The Covenant of Redemption

Guy M. Richard
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta

Perhaps the most questionable element of historic federal theology is the covenant of redemption—the idea that there is a pre-temporal agreement between the persons of the Trinity to plan and carry out the redemption of the elect. Many people today have reservations about the biblical warrant for such an idea.[1] The biblical proof-texts employed to support it have come under a fair amount of criticism in recent years. Moreover, there is a sense in which the covenant of redemption feels speculative and unnecessary, because it deals with things happening within the mind of God before the creation of time, and because it seems to run counter to the unity of God. If God really is one God with one mind and will, then why would there need to be a covenant between the persons of the Trinity to establish agreement between them? Would there not already be agreement by virtue of the fact that all three persons share one and the same mind and will?[2] The covenant of redemption has, for all these reasons, fallen upon hard times within the Reformed community at large.

But the covenant of redemption was not always so suspect. It was, in fact, a commonly accepted idea from at least the middle part of the seventeenth century until the early twentieth century. From the moment it was formally expressed in writing, the covenant of redemption was embraced almost universally within the Reformed world with a speed that is quite astonishing. What was it that led our forefathers in the post-Reformation period to embrace this doctrine so universally and so quickly? We will seek to answer this question by exploring the biblical and theological rationale that made the covenant of redemption a staple within Reformed orthodoxy so quickly and for so long. My hope is that, in doing this, we will all be able to see the beauty that our forefathers saw in this doctrine. In the course of fulfilling my intended goal, this chapter will survey the origins and development of the covenant of redemption, and then it will explore the biblical and theological rationale that have been used to support it.

Origins and Development

The precise origin of the covenant of redemption is difficult to pinpoint. David Dickson was apparently the first to speak of it by name in a speech he gave to the General Assembly of the Scottish church in 1638.[3] After that, we see it appear in a good many treatises published in the 1640s.[4] But there are hints that the covenant of redemption may have predated all of these occurrences. Johannes Oecolampadius, for instance, specifically referred to a covenant between the Father and the Son in 1525. And it is quite possible that Martin Luther had this same idea in mind as early as 1519.[5] Theodore Beza, too, may well have been speaking of a pre-temporal covenant when, in his translation of Luke 22:29, he said in 1567 that the Father had “made a covenant with” the Son, which he linked to the eternal testament of Hebrews 9.[6]

These hints at the existence of a pre-temporal intra-Trinitarian covenant continued to be visible to a greater or lesser degree throughout the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in the writings of men like Caspar Olevianus, Guillaume Budé, John Calvin, William Ames, Paul Bayne, and Edward Reynolds. Even men from the opposite side of the theological spectrum were willing to speak of a covenant between the Father and the Son. James Arminius did so as early as 1603; and he defined this covenant as a voluntary arrangement to accomplish the salvation of humankind.[7]

It was not until later in the seventeenth century, however, that these hints became expressed much more concretely and the phrase covenant of redemption began regularly to appear. And within a very short period of time, this covenant secured a standard place in contemporary expressions of federal theology. A survey of the writings of men like Thomas Blake, Anthony Burgess, Samuel Rutherford, John Bunyan, Patrick Gillespie, Herman Witsius, and James Durham, and of confessional documents like the Savoy Declaration, the Helvetic Consensus, and the Second London Baptist Confession, will show just how widespread the doctrine of the covenant of redemption became in the latter half of the seventeenth century.[8]

The surprising thing is how rapidly this happened and how little opposition there was to this covenant. Richard Muller has argued that “the seemingly sudden appearance of the doctrine as a virtual truism” within a relatively few years in the 1630s and 40s, suggests that the sixteenth century references were in fact more than merely hints and that the covenant of redemption developed gradually over time from the very beginning of the Reformation. Although the terminology “covenant of redemption” was not used until Dickson’s speech in 1638, the groundwork that would later produce the doctrine was in place long before that.[9]

This evidence further suggests that this doctrine was perceived as being overwhelmingly evident to the ministers and theologians of the latter half of the seventeenth century. Rather than seeing the covenant of redemption as unbiblical, speculative, and unnecessary, these men saw it both as biblically and theologically essential and as exceedingly practical. The question is, why? What biblical and theological rationale led these men to embrace this doctrine so overwhelmingly?

Biblical Rationale

The people of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wholeheartedly embraced the covenant of redemption for one overarching reason: they believed that the Bible taught it. And they believed it did so in three main ways. First, they argued that the language of Scripture pointed to the covenant of redemption; second, that the recorded dialogues between the Father and the Son also pointed to it; and third, that the teaching of several individual passages proved that it was true.

