The New Covenant

There are few theological teachings that are less understood by the majority of Christians than the subject of the New Sacred Agreement (Covenant) that Jesus inaugurated with his Apostles during his ‘last supper,’ which immediately preceded his death and resurrection. So, what we will discuss here will start with the ‘type’ – the ‘Old Sacred Agreement’ – to show what it involved and pictured, and then we will look at the ‘antitype’ – the ‘New Sacred Agreement’ – to see how those prophecies are fulfilled in it.

The Early Sacred Agreements

The first Sacred Agreement that God made with mankind was the one He made with our common forefather Noah (as well as with ‘all creation’), where God vowed that He would never again destroy all life on earth with water. And the sign that He provided to remind us of His oath is the rainbow.

The next Sacred Agreement that He made was with faithful Abram (at Genesis 15:18-20), where He promised to give the land that was then referred to as Canaan to Abram’s descendants.

God thereafter expanded His Sacred Agreement with Abram at Genesis 17:1-14, when He changed his name to Abraham and promised that he would become the ‘father of a multitude,’ his seed would inherit the land of Canaan, He (Jehovah) would be their God, and that nations and kings would descend from him (Abraham). However, something would be required of Abraham and his descendants to fulfill their part of the Agreement; all the males who were over eight-days old and lived with him had to be circumcised.

The Sacred Agreement With Israel

It is at Exodus 19:5, 6 that we read of God extending this Agreement once more, when He spoke to the sons of Israel through Moses while they were in captivity in Egypt. There He promised, ‘Now, if you will listen to what I tell you and keep My Sacred Agreement, you will be a special people to Me that will be higher than all other nations … You will become a holy nation and My royal priesthood.’

This Agreement was extended even more at Exodus 23:24-33, where God said, ‘If you serve Jehovah your God, I will bless your bread, your wine, and your water, and I will keep you from getting sick. There won’t be anyone in your land that is impotent or infertile, and you will live a full life … all your enemies will run from you … I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the [Mediterranean], and from the desert to the great Euphrates River … I will hand over those who are living in the land and drive them away from you. So, you are to make no treaties with them or their gods.’

We find the children of Israel agreeing to fulfill their portion of the Agreement at Exodus 24:7, 8, where it says, ‘So, [Moses] took the scroll of the Sacred Agreement and read it to the people. And they [again] said, We will do and pay attention to everything Jehovah has said. Then Moses took the blood [from the bowls] and sprinkled it on the people, and he said, {Look!} This is the blood of the Sacred Agreement that Jehovah has made with you over the things you’ve [agreed to].’

Then we read of the next extension to this Sacred Agreement at Exodus 31:17, 18, where God gave the laws regarding the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments. So, all of God’s Laws to Israel (including the Ten Commandments) were part of this Agreement.

The Penalties

It is in Leviticus 26:14-43 that we read of the penalties the Israelites were to pay if they broke their side of the Agreement. Note some of the promised results: ‘However, if you choose not to listen to Me and obey My rules … these are the things that I must do to youyour lives will be shortened the seeds in your ground won’t produce … I will send wild animals into the land and they will eat you and kill your cattle. You will decrease in numbers, and your [land] will become empty … I will bring a famine of bread among you … you will have to eat the flesh of your sons and daughters … I will destroy your cities … then I will scatter you among the nations.’

And no one can deny that all these things truly happened to unfaithful Israel and to the Jews, not once, but twice; first at the hands of the Babylonians and then at the hands of the Romans.

Now, did you notice that this first Sacred Agreement didn’t promise an afterlife? It just promised that; if the people were faithful they would be blest, and if they weren’t faithful they would be cursed.

Now, the Israelites did in fact believe in a hereafter, but they had NOTHING IN WRITING that promised them this. So, those who were faithful simply trusted that God had something better in mind for them after they died.

Who Were Under the Old Sacred Agreement?

Who were under the Old Sacred Agreement? The answer to this question is one that seems to elude many Christians. Obviously, God made His Agreement of ‘the Old Law’ with the descendants of Abraham, and specifically the Israelites, not with any other nation of mankind. So, although the Ten Commandments in particular state God’s views on many matters, these (and the Sabbath Laws) were never given as part of an agreement with mankind in general. Therefore, people of the nations had no God-given laws or agreements until after the formation of the Christian Congregation, when they then accepted the Law of the New Sacred Agreement. And Paul explained that trying to follow the Old Law was wrong for Christians, because they were under a new Law, that of Love.

