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A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties. It is a promise made by God dependent upon faith or obedience on the part of men. Theologians can write books on the definition of "covenant".

Comission to Adam
God said to Adam and Eve "Be fruitful, have many children and rule over the earth." [Genesis 1:28-30]
Man was put in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (NIV). The terms were do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Sometimes called the "The Covenant of Works". [Genesis 2:15-17]

Implied in the curse upon the serpent [Genesis 3:14-19] is the promise that Satan's attempt to get man to join him in rebellion against God will ultimately fail.

These are somtimes refered to as two covenants: Covenant of Eden and Covenant of Adam.

The Noahic Covenant
A divine promise to Noah: Never again will the whole earth be destroyed by flood. There will always be seed time, harvest, day and night. Man was to have an increase of dominion over animals (this time dominion would be because of fear.) Animals would be allowed for food. The mark of the covenant would be God's bow in the sky.
Noah's part (and his seed after him) was: Do not ingest blood, (the life of the flesh is in the blood) do not commit murder (this includes suicide, for man is made in the image of God). Have faith in the coming redeemer. (Some say this convenant was unconditional , i.e. Noah had no obligation). (Genesis 9:11)
The Abrahamic Covenant
As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of multitudes. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you." Genesis 17:1-6. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant.
Condition: Total consecration to the Lord. (Genesis 15:5, 9-21)

Some also include covenants with Moses and David under Abrahams Covenant.

The Mosaic Covenant
On reaching Mt. Sinai in the wilderness peninsula, God made a covenant with them establishing THEM as HIS nation. "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." God promised His people salvation through the faithful keeping of the Law.
[Deuteronomy 7:6]
Sinaltic Covenant (also refered to as the Mosaic in some places)
A conditional divine pledge to be Israel's God (as her Protector and the Guarantor of her blessed destiny); the condition: Israel's total consecration to the Lord as his people who live b his rule and serve his purposes in history. [Exodus 20-23]
Phinehas Covenant (not included in most covenant lists)
An unconditional divine promise to maintain the family of Phinehas in a "lasting priesthood" [Numbers 25:10-31]
Palestinian Covenant (not included in most covenant lists)
God speaks to them at the end of the book of Deuteronomy, and gives them another unconditional Covenant that amplifies the land features of the Abrahamic Covenant. It gives the conditions under which Israel enter the land of promise. It is in 7 parts 1. Dispersion, 2. Future repentance, 3. Return of the Lord, 4. Restoration of Land 5. Converted as a Nation 6. Judgment of oppressors 7. National prosperity. [Deuteronomy 30:1-10]
The Davidic Covenant
Through Nathan, God instructed David to build him a house for him to dwell in. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever befor thee: thy throne shall be established for ever

Like the Mosaic covenant before it, the Davidic covenant is simply expanding and making more specific the promise that was originally given to Abraham - which means also that the mandate of the Noahic covenant would be fulfilled through the Davidic Son. Through Noah, God promised life, through Abraham, God established a people and a homeland, through Moses, He promised salvation and then with David God promised the coming Messiah. "Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever." (2 Chronicles 21:7)

New Testament Covenant

Some theologians say there is only one covenant, the covenant of redemption and that within this covenant are all the other covenants. Others say that there are two covenants: the Eternal Covenant and the Covenant of Grace. Others say there are still more.
  The Covenant of Redemption
- Christ undertook to atone of the sins of His people. And by taking the place of sinners He became the last Adam and is the Head of the covenant.

Jesus' final sacrifice offers us freedom from the law "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:" (Galatians 3:13a) (Luke 1:72, Hebrews 9:15, Luke 22:20)

  Eternal Covenant
Also known as The Covenant of Redemption, may be defined as the agreement between the Father and the Son giving the Son as head and Redeemer of the elect. The Son voluntarily took the place of those whom the Father had given Him: "The position of Christ in the covenant of redemption is twofold: First, He is "guarantee" . This word appears only in Heb. 7:22 and means one who becomes responsible for the legal obligations of another; namely, fulfilling the legal requirements of the Law of God.
  The Covenant of Grace
That arrangement whereby God planned to save man from the just consequences of his sin; namely, immorality, misery, death, and damnation. God then demanded that man meet one and only one requirement before he could receive these promised blessings; namely, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only upon the basis of Christ's sacrifice and obedience could man inherit the blessings of the Covenant of Grace. Christ became "the mediator of the new covenant" (Hebrews 9:15).
See: The Covenant of Grace: A Key to Understanding the Bible at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).

The New Covenant is prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31 and this prophecy is repeated in Hebrews 8:8.


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last updated 19 Dec 2003