Language of Scripture

The Bible frequently uses language that is highly suggestive of a pre-temporal agreement existing between the Father and the Son. According to Dickson, the Bible does this in three fundamental ways. First, it regularly speaks of the salvation of the elect in terms of buying and selling (e.g., Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18). But, as Dickson pointed out, buying and selling presume that prior agreement has been reached regarding the terms of the deal. Second, the titles which are given to Jesus in the Bible indicate that there must have been some kind of prior agreement between the Father and the Son. Thus, the fact that Jesus is called our “propitiation” in Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2, is evidence that an agreement must have been reached beforehand in which the Son consented to give his life as a propitiatory sacrifice and the Father consented to accept it. Third, Jesus regularly speaks about his mission on earth in terms that imply there was prior agreement between himself and the Father. So, we see Jesus talk about the Father “sending” him into the world, “giving” him a specific “work” to do, and investing him with authority to do it; and we also see Jesus “receiving” his Father’s “charge,” devoting himself to his Father’s “business,” and accomplishing the specific work he has been given to do (e.g., Luke 2:49; John 5:36-7; 6:38; 10:18; 17:4).[10] All of these things suggest that an agreement has been made within the Trinity regarding the salvation of the elect; and this agreement is precisely what the covenant of redemption is meant to embody.

Patrick Gillespie argued that agreement is the essential ingredient of all covenants: “the agreement or consent of two or more Parties upon the same thing, maketh a Paction [i.e., a covenant].” In demonstrating this, he turned to Isaiah 28:15—which says, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement.”[11] He concluded from this that because the two words occur in parallel, they must be synonymous. This meant that all that was required to prove the existence of a covenant between the Father and the Son was to show that there was an agreement between them. And as Dickson’s example demonstrates, the Bible shows this in a great variety of ways.

But Scripture also uses language that describes the salvation of the elect as a transaction between the persons of the Trinity. Thus we see Jesus talk about the elect as those whom the Father “gives” to him (John 6:37, 39; 17:6-9, 24-25) with the expectation that he will do certain things on their behalf—i.e., he will lose none of them (John 6:37, 39); he will raise them up at the last day (John 6:39-40); and he will be “lifted up” after the pattern of John 3:14, so that the elect will believe in him and receive eternal life (John 6:40). We also see Jesus acknowledge that he has come into the world to fulfill his Father’s expectations on behalf of the elect (6:38), which again shows the prior agreement of the persons of the Trinity to the conditions and promises of the transaction of our salvation. For men like Samuel Rutherford, this manner of speaking pointed conclusively to the existence of an intra-Trinitarian covenant in which the terms of our redemption were agreed upon.[12]

Interestingly enough, this kind of transactional language is reflected in the definition of the covenant of redemption that was provided by David Dickson and James Durham in 1648 in The Sum of Saving Knowledge:

The sum of the Covenant of Redemption is this, God having freely chosen unto life, a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich Grace did give them before the world began, unto God the Son appointed Redeemer, that upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature of a soul and a body, unto personal union with his Divine Nature, and submit himself to the Law as surety for them, and satisfie Justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the Cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applyed in due time to every one of them.[13]

Dickson and Durham even cited John 6:37 on the title page of their treatise as the main text upon which their subject matter would be grounded, thereby indicating that this pre-temporal arrangement between the persons of the Trinity is the very foundation upon which all of salvation depends and from which it flows.

What is more, several passages of the Bible also use language that describes Christ as being “chosen,” “ordained,” or “appointed” as mediator for his people (see, in this regard, Isa. 42:1-3 and Matt. 12:15-21; Ps. 2:7; Luke 22:29; Acts 2:23 and 36; Eph. 1:4; Heb. 7:22 and 28; and 1 Pet. 1:19-20). Two of these passages bear further study. The first of these is Luke 22:29, which has historically been understood as teaching that Christ was “covenantally” appointed by God as king over his mediatorial kingdom.[14] Even as far back as Theodore Beza in the middle of the sixteenth century, scholars within the Reformed tradition recognized that the original Greek word used in this verse (diatithemai) means “to covenant.” They, therefore, concluded that it was not just true that Christ was “appointed” king, as the Vulgate had previously specified (using the Latin word dispono), but that God had actually “made a covenant” with Christ to appoint him king.[15]

The second passage is Psalm 2:7. Here too we see reference to a covenantal arrangement existing between the Father and the Son. Patrick Gillespie, for one, argued that the Hebrew word typically translated as “decree” in Psalm 2:7 (hoq) comes from a root which originally meant, among other things, to ordain, appoint, or covenant. Citing several different exegetical traditions, including ancient Targums, he pointed out that “most ancient Interpreters” choose the word “covenant” in their translations of this verse. But what is more important for Gillespie is the fact that the same Hebrew word was elsewhere used interchangeably with the word for covenant (cf. Jer. 31:35-36 and 33:20; see also Ps. 105:10). That is why Gillespie believed that it was entirely appropriate to take Psalm 2:7 as referring to the same basic thing that Luke 22:29 did, namely, to Christ being appointed “covenantally” as mediator.[16]

The fact that Christ was “appointed” to his role as mediator certainly implies that there was some kind of previous arrangement wherein agreement could be reached between the persons of the Trinity on what this role would look like and what conditions and blessings would be attached to it. But the fact that both Luke 22:29 and Psalm 2:7 speak of this appointment in covenantal terms certainly seems to make this arrangement more overt and formal. Christ was not only appointed to be mediator, but this appointment apparently took place within the context of a covenant between the Father and the Son.

