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Hebrews 8 (ESV):

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

8 For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

At what exact moment did the old covenant become obsolete?


Related: Israelite covenant: everlasting or obsolete?

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  • You will find it in Heb 9-11, Jesus brought the new covenant through his sacrifice. I don't see the reason to find the exact moment for it- whether it be the death, or the resurrection, or the ascension or the outpouring of the spirit in Acts2.
    – Michael16
    Jun 7 at 9:23
  • Matthew 23:38 possibly. Jun 7 at 11:10
  • Good question. As to the OC (Mosaic covenant), this was based on promises to God, and was 'non everlasting', whereas the NC is based on God's promises to us, and God's word lasts forever. You can also see my comment in response to @Hold To The Rod's answer below. Jun 12 at 18:55
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When Jesus died.


--

From Matthew 27:

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;

Compare to Hebrews 9:

3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

...

7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

...

12 [Christ] by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

...

25 Nor yet that he [Christ] should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

--

The high priest went through the veil into the holy place once a year in a ritual of redemption. Jesus pierced the veil once, and in so doing made an eternally efficacious sacrifice. The symbolic sacrifices of the high priest were no longer needed


Addendum

See also Hebrews 10:1-20, which establishes:

  • The letter was written at a time when the temple sacrifices were still happening (vss. 2, 11)
  • Animal sacrifices do not take away sin (vs. 4)
  • The law was a shadow of things to come, but cannot make things perfect (vs. 1)
  • Jesus can make things perfect (vs. 14)
  • There is a new veil--the body of Jesus (vs. 20) (note that the veil was what gave entry into "the holy place"--the presence of God)
  • Christ came to take away the first set of sacrifices and replace them with a new sacrifice (vs. 9)
  • The sacrifice of Christ has eternal efficacy (vs. 10)

This means that not only today, but at a time pre-70 (when Hebrews was written), the Old Covenant sacrifices were unnecessary and had been replaced.

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    PS if by exact moment you're looking for a date & time, my case for April 3, AD 33 (Julian), shortly before sunset, is presented here Jun 6 at 18:29
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    What are your thoughts on the viewpoint that the Old Covenant was definitely abolished in AD 70 instead? Jun 6 at 18:31
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator I should acknowledge my biases--I am not a preterist (perhaps a discussion for another time), but I do not believe the Old Covenant was efficacious after the death of Jesus--Hebrews indicates the ritual sacrifices were no longer needed after Jesus died. That some continued to live under the old covenant is true...but It's entirely possible to continue to use something that is obsolete (as demonstrated by my laptop that took 10 minutes to restart today =) ). Heb. 10:11 speaks of what were then ongoing ritual sacrifices, and points out that they were obsolete. Jun 6 at 18:53
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator it's fair to acknowledge that even practicing Christians didn't give up all of the rites of the Old Covenant right away. Circumcision and dietary laws were still being debated in Acts 15 (~AD 49), and Paul was still explaining the covenant of grace in Romans (AD 56 or 57). So between ~33 and 70 many of the rites were still carried out, despite being obsolete. Change is hard, so it took people a while to understand what Jesus had accomplished. Still does. I'm not surprised it took people a few decades to understand what the world is still debating 1,988 years later! Jun 6 at 19:00
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    @Dave good question, I tied all the dates to the Julian calendar in the video series. New moon was March 19th (Julian), so 1 Nisan began sundown March 20th, 14 Nisan began sundown April 2 & ended sundown April 3. The Jews would have killed the Passover lambs the afternoon of April 3rd (14 Nisan) right when Jesus died, and eaten the lambs after sundown on the 3rd (now 15 Nisan), a few hours after Jesus died. So in AD 33, the afternoon of 14 Nisan = April 3 Julian = April 1 Gregorian. Jun 6 at 20:45
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Hebrews 8:13 is

"By speaking of a new covenant, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." (Berean Study Bible)

It is important to clarify what the term 'obsolete' here means. As the lines make clear, the first covenant 'will soon disappear'. This means it still exists. So whatever 'obsolete' here means, it does not mean the Old Covenant does not exist at the time of the writing of Hebrews, but rather the opposite.

