Whose Idea Was it to Call the Books Written by the Apostles the “New Testament”?
The Biblical term “New Covenant” originated with the famed prophecy occupying Jeremiah chapters 30-31, and it defines, in two words, the sole reason for the entire book of Jeremiah being written!
Jeremiah 31:1, 31-36 “At that time,” declares Yehovah, “I’ll be the Elohim of all the families of Israel, and they’ll be My people.” ... 31 “The time is coming ,’ Yehovah says, “when I’ll make a New [marriage] Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. 32 It won’t be like the [marriage] Covenant that I made with their ancestors during the time when I took them by the hand led them out of the land of Egypt, since they broke My Covenant, tho I was their Husband,” says Yehovah. 33 “In this [marriage] Covenant that I’ll make with the House of Israel after those days,” Yehovah says, “I’ll put My Torah in the very seat of their thoughts and emotions, and I’ll write it into their minds [hearts]. I’ll be their Elohim, and they’ll be My people. 34 People will no longer teach their neighbors or their relatives, or ask, ‘Do you know Yehovah’ [the Lord], because they’ll all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” says Yehovah. [No more evangelism!]“I’ll forgive their wickedness, and I’ll never again remember their sins.”
35 Yehovah says that He provides the sun to light the day and the 'orderly succession' of the moon and stars to light the night, and He instantaneously calms [U] the raging waves of the sea—Commander Yehovah is His name: 36 “If these fixed conditions ever fail in My presence,” Yehovah says, “then the Israelites will cease to be a nation in My presence forever.” —The Gabriel Version
Whenever “New Testament” or “New Covenant” is mentioned in the Bible, it is ALWAYS in reference to Jeremiah 30-31! It is never in reference to the 27 books of the envoys (apostles), that John called “the Testimony of Yeshua (Jesus)”, OR to any fulfilled prophecy, OR to any people other than “the house of Israel, and the house of Judah”! The KJV uses the term “New Testament” six times, but never mentions “New Covenant”. The NKJV uses “New Covenant” six times but never mentions “New Testament”. Here are the six places: Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:15. While “testament” and “covenant” are traditionally used interchangeably in English, they are not at all the same thing. The Greek term “diatheke” refers to a covenant, as in the Jeremiah 30-31 New Covenant, while the term “marturia” refers to a legal testimony. The truth is, the New Testament can never be written on paper! It can only be written into the minds (hearts) of Israelites headed toward the Promised Land after the Great Tribulation and their descendants forever. I see these Israelites responding like migratory birds when they are clued in that it is time to take flight! Ezekiel 20 describes that time well.
So why do people believe that “New Testament” means the “canonized” Apostolic Texts? It’s because they are victims of replacement theology: where a promise to Israel and Judah is “magically” reassigned to “the church”. The term was twisted to separate Yeshua from the Hebrew Scriptures—the Tanak, the “Law”. The term —as it has been used since the 2nd century—is truly Anti-Semitic! It totally disregards the entire essence of Jeremiah’s astonishing prophecy! In the Book of Revelation John used the phrase “The Testimony of Yeshua/Messiah” six times when he was refering to the 27 newly inspired books. Revelation 1:2; 1:9; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 19:10 (twice); Revelation 20:4. John actually finalized the Bible.
Quite strangely, Messianic believers in Yeshua (Messianic Jews in particular) turn to Jeremiah 31 and appropriate the Hebrew term “Brit Hadasha”, and then apply it to the 27 separately inspired books, in an irrational attempt to both legitimize and hide the anti Semitic term! The real name for those Apostolic books is The Testimony of Yeshua.
