Confused by intro of Christ of the Covenants

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by John Yap, Jan 4, 2017.

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  1. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    It is my belief that Christ instituted the New Covenant by declaring that in his testament (last will) His blood be shed for all and he takes the death and shedding of blood on our behalf.

    Robertson says the last supper was entirely covenantal and not testamental?

    Confused by the language. Perhaps on another note his belief that Heb 9:15 relates to covenant and not testament causes confusion?
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    Are they not referencing the same thing?
  3. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I think this is right. Obscuring the testamentary nature of the new covenant has created much confusion. Instead of a new covenant teachers began to speak of a renewed covenant, and this in itself led to some extreme notions because it meant circumstantials under the old testament could be pressed as continuing under the new testament unless specifically abrogated.
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Testamentary-speak is the older emphasis in relation to the diatheke (Gk) word group. OPR seems to subscribe to a more modern view, which takes all (or nearly all) NT uses of the word, and maps them to the Heb. concept-word berit, thus rendering "covenant."

    The LXX made original use of diatheke (a word with a general sense of unilateral disposition, as opposed to syntheke; and which had or did come to be used in a "will-and-testament" sense by Gk speakers). So when the NT was written, the term had a couple hundred years use in Jewish-religious terms; and it was used colloquially in a more "secular" sense.

    So, it becomes a matter of interpretation how that word should be understood in any given context. As early as the ASV1901, Bible translators were rendering more instances of diatheke in the NT as "covenant," nearly eclipsing the older term "testament." In the last 100yrs, one sees some pull back on that tendency, at least in some popular translations. But "covenant" now predominates.

    There are significant theological insights susceptible to loss, if the testamentary idea is ignored. A robust definition of "covenant" inclusive of a inheritance-principle can serve to guard against that loss; but it must be made explicit (and I'm not sure think OPR is thinking down that avenue).

    OT covenant according to its nature (see Gen.15) is enacted in view of or over dead things, which represent the death of the participants, if they break covenant. Supposing a covenant lasted until natural death of one party: this death (like any other) technically ends the covenant--just like a marriage-covenant ends with the death of a spouse.

    But, Heb.9:17 seems to invoke a contrary principle, that the diatheke in view has "no power" while the "testator" lives. This would be perfectly in accord with standard usage in common currency (non-religious) relating to will-and-testament. That passage can be interpreted differently than it traditionally has been. But, in any case the death of the testator/covenanter must be (v16) reckoned with, and the implications of that death for inheritance.

    Is it possible for an ancient covenant or its blessings to be "kept in effect," or inherited by ones who would like to prosper under the provisions made possible by the original party, now dead? It is argued by some that this is indeed envisioned within the Hebrew concept, depending on the covenant stipulations. In which case, a testamentary notion may be retained, being embedded in the covenant to begin with. But in that case I think it must be explicitly acknowledged.

    I'll just add that Rev.Winzer by his observations--not just above, but also in the past--has influenced me back toward testamentary notions (and a more critical, but not hostile, evaluation of OPR) because of the importance of the concept to historic covenant theology . We should note that OPR shies away from eternal Covenant of Redemption language (a key piece of the historic CT position).
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    An important note about "most" current books on Covenant Theology. Professors and teachers in schools are often required to write articles, books and such as part of their "professorship." Generally, a professor needs to "make a mark for the school" or for his "career" in some way when writing something "new." Current books that deal with covenant theology almost always depart from a confessional stance because they need to write something that hasn't been written before. OPR definite does this in his work in order to substantiate, "a bond in blood sovereignly administered." (which is itself a departure from Westminster's definition, as well as Witsius, Strong, Blake and Rutherford.)

    In my opinion, I would start with reading standard authors, (i.e. historically proven authors, or those that specifically follow the WCF), and then that way when you get to OPR and others, you can easily see where they deviate.
  6. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry, this will not be based on what someone else wrote about covenants but on using the Bible and references materials or the meanings of words.

