Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.


THE word covenant as related to God is used in three senses in the Bible: (1) promises either

binding one party – a unilateral or unconditional covenant, or binding various parties to one

another on certain conditions – a bi-lateral or conditional covenant; (2) such promises with all

their pertinent teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc.; and (3) such promises with all their

pertinent teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., and the servants who minister to the

covenant’s subjects these promises with all their pertinent teachings, institutions, arrangements,

etc. Note that in each succeeding sense of the word, all that was in the preceding sense is

contained, plus something else, which is indicated by italics in the second and third senses of the

word. Therefore, we may speak of the first of these senses of a covenant in the narrow sense of

the word, the second as a covenant in the wider sense of the word, and the third as a covenant in

the widest sense of the word.


Unilateral and Bi-lateral Covenants


Examples of unilateral covenants include: (1) God’s covenant to Noah never again to destroy

society with a flood (Genesis 9: 12-17) (Isaiah 54: 9); and (2) the Abrahamic Covenant

(Genesis 12: 2, 3), which is a summary of God’s entire plan. These covenants bind only one

party – they are unilateral, one-sided; hence they are unconditional promises. For this reason, the

Abrahamic and Sarah covenants are repeatedly called the promises, binding God only

(Romans 9: 8, 9)


Examples of bi-lateral covenants include: (1) the Law Covenant, in which God and Israel

entered into a covenant with one another, God promising as His part of the covenant to give

Israel life, the right to life and its life-rights, if Israel would keep the Divinely-given teachings,

institutions, arrangements, etc. (Galatians 3: 12, 10); and Israel as its part of the covenant

promising to keep these, if God would reward such obedience with everlasting life

(Exodus 24: 3) (Galatians 3: 12) (Deuteronomy 30: 15-20); and (2) the New Covenant, which

will consist of the promises that God and man will make to one another on certain conditions,

during the Millennial and post-Millennial Age periods (Ezekiel 18: 1-24).


Let us cite the Law Covenant as an example of the word covenant used in the second or wider

sense of the word. It consisted not only of the above mentioned conditional promises, but also of

the teachings, arrangements, institutions, etc., that were made the basis of the covenant in its

narrow sense, and that as such were obligations of the parties to the covenant. Some of these

included the various features of the Passover, the Sabbath, etc.


Covenants as Mothers


Let us also cite the Law Covenant as an example of the word covenant in the third or widest

sense of the word. In addition to the conditional promises of the Law Covenant and their

pertinent teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., the covenant in this sense of the word

includes every Israelite in his capacity of ministering the covenant teachings, institutions,

arrangements, etc., to his fellow Israelites. Those Israelites, in their capacity of being so

ministered unto, were the child of the Law Covenant. When Israelites ministered the covenant

provisions to one another, they acted as the mother, antitypical Hagar (Galatians 4: 24, 25); and

when nourished with the covenant provision by their brethren, they acted as the child, antitypical

Ishmael (Galatians 4: 25, 29, 30).


From this standpoint, the mother included: (1) Moses; (2) the elders of the people, especially the

twelve princes, the seventy judges and the priesthood; and (3) the Levites, the parents, the

prophets and everyone else who would do any teaching of the covenant’s provisions to his

fellow Israelites. In their functioning in that capacity they were Jehovah’s wife, antitypical

Hagar, nourishing Israelites as her children.


Another example of a covenant in the third or widest sense of the word is the Sarah Covenant,

the covenant that developed the Church, antitypical Isaac. The mother, antitypical Sarah,

consisted of the brethren as they ministered the Covenant provisions to their brethren, which

included: (1) our Lord; (2) the Apostles; (3) the prophets (both the Old Testament and the non

apostolic Gospel Age teachers of the general Church); (4) the evangelists; (5) the pastors or

teachers; and (6) the non-official brethren of the Church.


As a final example, in the next Age the New Covenant as Jehovah’s wife, in the third or widest

sense of the word, will include the pertinent promises, their teachings, etc., and those who apply

these to the restitution class: (1) the Christ; (2) the Great Company; (3) the Ancient and (4)

Youthful Worthies; (5) believing Israel; and (6) all the faithful of the restitution class

(Matthew 25: 34-40).


Return to Studies Main Page

Contact Us