So far as is known, a second century Christian named Tertullian “koined” the Latin term Novum Testamentum, (Latinizing the Koine Greek phrase), as a means to associate “New Testament” with the 27 books, rather than the Jeremiah 31:31 covenant “with the house of Israel and the house of Judah”. So in one wave of his magic wand, he made Jeremiah’s amazing chronicle about the future of Israel and Judah apply to “the Church”, rather than to Israel. Tertullian also “koined” Vetus Testamentum, meaning “Old (read obsolete) Testament”. That is what he began referring to the Tanak (Scriptures) as. Perhaps Tertullian’s first usage of his new term New Testament is from his Against Marcion, book 3, chapter 14:
“This may be understood to be the sacred Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel....”
Actually it was Marcion who got the ball rolling by inserting a stone wall between the so-called “Old Testament” and the so-called “New Testament”, separating the “mean spirited” old Elohim (God) from the “good spirited” Yeshua (Jesus). He and his followers believed that the Hebrew Scriptures were totally divorced from the “the Testimony of Yeshua”, and that the Elohim of ancient Israel was a cruel Elohim. They believed that worshiping Jesus was far superior to that.
Ironically, while Tertullian blasted Marcion’s stone wall, he really only softened Marcion’s artificial divide. In essence, it appears that Tertullian didn’t describe Elohim and His Son as “estranged”, as did Marcion, rather, they were merely “separated”.
In book 4, chapter 6, Tertullian wrote:
“For it is certain that the whole aim at which [Marcion] has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, and as alien from the law and the prophets.”
But if Yeshua’s followers had been “New Covenant Christians”, then why did it take centuries to figure it out? For all practical purposes Marcionism won out, with only limited historic value now placed on those so-called “old worn out Scriptures”.
Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, was a “Marcionist”! See for yourself:
“We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it....”
“... Therefore Moses? legislation about images and the Sabbath, and what else goes beyond the natural law, since it is not supported by the natural law, is free, null and void, and is specifically given to the Jewish people alone.” —LW 40:91: “LW” refers to Luther’s 55 volume Works, English edition
All but forgotten is Paul’s admonition to Timothy. He stated, before the “Testimony of Yeshua” (NT) was even finalized, that those “Old Scriptures” were the very means to salvation:
2 Timothy 3:15-17 and that from your childhood you were taught from the Kadosh Writings, ‘things’ that can give you the wisdom to obtain eternal Life, thru faith in Yeshua Messiah. 16 Every Scripture  [literally, ‘writing’] that was written by the spirit is profitable for doctrine for proving convictions, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, 17 so that a person of Aloha can become ‘very adept’ and accomplished in every good work. It is apparent that the Scriptures leading to eternal Life mentioned in vss. 15-16 are referring to the Tanak, mistakenly called the “Old Testament”, since all 50 other references to Scripture/s in the Testimony of Yeshua refer to it, including a twisted interpretation of 2 Peter 3:16. Same goes for “the Word of God” (Elohim). No reference to “the Word of God” includes the Testimony of Yeshua. Look them up!
Then in the 3rd century, Lactantius took Tertullian’s idea and went a giant step further by defining the concept in his Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII: Lactantius: Chap. XX:
“But all Scripture is divided into two Testaments. That which preceded the advent and passion of Christ-that is, the law and the prophets-is called the Old; but those things which were written after His resurrection are named the New Testament. The Jews make use of the Old, we of the New: but yet they are not discordant, for the New is the fulfilling of the Old, and in both there is the same testator, even Christ, who, having suffered death for us, made us heirs of His everlasting kingdom, the people of the Jews being deprived and disinherited. As the prophet Jeremiah testifies when he speaks such things: [Jer 31:31-32] “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new testament to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they continued not in my testament, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord.... For that which He said above, that He would make a new testament to the house of Judah, shows that the old testament which was given by Moses was not perfect; but that which was to be given by Christ would be complete.”
This is perfectly fine for Catholics who regard their traditions as more decisive than the Bible. If you call yourself a “New Covenant Christian”, then at least you now know who to credit with the name. Yet if people knew that the “New Covenant” that will be enacted, is essentially a strengthened version of the original Covenant, as it had been originally in the Sinai, then the harmony and continuity with Israel would be readily apparent!