Even though the Westminster Confession of Faith does not explicitly mention the covenant of redemption by name, it would appear, nonetheless, to be implicitly reflected in the Confession’s use of this language of “appointment.” Thus when the Confession says that “[i]t pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man,” it is obviously referring to the covenant of redemption, albeit implicitly, by adopting the biblical language of the covenantal appointment of Christ.[17] The Savoy Declaration (1658) and London Baptist Confession (1689) both amended the Westminster Confession by adding the phrase “according to a covenant made between them both” to the abovementioned excerpt in order to make obvious and explicit what was previously obvious but implicit in the Westminster Confession.[18]

Dialogues between Father and Son

The recorded dialogues between the Father and the Son in the Bible also point toward a pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian covenant. One of the clearest examples of this can be seen in Hebrews 10:5-10, which records the words of Psalm 40 and places them upon the lips of Christ (10:5). The words Christ speaks are directed to God (10:7), and they allude to an agreement between the Father and the Son in the accomplishing of our salvation. Thus, Christ speaks of God’s “desires” (10:5), of what gives God “pleasure” (10:6), and of coming into the world to do God’s “will” (10:7)—all of which indicate that the Son not only knew about these things before he came into the world (10:5) but, more importantly, that he also willingly consented to take on the body that God prepared for him, to live according to God’s desires, and to do God’s will long before he actually did any of them. These things had already been written down in the Bible (10:7) long before the Son ever took on flesh and dwelt among us, which means that they must have been determined in the counsels of God even before that.

For Patrick Gillespie, the fact that Christ consented to God’s proposals was proof positive that there was a covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son.[19] He reasoned that consent showed not only an awareness of the relevant issues involved but also agreement to the conditions and promises of the arrangement. Thus when the Son consented to God’s “will,” and did so long before the incarnation ever took place, he was demonstrating that something like the covenant of redemption had to have taken place between himself and the Father.

Gillespie then went on to highlight six characteristics of this agreement to which the Son was consenting, all of which further substantiated a covenant of redemption. First, he said, we see the Father asking the Son to do certain things in order to accomplish our salvation and promising that certain blessings and privileges will follow if and when the Son fulfills those commands (John 6:39-40; Zech. 6:12-13; Mic. 5:4-5; and Isa. 42:1-4). If commands with promises attached to them amounted to a covenant in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:17), then commands with promises also constitute a covenant between the Father and the Son.[20] His point is that if we are willing to acknowledge a covenant of works between God and Adam in the Bible (even if we call it by a different name), then we ought to be ready to acknowledge a covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son, because there is just as much evidence for the one as there is for the other.

Second, Gillespie pointed to the presence of promises with conditions attached. Here he cites Isaiah 53:10-12, which presents the unified “will” of the Lord (Yahweh) to “crush” the incarnate Son and put him to “grief” and, in so doing, to account many people righteous, provided that the Son “makes [himself] an offering for sin,” pours “out his soul to death,” is “numbered with the transgressors,” and bears “the sin of many.” This, as Gillespie says, is nothing more or less than a formal covenant with conditions and promises on both sides.[21]

The third and fourth characteristics that Gillespie mentioned in this regard focus upon the consent that the Son gives to the Father. As John 10:18 indicates, Jesus is not only “charged” or “commanded” by his Father to lay down his life on behalf of God’s people, but he has “received” this charge freely “of [his] own accord.” In addition, in John 17:4, Jesus declares that he has “accomplished the work” that the Father gave him to do. And, as a result, the Father “highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).[22] This kind of “reciprocation” in the actions of the Father and the Son indicates that something like the covenant of redemption had been established and is now being executed in space and time.

Fifth, there is an “asking and giving” in the dialogues between the Father and the Son in Scripture that reflects the covenant of redemption. So, in Psalm 2:8 the Lord invites Christ (his “anointed”) to “[a]sk of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” And in John 17:5, Jesus asks the Father to “glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” In both cases, the requests were answered affirmatively. The Father gave the nations to the Son as his inheritance, and he exalted him to the place that he had prior to his self-emptying (Phil. 2:5-9). This, according to Gillespie, is the language of transaction or of business contracts (enditio and venditio), either of which would signal some kind of a covenant or agreement.[23]

Finally, Gillespie directed his reader’s attention to the language of work and wages in the Bible. This language, Gillespie said, is very similar to the language that is used in covenants that are enacted between the “work-man” and the “work-master” or between the “servant” and “his Lord” in every-day life. It is the kind of language in which one party says, “I give this upon condition you do that,” and the other party responds, “I do this upon condition you do that.” Gillespie sees this reflected in passages like Isaiah 53:11-12; 49:3, 6; John 10:17; Hebrews 10:7; 12:2; John 17:4; and Philippians 2:8-9.[24]

Individual Passages

Thus far we have established that the covenant of redemption was not developed from one or two isolated texts in Scripture but from a complex and thoroughgoing examination of the language that the Bible uses to speak about the relationship between the Father and the Son and the planning and accomplishing of the salvation of God’s people. Sadly, much modern discussion of this doctrine has ignored this evidence and focused on isolated proof-texts like Zechariah 6:13 and Psalm 2:7, which are less persuasive when taken by themselves. If we start by looking for the covenant of redemption in these kinds of isolated texts, we will have a good deal more trouble finding it. But if we start by looking at the language of Scripture—which we have done here—and then come to these isolated texts afterwards, we will be in a better position to see the covenant of redemption for ourselves.

