PART III: THE NEW AND THE OLD
The Parable of the Unshrunk Patch is found in all threeIntroduction
synoptic Gospels: Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21; and Luke 5:36."No one sews a patch of unshrunkThe Story
cloth on an old garment, for the patch
will pull away from the garment, making
the tear worse. (Matthew 9:16, New
"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
"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 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 alsoCentral Truth
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.
THE NEW COVENANT HAS REPLACED THE OLD COVENANT.
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.