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Testament or Covenant – Which?

In the History of Christianity much has been said about the nature of the contracts or agreements underlying the Hebrew word Covenant and the Greek word Testament.  The common denominator has to be their contractual nature.

The following excerpt is from an in-depth article in APPENDIX 2 of God's Word to the Nations TRANSLATION  section  C.  relative to the Greek word testament:


THE SPECIAL HANDLING OF CERTAIN GREEK TERMS  3. Diatheke

Diatheke is one of the most important and fascinating terms in all of Scripture. Its depth and conceptual richness, the history of its translation into English, and the debate over its meaning in several Biblical contexts have demanded as much in-depth research and prayerful decision-making as any other single term translated in GWN.

The Greek diatheke (coupled with the Hebrew term berith, which is rendered "covenant" in virtually every English Old Testament translation) needs—almost demands—a volume of explanation. This is illustrated by the many pages that have been written concerning both of these terms in the history of the (Christian) church.

The article goes on from clear grammatical and conceptual evidence-based arguments to a variety of Christian dream time doctrinal conclusions, as do all Christian writers including Jehovah's Witnesses.

This whole gamut of distorted ideas runs from God dying for mankind a la trinity or Moses the mediator having to die but being rescued by a sheep or Christ the mediator dying, but not too sure who rescues him, to Jesus dying for all or only for believers and everyone in between.


It would have been discouraging for Israel to know from the outset that their earthly sojourn was but a temporary one, with their final national destiny in the Heavens.  Jehovah in His love for them and their world made sure of that in two ways.

1. By using the Hebrew word for covenant berith that never conveyed the idea of a last will and testament.

2. and by having Moses wear a veil so that Israel could not discern the end of that which had not yet even fully begun.
(Exodus 34:33-35; 2 Corinthians 3:13)

It was not until Jehovah inspired the Apostle Paul and others, that the meaning of the mystery or sacred secret was finally revealed.  After the Messiah had died, Paul revealed the real intent of the kingdom testament of Exodus 19 in his letter addressed appropriately to the Hebrews:

(Hebrews 9:15-20)  15 And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  16 For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in.  17 For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth.
 
18 Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood.  19 For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,  20 Saying: This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you. (Douay-Rheims)


I initially chose this translation, because it does not insert covenant into verse 18.

Why did Paul choose the Greek word Diatheke, which principally means:

a disposition, arrangement, of any sort, which one wishes to be valid, the last disposition which one makes of his earthly possessions after his death, a testament or will, especially so in verse 20 where it is a direct quote from Exodus 24:8?

He did so, because the intent of that covenant was testamental in nature at the outset, yet lovingly hidden from the people Israel, Jehovah's special possession and inheritance:

9 For Jehovah’s share is his people; Jacob is the allotment that he inherits.
 
(Deuteronomy 32:9)

Israel was destined to continue from the Exodus to the beginning of the heavenly kingdom of the 1000 years where all ethnic/racial identities and connections cease as it shall also be on earth where humanity will coalesce into one undivided family in a joyful variety of looks, features and abilities.

The verses in Hebrews 9 above deal with both: Testament and the Law Covenant.

The testator was Jehovah's firstborn son Israel (Exodus 4:22), not the mediators Moses and Jesus, as the JWs and perhaps many other Christian religions have concluded.  

Covenant does not reflect the inspired NT intent of the Greek interface Strong's 1242 used: diatheke, last will and testament.

The Testament of Exodus 19:3-8 was a legal agreement for an inheritance between the testator Israel and the future heirs witnessed by and under the legal authority of the lawgiver Jehovah, who set the conditions the heir had to meet in order to qualify, with Moses the mediating interface.

The Law Covenant of Exodus 24 was later added to spell out these conditions in a covenant of behavioural compliance to rules and regulations Israel had to meet to remain the heir.   This Law Covenant was mutually agreed upon in Exodus 24 where it was also inaugurated amid joyous celebration and feasting on animals slaughtered for the occasion and shared with Jehovah.

On the basis of the Mosaic Law, Jehovah's firstborn son Israel had to die for not keeping the law and someone else inherit, a new testament needed to be inaugurated later for the heir, the little flock to be given that kingdom by Jehovah (Luke 12:32),  who had to die andpass of the earthly scene because . . .flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. . (1 Corinthians 15:50).


