by Jerry Shugart
There is no doubt that the only diatheke which is in effect now is the Last Will and Testament of Christ and that fact is demonstrated by what is revealed at Hebrews 9:15-17. It has also been shown that the Last Will and Testament of Christ is the "gospel" of Christ.
William Beck wrote the following about Martin Luther's idea that the Greek word diatheke carries the meaning of the "gospel":
"For Luther the 'berith' of the Old Testament was, in essence, the Gospel-promise of Jesus Christ, while the 'diatheke' was the Gospel-promise completed in the Christ who was already born, sacrificed, risen, and who was coming again to give His people the ultimate inheritance: forgiveness of sins in heaven. This is why he writes: 'And so that little word 'testament' is a short summary of all God's wonders and grace, fulfilled in Christ' (LW:XXXV:84)" [emphasis added] (Beck, The New Testament: God's Word to the Nations, [Cleveland: Biblion Publishing, 1988], 533-534).
With those facts in mind let us look at this verse again:
"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament (diatheke); not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2 Cor.3:6; KJV).
Now let us replace the words "new testament" with the word "gospel":
"Who also hath made us able ministers of the gospel (diatheke); not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2 Cor.3:6).
This teaches that the gospel is spirit and it brings life.
The Gospel is Spirit and It Gives Life
The gospel comes in the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Apostle Peter:
"...unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven" (1 Pet.1:12).
It is also a fact that those who believe the gospel receive life when they are born again by the gospel:
" Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God...And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:23,25).
Despite these facts there are some Christians who teach that those in the Body of Christ partake of the spiritual blessings of Israel's New Covenant. Progressive Dispensationalist Craig A. Blaising wrote that "It is indisputable that the New Testament views the new covenant predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel as established in the death of Jesus Christ with some of the promised blessings now being granted to Jews and Gentiles who are believers in Jesus. These are not blessings which are 'like' those predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They are 'the very same' blessings which those prophets predicted. For the new covenant which is presently in effect through Jesus Christ is not one which is 'like' that predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but is 'that very same' covenant which they prophesised which is in effect today" [emphasis added] (Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993], 202).
Blaising asserts that the blessings which Christians now enjoy are through the New Covenant promised to Israel and that those blessings are "the very same" blessings which the OT prophets foretold.
Are they the same blessings foretold in the OT? The blessings under Israel's New Covenant are corporate in nature. George Eldon Ladd supports this idea when he wrote that "in the Old Testament the eschatological salvation is always pictured in terms of the national, theocratic fate of the people of Israel" [emphasis added] (Ladd, The Last Things [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978], 8).
We can see that before the Cross and before the New Covenant could have been in force "individuals" were being saved as a result of their faith. The Lord Jesus said the following to a woman who anointed His feet with oil:
"And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Lk.7:48-50).
From this we can understand that the blessings which believers receive are not through Israel's New Covenant because those blessings are corporate in nature.