David Stern on The New Covenant and Oral Law


There has been much written and spoken about the New Covenant. Indeed, discussions are never ending on this highly sensitive topic. Countless questions such as what is it? How should I view it? Is it for Jews, Christians or both? Has the “Law” been done away with? Does one covenant cancel the other? What about the Oral Law, etc. etc.

These are just a few of the numerous questions applicable to this deep topic, which people tend to get quite passionate about.

Am I about to unleash my own understanding? Heaven forbid! I am in no way remotely qualified to produce such an undertaking. However, I believe many of us see David Stern as a highly credible source to help us gain contextual perspective. His Complete Jewish Bible and Jewish New Testament are very well known in theological circles.

In his book “Jewish New Testament Commentary,” he provides valuable insight on the subject of the New Covenant. Most people regard Jeremiah 31 as the source for the outlay of the New Covenant in the Tanakh. The New Testament book of Hebrews in chapter 8 is where the New Covenant is discussed. Stern provides detailed insight on this. If you have never read his book, it’s an exhaustive work and should be part of any serious library on Scripture and theology.

Let his words speak

At this point I am simply going to let David Stern’s own words speak for themselves. I pray if your understanding has been different, these words will enlighten and enrich you. As believers it is incumbent upon us to view scripture through appropriate lenses. In this case said lenses would be Jewish.

May the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit touch your heart as you read David’s words.

Quotations from David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary:

  • Gentiles enter this covenant only by being “grafted in” to Israel.
  • The Torah is the body of laws and instruction given to Moses for the Jewish people, consisting of both the Written and the Oral Law.
  • Unlike much Christian theology, the New Testament certainly does not denigrate the Oral Law.
  • There is no reason why a Messianic Jew might not choose to be obedient to much of the Oral Law; nothing in the New Testament prevents it, and a number of passages lend support (Matthew 5:19-20, 23:2, John 7:37-39, Acts 21:20, Galatians 5:3)
  • We should explore the New Covenant in order to understand its promises and conditions, so that we can obey it properly—with those of us who are Jewish doing so in the framework of staying Jewish, and those of us who are Gentile doing so in the framework of staying Gentile.
  • Although there are many, both Jews and Christians, who suppose that the New Testament abrogated the Torah, the New Testament here explicitly states that it has been given as Torah. Obviously, if the New Testament is Torah, then the Torah has not been abrogated. Instead, the New Testament has been given the same status as the Torah of Moses; that is, it has come to have the highest authority there is, the authority that accompanies promulgation by God himself.
  • A Gentile grafted into Israel by his faith in Yeshua the Messiah has himself come into the framework of Israel’s Torah. Although what this Torah demands of him differs from what it demands of a Jew, a Gentile Christian should never think of himself as “free from the Law,” as many do.
  • Every place in the New Testament or the Septuagint where there appears a compound word related to “nenomothêtetai” (to make law) it always has to do with “Torah” and never with “law.”
  • I am convinced that the failure to translate “nenomothêtetai” correctly is the evolved consequence of an earlier perverse unwillingness on the part of Christians to recognize and emphasize the Jewishness of the New Testament. This perversity resulted from the wrong theology that regards Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, having superseded it, and which regards Judaism as a dead religion whose Law, Torah, ceased to be operative when Yeshua came.

Stern’s book is packed with scholarly material, and includes numerous references, along with credible insights on Scriptural passages and theological views. Included herein are but a speck of quotations, but surely enough to provide valuable perspective on such an important topic. I highly recommend his book, which has now been published in Hebrew.

May you come to see the New Covenant is a light which blesses you and others.

*All quotations reprinted with permission.