In short:

Both Testaments administer inheritance.

Links 1 and 2

The Law Covenant administered death.

Romans 8:2;  1 Corinthians 15:56;  2 Corinthians 3:6-7


The old covenant law concerning adulterous wives also condemned Jehovah's wife Israel, who were rightly executed without inheriting anything in a divorce severance of death.

In the New Testament that annulled law regarding adulterous wives of the first covenant no longer applies; the law having been done away with.

The new testament covers the very special epoch from Pentecost 33 CE  to the end of the 1000 year Kingdom of God, which then terminates the final epoch or age of the Seed of Abraham, Israel's purpose.

It is only at that time that the New Testament is validated when God becomes the ultimate heir of all that the seed of Abraham has accomplished in behalf of humankind and planet earth.


Mediator of what?  ‑  Covenant or Testament?

Out of Jehovah's love for His inheritance, His firstborn son Israel, the meaning and intent of the Moses-mediated Covenant (01285.  berith';) remained a sacred secret until Messiah, when it became clear who was to inherit what.

The writers of the NT clearly understood that intent and deliberately used the Greek word Testament even when referring to the Mosaic covenant:
(Strong's 1242.
diayhkh diatheke  from 1303; properly, a disposition, i.e. (specially) a contract (especially a devisory will):-- covenant, testament.)

The 'lettered' men of Christendom are utterly confused as evidenced by their profusion of commentaries and dictionaries.  These derive their errors from two fundamental falsehoods, or errors to give them some credit:

  1. Mankind's alleged innate, sinful and depraved condition and
  1. a complete failure to understand Israel's role in Jehovah's purpose.

Coupled with the Christianised pagan triune-god theory, these falsehoods make for some very silly and woefully erroneous doctrines.

The word diatheke/testament is almost synonymous with and contains the concept of inheritance.

One may inherit without a formal last will and testament, but a last will and testament without an existing inheritance would be superfluous.

Israel, God's eternal inheritance were collectively born again as a nation in consequence of the sacrifice of their Passover lamb Jesus, which was the salvation of a nation doomed to extinction.

They will have completed their journey individually when they are born again as spirit sons of God at their resurrection in consequence of heartfelt compliance.

Christ, their mediator, purchased disobedient Israel* when he offered the lamb Jesus as a sacrifice for that nation. That sacrifice both validated the Sinaic testament and inaugurated the new testament.
*
This weird paragraph simply begs for an explanation.  You can sort that here and down along its sub-menus.

At the close of the 1000-year reign of God's heavenly Kingdom, the nations who were to bless themselves according to the Abrahamic covenant through Abraham's Seed, will have done so.

Virtual Heavenly Israel, the multiethnic seed of Abraham, having thus fulfilled the terms of the Abrahamic covenant, will then lose this virtual national identity by again dying as a people, to become Jehovah's personal eternal inheritance, as the Christ relinquishes his purchased ownership of them.  This 'death' as a ‘nation’ then validates the New Testament after it has finally accomplished its intended purpose:

(Revelation 20:5-6) . . .) This is the first resurrection. 6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.. . .

(1 Corinthians 15:24-28) 24 Next, the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. 25 For he must rule as king until [God] has put all enemies under his feet. 26 As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing. 27 For [God] “subjected all things under his feet.” But when he says that ‘all things have been subjected,’ it is evident that it is with the exception of the one who subjected all things to him. 28 But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.. . .


Galatians 3:19-20   Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  20 Now a mediator  is not of one: but God is one. Douay-Rheims

I Timothy 2:5-6  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  KJV.

Hebrews 8:6-7:   6 ¶  But now he hath obtained a better ministry, by how much also he is a mediator of a better testament which is established on better promises.  7  For if that former had been faultless, there should not indeed a place have been sought for a second.  Douay-Rheims

Hebrews 9:15-17:   And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  16 For where there is a testament the death of the testator must of necessity come in.  17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth.  Douay-Rheims

Hebrews 12:24 24  And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.  Douay-Rheims



The following might be a bit boring, statistically that it is, but it will interest all who wish to know accurately.

