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How many types of covenants are recorded in the Bible?

Bible students do not agree on the number of covenants in the Bible. How one sees the covenants generally depends on whether a person is a dispensationalist or a covenant theologian. Dispensationalist who consistently interpret the Bible in a more literal sense believe in more covenants than do those in the camp of covenant theology because of the way they tend to who spiritualize many of the promises to Israel.

The following is an illustration of the covenants according to dispensational theology:

The following is a summarized view of this taken from The Moody Handbook of Theology: These covenants according to Dispensational Theology were literal, unconditional, and eternal. There are no conditions attached to the covenants and as such they unequivocally promise Israel a future land, a Messianic rule, and spiritual blessings.

(1) The Abrahamic Covenant. Described in Genesis 12:1–3, the Abrahamic covenant promised a land (v.l; cf. 13:14–17; further developed in the Palestinian covenant); numerous descendants involving a nation, dynasty, and a throne (v. 2; cf. 13:16; 17:2–6; further developed in the Davidic covenant); and redemption (v. 3; cf. 22:18; further developed in the New Covenant).

(2) The Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1–10). This covenant guarantees Israel’s permanent right to the land. It is unconditional, as seen in the state ments “God will,” without corresponding obligations. This covenant promises the ultimate return of Israel to the land in repentance and faith (v. 2) in circumstances wherein God will prosper them (v. 3). This covenant will be fulfilled in the Millennium.

(3) The Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12–16). The provisions of this covenant are summarized in v. 16 by the words “house,” promising a dynasty in the lineage of David; “kingdom,” referring to a people who are governed by a king; “throne,” emphasizing the authority of the king’s rule; “forever,” emphasizing the eternal and unconditional nature of this promise to Israel. This covenant will be fulfilled when Christ returns to rule over believing Israel.

(4) The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31–34). This covenant provides the basis by which God will bless Israel in the future—Israel will enjoy forgiveness of sins through the meritorious death of Christ. The unconditional nature of this covenant is once more seen in the “I will” statements of vv. 33–34.

If these covenants are understood according to their normal meaning, then they call for a future blessing of believing, national Israel in the land under Messiah’s rule. These covenants await a fulfillment in the Millennium.

The following describes the covenants according to covenant theology.

Covenant theology is a system of interpreting the Scriptures on the basis of two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Some covenant theologians specify three covenants: works, redemption, and grace.

Covenant theology teaches that God initially made a covenant of works with Adam, promising eternal life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam failed, and death entered the human race. God, however, moved to resolve man’s dilemma by entering into a covenant of grace through which the problem of sin and death would be overcome. Christ is the ultimate mediator of God’s covenant of grace.

Related Topics: Dispensational / Covenantal Theology

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