    In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for covenant only has one possible definition - covenant. When the New Testament quotes on Old Testament passage such as quoting the "new covenant" in Jer. 31:31, the Greek word used has two possible meanings: covenant, or testament. The idea that testament was meant was introduced in the Latin Vulgate of 400 AD in both the Old Testament and New Testament. And translations of the New Testament ever since keep using testament.

    Covenant-sacrifice: Some covenants are put into effect, or ratified, by a covenant sacrifice. You can tell in the Old Testament which covenants are ratified by a covenant sacrifice by looking at the underlying Hebrew word for "make" (in make a covenant) to see if it means "cut". The Abrahamic covenant is a cut covenant. The Mosaic covenant is a cut covenant. The new covenant is a cut covenant.

    Hebrews 9 is a special case. Take a look at an interlinear Bible to see how many extra words translators have to use to make the idea of testament and testator work. On the other hand here is how this passage is put in "Young's Literal Translation":

    Hebrews 9:15-22 And because of this, of a new covenant he is mediator, that, death having come, for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those called may receive the promise of the age-during inheritance, for where a covenant [is], the death of the covenant-victim to come in is necessary, for a covenant over dead victims [is] stedfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth, whence not even the first apart from blood hath been initiated, for every command having been spoken, according to law, by Moses, to all the people, having taken the blood of the calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, he both the book itself and all the people did sprinkle, saying, `This [is] the blood of the covenant that God enjoined unto you,' and both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the service with blood in like manner he did sprinkle, and with blood almost all things are purified according to the law, and apart from blood-shedding forgiveness doth not come.​

    But the most important thing about a covenant is to look at who made it, who did the originator make it with, what promises are made, and are their any conditions on those promise. New covenant promises can be found in Jer. 31:31-34 and Eze. 36:22-32.

    I have several reference materials which follow this convention. But I have only found two pastors who do.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    διαθέμενος (vv16 &17) is naturally translated "covenanter" or "testator," not "covenant-victim," as in YLT, above. Which is only to point out the obvious: that a "literal" translation is not necessarily free of translation "gloss" in order to privilege a certain reading. The second use of the word "victim" (v17) renders "dead" (nominal use of the adjective) along with the insertion of a (helpful!) noun. More bias?

    Perhaps the covenanter's death which in view is "symbolic," or maybe not. But this "literal" translation has pre-chosen the meaning for the reader. Simply put, it is a challenging passage, and the idea that all that ever should have been necessary was to "let the Greek speak for itself" mocks the translational and exegetical labors of many ages.
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure what good an interlinear will serve in the place of a proper understanding of the Greek text. The only additional ideas in the AV are relative pronouns and the verb to be (which are implicit in the Greek and regularly added in English to fill out the sense), together with the addition of the word "testament" to fill out the meaning of "first." Young's Literal Translation simply makes up words. "Covenant-victim," I think I recall correctly, is part of Westcott's strange theory that the blood is the life rather than the manifest death of the victim. At any rate, it has no basis in the Greek, which could only refer to one making the covenant if indeed "covenant" were the intended meaning.

    Interpreters of the "sacrificial covenant" motif tend to regard the covenant as being ratified by the sacrificial death of a victim, but this is only symbolic because an animal takes the covenanter's place, and it is only in the event of breaking the covenant that the death of the covenanter would become necessary. This misses the point of application to Christ as the one who is said to ratify the covenant by His own actual death. For these reasons I consider the "sacrificial covenant" theory to fail to properly attain to the argument of this section of the exhortation.
  9. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I do not understand the word "naturally" here.

    EDIT: Remove forward reference to extra posts.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  10. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

    Verse 15.

    Of the new testament. Not testament--for a testament, or will, needs no mediator; but of the new covenant, or the new arrangement or disposition of things under which he proposes to pardon and save the guilty. See Barnes "Hebrews 9:16,17". [1]

    Verse 16.