We can confidently turn our focus to examining a few of these isolated texts and to seeing what they have to say about the covenant of redemption. We will look at three main texts: Zechariah 6:13; Psalm 110; and Psalm 2. Because of the limits of this chapter, we will only be able to give a cursory examination of each.

In Zechariah 6:13, we are told about a so-called “counsel of peace” that will be established between two particular people (“them both”). Beginning with Johannes Cocceius and Herman Witsius in the seventeenth century, this verse has often been cited as a proof-text for the covenant of redemption. Before we evaluate this assertion, however, it bears mentioning that many earlier treatments of this doctrine did not make any reference to Zechariah 6:13. Men like David Dickson and Peter Bulkeley, for instance, relied exclusively upon arguments like those that are mentioned in the prior two sections of this chapter without ever mentioning the Zechariah passage.[25] This means that regardless of what one makes of the “counsel of peace,” the validity of the covenant of redemption is not hanging in the balance. Zechariah 6:13 is not a necessary proof-text for this doctrine. But it does add extra weight in support of it, especially when it is placed alongside the abovementioned arguments.

In the context of this passage, Joshua the high priest is a type of Christ. Like Melchizedek before him—and Christ after him—Joshua is going to be both king and priest. John Calvin pointed out that the word “crown” in verse 11 is actually plural in the original Hebrew and argued that what is going on here is that two crowns are being placed on the one man Joshua. Since both priests and kings wore crowns, Calvin said, this event clearly symbolizes the union of the priestly and kingly offices in one man, which is obviously designed to point ahead to Christ.[26]

Verse 12 further supports this conclusion. Using an idea common in the Old Testament, Zechariah speaks of the one of whom Joshua is a type by calling him the “Branch.” Several key passages describe this Branch: he will be a descendent of David (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-18) but will also come from the Lord (Isa. 4:2); he will be an heir to the Davidic throne (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-18); he will be full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Isa. 11:2); he will be called “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-18; cf. Isa. 11:4-5); he will be the instrument through which salvation will come to Israel (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-18); and he will be a priest who will offer an eternal sacrifice (Jer. 33:14-18). Thus, Zechariah 6:13 is ultimately and most fully about Christ. He is the Branch; he is the one who will “build the temple of the Lord” and “bear royal honor” and “sit and rule” on the Lord’s throne. And, therefore, he is also the one who will enter into a “counsel of peace” with the Lord.[27]

What exactly is this “counsel of peace”? For a couple of reasons it seems best to conclude that this counsel is an agreement—or, we might even say, a covenant—between the Branch and the Lord (Yahweh) in and by which the peace of God’s people will be secured and maintained. In the first place, the prophet Zechariah later states that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king “mounted on…the foal of a donkey” and that his kingdom will bring peace for all “the nations.” That peace, according to Zechariah, will be secured by “the blood of my covenant with you” (Zech. 9:9-11). In other words, the prophet himself tells us that the chief business of the Branch is to bring peace to the world and redemption “from the waterless pit” in and through the offering of a blood sacrifice and, perhaps most significantly, he tells us that this is what the covenant is all about. The fact that Zechariah himself says this indicates that we should understand “counsel of peace” in a complementary way.

In the second place, there are several passages of Scripture that link the ideas of covenant and peace together. The covenant is regularly spoken of as the vehicle that establishes peace, and, at the same time, peace is spoken of as the chief consequence of the covenant relationship. So, in Joshua 9:15, we read that the Gibeonites deceived Israel into entering into a covenant relationship with them, and, by doing so, they secured for themselves peace between the two nations. The Gibeonites were after peace, but they knew that the way to achieve it was by entering into a covenant relationship with Israel. Covenant and peace went hand in hand.[28]

Several passages in the Old Testament speak of a “covenant of peace” and describe it as being the vehicle through which God establishes peace for his people. Isaiah 54:10 and Ezekiel 37:26-27 are the most explicit of these. In both passages, the covenant of peace is depicted as an “everlasting” covenant that establishes permanent peace with God (see also Ezek. 34:25). And although these passages do not use the phrase “counsel of peace,” it should be pretty obvious that the two phrases are very similar in their construction and their intention.

The counsel of peace would, therefore, appear to be something that occurs between the Branch (Christ) and the Lord (Yahweh). And it would seem to be an agreement between them to secure an eternal peace for God’s people. Herman Witsius helpfully summarized the teaching of Zechariah 6:13 by saying:

The counsel of peace, which is between the man whose name is the Branch, and between Jehovah, whose temple he shall build, and on whose throne he shall sit, Rev. iii.21. And what else can this counsel be, but the mutual will of the Father and the Son, which we said is the nature of the covenant? It is called a counsel, both on account of the free and liberal good pleasure of both, and of the display of the greatest wisdom manifested therein. And a counsel of peace, not between God and Christ, between whom there never was any enmity; but of peace to be procured to sinful man with God, and to sinners with themselves.[29]

