Jeremiah’s role in the New Testament

The prophet Jeremiah. Woodcut from the Nurembe...The great prophet is quoted directly by gospel writers and also referred to indirectly. LeClerc offers as examples of indirect influence:

  • Jesus’ cursing the fig trees that bore no figs (Matthew 21:19, Luke 13:6, Jeremiah 8:13).
  • Saint Paul’s likening God to a potter (Romans 9:20-21, Jeremiah 18:6)

Also, Jeremiah’s sufferings as a persecuted prophet set the stage for the suffering of Jesus and the persecutions of the apostles recounted in Acts. However, the apostles suffered gladly, while Jeremiah poured out his sorrow and distress in great lamentations. (Introduction to the Prophets, 270)

Direct references include:

  • Matthew, in recounting the slaughter of the innocents, quoting from Jeremiah how Rachel wept over the loss of her children. (Matthew 2:18, Jeremiah 31:15)
  • Jesus quoting Jeremiah 7:11 as he drives out the money changers of the temple. (Mark 11:17, Matthew 21:13, Luke 19:46)

The most significant influence is Jeremiah’s prophecy of a new covenant. It figures prominently in two accounts of the Last Supper (Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor 11:25). Jesus takes the cup with the wine and says, “This cup … is the new covenant in my blood.”

But this is not the same new covenant. As LeClerc explains, there are two significant differences: Jeremiah is speaking of a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel. For Christians, the new covenant includes Gentiles as well as Jews. And it is sealed not with the blood of animals, but with the blood of Christ.

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