    The death of the testator. [2]

    (3.) The word ~diatiyhmi~ diatithemi--properly means, to place apart, to set in order, to arrange. It is rendered appoint in Luke 22:29; made and make, with reference to a covenant, Acts 3:25; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. The idea of placing, laying, disposing, arranging, etc, enters into the word--as to place wares or merchandize for sale, to arrange a contract, etc. See Passow. The fair meaning of the word here may be, whatever goes to arrange, dispose, or settle the covenant, or to make the covenant secure and firm. If the reference be to a compact, it cannot relate to one of the contracting parties, because the death of neither is necessary to confirm it. But it may refer to that which was well known as an established opinion, that a covenant with God was ratified only by a sacrifice. Still, it must be admitted that this use of the word is not elsewhere found, and the only material question is, whether it is to be presumed that the apostle would employ a word in a single instance, in a peculiar signification, where the connexion would not render it difficult to be understood. This must be admitted, that he might, whichever view is taken of the meaning of this passage; for, on the supposition that he refers here to a will, it is conceded that he uses the word in a sense which does not once occur elsewhere either in the Old Testament or the New. It seems to me, therefore, that the word here may, without impropriety, be regarded as referring to the victim that was slain in order to ratify a covenant with God; and that the meaning is, that such a covenant was not regarded as confirmed until the victim was slain. It may be added that the authority of Michaelis, Macknight, Doddridge, Bloomfield, and Dr. J.P. Wilson, is a proof that such an interpretation cannot be a very serious departure from the proper use of a Greek word. [3]​

    1. Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.
      Google Books. August 1, 2011.
    2. Barnes.

    3. Barnes.
  11. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    "Commentary on Matthew 26". The Adam Clarke Commentary

    • Verse 27

      The following literal translation and paraphrase do not exceed its meaning:-

      For THIS is THAT blood of mine which was pointed out by all the sacrifices under the Jewish law, and particularly by the shedding and sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb. THAT blood of the sacrifice slain for the ratification of the new covenant. THE blood ready to be poured out for the multitudes, the whole Gentile world as well as the Jews, for the taking away of sins; sin, whether original or actual, in all its power and guilt, in all its internal energy and pollution. [1]

      Verse 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. [2]

      Our blessed Saviour is evidently called the Διαθηκη¸ ברית, berith, or covenant sacrifice, Isaiah 42:6; 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. [3]
    "Commentary on Hebrews 9". The Adam Clarke Commentary

    • Verse 15

      He is the Mediator of the new testament

      There was no proper reason why our translators should render διαθηκη by testament here, when in almost every other case they render it covenant, which is its proper ecclesiastical meaning, as answering to the Hebrew ברית berith, which see largely explained, Genesis 15:10, and in other places of the Pentateuch.

      Very few persons are satisfied with the translation of the following verses to the 20th, particularly the 16th and 17th; at all events the word covenant must be retained. He-Jesus Christ, is Mediator; the μεσιτης, or mediator, was the person who witnessed the contract made between the two contracting parties, slew the victim, and sprinkled each with its blood.

      Of the new testament

      The new contract betwixt God and the whole human race, by Christ Jesus the Mediator, distinguished here from the old covenant between God and the Israelites, in which Moses was the mediator. [4]

      Verse 16. For where a testament is

      A learned and judicious friend furnishes me with the following translation of this and the 17th verse:-
      "For where there is a covenant, it is necessary that the death of the appointed victim should be exhibited, because a covenant is confirmed over dead victims, since it is not at all valid while the appointed victim is alive."

      He observes, "There is no word signifying testator, or men, in the original. Διαθεμενος‚ is not a substantive, but a participle, or a participial adjective, derived from the same root as διατηκη, and must have a substantive understood. I therefore render it the disposed or appointed victim, alluding to the manner of disposing or setting apart the pieces of the victim, when they were going to ratify a covenant; and you know well the old custom of ratifying a covenant, to which the apostle alludes. I refer to your own notes on Genesis 6:18, and ; 15:10.-J. C."

