Heb 13:20: Covenant of Grace or New Covenant? An Exegetical Note -- By: Richard L. Mayhue

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 07:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: Heb 13:20: Covenant of Grace or New Covenant? An Exegetical Note
Author: Richard L. Mayhue


Heb 13:20:
Covenant of Grace or New Covenant?
An Exegetical Note

Richard L. Mayhue

Senior Vice President and Dean
Professor of Pastoral Ministries and Systematic Theology

The recently released New Geneva Study Bible, which champions the theological school of “covenantalism,” proposes that “God…revealed His covenant of grace by promising a Savior (Gen 3:15)….The covenant of Sinai…was a continuation of the covenant of grace (Exod 3:15; Deut 7:7, 8; 9:5, 6)….As Heb 7–10 explains…God inaugurated a better version of His one eternal covenant with sinners (Heb 13:20)….”1 But, does the phrase διαθήκη αἰωνίου (diathēkē aiōniou, “eternal covenant”) in Hebrews 13:20 actually refer to “one eternal covenant”?2

The Issue

Reformed commentators of another era—e.g., Gouge3 (1587–1653), Henry4 (1662–1714), Owen5 (1616–1683), and Poole6 (1624–1679)—equated Hebrews 13:20 with the alleged “covenant of grace,” as did theologian Dabny7 (1820–1898). In contrast, John Calvin (1509–1564) spoke of this text in conjunction with the New Covenant,8 although one might have guessed he would have linked this text to the covenant(s) of redemption/grace if pressed for a more thorough

explanation.

More recent commentators uniformly relate Hebrews 13:20 to the New Covenant without mentioning the covenant of grace—e.g., Brown,9 Bruce,10 Cranfield,11 Ellingsworth,12 Hu...

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