However, the Old Law and Sacred Agreement did apply to Gentiles (or people of the nations) who lived prior to the time of Jesus, that chose to join Israel and worship their God Jehovah. Notice, for example, what was said about this at Numbers 15:15, 16: ‘There must be just one law for you and for the aliens who live among you … Both you and the aliens that live among you must follow the same laws and regulations.’

So, all the people in ancient Israel – the priests, the native peoples, and non-Israelites – had the same rules and promises.

The Festivals

There were four primary sacred festivals or conventions that all the people in Israel (including aliens) were to observe and attend in Jerusalem each year; the Festival of the Barley Harvest (or Passover), the Festival of the Wheat Harvest (or Pentecost), the Festival of Payment for Sins (Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur), and the Harvest Festival (Booths). All of these festivals required the people to offer sacrifices and they all had to be ceremonially clean to participate in them.

So notice that: Although the Sacred Agreement was made with the Israelites who descended from Abraham, the Gentiles who chose to live among them and serve Jehovah had to:

· Be circumcised

· Follow the same laws

· Offer the same sacrifices

· Observe the same festivals.

The New Sacred Agreement

The first indication that there would eventually be a New Sacred Agreement that would supersede the Old Agreement, is found in the book of Isaiah, for (at Isaiah 55:3) we read, ‘Listen to Me, and you’ll have good things for your soul! For, with you I’ll proclaim an Agreement through the age.

Then we read at Jeremiah 31:31, 32, ‘{Look!} The days are coming,’ says Jehovah, ‘when with the house of Israel I’ll make an arrangement, as well as with the house of Judah, and then I’ll conclude a new Sacred Agreement, that’s unlike the Agreement that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took hold of heir hands, to lead them from Egypt’s land. For, they didn’t stick to My Sacred Agreement, so I let them go,’ says Jehovah.

So, even before Jerusalem was destroyed and her people were led away into captivity in Babylon, God saw the need to create a New Sacred Agreement with His people. What was going to be different about this Sacred Agreement? Consider Jeremiah 31:33, 34, ‘This is my Sacred Agreement, which I will arrange with Israel in those days,’ says Jehovah: ‘I will write My Laws in their minds and their hearts. To them I’ll be their God, and they will be a people to Me. There’s no way that each will teach his neighbor and brother, and tell them that they should know Jehovah! For, all will know Me from the small to the great, and I’ll be kind toward their errors and sins… no way will I remember [their sins] anymore.’

So, according to this scripture, the key differences are:

· The Law of this Sacred Agreement is to be written on hearts, not on stone or paper

· Those who are involved in the New Sacred Agreement will enjoy a special relationship with God and have a personal knowledge of Jehovah

· Their sins will be forgiven.

However, this prophecy wasn’t fulfilled until more that six-hundred years later. And like the Old Sacred Agreement, it had to be sealed with blood… the blood of the truly ‘perfect lamb,’ Jesus.

The End of the Old Sacred Agreement

In the words immediately following the terms of the New Sacred Agreement, the end to the Old Agreement was described in amazing detail. Notice what was written concerning this at Jeremiah 31:35-37: ‘Thus says Jehovah, He who appointed the sun to light the day, and the moon and stars to light the night, the roar of the sea and the sound of its waves, Jehovah the Almighty is His Name: If these Laws before Me cease to be, then the race of Israel won’t stand as a nation before Me, throughout the rest of the days.

‘Jehovah says, If the skies can be raised in their height, and the floor of the ground can be lowered, I can also reject the race of Israel, says Jehovah, for all the things that they’ve done.

When did the (old) Laws cease to be? At Colossians 2:13, 14 Paul Wrote, ‘Then he kindly forgave all our errors and wiped away the handwritten Law that held us down and oppressed us. He lifted it out of the way and nailed it on the pole.’

So, when they murdered God’s Son, the ‘race of Israel’ was rejected ‘for all the things that they’ve done,’ just as it was prophesied. And the Old Laws  ‘ceased to be’ with the death of Jesus … they were nailed to his (impaling) pole.

That this rejection of Israel, its Sacred Agreement and its Laws came about, is undeniable, for with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70-C.E., the people ceased to be a nation and their entire form of worship was destroyed with no hope of repair. Their Temple was destroyed and is today a Moslem mosque, their Priesthoods no longer exist, and no one knows which tribe they are from, so they can no longer be described as ‘the twelve tribes of Israel.’ Thus their rejection is total and irreversible.

