Is There A Covenant Of Grace?

covenant of graceIt’s not unusual for evangelicals, which movements have been heavily influenced by  Anabaptist theology, piety, and practice since the early 19th century. In that case we would not expect them to be aware of the categories “covenant of works” and “covenant of grace,” not to mention the “covenant of redemption” between the Trinitarian persons from eternity. In that discussion, as we say now, it is a matter of introducing folk to the hundreds of times the Hebrew scriptures and the two dozen or so times the NT speaks of “covenant” and then working through the different ways Scripture uses those terms and the use to which the Reformed theologians and churches have put that teaching to explain the law, the gospel, and the unity of salvation in redemptive history.

Among those dispensationalists still holding on to the pre- (classic) and post-Ryrie (revised) versions of dispensationalism, there is some awareness of covenant theology but, in my experience, there is very little direct contact with the primary sources of Reformed covenant theology. This lack of familiarity with genuine covenant theology is often combined with a strong hostility toward Reformed covenant theology because it is rightly perceived as a competitor to dispensationalism.

In recent years, however, typically in dialogue with Baptists over the question the continuity of the New Covenant with the Abrahamic covenant, the suggestion has been made that there is really no such thing as a “covenant of grace,” that there is no one, unified promise of salvation administered variously in the history of redemption. It seems to me that this move harkens back to the original Anabaptist impulse to defend their view of believer’s baptism (only) even at the cost of radically bifurcating the Scriptures and doing away with historic Christian notions of the unity of salvation. This argument is usually part of a move to highlight the ways in which the Abrahamic covenants were like the Mosaic. If our Baptist friends can turn Abraham into Moses, then they can be done with him and with the problem of continuity between the New Covenant and the Abrahamic.

What do Reformed folk mean when they say “covenant of grace”? In our understanding of Scripture there are three primary covenants, each of which comes to expression in redemptive history. The first is the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis) between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit made from eternity wherein the Father gave to his Son a people, the Son agreed to save those people and (implicitly) the Spirit agreed to apply redemption to those for whom Christ obeyed and died. Reformed writers appeal to texts such as Psalm 110, Isaiah 53, and John 17. For more on this see the chapter on this topic in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

The covenant of redemption was worked out in history in two covenants, the covenant of works (foedus operum) and the covenant of grace (foedus gratiae). The covenant of works is connected to the covenant of redemption in the Son’s promise to obey on behalf of those whom the Father gave to him. The covenant of grace is is connected in the gracious promise to and provision made from all eternity. In this sense, the covenant of grace can be said to be with the elect, in Christ, from all eternity. It was works for the Son and grace for us who receive his benefits by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

The covenant of works first appears in Scripture, in the promise of eternal blessedness to our first parents on the condition of perfect obedience to the law. We confess that God voluntarily condescended to make this promise and that we were capable, before the fall, of fulfilling that commandment and of obeying that law. It was a legal covenant. The instrument by which the promised blessings were to be received was works and the the ground of our acceptance by God was to be our obedience. Reformed writers have understood the trees in the garden to be symbolic and even sacramental of this covenant. The law was expressed in the prohibition (Gen 2) against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have interpreted Adam’s federal relation to all humanity in light of Paul’s explanation in Romans 5:12–21. In the fall, Adam broke the law and the covenant of works.

The covenant of grace also promised eternal blessedness and fellowship with the Triune God but its condition was not our obedience but rather it was conditioned upon the promised obedience of a substitute or Mediator, the “seed of the woman” (Gen 3) who would crush the head of the serpent. The instrument by which sinners receive the benefits promised is faith in the promised seed-mediator-substitute. Thus, the principles of the covenants of works and grace are radically different. In a legal or works covenant, the benefits are given to on the grounds of obedience and through obedience. In a gracious covenant the benefits are given freely, unconditioned by our obedience and received through resting in or receiving the promised One.

According to Reformed covenant theology, the unfolding history of redemption is the history of two seeds and two covenants, the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, the broken covenant of works and the covenant of grace. From Adam to Noah, the story is of the consequences of the fall and of the corruption of humanity, a cataclysmic judgment against sin and the redemption of the remnant people of God. That cycle plays out again and again as the promise of the covenant of grace is administered through types and shadows under Noah (Gen 6), under Abraham (Gen 17), under Moses, under David, during the exile, and finally fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah.

