Differences between a Covenant and Testament ?

Not open for further replies.

Reena Wilms

Puritan Board Freshman
Can someone tell me the differences between them ? Are they similar, or are they different ?, and if they are different, why them do we use the word covenant or testament in same way as : The Old/New Covenant or the Old/New Testament when we speak about the Word of God ?



Puritan Board Freshman
Both ideas are used in scripture.

My pastor has written an article you might find helpful.

English version:

Dutch version:

O. Palmer Robertson (in Christ of the Covenants) argues that diatheke in Hebrews 9 should be translated as covenant. But I think Anderson is right. Diatheke in Hebrews 9 has to be translated as testament.


"And for this reason he [i.e. Jesus] is the mediator of a new testament, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first testament, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a testament is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it
lives. Therefore even the first testament was not inaugurated without blood."

[Edited on 3-24-2004 by Harrie]


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I think George Milligan (of Moulton & Milligan fame) was correct in his [b:8dd80590af]earlier[/b:8dd80590af] assessment that [i:8dd80590af]diatheke[/i:8dd80590af] should be uniformly translated "covenant" in the NT. The case he makes for the Hebrews 9 passage was quite convincing to me (see his [i:8dd80590af]Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews[/i:8dd80590af], originally published 1899, and reprinted 1978). The Gal. 3:15 passage Robertson seems willing to concede to "testament" (p. 141, note 11), but in support of "covenant" there too the powerful voice of J.B. Lightfoot chimes in (see his commentary on Gal., pp140f).

Harrie, you, your pastor, and many others may be correct--these are not easy questions. However, "covenant" should, I believe, preponderate in our thinking as unquestionably the dominant theme carried by the biblical-Greek term, to be replaced only after the weight of consideration forces us away from it (if, as I said, at all).
Not open for further replies.