The Inauguration of the New Sacred Agreement

It was on the same day that Jesus was sacrificed (which started at sundown the night before, according to God’s Law) that he inaugurated this New Sacred Agreement with his eleven faithful Apostles in an upper room in Jerusalem while celebrating the Passover. Together they ate the yeast-free bread, and they drank the wine that was part of the Passover meal.

Then notice what Jesus said and did (Matthew 26:26-28); ‘As they ate, Jesus took a loaf, and after giving thanks, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying, Take some and eat it, because this is my body. He also took a cup [of wine], and after giving thanks, gave it to them saying, All of you drink out of it, because, this is my blood of the New Sacred Agreement, which will be poured out for many to forgive [their] sins.’

We read the same account at Luke 22:19, 20, which says, ‘Then he took a loaf [of bread], gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is my body, which is being handed over for you. Keep doing this in memory of me. And he did the same thing with the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Sacred Agreement of my blood, which is being poured out for you.’

So, when the sacrificial blood of Jesus was poured out, the New Sacred Agreement was inaugurated.

However, did you notice that once again, there was no promise of a hereafter or of going to heaven? Surely, if this were part of a written agreement or contract, it should have been mentioned! All that was promised in the prophecy of Jeremiah (which is the only place where we find the terms of this New Sacred Agreement) is that God will put His Laws into their hearts, they will become His people, everyone will know God, and He will forgive their sins.

Now, you will notice that in many Bibles the word New is missing in the account found at Matthew 26:26, when speaking of the Sacred Agreement (or Covenant) that Jesus inaugurated at that time, but this appears to be a mistake. For, the famous Lamsa translation and the Younan Bible both use the words New Covenant, as does Shem Tov, Dutillon, and the Munster Matthew (which are Hebrew translations). Also, Luke mentioned the New Sacred Agreement in his account of Jesus’ words (Luke 22:19, 20).

What Are the Laws of the New Sacred Agreement?

As you can see (and as Paul pointed out several times in his writings), the Old Law just showed men what sin was, and it condemned them to death whenever they in their imperfection violated it. And though there were promises of better things, these were never realized, because nobody (except Jesus) could live up to the Law’s requirements.

And like the Old Sacred Agreement, the New Sacred Agreement isn’t just a promise like the one God gave to Noah. Rather, God has requirements for those who wish to participate in it. Exactly what these requirements will be weren’t specified at the time it was first written about. However, we were told that these laws would be written in our hearts.

What kind of a law could be written in hearts? Consider Jesus’ reply, when he was asked which commandment of the Law was the greatest (as found at Matthew 22:36-40), ‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart, life, and mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. The second, like it, is, You must love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments are the basis of the whole Law and the Prophets.’

Then on the night before his death, Jesus gave this Law to his followers (at John 13:34, 35), ‘I’m giving you a new commandment, to love each other. Love each other just as I loved you. This is how they will know that you are my disciples, by your love for each other.’

Paul later explained (at Romans 13:10), ‘Love is the Law’s fulfillment.’

Then at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul gave a comprehensive description of what this Law of love involves. He wrote, ‘Love is kind and patient. Love isn’t envious, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t conceited, it doesn’t scheme, it doesn’t just watch out for itself, it doesn’t stir things up, it doesn’t hold a grudge, it doesn’t rejoice over unrighteous things. Rather, it rejoices over things that are true. It covers everything, believes everything, hopes everything, and endures everything. Love never fails.’

So, love is an internal thing. It resides in our hearts rather that in a book of laws. And if we fully apply this Law in our lives, it will govern us better than any written code of laws. By practicing love we show ourselves to be Jesus’ true disciples.

Notice that Paul linked love with several other positive qualities, such as kindness, patience, forgiveness, belief, hope, and endurance. However, three of these especially stand out in his conclusion at 1 Corinthians 13:13, ‘So, we now have these three things: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.’

Therefore, while this law involves other internal things such as faith and hope (which must also be written in our hearts), the greatest portion of it is still love. Love encompasses all of these other requirements and it serves as an identifying mark, making us stand out as true worshipers of God.

And although Christians are free of any oppressive set of rules, this doesn’t mean that we are free to do whatever we wish. For, when they were faced with the question of circumcision, the Apostles and elders in the Jerusalem congregation stated that there were certain ‘necessary things’ which all Christians had to follow, namely, they had to ‘stay away from things that are sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things that are strangled, and from sexual immorality’ (Acts 15:29).

Paul also wrote of many other bad things that men do… things that a good conscience would forbid. And he said that people who do such things ‘won’t inherit God’s Kingdom’ (1 Corinthians 6:10).