The second passage that we will consider here is Psalm 110. This psalm, which was written by David, is explicitly Messianic. The opening verse tells us quite plainly that David is writing about someone greater than himself, someone he calls “my Lord” (Adon/Adonai). This someone will sit at the right hand of God (v. 1) and will be both king (vv. 2-3) and priest (v. 4). He will not only be greater than David, but he will also be greater than the angels and the Levitical priesthood as well, as Hebrews 1:13; 5:5-6; and 7:17-22 make clear. But what is far more significant for us is that, as Calvin said, we have “the testimony of Christ that this psalm was penned in reference to himself,” which ought to remove any lingering doubts we might have about it (Matt. 22:41-45).[30]

In this psalm there are at least two interesting indicators that point in the direction of the covenant of redemption. The first is the direct address that Yahweh makes to David’s “Lord” in verse 1, and the second is the oath that Yahweh takes in reference to the same figure in verse 4. In regard to the first, we can say that the address looks ahead to Christ’s incarnation and earthly ministry when, in the words of Calvin, he will be “invested with supreme dominion.”[31] We know that the Son, as God, already possesses supreme dominion in and of himself; he does not need to be invested with it. But when he humbles himself, takes on human flesh, and places himself in submission to earthly authorities and principalities and to all his Father’s will, he does need to be invested with dominion so that all may know that he really is the Son. These comments in verse 1 would, therefore, seem to be reflective of an agreement or arrangement within the Trinity whereby the Son agreed to humble himself and place himself in submission, and the Father agreed to crown the incarnate Son king and to invest him with supreme dominion.[32]

Secondly, we can say that the language of covenant is reflected in the way that Christ is described as being appointed priest after the order of Melchizedek. The fact that Yahweh swears an oath to do this clearly points to the existence of a covenant relationship. Meredith Kline has argued that in the Bible, “[t]he covenantal commitment is characteristically expressed by an oath sworn in the solemnities of covenant ratification.” He has pointed to Genesis 15 and Hebrews 6:17-18 and 7:20-22, in particular, to support his claim.[33] Palmer Robertson has further argued that this oath does not necessarily have to be part of a “formal oath-taking process.” Citing Psalm 89:3, 34-35, and 105:8-10 and a whole host of other Scripture passages, Robertson declares that “‘[o]ath’ so adequately captures the relationship achieved by ‘covenant’ that the terms may be interchanged.”[34] His conclusion is that the Bible teaches not merely that a covenant contains an oath but that it actually is an oath. If Kline and Robertson are right, Psalm 110:4 is plainly teaching that there is a covenant existing between Yahweh and Christ, one in which the latter is appointed as a priest who will intercede on behalf of God’s people forevermore.

Hebrews 7:20-22, moreover, helps us to see that the intra-Trinitarian covenant of Psalm 110:4 is a pre-temporal covenant. After telling us that Jesus is unique, insofar as he is made priest with an oath, the author of Hebrews cites Psalm 110:4 and concludes by saying: “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (v. 22, emphasis added). In other words, the point is that the oath (of Ps. 110:4) is what has made Jesus the guarantor of the covenant of grace. Now, a guarantor is one that guarantees that the promises of the covenant will in fact be carried out.[35] If Jesus is such a guarantor, then this means that the certainty of the covenant of grace is based upon him and his role as guarantor. But this role is a result of the oath of Psalm 110:4, which means that there is an oath undergirding or guaranteeing the covenant of grace—an oath between Yahweh and Adonai or between Father and Son. If Robertson is right that covenant and oath are used interchangeably in Scripture, then Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7 are teaching that there is a covenant relationship between Father and Son which is undergirding or guaranteeing the covenant of grace, which is precisely what Samuel Rutherford said in the mid-seventeenth century: “the Covenant of Suretyship [i.e., redemption] is the cause of the stability and firmnesse of the Covenant of Grace.”[36] This covenant relationship must be prior to the covenant of grace not only in execution but even in the stage of conception within the mind of God; otherwise it could not function as the basis for it. Thus the intra-Trinitarian covenant of Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7 must be pre-temporal.

The third passage that we will examine in this chapter is Psalm 2. This psalm is also obviously Messianic, as we know from the New Testament’s repeated application of it to Jesus (see, for instance, Acts 4:25-27; 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). In examining this psalm, we will look chiefly at three sentences that are all strongly suggestive of the covenant of redemption.

The first sentence is found at the beginning of verse 7, “I will tell of the decree.” The significant word in this phrase is “decree,” which is also frequently translated “statute” in the Old Testament (hoq). This word is regularly identified with the idea of covenant, and, as we saw above, it is oftentimes translated as covenant. Psalm 50:16 places “statute” (hoq) and “covenant” in parallel, which indicates that there is at least a great deal of overlap between these two terms if not outright synonymity. Joshua 24:25 and 2 Kings 17:15 teach us that God’s statutes and covenant are so closely identified that keeping his statutes is tantamount to keeping his covenant and despising his statutes is tantamount to despising his covenant (see also 1 Kings 9:4-5; 2 Chron. 34:31; Neh. 10:29). But perhaps the clearest passage of all in this regard is Psalm 105:8-10 (which is also found in 2 Chron. 16:15-17). Here, “covenant,” “sworn promise,” and “statute” or “decree” are all used in parallel. The “covenant that [God] made with Abraham” is the same thing as “his sworn promise to Isaac,” which “he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.”