      Mr. Wakefield has translated the passage nearly in the same way.

      "For where a covenant is, there must be necessarily introduced the death of that which establisheth the covenant; because a covenant is confirmed over dead things, and is of no force at all whilst that which establisheth the covenant is alive." This is undoubtedly the meaning of this passage; and we should endeavour to forget that testament and testator were ever introduced, as they totally change the apostle's meaning. See the observations at the end of this chapter.

      Verse 18. Whereupon

      Wherefore, as a victim was required for the ratification of every covenant, the first covenant made between God and the Hebrews, by the mediation of Moses, was not dedicated, εγκεκαινισται, renewed or solemnized, without blood- without the death of a victim, and the aspersion of its blood. [5]

    1. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 26". The Adam Clarke Commentary. 1832.
      StudyLight.Org. August 5, 2011.
    2. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 26".

    3. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 26".

    4. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". The Adam Clarke Commentary. 1832.
      StudyLight.Org. August 5, 2011.

    5. Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 9".
  12. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    "COVENANT, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT", The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


      Diatheke, was the word chosen by the Septuagint translators to render the Hebrew berith, and it appears thus nearly 300 times in the Greek Old Testament in the sense of covenant, while suntheke and entolai are each used once only. The choice of this word seems to have been occasioned by a recognition that the covenant which God makes with men is not fully mutual as would be implied in suntheke, the Greek word commonly used for covenant (although not a New Testament word), while at the same time the rarity of wills among the Jews made the common sense of diatheke relatively unfamiliar. The Apocryphal writers also frequently use the same word in the same sense and no other.

      In the New Testament diatheke is used some thirty times in a way which makes it plain that its translation must be "covenant." In Galatians 3:15 and Hebrews 9:15-17 it is held by many that the sense of covenant must be set aside in favor of will or testament. But in the former passage it can be taken in the sense of a disposition of affairs or arrangement made by God, a conception in substantial harmony with its regular New Testament use and with the sense of berith. In the passage in Hebrews the interpretation is more difficult, but as it is acknowledged on all hands that the passage loses all argumentative force if the meaning testament is accepted, it seems best to retain the meaning covenant if possible. To do this it is only necessary to hold that the death spoken of is the death of the animal sometimes, if not, indeed, commonly slain in connection with the making of a covenant, and that in the mind of the author this death symbolized the death of the contracting parties so far at least as to pledge them that thereafter in the matter involved they would no more change their minds than can the dead. If this view is taken, this passage falls in line with the otherwise invariable use of the word diatheke by Jewish Hellenists. [2]

    Estes, David Foster. "COVENANT, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT", The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
    StudyLight.Org. August 2, 2011.
  13. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    "On διαθήκη in Heb. ix. 16, 17". Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis [1]

    • (1) The invariable and extremely frequent use of the word διαθήκη in the Old Testament is covenant. In the New Testament, also, this is admittedly its usual sense, and, unless this passage forms an exception, may well be considered its uniform meaning. (2) The notion of a testamentary disposition of property was unfamiliar to the Hebrews, to whom this Epistle was addressed, and is very unlikely to have here been suddenly introduced in the most important part of an argument to the Hebrews. (3) The argument from the immediate context is very strong. In the preceding verse, covenant is admittedly the more natural sense, and in the following verses διαθήκη refers to the solemn covenant described in Ex. xxiv. (4) The death of a victim has been immediately assocated with the idea of a covenant in ver. 15, and is again in vers. 18-20; and in the latter its blood seems to be considered necessary to the force of the covenant. It was natural, therefore, that it should be also in view in the intervening verses. (5) The whole passage is closely connected with the record of a covenant between God and man, solemnly ratified by the blood of victims, as recorded in Ex. xxiv. 5-8. (6) The mention of Christ as both the maker and the ratifying victim of the covenant is quite in accordance with the context, the plural in reference to the victim being used as in ver. 23. (7) The whole thought of the Epistle regards the new dispensation, the especial subject of these verses, as a covenant in fulfilment of the prophecy in Jer. xxxi. 31-34, where it is described under this term. And, (8) still further, the entire Scriptural view of both the old and the new dispensations, which it is the object of this Epistle to compare, is that they were covenants between God and man.

