“I guess I am not too sure what you mean by saying that the Old Covenant was abolished by Jesus. If you mean that the way in which we interptret the law and the prophets as Christians is different compared to the way in which the Jews at the time interpreted the law, then I would agree that the system is different. However, if the law and the prophets were abolished, then what is meant when Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to all of you, until may pass away Heaven and earth, one letter or one stroke may in no way pass from the law, until everything takes place.”? (Matt. 5: 17-18)”
When Jesus dies on the cross and completes His work of salvation on earth, Heaven and earth actually pass away. Jesus fulfills the Old Covenant Law, meaning that upon his death the world will begin its final transition to the New Covenant. The Old Covenant exists now only through the ministry of death. That is, because of Adam’s sin, his offspring continue to sin and die. Under the New Covenant, we are the brethren of the second Adam, Jesus, our Divine Saviour. The things of the Old Covenant are passing away, and “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) The Old Covenant operates now for the purpose of condemnation. Those who are not baptized into Christ (that is, into the New Covenant of faith) are judged sinful by the law and condemned to damnation. Throughout the New Testament, we are warned that this peril exists also for Christians. For example, if Christians submit to circumcision and try to be righteous by the Law, they will be judged by the Law. Jesus Christ has swept these things away. Saint Paul tells us (Ephesians 2:14-22) “14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
Jesus has come also as a divine legislator. We are in no way under the Old Covenant Law. Jesus gives us new laws, better commandments and ordinances and sacraments by which we are to live in the New Covenant.
“Also, how would you consider what Christ said about his commandments to love when he concluded by saying, “On these two commandments the entire law and the prophets hang.”? (Matt. 22: 40)”
See the above. Jesus fashions an entirely new Law for us. Read the opening chapters of Matthew’s Gospel especially. The reason we follow the Ten Commandments is because Jesus has given them to us anew, but in a better form. The majority of new covenant legislation is contained in Matthew 5. These are the commandments that lead to life! Notice also that in many ways they are even more involving than the Old Covenant Law. To adequately discuss these concepts though will involve much greater, in depth conversation.
“I’m not saying that we are to put ourselves under the law or base our whole lives by the prophets, but that the reasons we respect the law and the prophets is because of our love for God in Christ and God’s love for us in Christ. Is this similar to Catholic reasoning?”
Yes, in a way. We are not tossing out the Old Testament. By no means! This was a diabolical heresy known as Marcionism. Understand though, that the things in the Old Testament were a “foretaste of glory”. The Prophets were great because they lived by faith. They show us the beginnings of the New Covenant. You see, as soon as Adam committed the Original Sin, God began setting in motion the works of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was broken in Eden beyond repair. Genesis 2:17 says “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” From here on, God is laying the foundation for the things to come. By faith, Noah follows God and establishes a covenant with him. Then comes our father in faith, the Patriarch Abraham. The New Covenant really begins with Abraham, based upon his faith. God promises Abraham a host of descendents. The Jews were Abraham’s descendents by the flesh, but Christians are his descendents by the spirit, the people of the New Covenant. Please read Romans 4.
So once again, the Old Covenant exists now only as the harbinger of death. However, it will give way to the splendour of the New Covenant and life. “7 Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was, 8 will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? 9 For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)”
The complete destruction of the Old Covenant will be accomplished at the Second Coming and the Resurrection of the Dead. Death itself, ushered in during the Old Covenant, will pass away. God will fashion a new heavens and new earth.
I am so very glad that you have given me the opportunity to talk to you at length on these topics. I think we will most certainly have much more to discuss though after this. These are the very basics of the Catholic Faith though: the institution of a New Covenant in Jesus blood, with new laws, new statutes, new commandments, new ordinances, new sacraments and rites, a new priesthood offering perfect sacrifices. Isaias 66:20-21 says,”And they shall bring all your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and in coaches, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as if the children of Israel should bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will take of them to be priests, and Levites,
saith the Lord.”
In the Old Covenant, the Jews formed an ethno-political kingdom with human kings. “And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (St. Matthew 3:1-2) In the New Covenant, we have a spiritual kingdom, the Church, with Jesus Christ as the King of kings who “subjects all things to himself”. This kingdom offers perfect spiritual sacrifices to God, unlike the unclean sacrifices of the Old Covenant. “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachias 1:11)
Perhaps I am getting carried away here, but this is one of my favorite topics. The reason is that for so many years I read the Bible with a veil over my eyes. Only recently did I suddenly understand the meaning of the Scriptures and the Gospel. I hope this helps you a great deal.
In nomen sanctus eius,