Hebrews 8:13:

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. [NIV]

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear. [NASB]

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. [ESV]

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. [KJV]

in the saying `new,' He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old [is] nigh disappearing. [YLT]

Hebrews 8:13 talks about two different concepts: (1) obsolescence and (2) disappearing/vanishing away. I already asked two questions about the meaning of the word obsolete and the exact moment this happened. However, some have suggested that there is clear indication of delay between the moment the Old Covenant became obsolete and the moment it would disappear/vanish away, meaning that the OT would still be in effect during that interval.

Question: At what exact moment did/will the Old Covenant disappear/vanish away?

  • 1
    An interesting ‘set’ of Qs - which actually leads to many other Qs. Example, some believe there will be a third temple, and that the sacrificial system will be restarted (Daniel 9/Mat 24). That is, an ‘obsolete’ practice will be seemingly restored?
    – Dave
    Jun 13, 2021 at 1:37
  • 1
    @Dave - Revelation says there will be a final temple, complete with the sacrificial system. But can it, once again, be effective after it was made obsolete? Don't know. What does seem clear is that the NT makes a distinction between day/hEmera and To-Day/sEmeron. Context says to avail ourselves To-Day of the Hand/Holy Spirit of Jesus while It is still extended to us on earth. There will come a time when He calls back His Hand/Holy Spirit to Himself - and those who are 'in His Hand' will be taken up to Him. Those left, I suppose, will try the sacrificial way again.
    – tblue
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:23

5 Answers 5


Continuing from the responses to a previous question - that ‘obsolete’ came about by being ‘replaced’ - this ‘vanishing away’ is seen to be gradual ..

HEB 8:13 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.

So, looking back and taking some of a previous response....

So in effect the answer to your question is actually dependant - 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.) It was up to them to step away from, to step out from ‘under’ that covenant they were under, and enter into the new. They could (needed to) decide to come out from ‘under’ the Old covenant and into the new. And this is what the author (Paul?) was trying to get them to do.

Jesus provided the release, and the ‘way’ to step out of the ‘old’, but it is up to each believer to actually do so. And that is what is being ‘preached’ in Hebrews, and Galatians...

Summary - you choose to partake in a covenant. [and] You can choose the/which covenant. Some - to this day - still choose to partake of the ‘old’.

  • 1
    +1 This is right re the move from Old to New, but a covenant requires two parties - not just you but also God. If God cancels the Old Covenant, it doesn't matter if people choose it over the New - it's not applicable anymore. No? Jun 12, 2021 at 21:54
  • 2
    @OneGodtheFather Who is saying the Old/Mosaic Covenant was cancelled?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 12, 2021 at 22:58
  • 2
    @OneGodtheFather No way does Hebrews say the Old Covenant is cancelled! It's obsolete, it's fading away, but it's not cancelled. That's just not supported by what Hebrews says.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 12, 2021 at 23:04
  • 2
    @OneGodtheFather That's not the same as saying it's cancelled. Saying it is cancelled implies all the OT saints had their righteous relationship with God cancelled too.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 12, 2021 at 23:09
  • 2
    @One God the Father - Yes, a covenant has two parties. But, one party can’t just arbitrarily cancel or make changes to it. It’s a ‘contract’. Therefore this requires both parties to agree. (or fulfil it). The way Jesus made it possible for the Israelites to ‘opt out’ was by fulfilling mans part - as a man! If God could just cancel it - then Jesus wouldn’t have had to fulfil it.
    – Dave
    Jun 12, 2021 at 23:35

At what exact moment did/will the Old Covenant disappear/vanish away?

Jesus answered it in Matthew 5:18

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

  • 1
    1) Are you suggesting that the Law and the Old Covenant are synonyms? 2) When was/will everything (be) accomplished?
    – user38524
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:35
  • 1
    1) yes in this context. 2) when the old heaven and earth disappear
    – user35953
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:39
  • What would you understand by the phrase "heaven and earth" Dec 20, 2021 at 18:34

With the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in AD 70.

Hebrews 8:13.

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

It is clear that the Old Covenant, although 'obsolete', still exists. When will it 'disappear'? Soon.

When was Hebrews written? The consensus is that it was written before the destruction of the Second Temple (although some scholars think it was later), most likely in the 60s. A standard date is AD 63-64.

So it is reasonable to infer that the Old Covenant disappeared soon after AD 63-64.

As Tony Chan has astutely noted, we get another time statement that seems relevant from Jesus himself. Matthew 5:17-18,

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. 18 For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Not even a jot or stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until 'everything is accomplished'. When is that?

Luke 21:32-33,

"Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."

'All these things' will happen within 'this generation'. Jesus is speaking around AD 33. A generation in ancient Jewish thought was 40 years. That puts it at the latest around AD 73. This comports with Hebrews 8, as that would be 'soon' after Hebrews 8 was written (AD 63).

We therefore have a window of between AD 63 and AD 73 for when all things have happened, things do disappear from the Law, and heaven and earth pass away.

'Heaven and earth' passing away is a way of discussing the end of the old order, including the Old Covenant. There is a very obvious event, happening between AD 63 and AD 73, that fits this. The siege and destruction of Jerusalem, including the destruction of the Second Temple, is the obvious event.

  • 1
    So, are you suggesting that heaven and earth passed away around AD 70?
    – user38524
    Jun 13, 2021 at 22:02
  • 1
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator Yes. See for ex. eschatology.com/heavenearthsea.html 'Heaven and earth passing away' is figurative, not literal, language. Jun 13, 2021 at 22:29

At what exact moment did/will the Old Covenant disappear/vanish away? Hebrews 8:13

the Law covenant was canceled on the basis of Christ’s death on the cross (figuratively speaking) that is,he set aside the Law covenant, with its required offerings and sacrifices.

Colossians 2:14 NASB

14 having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.


We are saved by God when we respond in faith to God's self-revelation to us. In a way, it doesn't matter so much which of God's messages and covenants we are responding in faith to, so long as we are accepting and trusting all of what he communicates to us.

So even after the cross, even after the church started spreading the Gospel, there were still many faithful Jews, people who were faithful within the Old Covenant. These are the people who would joyfully accept the Gospel as soon as they heard it. As a Christian, I believe that when Jews reject the Gospel, it shows that they were never truly faithful participants in the Old/Mosaic Covenant, for if they were, they would receive God's new self-revelation in Christ.

So during the time that the author of Hebrews was writing, the Mosaic Covenant was obsolete, but there were still some people who were faithful participants in it in right relationship with God. That would slowly change as the message of the Christian Gospel was taken into all communities with faithful Jews, until a time was reached when all the people of the Jewish nation had been exposed to the Christian Gospel. At that time I would say that the Mosaic Covenant disappeared, for no longer could you participate in it and truly be responding in faith to God's revelation to you.

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