The Agreement for Life in Heaven

However (as we pointed out earlier), the New Sacred Agreement never promised a resurrection to heavenly life, for no scripture speaks of such a hope ever being offered. And if such a thing were part of this sacred contract, it surely had to be included somewhere. So, as the promise of the First Sacred Agreement with Israel was that they would become an earthly nation of kings and priests, the same thing is implied in the Second, because no such changes are mentioned by Jeremiah… or by anyone else for that matter.

Then Jesus made another agreement (which was not part of the first) that finally spoke of the hope of a hereafter and of a resurrection to heaven. And his covenant was only offered to a select few. His wasn’t an addendum to the New Sacred Agreement, it was another agreement that he made with those who he said, ‘stuck with me during my trials.’ In fact, in Matthew’s account, Jesus spoke of this agreement to his Apostles on another (earlier) occasion (see Matthew 19:28).

This added agreement was ‘for a Kingdom,’ which he offered to his eleven faithful Apostles on the eve of his death, and perhaps on other occasions. We read of this at Luke 22:28-30, where Jesus said, ‘However, you are the ones who stuck with me during my trials, so I’m making a promise to you, just as my Father made a promise to me, for a Kingdom… that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.’

Notice that this special agreement between Jesus and his Apostles is the only one that promised life in heaven. That it was a promise of life in heaven is indicated by the words, ‘that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones.’

Also notice that these words (that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones) carry even greater significance, for if you look at the methods of the rulership of ancient Hebrew Kings, such as David and Solomon, you’ll see that those who were invited to sit at the king’s table were not only his closest friends and advisors, they were also his primary governors. And the king had them sit and eat with him at his table, because he always wanted them to be close to him. Thus, when Jesus told his Apostles that they would eat and drink at his (the king’s) table, he was saying that they would be where he was, in heaven with his Father Jehovah.

In addition, when Jesus promised his eleven faithful Apostles that they would ‘sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel,’ he was saying that they were to judge those who comprise the rest of the arrangement for serving God, those who also claim to be under the New Sacred Agreement but who were not offered life in heaven. For more information about what judging the twelve tribes of Israel means, see the linked document, Jerusalem and the Israel of God.’

As you can see, misunderstanding the difference between these two agreements shows the insidiousness of the Trinity doctrine. For, when one believes that Jesus is the God and part of his Father, he/she doesn’t understand that this was another agreement that Jesus made with his Apostles, which promised them life in heaven. So, they think that everyone was offered life in heaven, and although they may have live secular, mundane, and even immoral lives, they feel that they deserve the same reward as Jesus’ faithful Apostles… they don’t. If that were true, Jesus would have offered the same agreement to all his disciples, not just to the faithful eleven. For more information, see the linked document ‘Who Was Jesus?

But, isn’t the fact that the Bible says Israel will serve as ‘kings and priests’ an automatic promise of heavenly life? Not necessarily, for, notice that in the ‘type’ (the Sacred Agreement with fleshly Israel) there were two priesthoods. There were those of the family line of Aaron who could serve at the Altar and enter the Holy Place (picturing heaven), and those of the rest of the priestly tribe of Levi, whose primary job was that of living among, and teaching and judging Israel. So, the indication is that there will be both heavenly and earthly priesthoods. (For more information, see the linked document, God’s Promise of an Inheritance.)

The Two Covenants (contributed subheading)

It becomes obvious that the New Sacred Agreement and Jesus’ promise of a Kingdom are different things, when you realize that most Bible translators have taken two different Greek words and translated them both identically as covenant. For example; in verse twenty, the Greek word used there is diatheke, which suggests a will left by a person about to die… it is a disposition of property, a last will and testament. In other words, this was what Jesus was going to leave to Israel by his death. And his last will and testament was for us, as spiritual Israelites, to come into a relationship with God… which would require him to serve as mediator, just as Moses served as mediator between God and ancient Israel for the Old Covenant.

Then notice that (in verse 29) the Greek word which other Bibles translate as covenant is diatithemai. This means to place separately, manage,  arrange, or make an agreement with a promise. And since it was a promise that Jesus made directly with his Apostles, it needs no mediator! And that; if the first Agreement had included the hope of ruling as a king in the heavens, the second agreement would have been totally unnecessary!

The ‘Type’ of the Old Sacred Agreement

Remember that the first Passover was part of the tenth plague on the land of Egypt, but it provided for salvation and a way out. All who wanted their firstborn to live – regardless of whether they were Egyptians, Israelites, or others – needed to carry out the instructions that were given to Moses. And as the result, large numbers of Egyptians and other aliens did just that and left Egypt along with the Israelites (Exodus 12:38).