The word “today,” which appears at the end of verse 7, would seem to confirm the idea that the verse’s comments should be understood in a covenantal context. Over and over again in Scripture, the word “today” is used to highlight declarations of covenant renewal. One thinks immediately of Deuteronomy 30:15-19 or Joshua 24:15, where the people of Israel are called to renew their covenant with the Lord without delay. They are challenged to choose “this day” whom they will serve and to begin doing so immediately (see also Gen. 15:18; 31:48; 47:23; Deut. 11:2, 8, 13, 26, 28; 19:9; 26:17; Josh. 14:9-12; 22:16, 18, 22, 29; and Ps. 95:7-8). For all of these reasons, Peter Craigie concludes that “[t]he ‘decree’ is a document, given to the king during the coronation ceremony (cf. 2 Kgs 11:12); it is his personal covenant document, renewing God’s covenant commitment to the dynasty of David.”[37]

This close identification between “decree” and “covenant” and the use of the word “today” all suggest that the words of Psalm 2:7 should be understood within the context of a covenant relationship between the “Lord” and “me.” And since we know that this psalm is ultimately about Christ, the “me” here is ultimately and most fully realized in Christ. That means that Psalm 2:7 is talking about a covenant relationship between Yahweh and Christ, one that is enacted before the foundation of the world and then renewed in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4) when the Son becomes incarnate by adding to himself our human nature. This is the covenant of redemption. It is renewed at the incarnation, and that is when Christ is given his “personal covenant document,” if you will. He is invested with power and authority and declared to be Son, as we will see in the very next sentence.

The second sentence that points to the covenant of redemption is also in verse 7: “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” This phrase is also part of the coronation ceremony that would apply ultimately and most fully to Christ. It can legitimately be said of David—as can the previous part of the verse as well—but only insofar as he was a type of Christ. In his capacity as type, David can rightly be said to have been “begotten” when God’s choosing him became clearly manifested to the people of Israel. John Calvin put it this way:

When God says, I have begotten thee, it ought to be understood as referring to men’s understanding or knowledge of it; for David was begotten by God when the choice of him to be king was clearly manifested. The words this day, therefore, denote the time of this manifestation; for as soon as it became known that he was made king by divine appointment, he came forth as one who had been lately begotten of God, since so great an honour could not belong to a private person.[38]

And the same explanation would also apply to Christ. As Calvin said: “He is not said to be begotten in any other sense than as the Father bore testimony to him as being his own Son.” The verse has nothing to do with the Son’s ontological origin. It does not define the nature or timing of his eternal generation. Rather it refers to “men’s understanding or knowledge of it.” In other words, it refers to the point in time when the Son’s begottenness would be made manifest to the world, or to what the early church understood as Christ’s coronation or induction as king of the universe. According to Calvin, this coronation finds its initial fulfillment in the incarnation, when the Son “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14); but its “principal” fulfillment is found in the “today” of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4). In these two things, Christ is presented to the world as the Son of God in power.[39]

The fact that the Son’s coronation occurs within a context of covenant renewal is suggestive of the covenant of redemption. It indicates that there would have been a covenant enacted beforehand between the Father and the Son, which would then have been “renewed” at Christ’s incarnation and resurrection, because, in order for a covenant to be renewed, it must first have been enacted. Moreover, when we view this earlier covenant in the light of New Testament passages like Ephesians 1:11 and 2 Timothy 1:9, we see good evidence for concluding that it must have been enacted “before the ages began” in the “counsel of [God’s] will.”

The third and final sentence is found in verse 8: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” As we mentioned earlier, this verse implies that an agreement had previously been reached between the Father and the Son, which was then carried out in time and space. Conditions are given, and specific promises are attached: if the Son will ask, the Father is promising to give the nations to him as his inheritance and the ends of the earth as his possession. But conditions that have specific promises attached to them indicate that an agreement has been reached beforehand. The Father is not just saying, “if you ask me, I will help you.” That is open-ended and general and would not necessarily entail prior agreement. The Father is instead saying something more like this: “if you ask me, I will help you in this specific way.” That kind of specificity implies that there was agreement between the Father and the Son on the precise terms of the help that would be asked for and then provided. And that kind of agreement is exactly what the covenant of redemption embodies.

Theological Rationale

Thus far we have laid out the biblical rationale in support of the covenant of redemption. We have explored the language of the Bible and looked at the covenantal implications of several individual passages. After reading through this presentation, it should be clear that there is a strong biblical argument for the existence of the covenant of redemption. We can understand how our post-Reformation forefathers embraced this doctrine so universally and so quickly. The biblical arguments for it are impressive and widespread.

Historically, this argument has not depended wholly on the language of the Bible and the implications of select individual passages. It has also involved certain theological positions that complemented the biblical arguments and even strengthened them. While there is not enough space to explore all of these positions fully, we will look more closely at two of them: the covenant of works/covenant of grace and the Trinity.

Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace

The existence of a covenant of works in the Bible points to the existence of the covenant of redemption. We see this in a number of ways. In the first place, as I have already mentioned, the same exegetical process that leads someone to embrace the covenant of works will also lead them to embrace the covenant of redemption. This means that the individual who recognizes the exegetical evidence in support of the one should have little difficulty in also recognizing the exegetical evidence in support of the other.

