"And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;” – Genesis 9:9
The word “Testamentum” is often used in Latin to express the Hebrews word which signifies covenant. The word covenant in the Hebrew language is “Berith”. The corresponding Greek word is “Diatheke” (where one of the parties is infinitely superior to the other, as in a covenant between God and man) Genesis 15:1-21. The Greek term “Suntheke” is a word for a covenant between two equals (Joshua 9:6, 15). It is not a New Testament word. “Diatheke” is the term the New Testament employs to translate either covenant or testament. The reason is obvious; God made no covenant with man as man’s equal.
DEFINITION AND EXAMPLES
A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties. It is a solemn promise made binding by oath, which may be either verbal or symbolic. It is a solemn agreement binding on all parties to fulfil obligations. Where one of the parties is infinitely superior to the other, as in a covenant between God and man, God’s covenant assumes the nature of a promise (Isaiah 59:21; Jeremiah 31:33, 34; Galatians 3:15-18). In the Bible, God made promissory covenant with various people at various times. God made a covenant with Noah, Abraham, and David (Genesis 9:8, 9; 17:4, 5; Psalm 89:3, 4). While these are “covenants of promise” made alone by God. The Bible makes a distinction between covenants of promise and covenants of the law. The children of Ephraim refused to keep God’s covenant by refusing to walk in His law (Psalm 78:9-10).
UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF COVENANT
Covenant is how God first decided to deal with mankind (Hebrews 13:20). Covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, to redeem us, and to guarantee us eternal life in Jesus. These truths, revealed in the Bible, are the basis of Christianity. Because we can rely on God’s word for eternity, we can take great comfort in His covenant promising us eternal life in His son (John 5:39). Understanding covenant helps us to know our responsibilities to God as well as His to us (Deuteronomy 28:1). It also helps us to better appreciate the symbols used by God in covenant ratification the Lord’s Supper and Baptism (1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Romans 6:4). Through covenant, God establishes a deep relationship with His people so that they could live in a way that glorifies Him (Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20).
In divine covenant, man has nothing to do with making the covenant but to accept and enjoy its benefits or reject it and suffer consequences.