on 3 February 2015
You can read my full review here: spoiledmilks wordpress com
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." [Matt 5.17].
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" [Rom 10.4]
Meyer's premise starts with the issue that how we understand the old and new covenants an their relation to each other has a huge impact on how we understand the Old and New Testaments. What is so 'new' about the new covenant? What is so 'old' about the old covenant? The central question of Meyer's study is about the character of the Mosaic covenant, especially in Paul's theology.
Meyer's thesis, that he will go on to prove, advances that Paul conceives of the Mosaic covenant as non-eschatological, while the new covenant is eschatological. Essentially, "the old covenant is now old because it belongs to the old age, whereas the new covenant is new because it belongs to the new eschatological age" (p. 1-2). The old age, and now the Mosaic covenant, are impermanent. "the new covenant is both eternal and effectual because it belongs to the new age and partakes of the power of the new age, the Holy Spirit" (p. 2).
First, Chapter 3 looks at the Old and New antithesis in Paul. Meyer exegetically reveals what makes up the difference in the two terms 'old' and 'new'. Throughout the Old and New testament, 'new' and 'old' are sometimes used temporally. Thinking of Christmas time coming, when I received 'new' toys for Christmas, suddenly my other toys became 'old.' My new toys were not one year 'old', but were 'new' today.
Secondly, Chapter 4 came at the perfect time. In teaching 2 Corinthians this semester, my dilemma came in 2 Cor 3 where Paul discusses the New Covenant and its super-cession of the Old. I had commentaries from both Hafemann and Garland, the former Meyer admires but differs greatly on, the latter agreeing with many of Hafemann's conclusions. "Hafemann argues that the old covenant is identical in content with the new covenant; they are co-equal in grace and glory" (p. 112). Yet Meyer has well-shown that 'new' and 'old' are entirely different.
Throughout, Meyer examines the long-held difficulty of the veil of Moses. While I don't think Meyer has answered it in full, he gives an incredible understanding of the veiled experience of Israel in the old age under the old covenant and the unveiled experience of believers in Christ in the new age under the new covenant. Why would Moses veil his face from Israel? What is significant about Israel being hardened even up "to this day"? Meyer draws themes from the OT and shows how this new age and covenant with Holy Spirit is far superior (2 Cor 3.7-11) than the old age and covenant without the Spirit.
This book has a thorough flair of academic to it. Which for some won't sound enticing in the least, for they would only want to know how this helps them. For others, this is exactly what they want for this helps them to know the text.
Meyer's purpose is to help the church understand God's Word better, and thus each other and the life we live. That is helped in having a greater knowledge of the Holy Spirit through the new covenant. What the old covenant didn't have, believers under the new covenant now have, that being the Holy Spirit who has softened our hearts (2 Cor 3.14, 16-18) and who gives us the ability to endure life's trials (2 Cor 4.13).
I'll provide a long footnote from Meyer's final chapter, which is a helpful concluding summary chapter on the rest of his book: In chapter three "we saw that Paul emphasized the removal of or the release from the 'old thing,' and the advent and continuation of the 'new thing.' A release from the old is a release from sin and death, while entering or becoming the new results in righteousness, fruit-bearing, and life. Freedom from the 'old thing' is a release from the experience of the 'old age,' which is characterized by sin and death, and ruled by the old Adam, while entering or becoming the 'new things' is entering the experience of the new age, which is characterized by righteousness and life, and ruled by the new Adam" (p 274, fn 33).
on 25 September 2013
The End of the Law was a pleasant surprise. Against my first impressions, a study on the old vs. new covenant in Paul's writings definitely warranted a book, and I am all the more grateful that Meyer has provided one so excellently written and argued.
Despite the very accessible prose, this is an academic work and will be more technical than many may want. However, to seminary students, pastors, and studious Christians, I would highly recommend The End of the Law. It should be mentioned that those who hold to either Dispensational or Covenant Theology will certainly find things with which to disagree. Contra Covenant Theology, Meyer believes all partaking in the New Covenant are saved, and Meyer appears to hold less of a distinction between Israel and the Church than a Dispensationalist would. However, both of these areas, though closely related to the subject of Meyer's study, are relatively minor to his actual conclusions and should not keep one from reading this book and benefiting from it.
We all need a clearer understanding of what it means that Christians are members of the new covenant, live in the new age inaugurated by Christ, and are empowered by His Spirit. The wonderful realities of our experience are all the more striking when we understand the contrast between our experience and that of Israel under the old covenant. In Christ we have a perfect saviour, the gift of the Spirit, the law written on our hearts, unveiled faces and are children of the promise. The end of the ages has come (1 Cor 10:11) in Christ. I'm grateful to Jason Meyer and this work, The End of the Law, for drawing these elements to the fore.