The covenant of works continues to be administered in history through natural revelation (Rom 1 and 2) and through the institution of the Mosaic theocracy in the 613 commandments. Reformed folk have differed over exactly how to speak of the relationship between the Mosaic (Old) covenant and the covenant of works but classic Reformed writers appealed to Moses regularly as proof of the existence of the covenant of works with Adam because the legal character of the Mosaic administration of the covenant seemed so clear. They saw in Moses reflections of the same sort of law under which Adam had been placed. They regularly described the Mosaic covenant as a “legal covenant.” By this, however, they never implied or meant to say that believers under the Mosaic (old) or Davidic covenants were saved by works or accepted by God on the basis of their performance. No, the Reformed churches and theologians consistently taught that there is one covenant of grace, grounded in God’s eternal will to save, in the covenant of redemption, that has been administered in a variety of ways through the history of redemption. Nevertheless, in a powerful way, the Mosaic, Old covenant was a witness to the continuing demand of the law: “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law” (Deut 26; Gal 3:10). Thus, Paul in Galatians 3 and 4 juxtaposed the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, in that way, as reflecting different principles.

The covenant of grace never went away. The addition or imposition of the Mosaic covenant 400 years after Abraham did not change God’s promise to redeem his people. It came to expression temporarily through a national people, through an elaborate system of types and shadows, of sacrifices, buildings, priesthoods, and laws but underneath and in the midst of it all, was the promise made to Adam to send a redeemer and the promise to Abraham to be a God to him and to his children.

Paul picks up on the Abrahamic promise particularly to make the point that what makes one a true “Israelite” is not circumcision but faith. He appealed to Abraham as the father of all who believe (Rom 4), whether circumcised or uncircumcised. Even though there were typological (land) and even national elements in the promises given to Abraham (Gen 12 and 15) they were only temporary expressions of the more fundamental promise to send a Savior.

This is why our Lord characterized his salvation as a “new covenant” which was to be ratified in his own blood (Luke 22:20). He was the fulfillment of the promise made to Adam and Eve. He was the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45). He was the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:15) and the lamb over whose body and in whose body the New Covenant would be made. That New Covenant was a ratification and renewal of the promise made so long ago in the garden. According to Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews chapters 7-10, the new covenant was “new” relative to the Mosaic covenant. It would not be like the Mosaic. It would not have 613 laws. It would have a different character. The paradigm of the New Covenant was not Moses but Abraham. The New Covenant is a renewal of the original promise and specifically of the Abrahamic promise in light of the advent of the Son.

The words “covenant of grace” may not appear in Scripture as such but there is a gracious covenant administered over thousands of years in types and shadows before the incarnation and administered in light of their fulfillment and reality in Christ for more than 2,000 years since. A covenant is promise of blessing with conditions and instruments. The covenant of works had its condition and instrument, which our Lord himself fulfilled. He earned God’s favor and his benefits for us. The condition of the covenant of grace has been fulfilled by Christ and the instrument through which we receive the promised benefits is now as it was for Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets: faith in Christ and that faith too is God’s free gift so that none of us can boast except in Christ and in what he did for us.

13 comments

  1. There is no doubt in modern evangelicalism a literal wooden hermeneutic is driving a lot of opposition to biblical systematics and theology, but it may not be the only reason behind the resistance to the covenant of grace. Even if it can be shown to be implicitly biblical via good and necessary consequence, which almost all biblical truth is and must be in its final comprehensive sense; It seems there is resistance, albeit a selective resistance, as many of the common tenants of faith we both agree upon are derived in the same way the biblical doctrine of the covenant of grace is derived. For them to adopt a unified principle would be counter intuitive to the fragmented church/Israel hermeneutic they adopt. This faulty hermeneutic showed full expression at Dallas, but its undeveloped origins go all the way back to the 1689 LBC, where a denial of and departure from the WCF regarding both good and necessary inference, as well as the unified reformed ecclesiology of the church in its infancy under Abraham. Though many “reformed” baptists claim a participation in our heritage they have cut themselves off at the root here, and much of there aberrant doctrine is a result.

  2. First, let me say, great post. Very clear. Will definitely direct people to this for a short, very clear summary of Covenant Paedobaptist theology. I also appreciate your commitment to Reformed theology and enjoy following you on Twitter, etc.

