Are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Part of The New Covenant?
Some people have argued that the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) should not be considered a part of the new covenant. The underlying reason for teaching this false doctrine is to take away the binding force of Matthew 19:9 on marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
1. While it is true that Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and took it out of the way when He went to the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:14-16; Matthew 5:17-18), there are doctrines that Jesus taught during His personal ministry that would be enforced after He died.
Hebrews 9:15-17 states: "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of t he testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives ."
Here is an example from the Lord's personal ministry. Matthew 18:15-17 states: "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector . Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Why give this instruction if it was no longer to have any binding force?
Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3,5). This is new covenant teaching, not old covenant teaching. Further, Jesus told him, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Again, this is clearly new covenant teaching rather than old covenant teaching. These are statements of Jesus before his crucifixion, but they belong to the new covenant era.
Consider Paul's explanation of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11. The problem was that the Christians were not properly observing this element of worship. Paul indicated that Christians who improperly observe the Lord's Supper would be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27). Further, he indicated that they would face judgment for their failure (1 Corinthians 11:29, 32). Note, however, that Paul based his instructions on what Jesus said before he was crucified (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) . Paul quoted the words of Jesus on his betrayal night as the foundation for his commands about observing the Lord's Supper. This means that Jesus said some things during his earthly life that are still binding on us today.
One must understand that Jesus' earthly life was a time of transition. Jesus lived under the Law of Moses (Galatians 4:4). He sometimes told people to do things that were required by that law (for example, Mark 1:44). He also, however, talked about the comin g age and the new covenant (Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 26:26-29). As the above examples demonstrate, Jesus taught some principles that would be a binding part of the new covenant.
2. The claim is made by those people who teach this error that the gospel accounts were not considered New Testament books until the Roman Catholic Church, in the fifteenth century, put a blank page between Malachi and Matthew. It is asserted that they did this to further their own theological biases. It is further claimed that we today have been duped into accepting the Gospels as part of the New Testament, when they should be considered part of the Old Testament. This assertion is false . Long before the fifteenth century, the Gospels were already considered part of the New Testament.
The following evidence from the early days of the church indicates that the G ospels were accepted as part of the New Testament:
a. the Muratorian Fragment (dated to about AD 170)
b. Origen (who died AD 254)
c. Clement of Alexandria (2nd - 3rd century)
d. Eusebius (early fourth century, see book 3, chapter 25, verse 1).
All early writings that deal with this issue included the Gospels as New Testament documents. Additionally, none of the lists of Old Testament documents dating from the early days of the church included the Gospels. It was not the Roman Catholic Church in the fifteenth century that "moved" the Gospels from the Old Testament to the New Testament. All the evidence indicates that the Gospels have been understood to be New Testament documents since they were written.
3. If the gospel accounts are Old Testament documents rather than New Testament documents, why were they even written? They were not written until at least 30-40 years after the crucifixion of Jes us. That is, they were written long after the Old Covenant was no longer binding. Why would God inspire the writing of documents which were out of date before they were ever even written? Why would H e write documents that have no binding authority on an yone even when they were first produced?
4. Technically speaking, the law of marriage did not originate as a law of the old covenant anyway. The law of the old covenant and the old covenant itself did not begin until it was delivered to Moses and the children of Israel (Exodus 12:43, 47, 49; 13:3, 9; 16:4, 28; 18:16, 20; 19:5; 20:1-17; 24:7-8; 31:12-18; Nehemiah 8:1; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Ezekiel 20:5-12; etc.). The law of marriage was issued prior to the Law of Moses (called the "Old Covenant") at the beginning of the creation in Genesis 2:24 (Matthew 19:3-8).
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