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The Juxtaposition Of The Two Testaments.

May 2, 2016

The Juxtaposition of the Two Testaments, by Wilhelm Niesel (from his book: The Theology Of Calvin, page 109, Lutterworth Press, London 1956).

‘The juxtaposition and succession of the two Testaments emphasizes the fact that they do NOT aim at giving us religious and moral instruction, or holding ideas ideals before our minds, but at the testifying to the Word which at a given moment in the history of world became flesh. For this reason there is is a before and after. Since at that moment not just any event, nor even a merely momentous event, took place in the history of humanity, but rather God’s only begotten [One and Only] Son entered the world, the time before just as much as the time after was shaped by the operation of the event itself. But this must be rightly understood. Had Jesus Christ been only a man, a religious personality of the greatest dimensions, then His coming might well have been surmised in advance. But this is not what is meant when we say that the action of Jesus Christ shaped the time which preceded Him. What is meant is rather this: because the Incarnate Word is God, His efficacy is not restricted to our own Christian era. Hence He could already by the word of His witnesses and the sacramental cultus draw near to the saints near to the saints of the old covenant and bestow Himself upon them. For this reason the Old Testament does not merely reflect a people’s religious consciousness nor its words simply point as signposts to the one Word; rather they communicate the reality of that Word to the hearers when the Holy Ghost/Spirit renders the latter responsive. If any one interprets the Old Testament otherwise, he is forgetting in his blindness that Christ “was true God who from the beginning and without intermission has spread the wings of His grace.” ‘ (Calvin, CR=Corpus Reformatorum-Calvin’s Works 9, 305.)

*The term “Covenant” would of course be better than “Testament”. In some way and sense the Two Covenants really are One, but ‘In Christ’, i.e. God In Christ, and the Incarnation! (Fr. R.)

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One Comment
  1. Calvin considers that the OT and the NT form in the strictest sense one single testimony of Christ! But of course there is a progressive revelation here, from the OT to the New. Even the Book or Letter/Treatise of Hebrews shows us this, (Heb. 13: 20-21).

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