Rob Skiba ventured a reply of sorts to my previous post, calling me a “Jesuit-Inquistor.” Responding to my identifying the Mosaic covenant as obsolete, Skiba ardently defends the notion that New Covenant Christians are still under the Mosaic covenant. (note the grammar and spelling are Skiba’s):
Obesolete Mosaic covenant??? Are you referring to the Law that was written on our hearts and minds just 3 verses prior? Are you saying you subscribe to and support the validity of INSERTING words that don’t belong in the text:
“Covenant” simply is NOT in the Greek text. It was INSERTED into the English text by translators who ignore the “MAIN POINT” of Heb. 8:1, which was the “sum” of what had previously been written about in the preceding 4 chapters. To insert “covenant” as in “Mosaic Law” into verses 7 and 13 (as many a English Bible does), it totally nullifies verse 10 and completely ignores Hebrews 4-7. But that’s another whole topic in and of itself.
Rob is correct that the word “covenant” is not in verse 13 but don’t you wonder why nearly every major English translation saw fit to insert it for clarity? Is it really a Jesuit conspiracy? Here is a text comparison of the major English translations:
NIV | Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
NASB95 | Heb 8:13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
NRSV | Heb 8:13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.
ESV | Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
NKJV | Heb 8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
KJV 1900 | Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
So has every Bible translation committee for the last 400 years gotten it wrong while Rob Skiba has it right? It doesn’t seem likely. A strict literal translation is the Lexham English Bible and it renders:
“In calling it new, he has declared the former to be old. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is near to disappearing.”(Heb 8:13, LEB)
So what is the “it” that the author is calling “new” and what is the “former” that is old, obsolete, and near disappearing? In order to determine that, we first look to the context. Simply read Hebrews 8 and it is very clear that the topic is the “new covenant.” The author cites Jeremiah 31:31–34 in Hebrews 8:8-12. Here is the LEB fully formatted:
Hebrews 8:10–13 (LEB)
10 For this is the covenant that I will decree with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I am putting my laws in their minds
and I will write them on their hearts,
and I will be ⌊their⌋ God
and they will be ⌊my⌋ people.
11 And they will not teach each one his fellow citizen
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their wrongdoings,
and I will not remember their sins any longer.”
13 In calling it new, he has declared the former to be old. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is near to disappearing.
In Greek, adjectives and nouns have grammatical gender (masculine and feminine) but it doesn’t necessarily imply anything about sexual gender but rather serves a grammatical function so that one can match adjectives to nouns and pronouns precisely. In this case, it proves helpful even though the context alone is pretty clear.
The word διαθήκη rendered “covenant” in verse 10 is singular and feminine. In order to verify that adjective καινός “new” in verse 13 refers back to “covenant” we verify that it matches in gender and number: διαθήκην (fem. sing) –> καινὴν (fem, singular). Likewise we verify that πρώτην “former” in verse 13 also matches in gender and number, it does: πρώτην (fem, singular). Thus, in Greek the grammar along with context make it absolutely certain that verse 13 means “new covenant” and “former covenant.” That is why all of your English translations inserted it… no Jesuit conspiracy necessary. Verse 13 is obviously referring to the New Covenant as opposed to the former covenant (the Mosaic one.) Indeed, it is beyond question that this chapter teaches the Mosaic covenant is obsolete. So why accept Skiba’s yoke of slavery?