The Blood of the Testament
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
In studying the “New Covenant” in past articles, I wrote about a difference pointed out to me by my “literary friend”, a knighted Scotland Yard detective of the late 19th and early 20th century who wrote doctrinal books that in my estimation are second to none¹.
This difference is in the wording as follows where we have four accounts of what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Supper”:
Matthew: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (26:28).
Mark: “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (14:24).
Luke: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (22:20).
Paul (in 1 Corinthians): “This cup is the new testament in my blood” (11:25).
In studying the Bible, we should investigate these differences and question as to whether these are just different ways of saying the same thing, or if they are really teaching different things. In my previous article on this subject, I discussed how eating the bread, and drinking the cup testify of the Lord’s death, and that this observance that the apostle Paul delivered to the Corinthians was, when observed properly, the proper way to show the Lord’s death “til He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
In this account in Matthew, the Lord states that the cup is the blood of the new testament, and, for the sake of argument let us say that this could be rendered the blood of the new covenant. He then adds that it is shed for many in both the “Matthew account” and the “Mark account”, but in Matthew we see added that it is for the remission of sins.
Now the remission of sins is important here, because in the Jeremiah 31 promise of a new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah, the Lord states that He will forgive their sins and remember them no more. This then poses the question: How is this possible, considering that this is the same Lord Jehovah that stated in Exodus 34:7 that He would by no means clear the guilty? The blood of the new covenant would be absolutely crucial for this promised covenant to be made, because, as the law so plainly taught “it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).
Some things do not change. The first covenant was given to the people in similar words:
Exodus 24:8 — “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.”
The writer of Hebrews² recounts this, and reminds us of the importance of the blood, not only when the covenant was made, but just about everything under the first covenant was purged by blood:
Hebrews 9:19–22 — “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament³ which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
So without that shedding of blood, there would be no remission. So Christ had to shed His blood for the sins of His people4, so that God could righteously forgive sins under the first covenant and that the second covenant could be made without violating His own righteousness. But the mystery now manifested reveals that while it is absolutely true that Christ died for the sins of His people, He also died for the ungodly, while we were His enemies, and yet sinners (Romans 5:6–11). That Christ would die for His people, or that He would lay down His life for His friends was revealed (Isaiah 53; John 15:13), although in reality not recognized or understood even by those closest to Him (Luke 18:31–34).
But when we read the epistle to the Romans, we read of the gospel of Christ that is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first (His people), and also to the Greek, or Gentile (Romans 1:16). Now even this is not mystery revealed, or new revelation, because prophetically Christ would be salvation for the world. But that we as enemies and ungodly could enter into God’s salvation by that same blood of the covenant is wonderful grace.
An understanding of the blood of the covenant will also shed some light on another troubling passage, that if not properly understood, causes us to question the assurance that we have in Christ:
Hebrews 10:26–29 — “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
Question: Who was sanctified by the blood of the first covenant? Read Exodus chapter 24.
Question: The blood of the covenant spoken of in the above passage, what blood is it? “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
In the passage above, who is sanctified by that blood? Hint: To whom is the epistle written? Is this passage talking to all Christians? Is it talking to Christians in general, or to someone more specific? Is it talking to Christians at all?
Picture an Israelite saying, “The law of Moses, phhh, who cares”. What would be his fate? Now taking it a step further, “The Son of God, who cares”. Do you see the thrust of the verses now? By the Hebrew people continuing to reject the Son of God, as He was now speaking to them from heaven (Hebrews 12:25), they were doing exactly as the passage describes. They were trodding the Son of God under their feet and despising the spirit of grace and the blood by which they were sanctified. The blood was shed for them for the remission of their sins, and they were counting it as profane. This was a crisis that they needed to come to terms with and about which they needed to make a decision. Would they believe or would they reject?
The blood of the new testament was shed for many for the remission of their sins, and this specific people, the people chosen of God and in covenant relation with Him, need that blood for a new covenant to be possible with them. Meanwhile, because of the trampling underfoot of the Son of God, they have fallen from their position of privilege and are concluded in unbelief, that God might offer mercy freely and without distinction to all, apart from any covenants of promise (Romans 11:32).