In the second place, the covenant of works is the theological “mirror image” of the covenant of redemption.[40] This means that the existence of the former covenant—even when it is referred to by a different name—necessarily implies the existence of the latter. There is no mediator in either covenant. Whereas the covenant of redemption is enacted between God (the Father) and the “Son of God,” the covenant of works is enacted between God and Adam, who is called “the son of God” in Luke 3:38. What is more, the whole arrangement of Luke 3-4 would seem to be designed in order to point to Adam and Christ as mirror images. Whereas Matthew’s genealogy starts with Abraham and finishes with Jesus, Luke’s begins with Jesus and ends with Adam, the son of God. Why would Luke take his genealogy all the way back to Adam? Why would he not stop with Abraham as Matthew did? Why would he list the names in the reverse order of Matthew’s genealogy? And why would he refer to Adam as God’s son?

The issue is further complicated when we look at chapter 4 and see that Luke records the three temptations of Christ in a different order than Matthew does. To be precise, the last two temptations are reversed in Luke when compared with Matthew. What could possibly account for this difference?

It would appear that Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is attempting to paint out Adam and Christ as mirror images. The order he gives of the temptations just happens to be the exact same order that we find with Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride. What we see in Luke 3-4, then, is a genealogy in which Luke goes all the way back to Adam; and he does it in such a way that he ends with Adam, whom he calls the “son of God;” and then he immediately transitions to the account of the temptations of Christ, in which he records everything in the exact order given in Genesis 3. The point would seem to be that Jesus is the second (and final) Adam, the ultimate Son of God. He came to do exactly what the first Adam failed to do. He came as the “mirror image” of the first Adam to undo the first Adam’s failure in the covenant of works.

Because we know that God does everything “according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11), we know that the failure of Adam did not catch God by surprise but was part of his plan from before the foundation of the world. And this means that God planned to send his Son into the world as the “mirror image” of Adam to succeed where Adam failed and to undo the consequences of his failure as well. If we believe the Bible teaches that the relationship between God and Adam is contained within a covenant, then this would imply that there must also be a covenant between God and Christ that would establish Christ as the “mirror image” of Adam, would involve agreement between the persons of the Trinity to the particular conditions and promises of the arrangement, and would be enacted according to the counsel of God’s will before the foundation of the world.

What is more, the existence of the covenant of grace also points to the existence of the covenant of redemption. Because the covenant of grace is enacted in time and because Christ functions as a mediator in this covenant, these things suggest that there must be another covenant that undergirds, establishes, and guarantees the covenant of grace. We will look at these one at a time. First, because the covenant of grace is enacted in time, this implies that there must be another covenant that is enacted before the beginning of time in which the conditions and promises of the covenant of grace are established and agreed to. To be sure, this might not require a covenant to do this. It is possible that the agreement between the persons of the Trinity could be represented in another way and that agreement would then undergird and guarantee the covenant of grace. But, as we have already indicated, the Bible speaks of this agreement in terms of an “oath” between the Father and the Son (Heb. 7:20-22), which is widely regarded as being the constitutive ingredient of the covenant relationship.

Second, the fact that Christ functions as a mediator in the covenant of grace suggests that this covenant is not enacted personally with him and that there must be another covenant that is enacted with him personally. We know from Luke 22:29, Psalm 2, and Hebrews 7, along with many other passages, that there is in fact a covenant enacted with Christ personally. If the covenant of grace cannot encompass this, then there must be another covenant that does. This covenant would then undergird, establish, and guarantee the covenant of grace by establishing and guaranteeing Christ’s role as mediator in it.

The Trinity

When we admit that there must be some kind of pre-temporal intra-Trinitarian covenant that functions as the mirror image of the covenant of works and lays the foundation for the covenant of grace, we immediately raise questions about the implications of such a covenant for our understanding of the Trinity. In particular, how do we avoid the charge that we are separating the three persons of the Trinity by positing three separate wills that must all agree by way of covenant and, thus, that we are guilty of tritheism?

In responding to this objection, the first thing that needs to be said is that the dialogues recorded in Scripture between the Father and the Son suggest that it is quite possible to hold to the covenant of redemption and not be guilty of tritheism. The fact that the triune God has chosen to reveal himself in and through these dialogues indicates that there must be genuine communication between the three persons of the Trinity within the inner life of God. Listen to what Kevin Vanhoozer says on this point:

Because the way God is in the economy [i.e., in the dialogues that take place between the Father and the Son in time and space] corresponds to the way God is in himself, we may conclude that the Father, Son, and Spirit are merely continuing in history a communicative activity that characterizes their perfect life together.[41]

If we can say that there is genuine communication between the persons of the Trinity within the inner life of God without lapsing into tritheism, then it certainly seems reasonable to say that we can hold to the covenant of redemption—which in one sense is simply a genuine dialogue between the persons of the Trinity with regard to the redemption of the elect—without lapsing into it either. The dialogues between the Father and the Son in Scripture allow us to say that the covenant of redemption is completely in keeping with the way God has revealed himself in the Bible.

