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Covenants: Introduction

Updated: Aug 10, 2022






The word “covenant” is an English translation of the Hebrew word (bĕrît) and the Greek word (diathēkē). It’s also a word that is not familiar to many modern readers of the Bible.


A covenant is a legally binding agreement between two parties. Covenants played a significant role in the ancient Near East, making them “a useful way for God to relate to his people and demonstrate his commitment to them. God’s covenant with Israel is the primary concept used to describe his relationship with his people.”(1) Covenants share similarities with what we may consider contracts today. However, covenants differed from contracts in that covenants focused more on relationships. For example, consider a marriage between a husband and wife. Two people enter into a marriage relationship joining themselves in a life-long bond. They work together in creating their home, raising children, and building their love for one another and their family.


Various types of covenants are used in the Bible. Covenants between people (see, 1 Sam. 20:1-16), a person and God (see, Gen. 12:1), or a group of people with God, such as the Israelites (see, Ex. 19; 24).


In the Old Testament, God chooses to connect Himself to His people through covenant relationships. These covenants demonstrate His depth of commitment and the commitment He expects. In the New Testament, the role of covenant continues in God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus.


In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God enters into covenant partnerships with people. Through these covenants, we can trace the story of God rescuing His Creation. These covenants point us forward in the narrative of the Bible until they reach their fulfillment in Jesus.


In this series, we will consider four covenants God made in the Old Testament: His covenant with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David. We will see how these covenants reach their fulfillment in Jesus.



Examples of covenants between people:





 

notes:

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


1. Michael R. Jones, “Covenant,” in Lexham Theological Wordbook, ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).


 

RESOURCES


Article: PDF download


BibleProject: Theme Video - The Covenants


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