In the New Testament, the concept of covenant is often subsumed under other metaphors that describe the relationship between the Lord and his people. The most important of these is the “kingdom of God,” which was the primary theme of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. The new Israel is also called God’s temple (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16–17), Christ’s body (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–27; Eph. 2:16; 4:15–16), and the city of God (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21–22). The numerous references to God as Father, to believers as brothers, and to the church as a household portray the church in terms of a family. There are, however, many references to the covenant itself. The brief covenant formulary of the Old Testament—I will be their God and they shall be my people—is applied to the church by several New Testament writers (Heb. 11:16; 1 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 21:3).
Although the Lord had granted the covenant to the patriarchs of Israel, the covenant at Mount Sinai was a new departure in the people’s relationship to God. The covenant established the structure of the worship of Israel as a distinct people and formed the basis for the prophetic word and the ongoing religious life of the community.