    As a baptist, I’m curious how you would respond to the charges of some of the early Baptist Puritans who thought that Paedobaptists were not applying the Covenant of Grace properly as seen below.

    Here is Nehemiah Coxe (2nd London Confession of Faith 1689): They [the paedobaptists] generally narrow the terms of covenant interest by limiting it to the immediate offspring. Yet in this covenant [the Abrahamic covenant] it was not restrained like this but came just as fully on remote generations. They also exclude the servants and slaves of Christians, with the children born of them, from that privilege which they suppose they enjoyed under the Old Testament in being sealed with the sign or token of the covenant of grace.”

    Edward Hutchinson: “I challenge any man to give me a substantial ground, why the faith of a believer may not now as well insight his children’s children to the 3d and 4th generation to Church-membership and Baptism, as the faith of Abraham did inright his seed in their generations to the priviledges of the old Covenant.”

    These quotes were taken from Pascal Denault, The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology.

    • What is the basis of the claim that a man (or a family) cut off from the descendants of Abraham, and still later from the tribes of Israel, nevertheless had some right to membership in that family and church-state simply by birth?

      This seems like a preposterous, and unsubstantiated claim. More than that, the examples that can be adduced from Scripture positively militate against it. Ishmael is the first and original example. Having been cut off from inheriting with his brother, his descendants could only rejoin the family of faith by incorporation entailing circumcision. The same would be true for Esau’s descendants.

      Does Scripture know of any man, a lineal descendant of Abraham or of any of the Tribal originals, cut off a generation or more previously, who is resumed into the covenant merely on the basis of a discovered lineage?

      That is to say, the only means by which the “remote generations” experienced participation in the covenant with Abraham, was if there was intermediate maintenance (however perfunctory and outward it might be in certain or even in the majority of cases) of the religion and culture of Abraham.

      Ezr.2:59f (see also vv62f) indicate the superiority of being able to prove one’s covenant relationship. “The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652.”

      How would such persons be granted equal rights in the land? They must needs be reincorporated according to the manner of converts. So it is tedious to claim that the privileges of Abraham’s covenant were illimitable with respect to his descendants. I cannot see how either Coxe or Hutchinson have any ground at all to say that these promises were accessible to any generation, no matter how far removed, other than by faith.

      As for confining proper recipients of baptism to the children of believers, and excluding extraneous members of one’s staff: 17th century Britain operated under vastly different social order than obtained in the ancient world. And today, such an authoritarian society even as existed 300 years ago is unheard of. Servants (even where they may be found) are neither “property,” nor members of the family in this society. If they were, an argument would exist for their baptism. As the issue is irrelevant, it is enough to observe that the language of “house” baptism in the pages of the NT is sufficiently broad to include them, on the same basis that whole “houses” were circumcised in the OT. Coxe’s issue is moot.

  3. The problem with the CT view is that you see a fulfilled Abrahamic covenant within the framework of a merely re-published Sinai covenant. In other words, you see the church as a mixed-people, just like Israel, made up of regenerate and non-regenerate covenant members, admitted by a rite of wet circumcision, who have the grace of Abraham’s fulfilled covenant available to them, but the terrors of the Law still exposed to them . . . a conditional construct.

    The reality is that the Abrahamic AND the Sinai covenant are both comprehended and fulfilled (not merely re-published) in the New Covenant. Abraham’s own history is a microcosm of two major covenants that were yet to come – the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

    Abraham experienced two covenant events, both of which were typological in nature (see Gal 4:21-31). Gen 15 is a creational covenant where Abraham, like Adam and Israel, transgressed the covenant promise by taking matters into his own hands. Abram puts forth his hands and took the “forbidden fruit” of Hagar, the Egyptian chattel – which resulted in the son of slavery – Ishmael.

    Ishmael became the redemptive pattern that Israel was to fulfill under the Sinaitic Old Covenant. Israel, just like Adam and Abraham put forth their hands to take the “forbidden fruit” of the Golden Calf, made of the Egyptian spoils. Israel broke the covenant and became children of Abraham’s slave woman, enslaved under Sinai’s Law. Israel, after the flesh, could not inherit the promise because she failed to see (by faith) that the Law’s righteousness pointed away from itself to Messiah (Rom 9:30 to 10:4).

    In Gen 17 Yahweh establishes new “unconditional” covenant with Abraham in which Yahweh promised to provide a son of promise. This covenant was a gracious “covenant of promise” (see Eph 2:12) which was sealed with the sign of circumcision and the shedding of blood. This covenant of promise was typical and pointed forward to the New Covenant of Jesus Christ (Lk 22:20, Gal 3:16).

    On a fleshly level this second covenant was fulfilled in Isaac. But on an eschatological level this covenant of promise pointed forward to future eschatological Grace that was to be revealed with Messiah.

    Thus the two Abrahamic covenants were like bank drafts. They were “promissory notes”. They both represented and guaranteed a future pay out (Ishmael > slavery @ Sinai AND Isaac > grace @ Messiah). But the sum of these two proto-covenants was not obtained until the Law Covenant was ratified at Sinai in blood and the New Covenant was ratified on the Cross in blood.

    Thus Abraham’s covenant, in and of itself, cannot be considered THE “covenant of grace”. It could not save anyone until the Anointed One made it sure in his own blood. The promise of something is not the same as the actual possession of it. Abraham did not obtain actual possession of the promises made to him (Heb 11:13), though he saw them by faith (John 8:56).

    The true Son and heir of the covenantal promise that Abraham looked forward to was Messiah himself (Gal 3:16), not Isaac or a re-published Israel after the flesh – who require physical “wet” circumcision for admission.

    The covenantal promise that Abraham’s spiritual Seed/seed would inherit is the indwelling presence of the Spirit, who is given to all who believe into Jesus (Acts 2:38-39, Gal 3:14, Eph 1:13). The Spirit is the true circumcision required for entrance into the New Covenant community.

    The New Covenant not only encompasses the fulfilled promises Abraham, but also the fulfilled promises of Sinai (Jer 31:31-33, 2 Cor 3) and of David (Jer 33:14-16, Rom 1:3-4).

    Therefore, when we look at Abraham as the apostle Paul did in Galatians 4, we see that Abraham’s two covenantal events were merely proto-covenants – micro types that pointed toward the Old Covenant bondage which Israel was to experience under the Law’s enslavement AND the New Covenant liberty which Christ came to give his blood-washed saints who are filled and sealed with His Spirit.

    • The above is deeply confused.

      It is hard to identify “problems” with a perspective one is demonstrably at a loss to grasp.

      There are no “two covenants” with Abraham. Certainly, you are not going to find that perspective in the OT anyplace. Neither will the writings of Paul (or any NT writers) support this view.

      Between Gen.12-17 there is one covenant, presented in three acts. First, there is the call of Abraham (Gen.12), in which the essential elements of the promise are stated.

      Second, we have the formal covenanting ceremony (Gen.15), in which the same promises are rearticulated, along with a further prophetic declaration concerning the future date (400yrs hence) and circumstances out of which the trajectory of fulfillment will commence.

      Third, we have the covenant-sign given (Gen.17), which is a symbolic guarantee of the promise; appropriately this sign is given just prior to the birth of the prophetically designated heir to that promise.

      Finally, the aftermath “concluding act” is the drama of Gen.22, in which we not only have the covenant tested, but also a repeat of the main terms, succession affirmed in Isaac, and an emphasis on the singular seed (as opposed to the collective); which singular idea is precisely the nuance of vv16 & 18, which Paul picks up in Gal.3:16.

      It is plain madness to on the one hand associate Ishmael with any of the covenanting God does with Abraham. As for “conditions” associated with Gen.15? The main event is God passing ALONE between the pieces of dead meat, striding (so to speak) in the river of blood. A more firm guarantee of God’s unilateral intent to fulfill his promise to Abraham can scarcely be conceived.

      Ishmael is not associated with any of Abraham’s covenant in Gal.4, but with Sinai. Isaac is possessor of the FIRST covenant, the superior covenant, and with Jerusalem. Ishmael (as an interloper) is associated with the SECOND covenant, with Sinai; which mount is eclipsed by the mount of Jerusalem, which is not only before it but after it as well.

  4. Charles Hodge: “It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to the other, God and His true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant (i.e., the covenant of grace), were spiritual blessings, reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life.”

    mark: So that’s what “covenant theology” says. No, ir turns out that Hodge here departed from Zwingli and Calvin, so that’s not “real” covenant theology, and I don’t know why he went into such “madness”

    I would not myself say two covenants (rather, many different promises), but Hodge’s main point remains valid. There IS a “connection” of some aspects of the Abrahamic covenant with the Mosaic covenant, so that some aspects of the Abrahamic covenant must be abrogated when the Mosaic economy is abrogated. Since I don’t need to collapse covenants together to make one “the covenant of grace”, I don’t need to say that these aspects are “administrative not substantial.”

    David Gordon: It was necessary for there to be a covenant that, at a
    minimum, preserved two things: memory of the gracious promises made to Abraham and his “seed,” and the biological integrity of the “seed”itself. Sinai’s dietary laws and prohibitions against inter-marrying with the Gentiles, along with Sinai’s calendar and its
    circumcision, set Abraham’s descendants apart from the Gentiles,
    “saving” them (in some degree) from their desire to inter-marry with the Am ha-Aretz until the time came to do away with such a
    designation forever.

    During this season of preparing the world for the coming Christ, it was necessary to have a covenant that preserved both memory of the
    Abrahamic promises, and the integrity of Abraham’s seed, until the “Seed” of Abraham came. Such a covenant would need, by the harshest threats of curse-sanctions, to prevent inter-marriage and idolatry among a people particularly attracted to both. Sinai’s thunders did not prevent this perfectly, but they did so sufficiently that a people still existed on earth who recalled the promises to Abraham when Christ appeared, and the genealogy of Matthew’s gospel could be written.

    Genesis 17: 9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised.

    23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

    mark: But remember that Ishmael is not associated with Abraham’s covenant. Some people know that because Ishmael is associated with Sinai, and they know apriori that Sinai is not associated with Abraham! Therefore it is plain madness to associate Ishmael with any of the covenanting that God did with Abraham.

    Therefore we want a family social order which is like that of Abraham, except now we insist that one of the parents makes a profession of faith before they have their infants done.

    • Your point, Mark?

      Sure, Hodge is a little mad in his thought on that particular. Even Homer nods. But no amount of double-jointedness is going to shoehorn Hodge’s comments into the confusion of the post I responded to, without some painful tearing of ligaments.

      And are you purposefully misconstruing my comments on Ishmael-association with Abraham? They were given in the context of responding to the confusion presented above. Ishmael is not a FACTOR that pertains to the covenanting-ceremony that takes place in Gen.15.

      The seed of promise is the consistent factor; and any notion that finds in Gen.16 something besides Abraham’s misguided futility (seeking by his works what he could only obtain by promise) is far and away out in left field. There is nothing in Gen.15 that hints at “creation” or the works-covenant; out of which Ishmael emerges (Gen.16) as some kind of adamic recapitulation. This is a deeply confused view, undermining a works/grace inversion that occurs at the Fall.

      Of course Ishmael is in Abraham’s covenant–externally. But since externals aren’t all there is to it (e.g. election), he’s able to fall away. But you’d rather use Baptist (and Hodge) categories here, and posit not a single covenant with combined but distinguishable earthly and ethereal dimensions; but two dichotomized covenants: one earthly, one ethereal.

      And of course Hodge wouldn’t recognize the latter as his view, but the first–his own infelicitous language notwithstanding.

    • And I apologize for saying “you’d rather…” posit just the two radically separate covenants, when you stated your preference for understanding “many” discrete promises (presumably some of this kind, and some of that).

  5. Only the Reformed can account for the warning passages. To the Arminians they declare the regenerate can be unregenerate; to the baptists they are mere hypotheticals. Both groups fail to recognize the formal/vital, visible/ invisible, and substance/ administrative aspects of the covenant. The over abundance or correlative biblical data substantiates nothing less than a covenant of grace in both external and internal aspects throughout redemptive history

  6. Alas, if only the Apostles themselves wrote of your ahistorical mono-covenant, you might actually have a theology worth accepting with any kind of Scriptural authority.

    Rather, they spoke clearly of a New Covenant, in clear contradistinction to the Old Covenant . . . as a really “new” covenant (not merely republished) which actually fulfilled all the promissory redemptive types and shadows of Passover/Exodus/Sinai Covenant and made sure the redemptive Seed/Spirit promises set forth in Abraham.