Hebrews 8:9 It won’t be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors during the time when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt, because they didn’t remain loyal to My covenant and I neglected them, declared YHVH [Yehovah].
The promised New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 actually includes all of chapter 30. It is entirely about Judah and the “Lost Tribes” inheriting the Promised Land after the climactic “time of Jacob’s trouble”, better known as “the Great Tribulation!”:
Jeremiah 30:7-8 That day will be terrible! There will never be another like it. It’s the time of Jacob’s trouble [The Great Tribulation], but he’ll be saved [liberated] out of it. 8 At that time, says Yehovah the Commander, I’ll break the yoke from your neck, and snap your chains. Foreigners will no longer enslave you.
Chances are, you can only paraphrase part of one verse in all of this—the part about writing “something” on their hearts. That something is the Torah. That time and place, according to the immediate context, is a time when all of the neighbors are on the same spiritual page! People won’t be capable of teaching the neighbors anything, because they already know Yehovah. It is the post evangelical age:
Jeremiah 31:33-34 In this marriage Covenant that I’ll make with the ‘nation’ of Israel after those days,’ says Yehovah, ‘I’ll put My Torah in the very seat of their thoughts and emotions, and I’ll write it into their minds [hearts]. I’ll be their Elohim, and they’ll be My people. 34 People will no longer teach their neighbors or their relatives, by asking, ‘Do you know Yehovah’ [the LORD], because they’ll all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yehovah. I’ll forgive their wickedness, and I’ll never again remember their sins.
Verse 33 is the entire pickup line used to somehow equate the New Covenant with the here and now!
But having Elohim’s Torah in your heart was not a new thing. Notice what was said on the Day of Pentecost, in the wilderness, when Israel accepted the terms of the First Covenant:
Deuteronomy 6:1-6 These are the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances, that Yehovah your Elohim commanded me to teach you, so that you would do them in the land you’re about to enter and occupy. 2 As long as you fear Yehovah your Elohim, enough to obey all of His statutes and His Commandments that I’m giving you, your children and grandchildren as long as you live, your days will be prolonged. 3 So listen Israel, and be obedient, so that things will go well for you, and so that your numbers can increase greatly, as Yehovah, the Elohim of your ancestors has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 Listen, Israel, Yehovah is our Elohim, Yehovah is One! [Enlarged Ayin and Enlarged Dalet] 5 You must love Yehovah your Elohim with all your mind, with all your being, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I’m commanding you today must be kept in mind!
But neither the Deuteronomy 6 conditions, nor the Jeremiah 30-31 conditions prevail today. Here are the conditions that have been the norm since the Diaspora (scattering of Israel):
Hebrews 11:38-40 The world was not worthy of them, yet they wandered in deserts and mountains, or hid in caves and fissures in the earth. 39 None of these honorable witnesses received the promised blessings, 40 since YHVH had determined that it is better that they not be made perfect and complete beings without [ahead of] us.
The New Covenant is no more here and now than people are “saved” here and now!
2 Corinthians 3:6-8 He asked this to test him, because He knew what He was going to do.
7 Philip replied, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for everyone to even have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Cephas’ brother said,
To read an explanation about the prophetic New Covenant, covering every reference in the Bible see: The “New Covenant”—Soon to be Implemented!
Centuries after the envoys had already finalized “the books”, Tertullian and friends “canonized” the Messianic Texts, by simply scrambling the order of the books, and adding the Apocrypha!
People have no clue that the “First Covenant” had to do with Ancient Israel coming out of Egyptian slavery to be married to their Creator, according to a real New Covenant Chapter—Jeremiah 31:32; and that the New Covenant, spelled out in great detail in Jeremiah 31, is The Time After Jacob’s Trouble—prophecies that can only be fulfilled when the modern nations of Israel “Exodus” 21st century slavery from the “North Country”!
You may also want to check out another Terminology Exposé: What is the Old Testament?