Here are all occurrences of the word Strong's ‑1242 diayhkh diatheke‑

 as translated in the AV King James Bible:


Matthew 26:28 For this <5124> is my blood <129> of the new <2537> testament <1242>, which <3588> is shed <1632> for many <4183> for the remission <859> of sins <266>.

Mark 14:24 And he said <2036> unto them, This <5124> is my blood <129> of the new <2537> testament <1242>, which <3588> is shed <1632> for many <4183>.

Luke 1:72 To perform <4160> the mercy <1656> [promised] to our fathers <3962>, and to remember <3415> his holy <40> covenant <1242>;

Luke 22:20 Likewise <5615> also <2532> the cup <4221> after <3326> supper <1172>, saying <3004>, This <5124> cup <4221> [is] the new <2537> testament <1242> in my blood <129>, which <3588> is shed <1632> for you.

Acts 3:25 Ye are the children <5207> of the prophets <4396>, and of the covenant <1242> which <3739> God <2316> made <1303> with our fathers <3962>, saying <3004> unto Abraham <11>, And in thy seed <4690> shall all <3956> the kindreds <3965> of the earth <1093> be blessed <1757>.

Acts 7:8 And he gave <1325> him the covenant <1242> of circumcision <4061>: and so <3779> [Abraham] begat <1080> Isaac <2464>, and circumcised <4059> him the eighth <3590> day <2250>; and Isaac <2464> [begat] Jacob <2384>; and Jacob <2384> [begat] the twelve <1427> patriarchs <3966>.

Romans 9:4 Who <3748> are Israelites <2475>; to whom <3739> [pertaineth] the adoption <5206>, and the glory <1391>, and the covenants <1242>, and the giving <3548> of the law <3548>, and the service <2999> [of God], and the promises <1860>;

Romans 11:27 For this <3778> [is] my covenant <1242> unto them, when <3752> I shall take <851> away <851> their sins <266>.

1 Corinthians 11:25 After <5615> the same <5615> manner <5615> also <2532> [he took] the cup <4221>, when <3326> he had supped <1172>, saying <3004>, This <5124> cup <4221> is the new <2537> testament <1242> in my blood <129>: this <5124> do <4160> ye, as oft <3740> as ye drink <4095> [it], in remembrance <364> of me.

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who <3739> also <2532> hath made <2427> us able <2427> ministers <1249> of the new <2537> testament <1242>; not of the letter <1121>, but of the spirit <4151>: for the letter <1121> killeth <615>, but the spirit <4151> giveth life <2227>.

2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds <3540> were blinded <4456>: for until <891> this <4594> day <4594> remaineth <3306> the same <846> vail <2571> untaken <343> away <343> in the reading <320> of the old <3820> testament <1242>; which <3748> [vail] is done away <2673> in Christ <5547>.

Galatians 3:15 Brethren <80>, I speak <3004> after <2596> the manner of men <444>; Though <3676> [it be] but a man's <444> covenant <1242>, yet [if it be] confirmed <2964>, no <3762> man <3762> disannulleth <114>, or <2228> addeth <1928> thereto <1928>.

Galatians 3:17 And this <5124> I say <3004>, [that] the covenant <1242>, that was confirmed <4300> before <4300> of God <2316> in Christ <5547>, the law <3551>, which was four <5071> hundred <5071> and thirty <5144> years <2094> after <3326>, cannot <3756> disannul <208>, that it should make <2673> the promise <1860> of none <2673> effect <2673>.

Galatians 4:24 Which <3748> things are an allegory <238>: for these <3778> are the two <1417> covenants <1242>; the one <3391> from the mount <3735> Sinai <4614>, which gendereth <1080> to bondage <1397>, which <3748> is Agar <28>.

Ephesians 2:12 That at <1722> that time <2540> ye were without <5565> Christ <5547>, being aliens <526> from the commonwealth <4174> of Israel <2474>, and strangers <3581> from the covenants <1242> of promise <1860>, having <2192> no <3361> hope <1680>, and without <112> God <112> in the world <2889>:

Hebrews 7:22 By so <5118> much <5118> was Jesus <2424> made <1096> a surety <1450> of a better <2909> testament <1242>.

