Questions From Readers
● Why does the November 15, 1979, issue of The Watchtower (pages 26, 27) speak of the “new covenant” being near the end of its operation, when Hebrews 13:20 speaks of this covenant as being “an everlasting covenant”?
The Watchtower stated: “Evidently the new covenant is nearing the end of its operation for the purpose of producing 144,000 spiritual Israelites who meet God’s approval for being associated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom, the ideal government for mankind. When the last of these approved spiritual Israelites cease to be ‘men’ because of earthly death and a resurrection to a share in the heavenly kingdom, then the mediatorship of Jesus Christ will cease also.“
Note that The Watchtower did not say that the benefits of this new covenant would cease. Those who live on earth will benefit in an everlasting way from the fact that this new covenant fulfilled its purpose in producing 144,000 spiritual sons of God who will reign as joint heirs with Christ in the heavens. To illustrate: A man may contract with another to build him a house. The house is built according to specifications, payment is made and the contract is fulfilled, but the benefits of the contract continue into the indefinite future by reason of the use of the house.
At Hebrews 13:20 the apostle Paul speaks of Jehovah resurrecting “the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant [Greek, di·a·theʹke ai·oʹni·os], our Lord Jesus.” The Emphatic Diaglott translates this as “the Blood of an aionian Covenant” (interlinear: “age-lasting”). This same Greek expression was used by the translators of the Septuagint Version in translating the Hebrew words berithʹ ʽoh·lamʹ at Exodus 31:16, with reference to the Sabbath law (part of the Law covenant) that came to an end, although many translations speak of this also as an “everlasting covenant.” (Ex. 31:17, LXX; Col. 2:13-16) Similarly, the covenant with Aaron and his sons for an “everlasting [Hebrew, ʽoh·lamʹ; Greek, ai·o·niʹa] priesthood” (American Standard Version) was only “to time indefinite” (New World Translation).—Ex. 40:15; Num. 25:13; Heb. 7:11, 12.
The Hebrew word oh·lamʹ and the Greek equivalent ai·oʹni·os can mean forever in the sense that something never comes to an end or they can mean something that lasts into the indefinite future. The Mosaic Law covenant and the covenant for the Levitical priesthood came to an end after unspecified times of existence, having served their purpose, yet with lasting benefits. Likewise, the new covenant will come to its end when all the anointed ones are resurrected to heavenly immortal life.
Similarly, Jehovah stated that his promise to Abraham concerning the ‘seed of blessing’ would be “a covenant to time indefinite” [Hebrew, ʽoh·lamʹ; Greek Septuagint, aiʹoʹni·on]; “an everlasting covenant” (American Standard Version). (Gen. 17:7; 22:18) With the Mosaic Law covenant being terminated by Jehovah when he nailed it to the torture stake, the new covenant took its place as a complement to the Abrahamic covenant. In lasting “to time indefinite,” the covenant with Abraham is fulfilled when the last of those making up the secondary ‘seed of Abraham’ receive their reward in heaven and this “seed”—Christ and his 144,000 co-rulers—completes its millennial assignment of providing life-giving benefits and perfect government for mankind.—Gal. 3:16, 19, 29; Rev. 14:1; 20:6; 1 Cor. 15:24, 28.