328: Covenant Theology from the Apostolic Era through the Medieval Period

I. Importance of the Issue

A. Many scholars assign a late date
B. Implications of a late date

II. Covenant Theology in the Apostolic Era

A. The Last Supper
B. Acts 1

1. Citation of OT scriptures

2. Continuation of Israel

C. Acts 2

1. Acts 2:30-31. The covenantal promises made to David spoke of Jesus.

2. David ‘saw’ Jesus!

D. New Testament Epistles

1. Romans 5

2. I Corinthians 10

3. II Corinthians 3

4. Galatians 3-4

5. Colossians 2

6. Hebrews 8-10

E. Conclusion – covenant theology begins in the Scriptures!

III. Covenant Theology in the Post-Apostolic Church

A. Two major apologetic concerns

1. Judaism

2. Gnosticism

i. Separation between God of the Old Testament and the God and Father of Jesus Christ

ii. Marcion (85-160)

iii. ‘Double duty’ for covenant theology

B. The Epistle of Barnabas (late first century – early second century)

1. Moses ‘cast the two tables out of his hands, and their covenant (διαθηκη) was broken, in order that the covenant (διαθηκη) of Jesus the Beloved should be sealed in our hearts in hope of his faith.’ (Barnabas, IV.8)

C. Justin Martyr (103-165)

1. Dialogue with Trypho

D. Melito of Sardis (died c. 180)

1. Peri Pascha

E. Irenaeus of Lyon (c.130 – 202)

1. Against Heresies

i. Sought to refute Gnostic heresies of Valentinus and Marcion.

ii.  For the new covenant having been known and preached by the prophets, He who was to carry it out according to the good pleasure of the Father was also preached, having been revealed to men as God pleased; that they might always make progress through believing in Him, and by means of the [successive] covenants, should gradually attain to perfect salvation. For there is one salvation and one God; but the precepts which form the man are numerous, and the steps which lead man to God are not a few. It is allowable for an earthly and temporal king, though he is [but] a man, to grant to his subjects greater advantages at times: shall not this then be lawful for God, since He is [ever] the same, and is always willing to confer a greater [degree of] grace upon the human race, and to honour continually with many gifts those who please Him? But if this be to make progress, [namely,] to find out another Father besides Him who was preached from the beginning; and again, besides him who is imagined to have been discovered in the second place, to find out a third other,—then the progress of this man will consist in his also proceeding from a third to a fourth; and from this, again, to another and another: and thus he who thinks that he is always making progress of such a kind, will never rest in one God. For, being driven away from Him who truly is [God], and being turned backwards, he shall be forever seeking, yet shall never find out God;2 but shall continually swim in an abyss without limits, unless, being converted by repentance, he return to the place from which he had been cast out, confessing one God, the Father, the Creator, and believing [in Him] who was declared by the law and the prophets, who was borne witness to by Christ, as He did Himself declare to those who were accusing His disciples of not observing the tradition of the elders: “Why do ye make void the law of God by reason of your tradition? For God said, Honour thy father and mother; and, Whosoever curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” And again, He says to them a second time: “And ye have made void the word of God by reason of your tradition;” Christ confessing in the plainest manner Him to be Father and God, who said in the law, “Honour thy father and mother; that it may be well with thee.” For the true God did confess the commandment of the law as the word of God, and called no one else God besides His own Father.  source

ii. Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching (nd)

F. Augustine (354-430)

1. Described an early version of the Covenant of Works

2. Described a Covenant of Grace first announced to Adam

G. General Doctrinal Characteristics

1. Some discussion of the historical unfolding of the Covenant of Grace, but most attention is paid to the relationship of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

2. Emphasis on the continuity of the Law.

3. The mutuality of the Covenant of Grace.

H. Latinization of Covenant Terminology

1. Jerome and the Vulgate

2. Latin terminology

i. Pactum

ii. Foedus

iii. Testamentum


IV. Covenant Theology in the Medieval Period

A. Ockham, Biel, the via moderna, and Covenant Causality

1. William of Ockham (1285-1347)

2. Covenant causality

3. Gabriel Biel (~1420-1495)

4. Covenant causality and justification

i. God’s pactum with man

ii. ‘To the one who does what he can, God will not deny grace.’

iii. Anti-Pelagian objective

5. Covenant causality and sacramental theology

B. Martin Luther and Medieval Covenant Theology

1. Dictata supra Psalterium (1513-1515)

i. Use of medieval categories

ii. Illustration of king and murderer

2. Application to justification

i. God’s ‘covenant of mercy’ (pactum misericordiae)

3. Lingering effects on Luther