Hebrews 8:6 But now <3570> hath he obtained <5177> a more excellent <1313> ministry <3009>, by how <3745> much <3745> also <2532> he is the mediator <3316> of a better <2909> covenant <1242>, which <3748> was established <3549> upon better <2909> promises <1860>.

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault <3201> with them, he saith <3004>, Behold <2400>, the days <2250> come <2064>, saith <3004> the Lord <2962>, when I will make <4931> a new <2537> covenant <1242> with the house <3624> of Israel <2474> and with the house <3624> of Judah <2455>:

Hebrews 8:9 Not according <2596> to the covenant <1242> that I made <4160> with their fathers <3962> in the day <2250> when I took <1949> them by the hand <5495> to lead <1806> them out of the land <1093> of Egypt <125>; because <3754> they continued <1696> not in my covenant <1242>, and I regarded <272> them not, saith <3004> the Lord <2962>.

Hebrews 8:10 For this <3778> [is] the covenant <1242> that I will make <1303> with the house <3624> of Israel <2474> after <3326> those <1565> days <2250>, saith <3004> the Lord <2962>; I will put <1325> my laws <3551> into <1519> their mind <1271>, and write <1924> them in their hearts <2588>: and I will be to them a God <2316>, and they shall be to me a people <2992>:

Hebrews 9:4 Which had <2192> the golden <5552> censer <2369>, and the ark <2787> of the covenant <1242> overlaid <4028> round <3840> about <3840> with gold <5553>, wherein <1722> <3739> [was] the golden <5552> pot <4713> that had <2192> manna <3131>, and Aaron's <2> rod <4464> that budded <985>, and the tables <4109> of the covenant <1242>;

Hebrews 9:15 And for this <5124> cause <1223> he is the mediator <3316> of the new <2537> testament <1242>, that by means <1096> of death <2288>, for the redemption <629> of the transgressions <3847> [that were] under <1909> the first <4413> testament <1242>, they which are called <2564> might receive <2983> the promise <1860> of eternal <166> inheritance <2817>.

Hebrews 9:16 For where <3699> a testament <1242> [is], there must also of necessity <318> be <5342> the death <2288> of the testator <1303>.

Hebrews 9:17 For a testament <1242> [is] of force <949> after men are dead <3498>: otherwise <1893> it is of no <3361> strength <2480> at <3379> all <4219> while <3753> the testator <1303> liveth <2198>.

Hebrews 9:20 Saying <3004>, This <5124> [is] the blood <129> of the testament <1242> which <3739> God <2316> hath enjoined <1781> unto you.

Hebrews 10:16 This <3778> [is] the covenant <1242> that I will make <1303> with them after <3326> those <1565> days <2250>, saith <3004> the Lord <2962>, I will put <1325> my laws <3551> into <1909> their hearts <2588>, and in their minds <1271> will I write <1924> them;

Hebrews 10:29 Of how <4214> much <4214> sorer <5501> punishment <5098>, suppose <1380> ye, shall he be thought worthy <515>, who <3588> hath trodden <2662> under <2662> foot <2662> the Son <5207> of God <2316>, and hath counted <2233> the blood <129> of the covenant <1242>, wherewith <3739> he was sanctified <37>, an unholy <2839> thing, and hath done <1796> despite <1796> unto the Spirit <4151> of grace <5485>?

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus <2424> the mediator <3316> of the new <3501> covenant <1242>, and to the blood <129> of sprinkling <4473>, that speaketh <2980> better <2909> things than [that of] Abel <6>.

Hebrews 13:20 Now <1161> the God <2316> of peace <1515>, that brought <321> again <321> from the dead <3498> our Lord <2962> Jesus <2424>, that great <3173> shepherd <4166> of the sheep <4263>, through <1722> the blood <129> of the everlasting <166> covenant <1242>,

Revelation 11:19 And the temple <3485> of God <2316> was opened <455> in heaven <3772>, and there was seen <3700> in his temple <3485> the ark <2787> of his testament <1242>: and there were lightnings <796>, and voices <5456>, and thunderings <1027>, and an earthquake <4578>, and great <3173> hail <5464>.



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