Louis Berkhof on Republication

Not open for further replies.

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
From Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology pg. 292

In the Patriarchal period the gracious character of the Covenant [of Grace] stood out more prominently than in the later period. The promise was more in the foreground, Rom. 4:13, Gal 3:18. Yet even this should not be stressed unduly as if there were no legal burdens, both moral and ceremonial, before the time of Moses, and no gracious promises during the period of the law. The substance of the law was in force before Moses and sacrifices were already required and gracious promises are found in great abundance in the post-Mosiac writings. The only real point of difference is this: because the law constituted for Israel an explicit reminder of the demands of the covenant of works, there was a greater danger of mistaking the way of the law for the way of salvation. And the history of Israel teaches us that they did not escape the danger.


The Siniatic covenant included a service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works. The law was placed very much in the foreground, giving prominence once more to the earlier legal element. But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace. This is indicated already in the introduction to the ten commandments, Ex. 20:2, Deut 5:6, and further in Rom. 3:20, Gal 3:24. It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut 28:1-14. The law served a twofold purpose in connection with the covenant of grace. (1) to increase the consciousness of sin, Rom. 3:20, 4:15, Gal 3:19, and (2) to be a tutor unto Christ, Gal 3:24.

pg. 298-299 cont.

There have been several deviating opinions respecting the Siniatic covenant which deserve attention...

c. Still others are of the opinion that God established three covenants at Sinai, a national covenant, a covenant of works, and a covenant of grace. The first made with all the Israelites and was the continuation of the particularistic line which began with Abraham. In it God demands external obedience and promises temporal blessings. The second was a repetition of the covenant of works by the giving of the Decalogue. And the last a renewal of the covenant of grace as it was established with Abraham in the giving of the ceremonial law.


Puritan Board Doctor
Dabney's very good in his Systematic Theology on this.

I can see some major problems/alternative perspectives on using Leviticus 18:5 as one of the textual bases of Republicationism, anyway.

Republicationists don't realise that the typological and conditional burden had to increase between Abraham and Moses because of the practical reason that you were moving from a few godly patriarchs and their wives and children, (70 or 72 went down to Egypt) and from that nation growing but being cooped up in Goshen and kept in line by slave drivers, to possibly 2 million or more, redeemed slaves! They'd known the lash on their backs for long enough!

God in His wisdom knew that to give New Testament or even Abrahamic freedoms to such people would not be gracious but disastrous. A good parent knows at what stage to give His Firstborn Son certain priviledges, freedoms and responsibilities, and at what stage to exercise discipline, restraint and teach via picture books.

They didn't have the complete Scriptures! Christ had not come, so they didn't have Him to motivate them or be their example in the way we have! The Holy Spirit hadn't been outpoured in His fulness!

Therefore in God's grace to them, the burden of law and conditionality was greater than under Abraham or under the New Covenant. But it was all needed and given in love by God to them.

And any conditions could only be achieved by grace, common grace or saving grace or a combination of both. Because the Israelites were, surprise, surprise, sinners !!

The Old Covenant judicial and ceremonial law was given by God's grace, just as much as the republication of the moral law.

(a) To keep them in line, believers and unbelievers.

(b) To convict them of sin and present Christ to them.

(c) To give spiritual and moral guidance to those among them who believed.

They needed grace to avoid the penalties for straying, and they needed grace to produce the fruits that were needed to stay in the Land of Promise. They could no more do these things by the power of their own fallen souls than they could take themselves to Heaven by the power of their own fallen souls!! And remaining alive in the Land was a type or pointer to Heaven, anyway!

This should be moved to the Covenant Theology Section. Possibly Controversial Topics Section.
Last edited:
Not open for further replies.