      In view of all these reasons, and particularly in view of the combined force of them taken together, it seems to me that the true rendering of διαθήκη here, as everywhere else in Scripture, must be "covenant". That there are some difficulties in this interpretation is not denied; but they are not greater than are often encountered in the interpretation of difficult passages, and are wholly overborne by the weight of the argument in its favor.

    Gardiner, Frederic. "On διαθήκη in Heb. ix. 16, 17". Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis Vol. 5, No. 1/2 (Jun. - Dec., 1885), pp. 8-19.
    JSTOR. July 26, 2011.
  14. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Theology of the Hebrew Christians
    Regarding Hebrews 9:16,17:

    • The English version has involved this passage in hopeless obscurity by introducing the idea of a testament and a testator. It occurs in the middle of a continuous argument in which the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah is compared with the old Mosaic covenant; and the same word διαθήκη recurs ten times during its course. The arbitrary variation of rendering in this particular passage completely interrupts the chain of reasoning: it fails also to explain satisfactorily the allusions to death which the passage contains: for the Greek word διαθήκη could not convey to the ear of an Israelite the same reference to death as the word testament does to an English reader, being invariably used in Scripture to mean a covenant. The idea of a testament moreover made valid by the death of a testator is entirely foreign to the subject, and can hardly be reconciled with the previous or subsequent context. The two verses may be literally translated as follows: "For where a covenant is made, it is a necessity that death be offered of him that maketh the covenant: for a covenant is valid only if men be dead; for is he that maketh it strong at the time (tote) when he liveth?" The point here insisted on is the necessity for the surrender of the old life of the flesh as a condition essential to any valid covenant with God, because incapable of fulfilling God's will by reason of its weakness. In the case of the old covenant this death was formal and typical only: but the new covenant demands a real death of the natural man in those who enter into covenant with God, in order that the divine life of the Spirit may be imparted to them. [1]
    "Hebrews 9", The Epistle to the Hebrews

    • 16, 17. For a covenant requires the pledge of life to its fulfilment; therefore it is sealed in blood of victims; the forfeit of the transgressor's life in default of due observance is essential to its solemnity.

      16. διαθήκη] The rendering testament has been so generally adopted in this passage, that it becomes necessary to defend that of covenant at some length. Διαθήκη and διατἰθεσθυι were undoubtedly used in two distinct senses,

      (1) a disposition of property by will, Testament;

      (2) a compact by mutual agreement, or conditional appointment for another, Covenant; and the former is in classical Greek the more ordinary meaning. But the Lxx on the contrary use them persistently in the one sense of covenant. God's successive covenants with Noah and the patriarchs, with Moses and Joshua, with David and the prophets, are all expressed by this word: the covenant of circumcision and of the Law, the ark of the covenant, the tables of the covenant, the book of the covenant, the salt of the covenant, have made the term familiar to every reader of the Old Testament. Nor is its use limited to God's covenants, which may be said to be of the nature of appointments rather than proper covenants; it is regularly employed in speaking of men's covenants: e.g. the covenants of Abimelech with Isaac, of Laban with Jacob, of Joshua with the Gibeonites, of David with Jonathan, with Abner and the elders of Israel, of Ahab with Benhadad, of Joash and Josiah with their people, of Edom with Israel, of a husband and wife, are all so designated. Nowhere has the meaning testament been discovered in the Old Testament, so far as I am aware. In the Greek Testament we meet with διαθήκη repeatedly in reference to the divine covenant. The rendering testament has been unfortunately attached by the Authorised Version and by the Prayerbook to the solemn words of sacramental consecration, 'This cup is the new testament in my blood'; but the occasion on which the words were spoken is conclusive of their proper sense in that passage: they were spoken to Jews, who could attach but one meaning to a διαθήκη ἐν αἵματι, viz. that fastened on it by Exod. xxiv., a covenant sealed in blood: our Lord spoke not of his own testament, but of the Father's covenant in his blood. Once only in the Greek Testament (Gal. iii. 15) is reference made to a human διαθήκη, and there the sense demands the rendering covenant; the unalterable nature of God's covenanted promise is there illustrated by comparison with a man's διαθήκη; which, when once confirmed, is placed beyond the maker's power to alter: this is as false of a testament, as it is true of a covenant. The verb διατἰθεσθαι occurs but once (Luke xxii. 29) apart from διαθήκη; it there means not a testament, but a divine appointment. In this epistle the word occurs ten times within two chapters of continuous argument, and the chain of argument imperatively demands uniformity of rendering. It has been supposed that the allusions to death require the variation here; but it is altogether a mistake that the Greek word διαθήκη, as used in the Old or New Testament, contained any reference to death, as the word testament does in modern English. This section of the Epistle deals largely with the subject of the two διαθῆκαι, but to both these the idea of a testament, a testator, still more the death of the testator, is wholly foreign: both were covenants, both were sealed in blood, but not the blood of him who made them, for he is the eternal Father, the great 'I AM'. [2]

