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HEBREWS 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.

Who is this ‘new’ covenant for according to Hebrews? Is there evidence that it includes Gentiles?

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There is only a single incident in which the word "covenant" is mentioned in the gospels, and that is the institution of a new covenant at last supper:

Matt 26.28 (LEB)

for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

So here Christ is clearly instituting a covenant in which his own blood is poured out for "many" for the forgiveness of sins. So who is this "many"? Does it include gentiles?

Paul clearly intended that all who believe without regard for gender or ethnicity, are considered to be the true (spiritual) children of Abraham and the heirs of the Promise:

Gal 3.26-29

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

Thus in one sense we can say the covenant is only for the descendents of Abraham, but only with the understanding that one becomes a descendent of Abraham by faith in Christ, regardless of whether they are jew or greek according to the flesh.

Rom 4.16-17 LEB:

Because of this, it is by faith, in order that it may be according to grace, so that the promise may be secure to all the descendants, not only to those of the law, but also to those of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (just as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) before God, in whom he believed, the one who makes the dead alive and who calls the things that are not as though they are,

As Hebrews is clearly referencing the covenant sealed with Christ's blood (Hebrews 9.24-26) - unless you believe Christ died twice or that his blood was used to seal two different covenants, one of which he spoke and another of which he didn't speak - we should accept Christ's own description of the purpose of the covenant in which his blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. It applies to all those who believe.

John 5.24 ESV

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

And there is a clear distinction between those who believe on him and the Israel after the flesh:

John 1.11-12 (LEB)

He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God

This distinction between the "Israel of God" and "Israel after the flesh" was made by Paul:

For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And all those who follow this rule, peace and mercy be on them and on the Israel of God. Galatians 6.15-16

and also:

Consider Israel according to the flesh: are not the ones who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 1 Cor 10.18

The idea being that the Israel of God consists of those who are "in Christ" by virtue of the shedding of Christ's blood in the new covenant, whereas Israel after the flesh are the ones still trying to kill goats and follow the outward commandments even after God destroyed the temple and the sacrifices and any possibility of complying with the letter of the law of the Moses.

Moreover Hebrews is clear that those sanctified are the "brothers" of Christ:

“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” Heb 2.11 ESV

But who did Christ call 'brother'?

And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3.33-34 ESV

And what is the will of God? To do God's work, which is to believe on him whom he has sent. Everyone who does that will have eternal life in the new covenant:

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6.29 LEB

That does not mean that Israel after the flesh was treated in exactly the same way as gentiles after the flesh. In the flesh, they were treated differently!

Christ came "to the jew first and then the gentiles". Jews after the flesh got to see Christ in the flesh. But the true children of Abraham, both jew and greek, must see Christ in the spirit, and it is those who see Christ in the spirit that Christ calls "brothers", not those who saw him in the flesh!

Matt 16.17 ESV

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Those who saw him in the flesh, who could hear his audible voice, obviously had the first opportunity to believe in him and thus see him in the spirit. But they also got the first punishments for not doing so:

There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, of the Jew first and of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2.9-11 LEB

Christ himself prophecied of the punishment that would come to Jerusalem as a result of their rejection of him:

Luke 19.41-44 ESV

And when he approached and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you had known on this day—even you—the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you and your enemies will put up an embankment against you, and will surround you and press you hard from all directions. And they will raze you to the ground, you and your children within you, and will not leave a stone upon a stone within you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.

Thus the advantage that Israel after the flesh obtained was one of first opportunity in both blessings and curses, because Jesus was a jew and did miracles for the jews and in sight of the jews. So that's certainly a great benefit! But the covenant is a spiritual covenant that is entered by faith. It applies to the spiritual heirs of Abraham, the ones who are heirs by faith. These are the Israel of God, wherever God has placed them among the nations, both jew and greek, male and female, rich and poor, young and old, slave and free.

The flesh counts for nothing, only the spirit gives life. John 6.63 LEB

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    See also Romans 4 for Paul's explanation that those with faith in Christ are the heirs of Abraham.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 26 at 5:34
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    @curiousdannii yes, I added a ref. There are dozens more references to add, the idea that the covenant of Christ's blood is open to all by faith - and requires faith, not ethnicity - is foundational and attested to by many different sources.
    – Robert
    Aug 26 at 6:29
  • Excellent. Up-voted +1. Thorough and extensive.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 26 at 6:41
  • Your opening sentence is factually false. The word "covenant" occurs in the Gospels in the following places: Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 1:72, 22:20. Thus, there are four instances of the word "covenant" in the Gospels. Further, the phrase "new covenant" occurs in Luke 22:20.
    – Dottard
    Aug 26 at 9:28
  • @Dottard please re-read. I didn't say the only "mention", I said the only incident. I actually chose my words carefully rather than haphazardly -- please read with the same care rather than just skimming and blurting out "this is false!"
    – Robert
    Aug 26 at 16:06
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Who is this ‘new’ covenant for according to Hebrews? Is there evidence that it includes Gentiles?

Gentiles were never under the old covenant. It was given to the nation of Israel. The new covenant was also given to Israel and the house of Judah.

Jeremiah prophesied that a new covenant would be made with Israel.

Behold the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt— a covenant they broke, though I was a husband to them,g” declares the LORD. "But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:31 - 34

The book of Hebrews explains the new covenant Is now mediated by Jesus.

Now, however, Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises. For if that first covenant had been without fault, no place would have been sought for a second. But God found fault with the people and said:

He repeats again in Jeremiah 31 of the New Covenant for the Nation of Israel and the house of Judah.

He then goes on to say the old covenant is aging and will soon disappear.

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

It has never been in force yet and will happen after the fullness of the Gentiles have come in as stated in Romans 11:25-27

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be conceited: A hardening in part has come to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will remove godlessness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles and has a bit of a different message for us.

Study Paul's writings and one will begin to see that. We died to the law through the body of Christ.

In the new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah, the laws will be written on their hearts. They will all know the Lord then.

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  • Thanks for your answer. However if I follow your reasoning, that the (old/new) covenants were for Israel/Judah, then when you say [quote] “We died to the law”[/quote] …… who are you implying ‘we’ are?
    – Dave
    Aug 27 at 0:55
  • Hi Dave, Paul is addressing the people in Rome who are mostly Gentiles in Rom1:5 He goes on to tell them they died to the law in Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, Gal1:16 Paul Preaching to the gentiles. in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles For through the law I died to the law so that I might live to God. Galatians 2:19 Contrast that with what is said in Acts by James. You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. Acts21:20
    – Sherrie
    Aug 27 at 2:32
  • Well, it’s arguably whether most believers in Rome were Gentiles - but that to one side, the point I was heading to was questioning whether Gentiles were ever ‘under’ the Law - but thats not really suitable for discussion via comments, so I’ll just leave this.
    – Dave
    Aug 27 at 2:44

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