Now, if we look at the instruction in the Mosaic Law on how the Passover was to be observed, again we find that ALL were to partake of the Passover sacrifice, including the ‘Anointed’ Priests, the Levite Priests, the rest of the Israelites, and the ‘aliens’ who lived among them (Exodus 12:19), for God didn’t give different laws to each of these groups. Rather, he said that there would be ‘just one Law,’ and it would apply to both ‘the native residents and the converts that come to live among’ them (Exodus 12:49).

Why, participation in the first Passover was a requirement for the lives of their firstborn to be spared. And by their continued celebration of the Passover, the Israelites were expressing their desire to continue to be a part of the Sacred Agreement that God made with His people. Likewise, the New Sacred Agreement is the only means for the forgiveness of sins… and for life!

On the night before his death, Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the New Sacred Agreement was about to be inaugurated, and that by their partaking of those emblems they would thereafter be party to it. So from that point on, the Old sacred Agreement was to be fulfilled and the New Sacred Agreement was to begin with the shedding of his sacred blood! And he then commanded them to continue this practice (see Luke 22:17-20).

So since that time, all true Christians who wished to have their sins forgiven, to have a true relationship with Jehovah, and to receive the ‘life’ that God promised, had to be baptized, and then agree to be parties to the New Sacred Agreement… they were to cultivate its law of love in their hearts and display it in their lives. And only then were they to partake of the emblematic flesh and blood. Also; they were to leave the Old Law and the Old Sacred Agreement behind, for any turning back to it would show that they had rejected the New Sacred Agreement.

But what of those who decline the offer to be a part of this New Sacred Agreement and refuse to partake of the emblematic wine and unleavened bread? While refusing to do so because of a religious misunderstanding doesn’t preclude the hope of a resurrection (the Bible says that even ‘the unrighteous’ receive that), they are really saying that they don’t want God’s Laws written in their hearts, they don’t want to be His people, and they don’t want their mistakes and sins to be forgotten.

ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD AGREE TO BE A PARTY TO THE NEW SACRED AGREEMENT, as all Israel and the mixed company of gentiles who were with them agreed to be party to the Old Sacred Agreement and its Laws.

Who Are Part of the New Sacred Agreement?

If we go back to the Sacred Agreement that was given through Moses, we find that the entire nation of Israel had to agree to fulfill their part of the bargain to ratify it. So, when do those who are offered the opportunity to be a part of the New Sacred Agreement ratify their portion today? Unfortunately, this isn’t spelled out in the Bible; it could happen at the time of our baptism… which is possibly when our names are written in ‘the Book of Life.’ However, until we partake of the symbolic blood and flesh of Jesus, we haven’t really agreed to be party to the New Sacred Agreement. So it appears as though becoming party to the New Sacred Agreement requires us to be baptized, and then we must also partake of the emblems. So, the two acts appear to be interconnected.

But, does this Agreement include everyone who is baptized… regardless of which ‘Christian’ religion they were baptized into? Perhaps, for Jesus indicated that all such (by being baptized and partaking of the emblems of the New Sacred Agreement) become Israel. And these appear to be ‘the twelve tribes if Israel’ who he said his chosen Holy Ones will judge (at Luke 22:30), because many will fail! As Paul wrote at 2 Timothy 3:1-4, ‘The last days will bring fierce times. People will love themselves and money. They will be braggers, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and disloyal. They won’t love their families or be willing to agree on anything. They will be slanderers who don’t have any self-control. They will be wild and won’t love anything that is good. They will be betrayers who are headstrong and proud. They will prefer pleasures more than they care about God. They will have some form of religion, but they won’t follow it.’

Notice that Paul doesn’t seem to indicate that he was speaking of these conditions happening among the world in general in the Last Days, for people of the world had always acted like that. Rather, Paul was saying that many who are baptized and partake of the emblems, claiming to be under the New Sacred Agreement, will in fact prove unfaithful and will be judged as such. Then Jesus will say to them, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me you lawbreakers (Matthew 7:23).

Sacred Agreement Only for the ‘Anointed?’

