O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Why The Old Covenant had to have begun in the "Beginning"

Gal 3:17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.

"Paul corrected the Galatians, who were requiring that members of the New covenant
community identify themselves ceremonially as members of the Sinai covenant community.
Paul effected this correction by placing the Sinai covenant in its own covenant-historical context,as a partial fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant that would eventually yield to its entire fulfillment in the New covenant. To do so, he established the historical priority of the
Abrahamic covenant over the Sinai,
and he indicated several of the differences between those covenants, in which cases the New covenant is similar to the Abrahamic covenant and dissimilar to the Sinai covenant."
Abraham and Sinai Contrasted in Galatians 3:6-14
T. David Gordon

The Covenant that God made with Abraham was a continuation of a covenant he made with Adam and continues in several other covenants ending with the New Covenant the fulfillment of the promise made to Adam (Genesis 3:15) a Redeemer who would “bruise the head” of the serpent.

1Jn 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The God of the Bible relates to his creatures covenantally from eternity.( the beginning included)

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

If this is not the one in Genesis 1 then as has been pointed out before..."No covenant for salvation before Moses?"

Mat 23:34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,
Mat 23:35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

Tami "it was all the righteous blood shed since the very beginning of "the earth". You cannot read earth here other than covenantally. (And in fact, "righteous blood" could only be used in a covenant context, as outside of covenant relationship with God, righteousness, which is only by faith, does not exist.) And this covenantal earth was already in existence when Abel's blood was shed. Long before Sinai. And it is simply not possible to divide Israel's history into multiple "heavens and earths".

"Furthermore, I remain perplexed whenever people speak of the "old covenant" as exclusive to the Mosaic economy, because it seems to leave believers who lived before Moses outside of redemption. Paul is clear sin was in the world, and death came as a result....and the law was added because of transgression. The law of Moses simply magnified what was already standing in the way of presence with God. It wasn't the beginning of God's covenant relatonship with His people, it was a "recapitulation" of what was established in the beginning (ie, the creation of the heavens and the earth.)"

Hal much clearer could it be:)

Views: 194

Comment by Tim Martin on January 23, 2010 at 12:04am

Thanks for these related points.

Recently, I have come to understand just how simple this issue really is. Do you know how you can demonstrate it?

Next time anyone has a problem with the concept, just ask them to turn in their Bible to Genesis 1:1. Next, ask them to look back at the previous page and ask them what they see:

The Old Testament

Finally, ask them what the word "Testament" means.

See.... I believe every Bible shows exactly where the "Old Testament" begins. Elementary.


Tim Martin
Comment by Michael Loomis on January 23, 2010 at 12:48am
Old...New...Is there some reason I can't over complicate this? 8)
Comment by John on January 23, 2010 at 1:59am
I like how Herman Hoeksema puts in...

"From the very first moment of his existence … and by virtue of his being created after the image of God, Adam stood in [a] covenant relation to God and was conscious of that living fellowship and friendship … He knew God and loved Him and was conscious of God’s love to him. He enjoyed the favour of God. He received the Word of God, walked with God and talked with Him; and he dwelled in the house of God in paradise the first."
Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: RFPA, 1966), p. 222.
Comment by Tami on January 23, 2010 at 10:11am
Mike wrote:

"Old...New...Is there some reason I can't over complicate this? 8)"

I think he is onto something. I don't think we are supposed to be complicating it. :)

I just came across this post from Norm (see below) and it prompted me to ask a basic, *uncomplicated* question for discussion. Is there *any* relationship with God *outside* of covenant...or *other than* a covenant relationship? If all would agree that there is not, then aren't we compelled to answer when the "old" or "first" covenant began? In other words, wouldn't the question of when men first began relating to God, or "calling on the name of Jehovah," be straight to that point?

Norm writes:

"Genesis was written by the Jews through inspiration to describe their historic roots and covenant as God’s chosen people to bring redemption into the world. Genesis chapter one is the opening prologue in which we are presented with an overview of the beginning of this establishment until its consummated end bringing in God’s finished work at the Parousia of Christ; the Sabbath Rest of God. Some of the 2 Temple period Jews and the early Christians understood this as demonstrated by writers such Enoch and the Barnabas Epistle. To say that this is a new recognition is mistaken as it is simply like Preterism itself a long lost perspective because of futurist developments in Christianity over the last 1900 years. Because of historic Preterism being unfolded again these corollary recognitions are also coming to light.

Genesis chapter 2 is then the detailed account that starts the exploration of God’s people the Jews in how they understood it and applied it and the Adam and Eve story cannot be disassociated from this context of Judaism no more than can Noah and Abraham and Jacob and sons. Trying to dice up and cut off the early covenant people from the redemption process by attempting to begin the story at Mt. Sinai is like trying to tell the American historical account by beginning at the end of the Civil War.

