Jesus did not come with a blank slate upon which he introduced all new ideas. He bore witness to the historic faith of the people of Israel, and his followers have forever after linked the old and new testaments as Christian Scripture. I have been reflecting on a book that helps explain this development. But before I get into it, I reflect on a key Scriptural truth.
Two Testaments One People
The Christian faith has an organic, natural, or evolving relationship to the message of what we call the Old and New Testaments. Notice how St Paul describes this connection:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh [were] separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. . ..
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, . . .. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11,12-13 19-20 & 22).
Paul’s message to the Ephesians in this passage is both Trinitarian and Gospel-centered. He explains our status as Christians by revealing our original separation from God the Father, our historic redemption by Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, and our ongoing reconciliation by the Holy Spirit. He also speaks of the relationship fo the Old and New Testaments.
The People of Two Testaments
Paul’s explanation of the status of Christians expresses itself with references to the old covenant (or Old Testament) promises. It also links to the relationship between God and his Old Testament people Israel. What is the relationship between the Old and New Testaments? Note that as Christians, we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” and so partakers in the covenants of promises, having hope, having a relationship with God and being incorporated into commonwealth of Israel, as Christ “has made us both [into] one new man in the place of two” (Ephesians 2:14).
What does all this mean? How are we to understand this link between the Testaments?