), although one should not get lost in all of our human misunderstandings regarding the character of God, he should focus on a closer examination of the New Covenant as a continuation of the Old Covenant. When discussing the Old Covenant, we may need to be specific or mention that it contained several other “covenants” that appeared to have taken place in the Old Testament. For example, the covenant God made with humankind through Adam and Even in the early beginning (Adamic or Edenic covenant), the Covenant with Abraham, with Jacob and Israel.

The Edenic covenant consists of two parts, one of which being the covenant that God made with the human race in its pre-life condition, when he warned them "the day you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:17. This suggestion is very well endorsed by Paul (2008) who refers to it as the covenant of works that can be found in the early chapters of Genesis where God makes conditional promises to Adam. However, the Edenic covenant is not explicitly called a covenant in Genesis; but it will be called later as a covenant in Hosea 6: 7, “As at Adam, they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me there”(NIV). The second part took place after Adam and Eve broke the "Edenic covenant." This second part took place in their postlapsarian condition and it included the promise of the Messiah, the One who will destroy the head of the serpent.

The Edenic covenant, either before the Fall or after the Fall, finds its fulfillment in the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve did not perish immediately, after breaking the Edenic covenant, due to the implementation of the plan of salvation that God had in place before "the world was" (John 17: 5). From this evidence, one would suggest that those who deny the New Testament would not easily find evidence of another Messiah or any other way that this covenant could have been fulfilled using only the Old Testament.

On the other hand, God’s promise to Abraham points to Jesus Christ: "…And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:3. God’s covenant with Abraham has many content, including “A land that I will show you”, “a great nation” and “All the families of the earth shall be blessed”. Warren (2004) is so clear that the latter is about Jesus, as can even be read in Acts 3: 24-26. There is nothing else God could have done that offers a gift to bless all families of the earth, except Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, a descendent from Abraham’s lineages. Having been prophesized by different Old Testament prophets, the New Testament also bears this account: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham in advance, saying “In you all the nations shall be blessed”. So therefore, those who have faith are fortunate enough to be part of Abraham’s promise. This shows how the Old Testament was fulfilled by Jesus Christ whose ministry is recounted in the New Testament.

1.2. A promise for a New Testament

This promise is a remarkable fact that demonstrates the essential unity of the Bible. Jeremiah was one of the greatest Hebrew prophets, and he lived in the dramatic period which saw the fall of the kingdom of Judah. In plain language, God told the people through Jeremiah that there would be a “New Testament”. Read the following paragraph carefully:

The days are coming,” declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV).

It is clear from the Old Testament scriptures that God had clearly foretold of the new covenant, which was given to bring in God’s plan for forgiveness of sin. It is therefore evident that there is continuity of purpose throughout the Bible. Matthew (2020) sees it as of great personal importance to us to see that this goal centers on the promise of a Savior, who would take away sin and give people a new heart, a heart on which God would "write His laws" for them, so that sinners can be restored to fellowship with God. The fact that God himself testifies to the validity of the New Testament, from within the Old Testament which the Jews believe to be authoritative, testifies to the latter's authority. Although the Jews try to deny the New Testament in order to hide their failure to recognize the Messiah, one would rely on God's approval of the New Testament to underscore his acceptance.

1.3. The Presence of Eyewitnesses

Another important argument that attests to the continuity of the New Testament is the presence of eyewitnesses. As Moreland (2007) puts it, one could make a strong case for the fact that much of the New Testament, including the Gospels and the sources behind them, was written by eyewitnesses. This is mentioned explicitly in several verses (Luke 1: 1–4; Galatians 1; 2 Peter 1:16). This is significant since early Church valued the testimony of eyewitnesses and accepted eyewitnesses leading her. To better understand its significance, one may reflect on the apostolic position in the early Church which can be demonstrated by the inclusion and emphasis on the qualifications of being an eyewitness (Acts 1: 21-22; Hebrews 2: 3). To support this point, Moreland (2007) discusses early speeches in Acts that refer to the knowledge of an unbelieving audience (e.g., Acts 2:22), and reflects on his experience where he mentions that does not know of any historian who doubts that Christianity began in Jerusalem just weeks after Jesus' death in the presence of friendly and hostile eyewitnesses. Aside from the eyewitnesses, there have also been indirect testimonies different from the eyewitnesses in the Gospels. These attests to the acceptance of the Gospel and hence, of Jesus ministry.

1.4. The Universal nature of the New Testament

Another terrific argument that attests to the integration of the New Testament is that Jesus has come to save all humanity, contrary to the Old Testament scriptures that are about only one nation of Israel. Yet, the Old Covenant focused on the Messiah who was to come and restore the human relationship with God. When Jesus came, the Old Testament was fulfilled in Him, so Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant since there is a New Covenant in Christ. Although this raises the question of whether the Christians should regard the Old and New Testament as of equal authority, it shows that God had a plan from the beginning of times.

The Old Testament scriptures make it clear that God chose Abram, brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and changed his name to Abraham. Finding his heart true, He made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgshite -- to give it to his descendants (Genesis 12:1 & 17:1; Exodus 4:22; Deut. 14:1; Nehemiah 9:7). The scriptures are so clear that the election process began with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God then extended the choice of Patriarchs and Matriarchs to include all of Israel.

So why did God choose this nation? Abraham's choice seems to be based on his faithfulness to God. This quality is also recommended to Israel in Leviticus 19:2:” You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy.” Likewise, Israel was told that God had chosen them not because of their number or their power because they were a fraction of the human population and a markedly minor power among the nations, but because He loves them and sees the unique potential in them to become a “treasure people”, a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”( Exodus 19:5; Deut. 7:6, 10:15, 14:2; Lev. 19:2). Can this be interpreted as an injustice to other nations?

In the truest sense of the Bible, the election of the Jewish people is not a one-sided love affair. Their choice was invariably linked to a mission because Israel was to do all the things the Lord had commanded them to do. Rosenthal (2020) noted that Isaiah and Jeremiah viewed Israel's loving God's choice as a way to teach monotheism, fight idolatry, curb human arrogance, end violence, lust , greed, extreme chauvinism and war, and usher in a new society. However, from the beginning of the Bible account, we see that God had a plan, which He communicated to the men, and women who carefully wrote them down and obeyed them. That plan was restore a relationship between God and Humanity. This is even the most important theme running through the Old Testament: the promise of God and the expectation by His people of a Redeemer, a Messiah who would save mankind from the Fall of Adam. We see evidences across the Bible that God works with plans and uses people to accomplish His plans. For example, He asked Moses to prepare a written plan for the construction of the tabernacle. He gave David plans for the temple. He asked Hezekiah to write down his vision in a clear and orderly manner.


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Critical Introduction to the New Testament. Continuity and Application in Contemporary Life
Nations University
Critical Introduction to the New Testament
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Biblical Application, Biblical Interpretation, New Testament, Contemporary Life, Gospel, Eyewitness, Scriptures
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Dr. Sixbert Sangwa (Author), 2020, Critical Introduction to the New Testament. Continuity and Application in Contemporary Life, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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