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A-Z of Paul: Old Covenant

Saturday, August 16, 2008
What is the Old Covenant and why would St Paul, being the Apostle of the Gentiles, be interested in the Old Covenant in the first place? Paul was a Pharisee, a devout Jew who led his life with a firm belief in the Scriptures. Inspired by them the whole people of Israel saw themselves as the heir to the promise and the blessing given by God to Abraham and to his offspring, and this is what the Old Covenant means.

Even though St Paul became a follower of Christ, he sees his new vocation as an apostle as sprouting out from his Jewish belief. Christ proclaimed himself to have come in fulfilment of both the prophets and the law and St Paul explains for us what this means. In his Letter to the Galatians (ch. 3) he says that it is Christ himself who is the heir of the promise and blessing given to Abraham. It is Christ who is the long-awaited offspring of Abraham.

If this is so, then, the Old Covenant finds its fulfilment in the person of Christ.

Jesus, as the heir of the promise, makes another Covenant with God, or if you like, extends the Old Covenant, through his death on the cross and resurrection. In this way the Old Covenant is brought to perfection as Christ died for all, and so the New Covenant made on the cross is lasting and universal. If this is so, then the only right thing to do is to preach God’s love and mercy beyond the boundaries of the Chosen Nation and this is what St Paul did with great Pharisaic dedication.


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