Systematic Theology - Vol. 2

By Charles Hodge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.

THE COVENANT OF GRACE.

§ 1. The Plan of Salvation is a Covenant.

THE plan of salvation is presented under the form of a covenant. This is evident, —

First, from the constant use of the words

and διαθήκη reference to it. With regard to the former of these words, although it is sometimes used for a law, disposition, or arrangement in general, where the elements of a covenant strictly speaking are absent, yet there can be no doubt that according to its prevailing usage in the Old Testament, it means a mutual contract between two or more parties. It is very often used of compacts between individuals, and especially between kings and rulers. Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant. (Gen. xxi. 27.) Joshua made a covenant. with the people. (Josh. xxiv. 25.) Jonathan and David made a covenant. (1 Sam. xviii. 3.) Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David. (1 Sam. xx. 16.) Ahab made a covenant with Benhadad. (1 Kings xx. 34.) So we find it constantly. There is therefore no room to doubt that the word when used of transactions between man and man means a mutual compact. We have no right to give it any other sense when used of transactions between God and man. Repeated mention is made of the covenant of God with Abraham, as in Gen. xv. 18 ; xvii. 13, and afterwards with Isaac and Jacob. Then with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Old Testament is founded on this idea of a covenant relation between God and the theocratic people.

The meaning of the word διαθήκη in the Greek Scriptures is just as certain and uniform. It is derived from the verb διατθημι, to arrange, and, therefore, in ordinary Greek is used for any arrangement, or disposition. In the Scriptures it is almost uniformly used in the sense of a covenant. In the Septuagint it is the translation of

in all the cases above referred to. It is the term always used in the New Testament to designate the covenant with Abraham, with the Israelites, and with believers. The old covenant and the new are presented in contrast. Both were covenants. If

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