Monday, April 30, 2012

Not In The Bible? - New Covenant in Christ's Blood

The tradition of Communion among believers is something of great importance to many.  Whether simple or elaborate, the Lord’s Supper is a time of introspection, prayer, and an opportunity for one on one time with our Savior. 

So what would happen, then, if the words of Christ in Luke 22:20 were never actually found in that chapter originally?  The lack of Christ stating that His blood was the New Covenant would place the whole of Christianity in question, as that New Covenant IS the basis of Christianity.  Yet, that is the accusation of some, and the subject of today’s entry.

In case you need a refresher, the verses reads:
And in the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and said, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

It should be noted that far too often, opponents of Christianity tend to focus too highly on a single verse when attempting to disprove a statement or belief.  This is one of those cases, because the accusation actually states that this verse is at once something Christ never spoke; as well as saying that it isn’t found in any of the original texts.

This sort of myopic approach will often lead to frustration on the part of the accuser, if they have any real sense of self-respect; or the presentation of that which typifies so many enemies of God, willful ignorance.  As I will show you, this particular accusation is nothing if not narrow-sighted.  After seeing the aspects of this particular accusation, it will be easy to see why some may simply show frustration, or become angry, stubborn and behave like scolded children.

First, let us address the actual verse, focusing on Christ’s quotation specifically.  The charge states that Christ never said that “this cup… poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  Yet in Matthew, we see Him stating “this is my blood of the new covenant which poured out for many for the remission of sins.”  In Mark, He is quoted as saying “this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” 

In John, though the last supper is not spoken of in terms of what was actually done, instead focusing upon what Christ taught them at that time; Christ still referenced the “new covenant” and His blood.  Specifically, He stated that whoever ate of His flesh and drank of His blood would have life.  Most opponents of Christianity will not understand this point, but the “new covenant” spoken of in Luke, Matthew and Mark is new life in Christ.  It is eternal life, free from the curse of the law and sin, and available only through Him.

Thus, we have all four Gospels saying the same thing.  Though the exact quote differs slightly in three, and is missing from one, all four have Christ relating the same thing: That His blood is the New Covenant, and that it will be shed for all.

Moreover, this statement about the New Covenant is also echoed throughout the epistles.  Romans 11:27, speaking of Christ, states “for this is My [Jesus] covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”  1 Corinthians 11:25 quotes Christ directly, saying “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood.”  2 Corinthians says  that God “made us ministers of the New Covenant.”  Galatians 3:17 reads that God confirmed the New Covenant in Christ. 

Hebrews 7:22 says that “Jesus has become the surety of a better covenant,” then in 8:13, quotes directly again Christ’s use of the phrase “New Covenant.”  Hebrews mentions the New Covenant again in 9:15, 10:16, 12:24 and 13:20.  Most notable to our discussion is 9:15, which states “He [Jesus] is the Mediator of the New Covenant.”

Given all of these references to this same statement, it certainly looks as though the first half of the accusation has been met, and soundly defeated.  Now let us move on to the second half of that accusation, which states that the verse and quote cannot be found in any of the original texts.

In the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, (c.450), Luke 22:19 through 23:25 is missing or damaged.  It is important to understand that when I say “missing,” I mean that it is literally missing; in other words, there is a gap, tear or section of parchment that is not there.  Because of this, this particular codex cannot be used to back up the accusation’s claim.
The Codex Alexandrinus, (c.400-440), includes the last half of Luke, yet 22:20 is not part of the missing section of Luke.  Though damaged, it appears in this particular codex.
The Codex Vaticanus, (c.325-350), includes this verse, and the quote.  Moreover, it is hardly damaged and shows no sign of addition or editing.
As for the Codex Sinaiticus, (c.330-360), Luke 22:20 is absolutely included.  For anyone wishing proof, I offer the following: A shot of the verse in question, on folio 244.

Papyrus Bodmer, (c.175-225), also includes Luke 22:20.  This is one of the earliest surviving texts, by the way.

Aside from these original texts, Justin Martyr and Barnabas also spoke of the New Covenant received through the blood of Christ. Additionally, Iranaeus says this in his Against Heresies, (c.180):
“…the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He [Jesus] confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant…”

Coming to the end of this entry, it is clear now that the charge of Christ never uttering the statement found in Luke 22:20 is not only false; it is blindly, perhaps willfully, ignorant.  Moreover, the statement that said verse is not found within the original texts has also been shown to be a statement of idiocy.  Only those with the absolute will to be obstinate will continue to cling to such an accusation.

Class dismissed. 

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