Cover Image: Sealed with an Oath

Sealed with an Oath:
Covenant in God's Unfolding Purpose (NSBT)

Paul Williamson (Apollos, 2007)

Blurb Review


‘I will make an everlasting covenant with you . . . ' (Isaiah 55:3). ‘Covenant' is a major theme in the Bible, and many Christian thinkers across the centuries have made it the organizing principle by which they understand the Old and New Testaments. The biblical material is undoubtedly plentiful, but some specific texts are also much disputed. In this stimulating overview, Paul Williamson offers fresh readings of many passages that contribute to the theme of covenant, highlights its significance for biblical theology, and explores its role within God's unfolding purpose. He concludes that covenant is essentially ‘a solemn commitment, guaranteeing promises undertaken by one or both parties, sealed with an oath', and that its primary function is to advance God's creative purpose of universal blessing, from its inception in the primeval period to its consummation in the new heavens and the new earth.


1 Biblical theology and the covenant concept 
Biblical theology, covenant and the unity of Scripture 
The place of covenant in 
biblical scholarship 
The role of the covenant concept in Scripture 
The meaning of covenant terminology used in Scripture 

2 Covenant and God's universal purpose 
Covenant in its biblical-theological context 
Creation and the divine purpose 
The question of a covenant with Adam 

3 God's universal covenant with Noah 
Introduction of the covenant idea 
Covenant and (re-)creation 
Ratification of the universal covenant 
Human obligations of the universal covenant 
Divine obligations and sign of the universal covenant 
God's universal covenant elsewhere in the Old Testament 
Theological significance of the universal covenant 
A creation covenant? 

4 God's programmatic covenants with the patriarchs 
The patriarchal covenants in their biblical-theological framework 
The programmatic agenda The patriarchal covenants 
The covenant heirs 

5 God's national covenant with Israel 
The national covenant in biblical-theological context 
The revelatory purpose of the national covenant 
The ratification of the covenant at Sinai 
The sign of the Mosaic covenant: sabbath 
The covenantal significance of the tabernacle 
The covenantal status of the Levitical priesthood 
The breaking of the covenant and its re-establishment 
The covenant and Israel's cult Covenantal renewal at Moab 
Subsequent renewals of the national covenant 

6 God's royal covenant with David 
The literary and historical context of the dynastic oracle 
The promissory focus of the dynastic oracle 
David's response to the dynastic oracle 
Subsequent reflection on the royal covenant 
The royal covenant in the latter prophets 
The royal covenant in the purpose of God 

7 God's new covenant anticipated by the prophets 
Jeremiah's ‘new covenant' text 
Other anticipations of a future covenant 
Other possible allusions to the anticipated ‘new covenant' 
Drawing the various strands together 

8 God's new covenant inaugurated through Jesus 
The new covenant in the Gospels 
The new covenant in Acts 
The new covenant in Paul 
The new covenant in Hebrews 
The ultimate consummation 

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