The idea that God did not have an established covenant with His people is debunked right from the beginning of the first chapters of Genesis. God promised through Eve that redemption would come against the deceiver and her covenant offspring of the living (Abel was murdered and replaced with Seth) and they begin to call upon the name of Jehovah (YHWH) whom is the designated name of Israel’s personal God.

Gen 4:25-26 And Adam knew his wife again. And she bore a son, and called his name Seth. For she said, God has appointed me another seed instead of Abel, because Cain killed him. (26) And there was also a son born to Seth, and he called his name Enos. Then men began to call upon the name of Jehovah."
Comment by Doug on January 23, 2010 at 12:20pm
I think one of the main problems in understanding this is getting a handle on the word "covenant" That word itself is used commonly in real estate law, but in everyday usage, it is not used by most people.

So, when I say "covenant" to the average person, different things are conjured up in different people's minds.

It might be helpful if I illustrate: Here are the definitions of covenant:

–noun 1. an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.
2. Law. an incidental clause in such an agreement.
3. Ecclesiastical. a solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel.
4. (initial capital letter) History/Historical. a. National Covenant.
b. Solemn League and Covenant.

5. Bible. a. the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.
b. the agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.

6. Law. a. a formal agreement of legal validity, esp. one under seal.
b. an early English form of action in suits involving sealed contracts.

7. Covenant of the League of Nations.

–verb (used without object) 8. to enter into a covenant.

–verb (used with object) 9. to promise by covenant; pledge.
10. to stipulate.


1250–1300; ME < AF, OF, n. use of prp. of covenir < L convenīre to come together, agree; see -ant

Related forms:

cov⋅e⋅nan⋅tal  /ˌkʌvəˈnæntl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhv-uh-nan-tl] Show IPA , adjective

1. treaty, pact, convention.

Now, here are the definitions of TESTAMENT:

–noun 1. Law. a. a will, esp. one that relates to the disposition of one's personal property.
b. will 2 (def. 8).

2. either of the two major portions of the Bible: the Mosaic or old covenant or dispensation, or the Christian or new covenant or dispensation.
3. (initial capital letter) the New Testament, as distinct from the Old Testament.
4. (initial capital letter) a copy of the New Testament.
5. a covenant, esp. between God and humans.


1250–1300; ME: will, covenant < L testāmentum, equiv. to testā(rī) to bear witness (see testate ) + -mentum -ment

So, when I say testament or covenant, it is entirely possible (and probable) that you will hear something different than the meaning in my mind. We shouldn't assume prior knowledge or understanding of these words...

For the purposes of this discussion, maybe we should first discuss what all parties actually mean when they are throwing around these words> I'll start...

When I say "covanant" the first term that comes into mind is not necassarily a "relationship", as it is being used here. I usually think of an agreement between two parties, whether unilateral or bilateral. I think of the ORIGINAL "old covenant" (the one made with Adam) to be a unilateral one, in that God dictated the terms and Adam's only choice was to acquiesce. God presented Adam a contract, and as long as Adam fulfilled it, there was a relationship created. A testament, OTOH, I think of as a statement by one party. It is usually accompanied by an assumption that death will be coming in the future, and this is a statement by that party that something shall happen when the death occurs or, that when it occurs, this testament is the final word of the deceased.

Of course, I am aware of the alternate theological meanings of these words, and how they seem to be used almost interchangeably today. But they really aren't interchangeable, despite the common usage that has probably morphed the words since the middle ages.

So it seems to me that we ought to be discussin how the original users understood the words, if indeed such words were even used. For example, did Adam and Eve understand that they were entering into some kind of an agreement with God, and that breaking it would mean their downfall? After all, God said "In the day you eat thereof, you shall die" So there was some penalty for eating the fruit. But again, this was a unilateral declaration from God. There is nothing I see recorded in the bible that says Adam and Eve had a choice in the matter.

It might be a mistake to equate this "old covenant" of Adam's with the "old covenant" that was given to Israel. After all, on Sinai, blessings and cursings were pronounced. When it was all "on the table" so to speak, all the people said "All that the Lord has said, we will do" thus binding themselves to a BI-lateral agreement. They did not have to agree. They chose to.

"In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. "Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD." (Exodus 19:1-8)

We are now under a "better covenant" But it has been offerred to us, just as the old one was. We too are symbolically taken through the Red Sea (baptism) and we too declare ourselves bound by this new and better covenant. We accept Jesus as Lord by confession of our lips, and therefore are saved.

