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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,