      17. διαθήκη γὰρ ὲπὶ νεκροἳς βεβαία] sc. γίγνεται. Compare the expression ὲγένετο βεβαία in ii. 2. From an enunciation of the binding principle of covenants this verse turns to the form adopted in their ratification. A covenant is ratified upon dead victims; as in the instances just cited has been seen to be the practice both of Jews and heathens. The interpretation of ὲπὶ νεκροἳς as expressive of the validity given to a testament by the death of a testator is altogether at variance with Greek usage; which must have employed ὲπὶ τοἳς ἀποθανοὓσι or some equivalent words rather than ὲπὶ νεκροἳς to denote this. [3]

    1. Rendall, Frederic. Theology of the Hebrew Christians. 1886. pp.159,160.
      Google Books. August 5, 2011.
    2. Rendall, Frederic. The Epistle to the Hebrews. 1883. pp.82-84
      Google Books. August 2, 2011.

    3. Rendall. The Epistle to the Hebrews. pp.84,85
    I have a bunch more but I'll stop there...
  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This susbstantiates the criticism I made in my previous post. If the word is to be applied in the distinct context of a "covenant" it must refer to covenant-making or covenant-disposing. There is no exegetical basis for introducing a metonymy whereby the victim which is symbolically used to ratify the covenant is put in the place of the covenant ratification. "Covenant-victim" is a made-up word. It does not derive from the exegesis of the text, but has sprung up out of the fruitful imagination of expositors who are apt at putting together the pieces of two different puzzles.
  16. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I am willing to remove my posts if you believe them to be Scriptural wrong. Should I?

    EDIT: I have quotes from reference materials (several commentaries, journal articles, dictionaries) which do not agree with your viewpoint, and some which do. But I think I have hijacked this thread so I will go back and remove my extra posts.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not a moderator. Perhaps take it up with one of them.

    As a counter-point to the commentators you have quoted, and to show that it is not as simple as quoting a commentator when the commentators are divided among themselves, consider what the JFB commentary has to say.

    On verse 16,

    On verse 20:

    Alford's "excellent note" is as follows:

  18. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Mod: To avoid confusion I undeleted the posts since they are being referred to.
  19. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I will return specifically to the topic in the original post.

    You are correct to find there is confusion with the language. One camp believes that since the definition of the Greek word can be covenant or testament that both are meant. John Calvin is a prime example of this. See his Commentaries On The Epistle Of Paul The Apostle To The Hebrews. There is another camp which follows the idea that when the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, the Old Testament understanding must first be understood. Some of this can be seen in the references I posted. I thought I was posting too many but I guess not.