There are some who teach that the New Sacred Agreement was something that God concluded with just those ‘Anointed’ or elected individuals who will rule with Jesus in heaven. However, remember that the Old Sacred Agreement was between God and the entire nation of Israel, not with just the ‘Anointed’ Priesthood alone. And if you read the entire promise of the Sacred Agreement which God spoke of at Isaiah 55:3, you will see that those who are part of this ‘Spiritual Jerusalem’ are to receive their blessings here on the earth! For at Isaiah 10:16-22 (which is a prophecy about God’s judging Spiritual Israel and of His rewarding the faithful) we read:

‘So, in place of your honor dishonor will be sent, by Jehovah of Armies, and He’ll send you fire for your glory, then it will be consumed by the flames, and this fire will then serve as Israel’s light. He’ll make her holy by burning her in fire, and eat her like grass in the woods in that day. The mountains, hills, and forests, it will devour, and will eat the life from the flesh. Then those who flee will be running from flames, and there’ll be just a few left behind; in fact, a small child could record their numbers. In that day those remaining in Jerusalem, will no longer just go along. Those of Jacob who were saved, will no longer yield to those who have wronged them. Rather; they will be yielding to God, and to the truth of the Holy One of Israel. Then strength will return to those of Jacob who remain… those who have put their trust in their God; and the people of Israel will become as the sands of the sea, from the small number of them that remained.

Thus ‘Israel’ (those Christians who claim to be part of the Sacred Agreement with God) will soon be judged, and only a few (a remnant) will survive this judgment. And these who survive will obviously live here on the earth, for the scriptures shows that thereafter they will ‘become as the sands of the sea.’

Now, those who teach that the New Sacred Agreement is only with the Chosen Anointed also argue that eating Jesus’ symbolic flesh and drinking his symbolic blood signifies that such a person is ‘becoming one’ with Jesus, so it should only be eaten and drunk by those who are one with him as part of his heavenly bride class. Yet, the Apostles indicated that ALL Christians were to partake of these emblems, which would then logically include faithful people who will be resurrected to the earth.

And look at what Paul wrote about the reason why Christians should all eat the bread and drink the wine (at 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26), ‘This cup is the New Sacred Agreement of my blood. Keep doing this; and as often as you drink it, think of me. For, as often as you eat the loaf and drink the cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes.’

Aren’t we all to proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes?

Notice again, who Paul indicates are to partake of the emblems (at 1 Corinthians 10:17), ‘Now, there is just one loaf. And although there are many [of us], we are just one body, because we all eat from that one loaf.’

So, the Christian Congregation on earth (who currently comprise all portions of ‘the twelve tribes of Israel’) is a ‘single body,’ and all should partake of the loaf symbolizing Jesus’ body, for there are no two separate ‘bodies’ in true Christianity.

Perhaps the meaning of all this can best be explained by pointing out what is obvious; We all share the DNA of Adam, which, because of its imperfection, can only result in death. What is needed for life is the perfect DNA of the one who gave his life in our behalf, the greater Adam, Jesus the Anointed. And the only way we can receive it is by partaking of his flesh and his blood. This doesn’t qualify us for heaven, because flesh and blood are earthly things.

Yet, notice how Jesus pointed out the vital need for all Christians to partake of the sacred bread and wine (his body and blood) at John 6:53-56. He said there: ‘I tell you the truth; if you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of Man or drink his blood, you won’t live. For if you chew my flesh and drink my blood, you’ll have life within yourselves, and then I’ll resurrect you on the Last Day, because my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink. Those who chew on my flesh and drink my blood will stay in me and I [will stay] in them.’

As you can see; in order to be resurrected on the Last Day (not later on with the unrighteous), all must partake of the sacred emblems. So, this is a life-or-death matter.

Who Should Not Partake of the Emblems

Again, going back to the original Passover, Jehovah directed that ‘No stranger may eat it,’ and ‘aliens and people you hire can’t eat it’ until they are circumcised. ‘Then they will be treated as residents in the land’ (Exodus 12:43-49).

Now, although circumcision is no longer a requirement for servants of God, Paul indicated that there are standards which Christians who desire to partake of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Evening Meal must meet. Notice his words at 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, ‘Whoever eats the loaf and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be held responsible to the Lord’s body and blood. So, each man should prove what he is first; then he can eat from the loaf and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink, eat and drink judgment upon themselves if they don’t judge [the worthiness of] their bodies.’ 

Paul then continued with the instructions that each individual should ‘judge himself’ and allow himself to be ‘disciplined by the Lord, so we aren’t condemned along with the world.’

Of course, simply partaking of the emblems of the New Sacred Agreement doesn’t really mean ‘life,’ unless it is accompanied by actions… specifically: that we demonstrate the law of love to be written in our hearts in order to prove our worthiness.