What many do not understand that whether you are talking about the Adamic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic, or New, covenants, you are always talking about terms that bind us to God. So I think we ought to explain that the METHODS of the covenants differed, but the end result (relationship) was always the intended goal, even from the very beginning.
Comment by Norm on January 23, 2010 at 12:38pm
A simiple way of understanding the issue at hand is that Paul confirms that there were two Covenant Heads: Adam and Christ and along with that were two dispensational modes of existence corresponding to Two H & E. The first was futile attempts at relationship through ones own effort and the second was a relationship through the fruitful effort of Christ on the Cross. Conversely then there were only two Heavens and Earths that correspond to these two ages.

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Rev 22:3 And there shall be no curse any more:
Comment by Doug on January 23, 2010 at 4:02pm

The issue at hand is the IDENTIFICATION of the first heavens and earth. All Christians agree that there will be a new heavens and earth (or as we believe, its already here) The challenge then is proving that the first H&E is already passed as well as proving what it was. Physically-minded people assume that it was the physical cosmos, and consequently and logically, would equate a NEW H&E with the passing away of the first, physical, H&E so that the second, (as most christians think, a non-physical) H&E can be ushered in. Of course, there are those who believe the second H&E are also physical in nature and form.

Nevertheless, it is challenging to go against conventional and entrenched wisdom of most of christianity on this issue. Doing so requires people to be able to understand how people of other cultures and times thought. Lots of the laity, and the majority of theologians, cannot wrap their minds around anything but Western thought. This is, IMHO, what prevents a serious study of this subject from getting past first base - the inability or the unwillingness to accept the bible on its own terms. Instead, people largely accept what they have learned in Sunday school since they were children and presumptions are brought to the text that are simply not true. But true or not, the ability to entertain new ideas is sometimes impossible for many.
Comment by Rich on January 23, 2010 at 8:16pm

WOW. That was excellent. The more everyone digs into this issue the clearer it is becoming.

You guys rock!

Jeff, I hope you are taking notes for your debate.

Comment by John on January 23, 2010 at 11:13pm
Thanks Rich,

Your correct about the digging.It seems the more i do the more i am convinced.And i am truly trying my best to go about this objectively.

Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

It seems to me that John The Revelator is clearing alluding back to Genesis and not Sinai.

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Reformed Theologian David J. Engelsma "The Covenant of Creation with Adam"

"Even though the word covenant is not used in the history of
paradise to describe that relationship, the rest of Scripture establishes
that the unique, close relationship between God and Adam
was a covenant.
Scripture establishes that the relationship between
God and Adam was a biblical covenant, a covenant ordained
and instituted by God, a covenant reflecting His own nature and
life, a covenant befitting a relationship between the sovereign
Creator and the dependent creature.

There is, first, the obvious fact that after the fall God relates
to the new human race in Christ only by covenant
(Gen. 3:15;
6:18; 17:7; Ex. 2:24; Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6; Rev. 21:3).

Second, Hosea 6:7, rightly translated, expressly states that the
relationship between God and Adam was a covenant.
The Authorized
Version translates, “But they [Ephraim and Judah] like men
have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously
against me.” In the original Hebrew, the word translated
“men” by the Authorized Version is adam. The word can refer to
humanity in general. It is also the proper name of the first man,
Adam. Here it refers to Adam. It makes little or no sense for the
prophet to have said that Israelite men have transgressed the covenant
“like men.” This would be similar to the statement that
dogs bite like dogs. Building on the law—the first five books of
Moses—as the prophets did, Hosea compared the transgression
of Israel to that of Adam. Both were violations of covenant.
were gross sin, indeed, the grossest iniquity. Both were acts of treachery by which Adam and Israel betrayed their divine friend.

Putting the matter beyond any doubt is the teaching of Romans
Like Christ, of whom Adam was “the figure” (v. 14;
the Greek is tupos, ‘type’), Adam was created by God as legal
representative of the human race, so that “by the offence of one
[Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation” and “by
one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners” (vv.
18, 19). Just as Christ’s headship of the new human race is His
headship in the covenant, so also Adam’s headship was a covenant,
or federal, headship."

"Genesis is certainly written with anticipation to Revelation."
Comment by John on January 24, 2010 at 8:15pm
N.T Wright says it this way: "...he acts from within the creation itself, with all the ambiguities and paradoxes which that involves, in order to deal with the multiple problems that have resulted from human rebellion, and so to restore creation itself. And he acts from within the covenant people themselves, to complete the rescue operation and fulfill its original purpose."
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (New York: Harper Collins, 2006) 75.

Now my question would be if God acts within the "covenant" to restore the creation...wouldn't he have been in "covenant" with the creation at the beginning?

a First Heaven and Earth (Gen 1)
b Husband and Wife (Gen 2)
c Judgment Pronounced on Satan (Gen 3)
c’ Judgment Executed on Satan (Rev 20)
b’ Husband and Wife (Rev 21)
a’ Last Heaven and Earth (Rev 22)


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