    Here is my personal opinion. When Jesus said this cup is My blood of the new covenant, regardless of whether the word testament or covenant is used, I believe it is important to know what are the promises of that new covenant. The new covenant promises are contained in both Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-32.
    • I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts (Jer 31:33)
    • I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:33)
    • they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them (Jer 31:34)
    • I will forgive their iniquity (Jer 31:34)
    • I will remember their sin no more (Jer 31:34)
    • I will take you from among the heathen (Ezek 36:24)
    • I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean (Ezek 36:25)
    • from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you (Ezek 36:25)
    • A new heart also will I give you (Ezek 36:26)
    • a new spirit will I put within you (Ezek 36:26)
    • I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26)
    • I will put my spirit within you (Ezek 36:27)
    • I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them] (Ezek 36:27)
    • ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers (Ezek 36:28)
    • ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Ezek 36:28)
    • I will also save you from all your uncleannesses (Ezek 36:29)
    • I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen (Ezek 36:29,30)
    • you shall remember your own evil ways, and your doings that [were] not good (Ezek 36:31)
    • you shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations (Ezek 36:31)
    And it is also important to understand why God said He chose to make promises through covenants -- because He is faithful to keep His promises.

    Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

    Deut. 7:12 Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.

    1 Kings 8:23 He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart,

    2 Chron. 6:14 He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart;

    Neh. 1:5 I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

    Neh. 9:32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.

    Dan. 9:4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,​
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I agree with MW that simply piling up opinions is of limited usefulness. As for the first offering, it should be noted that A.Barnes was an unrepentant and exonerated heretic, whose acquittals at trial led to the mainline Presbyterian schism of 1837. details here:

    Old School Presbyterians maintained classic Reformed doctrine; New School Presbyterianism was the home of the first liberals.

    The fact he was a popular read only proves the power of rhetoric, something akin to the popularity of a D.Wilson today. The ability (as it was said of Barnes) to make popularly accessible the latest critical-theories of pertaining to Scripture (see ) generally does not commend him to those of a classic, rather than a progressive, mind.

    Adam Clarke was an Arminian Methodist of an even earlier time. My point is not to disparage any and all interest in what such a man (or men) ever offered the church by way of interpretation and exegesis. But to ask: why are these opinions privileged, while the studied opinions of those revered exegetes of our deepest tradition set by, with scant weight accorded them. As if they were valued chiefly for being beholden to their prejudices?

    I said "διαθέμενος (vv16 &17) is naturally translated "covenanter" or "testator," because I have access to and am conversant with the lexicons, grammar, and translations of NT Greek.
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Rev. Buchanan has pointed to the fact that theological bias has an influence on a commentator's choices. This is noticeably the case on a subject related to "covenant theology," which inevitably forms itself into an ordered system as part of the interpreter's mindset. There is no theologically neutral exegesis in this area. One's understanding of the flow of redemptive history, the relationship between the testaments, the significance of the coming of Christ, and the nature of His saving work, are all tied up with the subject.
  22. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with you. Shortly after posting those quotations I realized they were not helping answer the original post so I deleted them.

    Thank you for the information on those commentators.
  23. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with this idea. Not just commentators, but all of us bring in our own theology when we read any Scriptures. "Covenant theology" seems to be more prone to this than most areas of theology. From what I've read on the subject, authors, even the most reformed, define the concept of a covenant in different ways, even to the point of contradicting at least one of the covenants God makes with men.

    Since the new covenant was originally described in the Old Testament I found it useful to read every occurrence of the word covenant in the Old Testament to learn how God in His Word describes the concept, especially those places where God made or established covenants with men.

    Here are some questions we can ask the Scriptures when we look at the covenants God makes with men:
    • Who does God make the covenant with?
    • What are the promises of the covenant?
    • Are there conditions to the promises?
    • Is this covenant put into effect simply because God said so or by the death and blood of a covenant-sacrifice?
    Practical applications of covenants:
    • Does God keep His promises?
    • When God makes covenant promises, do we believe those promises?
    • Do we believe that God is both faithful to keep His promises and has the ability to keep His promises? (see Rom. 4)
    I also find the language most men use when they talk about "covenant theology" to be confusing. I find the language the Bible uses about "covenants" much clearer.
  24. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    With whom does God make the covenant? With Jesus Christ as the second Adam and with all the elect in Him.