Paul also indicated that there are requirements for the literal body. Partaking to satisfy our hunger or while we are intoxicated, shows a lack of respect for the arrangement (1 Corinthians 11:21, 22). And as he said; those who do this are ‘eating and drinking judgment on themselves,’ since their actions really display a lack of respect for Jehovah, His son, and the privilege of being part of the New Sacred Agreement

How Should the ‘Lord’s Supper’ Be Observed?

The scriptures give us very little direction in this regard, and historical records are likewise inconclusive. Therefore, we warn against being dogmatic about any viewpoint. Nevertheless, some things can be established about the gatherings of early Christian congregations and the way that they observed the ‘Lord’s Supper.’

The original Passover was a full meal, and members of the congregations met regularly for loving fellowship meals that were known as ‘agape’ or ‘love feasts’ (Jude 12). According to 1 Corinthians 11:20, 21, Christians usually ate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ during these congregational meals. But, since Paul condemned this course, some have concluded that a regular meal has no place in the observance of the ‘Lord’s Supper.’ Instead, they should (as Paul said), ‘eat at home.’

However, based on Paul’s words, the argument could also be made that the problem that Paul was speaking of was actually the manner in which they ate together. Notice what he specifically condemned. He said, ‘So, who knows who’s still hungry and who has already had too much to drink? Don’t you have houses where you can eat and drink? Or do you condemn the congregation of God and shame those who are poor?’

Then notice his concluding words on the matter at 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34, ‘So, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. And if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so you don’t meet for judgment.’

Since having congregational meals continued as a practice long after this counsel was given (see Jude 12 And 2 Peter 2:13), it doesn’t appear as though Paul was condemning the inclusion of meals as a part of their meetings, but he was addressing specific problems, and especially when it came to the sacred observance of the ‘Lord’s Supper.’

It appears as though the problem was that some were bringing food, not for the congregation to share, but for themselves only. They were also overindulging in wine, so that when the time for the observance of the ‘Lord’s Supper’ arrived, they were stuffed and sleepy from overeating and drinking, while the poor ones were likely eating the bread and wine greedily out of hunger. No wonder Paul gave them such strong council!

Then, what can we conclude is proper for our observance of the ‘Lord’s Supper?’ Since Paul told the Corinthians to ‘wait for each other,’ we should celebrate the occasion (if possible) with the whole congregation. We must also be sober, and we should partake of the emblems not out of hunger, but with deep appreciation for the New Sacred Agreement and the sacrifice and provisions of our God Jehovah, and of his son Jesus.

Yet, there is strong evidence that in the early Christian congregations the Lord’s Supper was (and possible still should be) a full congregational meal, not just a symbolic partaking of the bread and the wine.

When Should the ‘Lord’s Supper’ be Observed?

We don’t actually know when or how often the early Christians observed the ‘Lord’s Supper,’ other than that it likely took place during their ‘love feasts.’ So, some have concluded from this that it was held regularly on several occasions during the year, which may be true. In fact, notice what Paul wrote was true of early Christian congregations at 1 Corinthians 11:20, ‘Now, when you meet together in one place, isn’t it to eat the Lord’s Supper?’

So, the conclusion might be reached that every gathering of Christians included a meal, and eating the sacred emblems of the Lord’s Supper.

However, notice that this sacred meal was inaugurated on the Day of Preparation during the Jewish feast of Passover. This is significant, because that festival represents the saving of Israel’s ‘firstborn,’ and the lamb (as well as the yeast-free bread and the wine) pictured Jesus’ flesh and blood. So, the Passover pictured Jesus’ sacrifice and his inauguration of the New Sacred Agreement. For that reason, it appears as though the most important time to celebrate this sacred meal is on the Day of Preparation for the Passover, which starts after sundown (when the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan begins), as it would be calculated in the skies over Jerusalem (Nisan starts on the new moon closest to the Spring Equinox, and the 14th day is the time of the full moon).

Was it Wine or Grape Juice?

We realize that to many the thought of Jesus drinking and offering an alcoholic beverage to others there in a Christian gathering is unthinkable to some. So among some religions, only fresh grape juice is offered. And as they point out, the words for wine and grape juice are the same in the Bible. So, they say that Jesus and his Apostles didn’t really drink alcoholic wine. Yet, this is easily disproved by the fact that Passover comes in March/April and grapes don’t ripen until mid summer. So, since there were no freezers or other means of yeast-free storage in that time, it was virtually impossible to maintain grape juice throughout the year without turning it into wine or vinegar.

