The Covenant in Revelation
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Part I: Comparison Between the Old Testament and New Testament Covenants
In Hebrew the word for Covenant is Berith. In the Old Testament,
people made covenants which served the purpose of a spoken agreement summarized
by a ritual ceremony that took the place of a written agreement.
A covenant is also a Sacred Agreement into which people entered and it was
sealed by a sacred rite. Social covenants were made quite often in the Old
Testament. The two parts of a covenant were (a) promise; (b) condition.
The four principal covenants between God and His people are:
- The Covenant with Noah.
- The Covenant with Abraham, before the people of Israel- change of name
- The Covenant with Moses (on Mount Sinai) containing Gods promises to
His people and the conditions.
- The Covenant with David. (If the people would be faithful, then they
would be the ones to proclaim the Messianic Kingdom to the world). As the Jewish
people rejected Christ, as a result Paul was chosen.
- The revealed word Covenant in the Greek is Diatheke meaning two
wills. This word is used twenty-five times in the New Testament.
- Christ calls His Blood of the Covenant. His part is His Blood. The
Old Testament Covenant was only a preparation for Christs Covenant and there
would be no other. Christs Blood in the New Testament is the sign that God
has fulfilled His part, as the Blood of the Lamb saved the Israelites from physical
death, so the Blood of Christ saved us from the death of sin.
- The apostles were chosen as the ministers of the New Covenant.
- Unlike the Old Testament Covenant, meticulous in details (over 600 regulations),
the New Testament Covenant is not a covenant of the letter, but of the spirit,
of the heart.
- The Old Testament Covenant was not abrogated, destroyed, but raised
- The two covenants correspond to the two sons of Abraham. In the Old
Testament the stress is on justice (infidelity followed by invasions). The
New Testament does not exclude punishment but the stress is on love (perfect
love casts out fear). We do what God wants from us not out of servile fear,
fear of punishment, but out of filial fear.
- The New Testament Covenant is the covenant of the priesthood of Christ,
i.e., of sacrifice. Christs part of the Covenant is sacrifice and so is our
part. At Baptism we enter into Christs priesthood and so we not only attend
the sacrifice of the Mass but we live it.
- Christs sacrifice, in which we participate, exceeds in promise the
Old Testament Covenant. Christs promise to His people is greater.
- Christ is the mediator of the New Testament Covenant in telling us what
God demands and promises and in bringing to God our sacrifices, prayer and petition.
- The word Covenant in the New Testament also means the Last Will
and Testament made at the Last Supper and sealed on Calvary.
Part II: Meaning of New Covenant
- A contract in which the two wills are involved.
- The will of God.
- Our will.
- A sacred contract three times over.
- Because of its important partnerGod Himself made man.
- Because we cannot keep our part without help from God.
- Because its purpose is union with God.
- It is a contract between the God-Man and us. He became man to make
this covenant possible.
- It is a written and signed contract in blood. That is why God became
man, in order to sign it in blood.
- It is a voluntary contract on Gods part (the grace which He gives).
It is voluntary on our part by the response we make.
- It is a contract that requires supernatural light to recognize and supernatural
strength for our will to accomplish. Without Divine help it is impossible to
- The covenant on our side is a commitment.
- The New Covenant is a promise of mutual friendship, essence of sharing,
- On Gods (Christs) side:
- He sets down the conditions.
- He tells us the promises, the blessing.
- He assures the grace we need to keep the conditions.
- On our side we promise to God (take an oath):
- To fulfill the conditions, under oath.
- We do so under oath. (Sacred promise made to God).
- To respond to the conditions. God sets the conditions: but our part
is to bend our will to fulfill the conditions by using our will.
- To expect His help which will surely come
- on our asking for it
- on our cooperation with it and in this way we acknowledge our helplessness.
- The blessings
promised are for this life and also for the life to cometo share in the joys
of the Trinity.
- In the New Covenant,
Christ is very specific about the conditions which are not just mere ideals
to dream about, but conditions to be lived up to.
- In the New Covenant,
Christ is very specific about the blessing He promises.
- In the New Covenant, there are two kinds of covenants with distinct promises.
- Promises to individuals (each single created being).
- Promises to groups (Churches, Parishes, Congregations, etc.).
- In the New Covenant,
there are also two kinds of covenants with distinct conditions.
- Conditions to individuals.
- Conditions to groups.
The synthesis of the Old Testament is the Decalogue.
The synthesis of the New Testament is the Sermon on the MountBeatitudes.
- The Decalogue - the Ten Words (Statements) God gave Moses for His people
on Mt. Sinai and through them for the instruction of the whole world.
The Decalogue contains ten statements. The first three contain our duties
towards God, enabling us to fulfill the virtue of justice towards God.
|Internal practice of the virtue of Religion, Prayer, Fidelity.
Fidelity to the other commandments depends on how faithful we are to the first
commandment. Self-idolatry is something to be watchful about.
The first duty of the human being is to use our lips with God in prayer and
about God in spiritual conversation. The more deeply God is on our mind the
more freely we will talk to Him and about Him.
|As social beings we must give God corporate
worship and rest from servile work i.e., work in which the body is more occupied
than the mind. Servile work is allowed only under two conditionsNecessity
The others: Justice, Duties to Neighbor
|Obedience to authority.
The fourth commandment assumes they are basically established societies.
- Natural society established on:
Both have authority from God. The purpose of civic society is temporal peace and prosperity. Unjust laws that go against God's law must not be obeyed. The authority of the state is limited by the law of God.
- Supernatural Society established on:
founded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose authority was handed
down to the apostles under Peter at the Last Supper when He ordained them priests.
Consequently there are two kinds of authority within the Church.
- Ordinary (by ordination)
- Delegated or Sub-delegated
|Forbids the taking of innocent human life.
- Charity - I make sure I take what belongs to me to give to others.
- Justice - I make sure I do not take anything that belongs to someone else for myself.
|Thou shalt not commit adultery. Forbids sexual relations
out of marriage or with another married person whose partner is alive. This
Commandment also forbids all sins against chastity, i.e., all fully deliberate
enjoyment of sexual pleasure by anyone except a husband and wife in legitimate
marital intercourse. The amount or quantity in this matter has nothing to do
with the guilt.
Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica