The word covenant means “an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.”
In the Bible, according to Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary, the Hebrew word berith means primarily “a cutting,” with reference to the custom of cutting or dividing animals in two and passing between the parts in ratifying a covenant (Genesis 15; Jeremiah 34:18-19). In the New Testament the corresponding word is diathece, which is frequently translated testament.
According to an article in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, “covenant is one of the most important theological ideas in biblical theology. It is reflected in the traditional labels Old and New Testaments, i.e., covenants. The concept exists at significant points in the Bible’s storyline and is the theological glue that binds promise to fulfillment. So the biblical history of salvation and the unfolding of God’s covenants are almost synonymous.”
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post: The NIV Zondervan Study Bible: An Interview with Dr. D.A. Carson]
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