    What are the promises of the covenant? The comprehensive promise is, I will be their God and they will be my people. Included in that comprehensive promise is the promise of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, culminating in the blessings of eternal life in the glorious kingdom of God.

    Are there conditions to the promises? As visibly administered there are conditions stipulated; but the covenant also promises grace to the elect to fulfil those conditions, which makes them more of the nature of blessed connections than conditions.

    Is this covenant put into effect simply because God said so or by the death and blood of a covenant-sacrifice? God promises and man believes by grace. Besides the covenant in itself God has been pleased to bequeath the blessings by way of a testamentary arrangement in order to make the inheritance sure to the heirs. This he has accomplished by means of sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrifices were imperfect as they looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ; but now a perfect sacrifice has been offered, once, by Jesus Christ our great high priest, and this sacrifice ratifies the new testament in His blood.

    Does God keep His promises? Always, as also His threatenings.

    When God makes covenant promises, do we believe those promises? Yes, and are thereby personally instated in the covenant.

    Do we believe that God is both faithful to keep His promises and has the ability to keep His promises? That is fundamental to the exercise of faith.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  25. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    what are some CT books that i can read alongside O Palmer Robertson? I do want to take a look back at Reymond / Berkhof/ Brakel STs which covers CT
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    Is there an important disctintion to be made between use of either terms Covenant or Testament, since both main roughly same thing don't they?
    Trying to understand why one is favored over the other?
  27. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Rev. Winzer gives a good example of answering those questions from one's theology, from...

    In contrast we can also look at specific covenants...

    Take for example the covenant God made with Noah. How would those questions be answered when referring to the text of this covenant?

    The Text

    Genesis 9:8-17 8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9 "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. 11 "I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; 13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. 14 "It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, 15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."​

    Features of this Covenant

    Who did God make this covenant with?
    • (v.9) with Noah and his descendants
    • (v.10) "with every living creature" that was with Noah on the ark
    • (v.10) with "every beast of the earth"
    • (v.12) with "all successive generations"
    • (v.17) with "all flesh that is on the earth"
    What are the promises of this covenant?
    • (v.11) "all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood"
    • (v.11) "neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth"
    • (v.15) "never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh"
    What is the length of this covenant?
    • (v.11) "never again"
    • (v.12) "all successive generations"
    • (v.15) "never again"
    • (v.16) it is an "everlasting covenant"
    Was this covenant put into effect by a covenant-sacrifice or simply because God spoke it?
    • simply because God spoke it
    Did God place any conditions on this covenant?
    • no

    Practical Application of this Covenant

    When God made the promise, "never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life", do we believe that God is faithful to keep that promise?
  28. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    This is for others who might not be aware of this. We typically only think of Old Testament sacrifices as those contained within the Mosaic covenant, which is also called the law. But some covenants God made with men are ratified by sacrifice.

    Psa. 50:5 (KJV) Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.​

    The word here rendered as "made" is literally "cut" in Hebrew. Examples of "cut" covenants would be those God made with Abraham and Moses.

    Gen. 15:18 (KJV) In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying...​

    Exo. 24:5-8 (KJV) And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. 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 concerning all these words. ​

    What about the new covenant?

    Jer. 31:31 (KJV) Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant...​

    In this new covenant the word here rendered as "make" is that same Hebrew word which literally means "cut". So the new covenant is ratified by sacrifice. In the New Testament we learn this sacrifice is the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfills all of the Old Covenant sacrifice types..

    PS: Thank you to the folks in this thread for the opportunity to share some of the basic concepts of covenants.
  29. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    David, go back a few posts in the thread:
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