    Even Jeremiah’s prophecy of a New Covenant (Jer 33:33) set the context of the future covenant within the fulfillment of a greater eschatological Passover-Exodus-Sinai event. The new exodus imagery is prominent throughout the unified prophetic witness. Messiah was seen clearly in the context of a new deliverer, like Moses, who would lead His people out of bondage to Sin and give them a new Law/Righteousness.

    Old Covenant fulfillment: Jesus is the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), the substance of the Covenant (Isa 42:6, 49:8, Lk 22:20), the true Israel (Matt 2:15 + Hos 11:1), the true Firstborn Son (Ex 4:22 + Col 1:15, 18), the true Temple (Matt 3:16-17, John 2:19-21), the incarnate Righteousness/Law of Yahweh (John 1:14, Rom 10:4, 1 Cor 1:30), the true Spirit/Law giver (John 7:38-39, Rom 8:4, 2 Cor 3:3), the true Great High Priest (Heb 4:14). The saints who are *in Christ* are the true Temple (1 Cor 6:16, Eph 2:21-22), the true spiritual Nation of royal priests (Ex 19:5-6 + 1 Pet 2:9, Gal 6:16), the true Spirit/Law carriers (Rom 8:4, 2 Cor 3:3, 1 John 2:20, 27), they worship at a new Mountain (Heb 12:18-24), they listen to a new Authority (Heb 1:1, Matt 17:5).

    Abrahamic covenant fulfillment: Jesus is the promised Seed (Gal 3:16). The saint who are *in Christ* are Abraham’s spiritual seed (Gal 3:29) who have received the promised Abrahamic inheritance, namely the indwelling Spirit/Law upon their hearts (Gal 3:14, Acts 2:38-39, Eph 1:13-14), and have received the true Spirit circumcision made without hands (Col 2:10-11, Phil 3:3).

    When considering the weight of this fulfilled redemptive typology, it becomes clear that the New Covenant is the fulfillment of both the Abrahamic promises and the promissory Passover/Exodus/Sinai redemptive types.

    In contrasting the OC and NC, Paul recognized in Gal 4:21-31 that two micro-covenantal events (Ishmael/Isaac) existed in Abraham which served to typify 1) Israel/Flesh/Old Covenant AND 2) Jesus Christ/Spirit/New Covenant.

    The biblical evidence can’t be any clearer. Picture-fulfillment makes much better sense of the data than an ahistorical mono-covenant.

    • The Apostles only ever contrast the NC administration of the Covensnt of Grace with the Mosaic. Its baptists who love to make Abraham Moses. The Abrahamic is at one with the NC. Reread Rom 4, Gal 3, and Hebrews

    • Oh and 2 Cor 3. Show us where the Apostles contrast the New with the Abrahamic please

    • Abraham is not Moses. He is Adamic. Following the Adamic pattern of Eden, Abram was presented with a promise (of a Son) which he attempted to fulfill in his own strength and power. Resulting in a curse, a flesh-born “firstborn” son, Ishmael . . . who pointed forward to and typified Israel, the ultimate fleshly Adamic “firstborn son” (Ex 4:22), sons of slavery who could not inherit the promise.

      [Yes, I am saying that the Tree of Knowledge represented the promise of the coming Firstborn Son/Messiah to Adam. The fall had already taken place in the heavenly realm. Satan had already fallen. A Righteous Son was needed to defeat his activity in the world. Adam’s work in the Garden was to rest (sabbath) in God and believe in the coming Son that was represented to him in the Tree. But like Jacob, Adam attempted to usurp the “Firstborn” inheritance unto himself, and “become like God”, and thereby reaped to himself a curse of works and death (Law).]

      But contained in Abraham’s Adamic storyline is God’s gracious rescue. Instead of receiving an external “garments of skins” for a covering, Abraham receives circumcision in his very flesh for a covering, along with the promise of a son/Son. Isaac was the son of promise who pointed forward to and typified Messiah, not Israel.

      And thus the contrast of OC and NC in 2 Cor 3 is the contrast of the Adamic ministry of death and condemnation (Decalogue) with the Messianic ministry of life and righteousness (Spirit upon hearts).

      Though Abraham is never mentioned in 2 Cor 3, we know from Gal 4 that his Adamic storyline pointed toward both Israel’s OC enslavement under the Law AND the Christ’s NC liberty/salvation by the Spirit.

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