The word covenant can seem to be confusing to many Christians. It seems like somewhat of a religious word or can have somewhat of a perceived spooky connotation to it. However, It is a word that, in the Bible helps us to understand the underlying framework of Biblical interpretation.
God made eight covenants. There are two main covenants that are discussed at length. These are The Old Covenant (Exodus 19-24) and The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-12, Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 10:14-18). I will cover all eight in a later post. In this post I want to delineate the difference and similarity between the two words covenant and testament in the scripture.
Strong’s Concordance regarding these two words and their usage determine that in almost every case they are completely interchangeable.
Mat 26:28 KJV - “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Gal 4:24 KJV “Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.”
The Websters 1828 Dictionary definition of the word Testament in a Biblical sense:
“The name of each general division of the canonical books of the sacred Scriptures; as the Old Testament; the New testament. The name is equivalent to covenant, and in our use of it, we apply it to the books which contain the old and new dispensations; that of Moses, and that of Jesus Christ.”
Our use of these words.
It seems that in our use of these words we favor the word "testament". This is great because it is a Bible word that even Jesus used to describe the New Covenant that would be made in His blood.
Mar 14:24 "And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
There is also a danger in our favoring of this word. It appears that because "testament" is used so often when referring to The New Testament that many have forgotten or do not even know that The New Testament was actually an agreement (a covenant) that God prophesied concerning Israel in the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:32-34).
(The fact is, if one were to take a general survey of Christians and ask them the question, "What is the New Testament?" most would not be able to give you a scriptural answer. I have personally asked this to many Christians. I have yet to find one that can give me a scriptural answer to this question.)
We see that after God established The New Covenant through the finished work of Jesus Christ He included the Gentiles in this Covenant.
Ephesians 2:11-13 "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ meant something. God established a New Testament in the blood of His Son and this Covenant superseded the first one. (Hebrews 10:9-10)
The scripture is riddled with the concept of God making Covenants with certain people, and it is through this that we can see the context of many portions of scripture that otherwise would not make much sense to us in today's age. It is always important for us to look at the bible the way it was given and to rightly divide it, rather than make it say what we think it should.