When did the New Testament go into effect?

The Bible is very clear that, at some point in history, the Old Testament covenant was done away and the New Testament covenant was brought into force by God.

Jeremiah 31:31

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

Hebrews 10:9

“…He takes away the first that He may establish the second.”

There are many Bible students who are not sure when the New Testament went into effect. Did it begin at the birth of Jesus? Did it begin at the death of Jesus? Or did it begin on the day of Pentecost when the first gospel sermon was preached following the death of Christ?

The Bible itself answers this question for us.

Hebrews 9:15-17

“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus is like a person who writes a will or “testament.” The writer of the testament is referred to as the “testator.” In the will his possessions will be given to those to whom he designates. However, the will does not go into effect until the testator dies. Since Jesus is the testator, His testament did not go into effect until his death. Therefore, the New Testament went into effect at the cross when Jesus died.

This explains a misunderstanding many have involving the things that men were told to do to be saved in the Bible. Why was the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 told to “go and sin no more” and yet Cornelius was “commanded” to be baptized in Acts 10:48?

John 8:11

“And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”

Acts 10:48

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”

The answer to this dilemma comes from correctly understanding when the New Testament went into effect. Even though the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are a part of the New Testament canon, they contain the history of the period during Jesus’ life leading up to his death. The book of Act contains the history of the events that took place just after Jesus’ death. So, even though the four gospels are a part of the New Testament canon, the events they contain are at the very end of the Old Testament period of history! Everyone mentioned in the four gospels was living under the Old Testament period including the woman taken in adultery. Cornelius, on the other hand, lived after the death of Jesus and under the New Testament period of history. That is why he was commanded to be baptized. This is a good example of how Bible students are to “rightly divide the word of truth” when studying the Scriptures.

2 Timothy 2:15

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

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