What does it mean, “to annul”? To cancel; extinguish; revoke. To nullify a law is to put it out of use. What does it mean to abrogate? Abolish; annul; invalidate; suppress; bring into disuse. Well, Paul declares that Christ abolished the Old Testament. The text says: “And not according as Moses put a veil on his own face, so that the children of Israel should not fix their eyes on the end of that annulled. But their thoughts have been darkened, for unto this day the same veil remains in reading the old covenant, unremoved, which in Christ is annulled” (2 Cor. 3:13-14 Darby). The great majority of Christians understands that the veil was abolished, not the Old Testament, for the entire Christian Church is tied to the Old Testament. If the Old Testament is removed, the Church collapses. But Paul continues, saying: “But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart” (2 Cor. 3:15). Therefore, the veil was not abolished. Two thousand years have gone by and the veil still lies on the hearts of Christians and Jews. Incredible!
Christ is not the mediator of the Old Testament, but of the New Testament (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). The mediator of the Old Testament was Moses (Gal. 3:19).
The New Testament excludes the Old. The New Testament invalidates the Old. To make this issue clear, let us center in on some biblical evidences:
- Jesus Christ abolished the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which Jehovah had ordained. It is written in the law: “You shall make an altar of earth for me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record my name I will come to you and I will bless you” (Ex. 20:24). Once someone sinned, it says: “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish” (Lev. 4:32). The female lamb was beheaded to atone for the sin, and the blood poured at the base of the altar. The fat was removed and burned upon the altar. So the priest made atonement for the sin of this person, and the sin was forgiven (Lev. 4:33-35). But we read in the letter to the Hebrews: “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). And it goes on: “Previously saying, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn’t desire, neither had pleasure in them’ (those which are offered according to the law)” (Heb. 10:8). “Then he has said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). God was not pleased with animal sacrifices, as we read, but they pleased Jehovah, who was delighted with the smell of burnt meat (Gen. 8:20-21; Lev. 1:9; 2:9). The fact is that the sacrifice of Christ abolished the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were not of the will of the Father, for he did not want them or was pleased with them.
- Let us look at the law of Jehovah. The great commandment of the law and of the prophets is: “You shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). The second commandment is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am and you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Lev. 19:18). Matthew says that the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments (Matt. 22:40). Well, Jesus gave a new idea, saying: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Jehovah’s standard is that man should love with a human and flawed standard, for men is destitute of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Jesus’ standard is to love as God loves, for Jesus is God (1 John 5:20; 13:34). With regard to loving God above all, John says: “If a man says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). In the New Testament the love of God is tied to the love toward one’s neighbor; therefore, when I love my neighbor or my brother I declare that I love God. As the Law and the Prophets depend on the two great commandments of Jehovah, when they were changed in the New Testament the Prophets and the Law fell into disuse. This is why Jesus said: “The law and the prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16). The sacrifices and the standard of love of the Old Testament were abolished.
- In the letter to the Hebrews we read yet: “For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change made also in the law” (Heb. 7:12). The priesthood of Jehovah was exercised only by the Levites, who served in the temple and ministered the sacrifices of the law (Heb. 5:1). Peter, the apostle, says: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were no people, but now are God’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). The Levites were the people of Jehovah, and Peter speaks of the Gentiles that were not his people and became his people. What is the role of the new priests? Their role is to teach that the sacrifices of the law of Jehovah were abolished, and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for every man. The message is now: “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). The god Jehovah was god only of Israel (Amos 3:2).
If the Old Testament was not abolished, it is crippled, for Jesus abolished the sacrifices of the Old Testament, that is to say, of Jehovah. He made obsolete the two great commandments of the law of Jehovah, where men loved as they could, with human capacity; but in the New Testament they love with the divine love, for the love of God is poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that was given to us (Rom. 5:5). And He abolished the Levitical priesthood.
(To be continued)
By Olavo Silveira Pereira