on Matthew 26 :28
For this is my blood of the New Testament - This is the reading both here and in St. Mark; but St. Luke and St. Paul say, This cup is the New Testament in my blood. This passage has been strangely mistaken: by New Testament, many understand nothing more than the book commonly known by this name, containing the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, apostolical Epistles, and book of the Revelation; and they think that the cup of the New Testament means no more than merely that cup which the book called the New Testament enjoins in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. As this is the case, it is highly necessary that this term should be explained. The original, Η Καινη Διαθηκη, which we translate, The New Testament, and which is the general title of all the contents of the book already described, simply means, the new Covenant. Covenant, from con, together, and venio, I come, signifies an agreement, contract, or compact, between two parties, by which both are mutually bound to do certain things, on certain conditions and penalties. It answers to the Hebrew ברית berith, which often signifies, not only the covenant or agreement, but also the sacrifice which was slain on the occasion, by the blood of which the covenant was ratified; and the contracting parties professed to subject themselves to such a death as that of the victim, in case of violating their engagements. An oath of this kind, on slaying the covenant sacrifice, was usual in ancient times: so in Homer, when a covenant was made between the Greeks and the Trojans, and the throats of lambs were cut, and their blood poured out, the following form of adjuration was used by the contracting parties: -
Ζευ κυδιϚε, μεγιϚε, και αθανατοι θεοι αλλοι,
Οπποτεροι προτεροι υπερ ορκια πημηνειαν,
Ωδε σφ' εγκεφαλος χαμαδις ρεοι, ως οδε οινος,
Αυτων, και τεκεων· αλοχοι δ' αλλοισι μιγειεν.
All glorious Jove, and ye, the powers of heaven!
Whoso shall violate this contract first,
So be their blood, their children's and their own,
Poured out, as this libation, on the ground
And let their wives bring forth to other men!
Iliad l. iii. v. 298-301
Our blessed Savior is evidently called the Διαθηκη, ברית berith, or covenant sacrifice, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Zechariah 9:11. And to those Scriptures he appears to allude, as in them the Lord promises to give him for a covenant (sacrifice) to the Gentiles, and to send forth, by the blood of this covenant (victim) the prisoners out of the pit. The passages in the sacred writings which allude to this grand sacrificial and atoning act are almost innumerable. See the Preface to Matthew.
In this place, our Lord terms his blood the blood of the New covenant; by which he means that grand plan of agreement, or reconciliation, which God was now establishing between himself and mankind, by the passion and death of his Son, through whom alone men could draw nigh to God; and this New covenant is mentioned in contradistinction from the Old covenant, η παλαια Διαθηκη, 2 Corinthians 3:14, by which appellative all the books of the Old Testament were distinguished, because they pointed out the way of reconciliation to God by the blood of the various victims slain under the law; but now, as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, was about to be offered up, a New and Living way was thereby constituted, so that no one henceforth could come unto the Father but by Him. Hence all the books of the New Testament, which bear unanimous testimony to the doctrine of salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus, are termed, Η Καινη Διαθηκη, The New covenant. See the Preface.
Dr. Lightfoot's Observations on this are worthy of serious notice.
on Matthew 26 :28
For this is my blood - This "represents" my blood, as the bread does my body.
Luke and Paul vary the expression, adding what Matthew and Mark have omitted. "This cup is the new testament in my blood." By this cup he meant the wine in the cup, and not the cup itself. Pointing to it, probably, he said, "This - 'wine' - represents my blood about to be, shed." The phrase "new testament" should have been rendered "new covenant," referring to the "covenant or compact" that God was about to make with people through a Redeemer. The "old" covenant was that which was made with the Jews by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. See Exodus 24:8; "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you," etc. In allusion to that, Jesus says, this cup is the new "covenant" in my blood; that is, which is "ratified, sealed, or sanctioned by my blood." In ancient times, covenants or contracts were ratified by slaying an animal; by the shedding of its blood, imprecating similar vengeance if either party failed in the compact. See the notes at Hebrews 9:16. So Jesus says the covenant which God is about to form with people the new covenant, or the gospel economy is sealed or ratified with my blood.
Which is shed for many for the remission of sins - In order that sins may be remitted, or forgiven. That is, this is the appointed way by which God will pardon transgressions. That blood is efficacious for the pardon of sin:
1. Because it is "the life" of Jesus, the "blood" being used by the sacred writers as representing "life itself," or as containing the elements of life, Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14. It was forbidden, therefore, to eat blood, because it contained the life, or was the life, of the animal. When, therefore, Jesus says that his blood was shed for many, it is the same as saying that His life was given for many. See the notes at Romans 3:25.
2. His life was given for sinners, or he died in the place of sinners as their substitute. By his death on the cross, the death or punishment due to them in hell may be removed and their souls be saved. He endured so much suffering, bore so much agony, that God was pleased to accept it in the place of the eternal torments of all the redeemed. The interests of justice, the honor and stability of his government, would be as secure in saving them in this manner as if the suffering were inflicted on them personally in hell. God, by giving his Son to die for sinners, has shown his infinite abhorrence of sin; since, according to his view, and therefore according to truth, nothing else would show its evil nature but the awful sufferings of his own Son. That he died "in the stead or place" of sinners is abundantly clear from the following passages of Scripture: John 1:29; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 7:27; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Isaiah 53:10; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
on Matthew 26 :28
26:28 This is the sign of my blood, whereby the new testament or covenant is confirmed. Which is shed for many - As many as spring from Adam.