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The Unshrunk Patch


            CHAPTER 16

      The Parable of the Unshrunk Patch is found in all  three
         synoptic Gospels: Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21; and Luke 5:36.
The Story
                         "No one sews  a  patch  of  unshrunk
                   cloth  on  an  old garment, for the patch
                   will pull away from the  garment,  making
                   the  tear  worse.    (Matthew  9:16,  New
                   International Version).

                        "No one sews  a  patch  of  unshrunk
                   cloth on an old garment.  If he does, the
                   new piece will pull away  from  the  old,
                   making  the  tear worse." (Mark 2:21, New
                   International Version).

                       "He  told them this parable: "No  one
                   tears a patch from a new garment and sews
                   it on an old one.  If he  does,  he  will
                   have torn  the new garment, and the patch
                   from the new will  not  match  the  old."
                   (Luke 5:36, New International Version).

              The Unshrunk Patch, New Wine in Old Skins  and  The  Old
         and  New  Wine  are  three parabolic illustrations that Jesus
         gave in answer to  the  question,  "How  is  it  that  John's
         disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but
         yours are not?"  (Mark 2:18c, New International Version).

                       Jesus  answered, "How can the  guests
                   of  the  bridegroom fast while he is with
                   them?  They cannot, so long as they  have
                   him  with  them.  But  the time will come
                   when the bridegroom will  be  taken  away
                   from  them,  and  on  that  day they will
                   fast.  (Mark 2:19-20,  New  International

              Jesus  then  presented the parabolic illustration of the
         Unshrunk Patch.  If an old garment were torn, and an unshrunk
         piece of cloth were to be sewn over the tear, it would shrink
         when the garment was  washed, making a worse tear in the  old

              Luke's account (Luke 5:36) differs slightly and could be
         classified  as  another parable.  However, since it occurs in
         the same context, we will use the difference to  amplify  the
         parable.  It could be that Jesus told the parable differently
         to another audience.


                               The Interpretation

          The  old  garment  represents  Judaism.  The new garment
         represents Christianity.  The new patch  represents  Christ's
         teaching.   Jesus did not come to do away with the Law.
         He came  to fulfill the Law and to "fill it full."  Jesus said,

                        "Do  not think  that  I have come to
                   abolish the Law or the Prophets;  I  have
                   not  come  to abolish them but to fulfill
                   them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven
                   and  earth  disappear,  not  the smallest
                   letter, not the least stroke  of  a  pen,
                   will  by any means disappear from the Law
                   until   everything    is    accomplished.
                   (Matthew   5:17-18,   New   International

           Jesus  fulfilled  over 300 Old Testament prophecies.  He also
         taught the original intent of the Law.  In fact, much of  the
         Old  Testament has been fulfilled, and is fittingly described
         as the "old garment."

              Much of the Old Covenant is a type of the New  Covenant.
         For  example, the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant is a
         type of Jesus' one sacrifice for the sins of the world.

              The  Old Covenant  cannot  be  "patched"  with  the  new
         teachings of Christ.  It has been transcended  with  the  New
         Covenant.  However,  as  Jesus  has stated, The Old Testament
         still remains God's Word.

              The  Old Covenant and New Covenant cannot be mixed--they
         are incompatible.  However, the Old Covenant is  still  valid
         as  far  as  it  goes,  and  in  areas  that  have  not  been

              Luke adds that the  removal  of  any  part  of  the  New
         Covenant  will  damage  it.    This could refer especially to
         salvation by works (autosoterism).  Jesus died on  the  cross
         for  our salvation and for the salvation of the Old Testament
         saints.  No one can save himself or keep himself saved.

                              Central Truth



       Let us respect  both  the  Old  Testament  and  the  New
         Testament.  However,  we  must  carefully  interpret  the Old
         Testament in the light of New Testament  teachings.    Jesus,
         who  inspired  both the Old and New Testaments, is the key to
         interpreting both.  END.