παλαιούμενον (palaioumenon) Strong's 3822: To make old, declare obsolete; pass: I grow old, become obsolete. From palaios; to make worn out, or declare obsolete.

The primary sense of 'obsolete' here is to make old or worn out (which is reinforced by γηράσκον (gēraskon) with which it is coupled - Strong's 1095: To become old, grow old. From geras; to be senescent). Indeed, Hebrews 1:11 uses the same word as παλαιωθήσονται (palaiōthēsontai), typically translated there as 'grow old' or 'wear out'.

So the question is at what point did the Mosaic Covenant become old or worn out (but still exist)? I don't think there's a specific moment, but there are various points that are important. Jesus' birth, his baptism with the Holy Spirit and the beginning of his ministry, his Transfiguration, the Last Supper, his crucifixion, his resurrection, Pentecost, and the Ascension are all key points where the New Covenant is coming into being or being moved forward and the old one 'becoming old' - the word is sufficiently vague to include all these points.

What we can say is that the Old Covenant, although it has become old or 'worn out', is still in effect (for some) at the point of the writing of Hebrews.

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    As usual, your answer has inspired me to ask another question :-) Jun 12 at 17:58
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    I am voting this up, not because I agree with your answer, but because I think your answer is useful, particularly with regard to the true meaning of the word in question. The OC may well have been old, or worn out and 'seemingly' still in effect for some, but as far as God and Jesus were concerned, it was 'nailed to the cross', IMO at least. Please note my other comments within this specific hermeneutical. Jun 12 at 19:37
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In this passage we are looking at two covenants. Both were between two parties - God and man. And both necessitated a mediator. And it’s by looking at the mediator that we can answer your question.

The first was Moses ...

GAL 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

The second was Jesus ...

HEB 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

So, at what point was Jesus able to become a mediator? Quite clearly we read it was when, or after he died. So this is the answer ...

HEB 9:16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

But there is more to your question. You asked when did the first covenant become ‘obsolete’ - let’s look at this verse ...

HEB 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

This quite clearly says that while He made the first obsolete, nevertheless that doesn’t immediately come into effect. “will soon disappear”. Meaning it [obsoletion] has not yet [fully] come into ‘effect’.

So in effect the answer to your question is actually dependant - there is a ‘variable’. And what is that variable? It was dependent on those whom were being addressed- that is, the ‘audience’ Paul (Paul?) was writing to. It was up to them to make it obsolete. (For themselves.) They could (needed to) decide to come out from ‘under’ the Old covenant and into the new. And this is what the author was trying to get them to do.

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    Doesn't this imply that it's not obsolete for those who do not choose to make it so? In other words, doesn't this make the Old Covenant still efficacious for those who refuse to abandon it? Wasn't the writer trying to get people to abandon it because it was already made obsolete by the New? Jun 7 at 11:24
  • @Mike Borden The ‘Old’ was made obsolete. The word ‘obsolete’ (palaioō) is arguably an imprecise translation. The meaning is better conveyed with the later “old is ready to vanish away.”. They (the Jews) had to choose to ‘move’ - During this ‘church age’ it is ineffective, but depending on your eschatological views, it will have a [temporary] place one more time. Obviously your eschatology has a different foundation. I have no issues with that.
    – Dave
    Jun 7 at 18:16
  • I admit I don't quite follow the concluding thoughts, but this is a really good use of Heb. 9:16-17, +1 Jun 7 at 23:21
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The Law or Old Covenant was to show you that you're a sinner and need to repent and be born again. As soon as you do that and crucify your flesh, it's obsolete. It has always been that way.

That is what is depicted by Abraham coming back from the slaughter of the kings (his flesh) and meeting Melchizedek. (His new nature/Christ/new creature)

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