Also notice that part of the Passover festival required that there should be no yeast in the bread, so we would assume this to be true of the wine. And the only way to remove all active yeast from grape juice is to boil it and then ‘can’ it, or to allow the wine to ferment, which kills all the natural yeast on the grape skins.

Which was true of the wine that Jesus drank? The words of Luke 5:36-39 make this clear, where Jesus said, ‘Nobody cuts a patch from new clothes and sews it onto old clothes, for if they do, the new patch will tear off… and the patch from the new clothes won’t match the old anyhow. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the new wine will burst the wineskins, spilling [the wine] and ruining the wineskins. So, new wine must be put into new wineskins. Anyone who has tasted old wine doesn’t want the new anyhow, because they say, The old is nice.

Was it Matzos?

Jewish tradition has created many laws about how the Passover bread was to be prepared, requiring that it must be baked within just so many minutes of preparation to keep yeast from settling on it and contaminating it, which has resulted in the common use of a prepared cracker-like bread called matzos. Yet, other religious groups have set their own laws for the bread, saying that matzos (because they aren’t made with whole-grain wheat) shouldn’t be used, and that each person, family, or group should prepare their own. Which is true?

Well, notice what the account of the original Passover tells us (Exodus 12:39): ‘Then they baked the dough that they brought from Egypt into yeast-free loaves (there was still no yeast in the dough), because the Egyptians wouldn’t allow them to stay, and they had [virtually] thrown them out, so they didn’t have time to make provisions for their journey.’

As you can see, the first Passover bread didn’t necessarily meet the laws of Jewish tradition, for these laws came much later. It was simply a hastily-prepared bread. Yes, it was whole-grain wheat, but would they have used filtered and bleached four if it had been available? Possibly.

If a person wishes to get technical and make up some rule about the process, note that God’s Law on the matter said (at Exodus 12:19): ‘Yeast must not be found in your homes during those seven days, and whoever eats anything with yeast [in it] will have his life cut off from the gathering of Israel. This applies to the native residents of the land, as well as to those who are just staying there.’

So, must all yeast (and yeast products) then be removed from the home where the bread is prepared? Well, we could all forsake the New Sacred Agreement and revert to following the Old Laws, as some would propose. However, Christians are now under a New Law which doesn’t require the following of Old Law rituals. The point of eating yeast-free bread and drinking yeast-free wine is not about bread or wine, it’s a symbol of being free from sin. So, whether the bread is hard and crunchy like a cracker, or soft and chewy like normal bread; or whether it is made of whole-wheat or bleached flour; the point is that it should just be yeast free (as the body of Jesus was free from sin). And in fact, the original bread may not have even been made of wheat flour, for that was not specified in God’s law about the bread. It was just to be yeast-free bread.

The Importance of a Proper Understanding

On the other hand, some say that partaking or not partaking of the sacred emblems, as we’ve discussed above, really isn’t that important a matter, because God will make a way for those who don’t understand. But let’s be reminded of a story of two men, one of whom saw the significance of a sacred agreement with God, and one who didn’t… one who was a spiritual man, and one who wasn’t. These men were the brothers, Jacob and Esau.

Now, we likely all remember how Esau sold his birthright as firstborn to his brother Jacob for a meal of stew; but have you thought about what Jacob had actually purchased? The right of firstborn meant that he was to receive twice as much of the inheritance of his father’s belongings. Yet, Jacob willingly left all that inheritance behind to his elder brother when he fled the land, for the important (sacred) thing to him was his father’s blessing and the promises of the Sacred Agreements that were made with his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. He saw the spiritual, while his brother only saw the carnal, so he became Israel.

Therefore, whose path do those who don’t see the importance of properly observing God’s New Sacred Agreement following; that of Esau or Jacob?

Realize that all the sacred agreements discussed above were life-or-death matters (especially for Israel), and although they didn’t live to see the benefits, these promises of God meant everything to those through whom these agreements were to be fulfilled.

So, should any religious group tell their members that they are no part of the New Sacred Agreement, when all Christians should be; that they should not partake of the sacred emblems, when all Christians should do so; and that their resurrection will not be one of life, but as part of ‘the rest of the dead’ of unrighteous mankind, these millions are literally being robbed of their hope of:

  • God’s Law being written in their hearts
  • Having a personal knowledge of Jehovah
  • Having their sins forgiven.

This should be a most serious matter to all spiritual people!

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The New Covenant.-From 2001 Translation’s Commentary

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