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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

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New Order

Expression found in Hebrews 9:10 that refers to the greatness of salvation provided in Jesus Christ. This meaning is clearly furnished by the context, though "new order" is a loose (NIV) translation of the Greek expression kairou diorthoseos [καιρόςδιόρθωσις] (lit. a time of setting straight).

The key to understanding the expression is to see what is meant by the "old order." Hebrews 8 announces the new covenant that made the old obsolete. Chapter 9 pursues this in regard to worship. The old order required an earthly tabernacle and priests to offer animal sacrifices. Christ, however, entered a heavenly tabernacle (vv. 11, 23-28) and offered the sacrifice of his own blood. His atonement is able to "cleanse our consciences from Acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God" (v. 14). The old sacrificial system was defective precisely because it was not "able to clear the conscience of the worshiper" (v. 9). Therefore, access to God, symbolized by the tabernacle's Holy of Holies, is not a matter of priestly privilege but of a purified heart (v. 8 10:15-23).

Hebrews compares Christ to four key elements of the "old order": the law (1:1-2:4), Moses' leadership (3:1-4:11), the Aaronic priesthood (4:12-8:5), and the sacrificial system (8:6-10:25). In each case Christ's superiority turns the comparison into a contrast. The "new order" is unique.

There is, then, a dialectical relationship between the "old order" and the "new order." On the one hand, the old was a necessary preparation for the new. Hebrews 9:10 acknowledges that the sacrificial regulations had a function until Christ arrived. On the other hand, the "new order" makes the old one obsolete because it completes what was incomplete, perfects what was inadequate, and makes actual what was only symbolic (10:1).

Thus, the warnings of Hebrews (2:1-4; 3:7-19; 6:1-12; 10:26-31; 12:25-29) indicate the folly of turning from the security of the "new order" to the inadequacies of the provisional order. Only in Christ is the substance of salvation to be found: the reality of sins forgiven, the confidence of spiritual access to God, and the firm hope of participating in the eternal kingdom (10:12-25; 12:26-29).

Luke L. Keefer, Jr.

Bibliography. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews.


Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell Copyright 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'New Order'". "Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology".
<>. 1897.


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