The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant

Why does it matter how one views the covenant with Abraham? Are there actually different views Covenant Viewon it? My experience leads me to believe that most folks don’t really think too much about such things. Yet this singular item is, in fact, the biggest wedge between Reformed Baptists and our Presbyterian brothers.

As pointed out in this book review, the matter of covenants in the Bible and how one looks at and considers them makes a huge difference in myriad other doctrines that sprout forth. To help understand this issue further, I commend this sermon by Jeffrey Johnson, on the topic of the Abrahamic Covenant.

In addition to Johnson’s wonderful book, I recommend this new addition to anyone’s library.

18 thoughts on “The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant

  1. Manfred,

    Having just finished reading Leiter’s book, The Law of Christ, I think a right understanding of the Covenants is much, more important than I once thought. See several years ago when I studied the Law it seemed many of us arrived at the same point in obedience (of course, most agreed salvation is through grace alone not by works) yet some traveled through the Ten Commandments and others traveled through the Law of Christ. Yet now I keep seeing that the way you view The Law, The Covenants and The Law of Christ affects more and more of your understanding of the Bible and your Biblical theology.

    Berean Wife


  2. Bereanwife – so good to hear fro you! Amen and amen – we must be diligent in our study and prayer to petition the Lord for wisdom, lest we continue to trust in our own. Glory to God in the highest!


  3. Bereanwife, also good to see you again here at DefCon. I would like to give a further recommendation that is well worth the read.

    The book is entitled “Kingdom Through Covenants” and approaches the Scriptures from a perspective becoming known as NCT (New Covenant Theology). I am working my way through this book and really appreciate the authors’ understanding of the Scriptures.

    Sadly, Monergism does not offer this book which I think is a big mistake on their part.

    You can find it at Amazon here.


  4. But what does this have to do with a pre trib rapture? 😉
    They are asleep! Type LOUDLY SO THEY CAN WAKE UP!! lol er… LOL

    TJM? Can I get that book on ebay from preachers who got it as a gift and don’t want it like those bible CD’s? 🙂


  5. I”ll have to check into that book.

    Remember when you first made the connection with God’s Sovereignty and how that affects all of your theology? Well, I feel like that now with the Covenants. Say something to others and you get blank stares at best or else people think you’ve gone off the deep end. But it answer’s so many questions; infant baptism being a big one. :0 You sit and look at passages and wonder why didn’t I see that before?

    So amazing!

    Berean Wife


  6. Jim McClarty is one of the clearest teachers on the covenants, you can find a wealth of teaching at and download the mp3’s.

    Many people think the new covenant in Christ replaced the Abrahamic covenant. However, it only replaced the Mosaic covenant, which can be proven by simply reading the terms of the various covenants. The covenant with Abraham was an everlasting, unconditional covenant. Plus, all the land that God promised to his descendants has NEVER been possessed by his descendants. They have never owned land from the Mediterranean to Iraq.

    The Mosaic covenant, however, was conditional based on the people’s obedience. Since the people violated that covenant time and again, God declared He would establish a new covenant “with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (see Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8-10).

    This confusion has led many to believe that the church has replaced Israel (a belief that can only be arrived at by removing the 9th thru 11th chapters of Romans). The church HAS NOT REPLACED Israel, but HAS BEEN GRAFTE IN to the wild olive tree.

    The land promises to Abraham have not been fulfilled yet, therefore that covenant as a promise to ethnic Israel is still in effect


  7. Fourpointer – Brother McClarty is a dispensationalist who sees not clearly on the topic of biblical covenants. The Presbyterian flat view of the old and new is, IMO, wrong – as it the completely disconnected view of the Dispensationalists.

    On one hand, McClarty is right about the covenant with Moses on Sinai – conditional, extension of the Covenant of Works; as clearly taught in Gal 4.

    On the other hand, McClarty is wrong about the covenant with Abraham – which was dichotomous, as shown in Gen 12 & 17 – resembling a coin, with two different sides: works through Ishmael (including all men, everywhere) and grace though Isaac (as promised in Gen 3 and including all saints of all ages) . This is taught in Romans 9 as well as Gal 4.

    No Christian has any reason to boast, we are branches on Christ the vine and we Gentiles are wild branches grafted onto His Olive Tree. There is no replacement to be found, but a fulfillment. Yes, many are wrong about this.

    Finally, Joshua 21:43-45 tells us that God HAS given all the land promised to Abraham’s offspring and that Abraham himself was looking for city whose maker and builder was God – not looking for dirt here on this planet in this age.

    The re-emerging Baptist view of Covenant Theology is much more biblical than the Presbyterian view, which was largely constructed to defend their tradition of infant baptism.


  8. So when God promised Abraham all the land from the Mediterranean to Iraq (basically), He was just being figurative, and didn’t really mean what He said? And at what point in history have the people of Israel owned all the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants?


  9. No, that’s not the point. The point is that God said He gave all the land promised to Abraham’s offspring:

    And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)

    We do not interpret the Bible by current events. We interpret the Bible by the Bible.


  10. We both agree that God promised that land to Abraham’s descendants. Where we seem to disagree is on the point that the promise God made to Abraham was that his descendants would possess all the land and live in it forever–not for a little while. So while there was indeed a near fulfillment in Joshua, there will also be a future fulfillment as spoken of in Romans 9-11.

    We also have the words of Zechariah, saying that one day all the nations will flow into Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Booths year after year–something that has not happened yet, requiring a future fulfillment.


  11. Fourpointer – Anyone who thinks returning to literal Jewish festivals and religious rituals is what God has ordained, AFTER divorcing Israel and destroying the temple at Jerusalem so that people would see stones are not what His kingdom is built upon, is missing the eschatological hope that all saints have in Christ. I think John Gill’s commentary on the Zechariah passage are very helpful, about half way down this page:


  12. God did fulfill the land promise already:

    Jos 21:43 Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.
    Jos 21:44 And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands.
    Jos 21:45 Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.


  13. Joshua…your point would make sense if God had never ever added any further promises to Israel, but He did. In context this refers singularly to the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan. I object to your aui priori hermeneutical hocus pocus. I thought Zec. and Isa. were written post Joshua. You have to negate all original intent to the original audience to fit your eschatology. This sounds to me to be a literal earthly kingdom yet to come.
    You must also deny that Satan is bound and sealed and otherwise utterly removed in presence and deed and power during the entire millennial kingdom.


  14. It needs to be noted that after the return from exile, there is never a single promise made of Israel’s return to the land. These ideas must be read into passages like Rom. 11, since they are not found there.


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