The blood of Christ is the redemption for all, and all who will believe in His death fro their sins and resurrection are saved by it, and are forgiven all of their sins. And when you have redemption through His blood, you are saved, sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, and seated with Christ in heavenly places. This same Christ, Who speaks from heaven to the Hebrews also speaks to you and me from His place at the right hand of the throne of God (Ephesians 1:20–23; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12–13).
Will we hear the Son of God, while He speaks to us in His grace, and receive the gift of His righteousness during this acceptable time. He is speaking from His throne of grace now. He will speak one day in His wrath, so now is the day to receive the gift of salvation in Him.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved
- I speak, of course, of Sir Robert Anderson, who I have quoted in full posts in several previous articles, and have also referenced from time to time in many articles. The particular article of mine that I am referring to is The New Testament in My Blood on this site.
- There are, in my estimation, two arguments for who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. The two arguments are Paul, or anyone but Paul. The arguments against Paul as the author are generally doctrinal and not evidence based. Many see these warnings in the Hebrews epistle to be incompatible with the dispensation of the grace of God that was given to Paul, so they prove that Paul could not have written this epistle. But if we remember the place that the Hebrew people had as God’s covenant people, these warnings are not out of place. From the time of our Lord’s ministry to when this epistle was written, the Covenant People (with some exceptions, of course) had rejected the word from John the Baptist, from Christ Himself, from His twelve apostles, and the kingdom that had been preached as “at hand”, and had even been offered (Acts 3:19–26), was on “the back burner”. It would not be offered to an unbelieving people. But that same group of people were a mix of believers and unbelievers, and the unbelievers needed a warning. The special place of the Covenant People must be understood in this Hebrews passage. The entirety of the people of Israel were under the first covenant. They could live by the covenant, or they could rebel against it. Those who rebelled against it were punished accordingly. That is where this passage picks up. All Israel was sanctified by the blood of the covenant under Moses, and all Israel is sanctified by the blood of the covenant that the Son of God shed for the remission of the sins of many. “For he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) was introductory to the reason why Joseph was commanded to give Christ our Lord the name JESUS. But just like under the first covenant, the people could live by it or reject it. The rejection of that which is enjoined to them would have dire consequences, both on a personal and a national level. That is what this warning speaks about. It is not about someone who is at one time saved and then through sinning loses his salvation. The people of Israel, in Judaea and outside of it had a choice to make. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38–39). There was no more sacrifice for sins, and by rejecting this once for all sacrifice, they were counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified as an unholy thing, and so despising the gracious offer that they were given. In the last chapter of the epistle, those believing are called to suffer with Christ without the camp (Hebrews 13:13), and that is the position of believing Israelites today. But they do have a people today, and that is “the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:10–11).
- It is often argued whether the correct word should be testament or covenant. The same Greek word — diathēkē — is translated as either word, the translators making a choice as to whether it should be “testament” or “covenant” depending on what appears to be their understanding of the context. In this instance, it is covenant in Exodus and testament in Hebrews.
- “His people” being Israel, who were “His own” as stated in John 1:11, who did not receive Him. The doctrine of “limited atonement” reveals a lack of understanding this term. If “His own” are “the elect”, as Calvinism teaches, or those He elected to save by His arbitrary will who are the only ones that He died for, then the doctrine falls apart here, because “His own” did not receive Him and therefore were not saved.
Charles Miller View All
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.
I am amazed at how God works sometimes.
My friends and I have been studying the terms testament and covenant and how they differ .
I was reading terms and meanings in my concordance and reading scriptures on the subject and paused to check my email and found that this post had just come in.
I appreciate your posts and am excited that much of what I read lines up with the understanding of scripture that I hold.
I live in western Pennsylvania and have attended Pentecostal churches since 1975 when my wife and I were saved.
Early on I began to question the preaching as compared to the written Word and for awhile was confused.
Then I learned of right division and with the information on the computer finally had to leave Christendom and Religion and turn to what I call Biblical Christianity.
There are no churches in our area that preach right division so we and our friends meet together at our homes for fellowship and study.
Thanks for your posts and I pray that as others read them that they will also be blessed.
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