Covenant, Testament

Greek word - (diatheke G1242)

Quiz - Choose the answer that is closest to what you think COVENANT is.
A - a promise
B - a treaty, a contract
C - a witness
D - a will

Problem - Outdated

KJV Example - "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." (Hebrews 10:16)


This lesson is also about the word, testament.

What is the difference between a covenant and a testament? In English there are differences. In Greek there aren't.

In English a testament is a will, but it can also be a covenant. The word implies that it is witnessed (testified) by a third party.

Covenant, on the other hand, comes from Old French and means agreement. It is an agreement between two or more persons.

In the King James Version, the two words are used to translate the same Greek word, diatheke. It is covenant 20 times and testament 13 times. The King James Version could have translated this word as covenant every time or as testament every time. Why didn't it? I don't know. In Greek, they are the same thing.

Translating this Greek word two ways can cause confusion. In Hebrews, the King James Version mentions a new covenant (Hebrews 8:8) and a new testament (Hebrews 9:15). But they are not two different things. In Greek they are not even different words. They are the same words and the same thing.

One translation of diatheke in other Bible versions is agreement. That is what it is: an agreement between two parties. I do not translate it as agreement because there are other unrelated Greek words that mean to agree. Agreement is too general.

I translate diatheke as treaty. It could also be a contract.

In the Bible, a covenant is a treaty and a testament is a treaty.

Modern Synonym - treaty

Bible Version Tally (how other versions translate this word) - covenant (38 of 52), agreement (8 or 52), testament (4 of 52), promise (2 of 52)

Breakthrough Version - "'This is the treaty that I will form for them after those days,' says the Master. 'Giving My laws, I will write them on their hearts and on their mind,'" (Hebrews 10:16 BV)

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