The formula used by the Council of Florence in 1439 to differentiate the oneness of God from his threeness is helpful in understanding this idea further: “In God all is one, where there is no relation of opposition.” This means that God is to be considered one everywhere except where a “relation of opposition” obtains—as it does, for instance, in the internal actions of generation and spiration. But relations of opposition must also obtain in regard to the communicative activity of God, if there is to be genuine dialogue between the persons of the Trinity. The Father must stand “over against” the Son, and the Son must stand “over against” the Spirit in order for there to be genuine dialogue between them.[42] This means that the covenant of redemption in no way requires undoing the unity of God. It simply requires acknowledging that relations of opposition can and do exist. Thus, we cannot say that the covenant of redemption is unnecessary on account of the unity of the divine mind and will. To say this is to overlook the relations of opposition within the Trinity and to lose the threeness of God in his oneness.

The second response to this objection is that because the covenant of redemption deals with the planning and executing of our salvation, we would expect it to be enacted according to the unique mission of each person of the Trinity. The theological maxim opera ad extra trinitatis indivisa sunt—which, when translated, says that the external works of the Trinity are indivisible—should never be taken to mean that all three persons of the Trinity always do exactly the same tasks. Rather, each person of the Godhead acts in a way that is suited to his own person and mission. The Father does not become incarnate and die on the cross. The Son does those things. The Son does not come at Pentecost and does not apply the finished work of salvation to the elect. The Spirit does those things. Each one acts according to his own person and mission, but all are involved in every external work of the Godhead.[43] Because the mission of each person is unique within God’s indivisible work of accomplishing our salvation, we would expect the covenant that plans and executes that salvation to be enacted along the lines of each person’s mission.

Geerhardus Vos helpfully differentiates between predestination and the covenant of redemption by pointing out that: “In predestination there is one undivided will; [and] in the counsel of peace this will appears as having its own manner of existence in the Persons.”[44] Vos is highlighting the fact that predestination simply involves God choosing who will be saved, whereas the covenant of redemption involves planning and executing the details of how that salvation will actually be accomplished. Predestination, therefore, does not involve the unique missions of the persons of the Trinity; but the covenant of redemption does. Therefore, we should expect that, in the covenant of redemption, the will of God “appears as having its own manner of existence in the Persons.”

The covenant of redemption, moreover, has historically been understood as an action of the Trinity as a whole. Some have believed that the Father, representing all three persons of the Trinity, entered into this covenant with the Son; while others have believed that all three persons decided the terms of salvation and then commissioned the Father to enter into covenant with the Son upon those terms. Both positions are trying to be faithful to the language of Scripture, which consistently portrays the Father as the one who enters into agreement with the Son, but, at the same time, to protect the Trinitarian nature of the covenant of redemption. Both positions see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as concurring in the enacting of this covenant agreement.

Why Does this Matter?

Thus far we have explored the biblical and theological rationale in support of the covenant of redemption. In doing so, we have surveyed the language of Scripture, the dialogues between the Father and the Son, and several key Bible passages. We also looked at the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and the doctrine of the Trinity to see how they supported the existence of a pre-temporal intra-Trinitarian covenant. The only thing that remains is for us to consider how the covenant of redemption is to be used practically in our lives and why it matters that there is such a thing as the covenant of redemption. In his treatment of this covenant, Wilhelmus à Brakel lists five practical uses of this doctrine.[45] We will highlight three.

First, the covenant of redemption guarantees the salvation of the elect and makes it absolutely certain. The “unchangeable” oath of God is standing behind this covenant (or is part and parcel of it) and, thus, our salvation is sure (Heb. 6:17-18). Just as it is impossible for God to lie, so it is also impossible for our salvation to be undone. The elect are completely safe and secure because they have all been given by the Father to the Son in the covenant of redemption, and the Son has done everything that he said he would do in this covenant on their behalf.

Second, the covenant of redemption guarantees that all the conditions of our salvation have already been met in full, which is why this doctrine was historically used to fight against Arminianism. The terms of our salvation, which were agreed upon before the foundation of the world within the Godhead, have all been accomplished in time and space and will be applied to the elect in the fullness of time. The only thing that remains for us to do is to acknowledge this with our gratitude and to give all praise and glory to God.

Third, the covenant of redemption reveals the incredible love that God has shown to the elect. We have been chosen as an expression of the love that God has for himself, the mutual delight of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father forevermore. The covenant of redemption tells us that we are in effect a love gift from the Father to the Son and from the Son back to the Father. As à Brakel says:

Love moved the Father and love moved the Lord Jesus. [The covenant of redemption] is a covenant of love between those whose love proceeds from within themselves, without there being any loveableness in the object of this love. Oh, how blessed is he who is incorporated in this covenant and, being enveloped and irradiated by this eternal love, is stirred up to love in return, exclaiming, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).[46]



[1] The influence of Karl Barth and, to a lesser degree, John Murray, Herman Hoeksema, and Robert Letham, helped to cultivate many of these reservations in regard to the covenant of redemption within the broader Reformed world. See Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1, ed. G.W. Bromiley and T.F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956), 64-6; Murray, “The Plan of Salvation,” in Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977), 130; Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Free Publishing, 1966), 285-336; Letham, “John Owen’s Doctrine of the Trinity in its Catholic Context,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to John Owen’s Theology, eds. Kelly M. Kapic and Mark Jones (Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2012), 196.

[2] Barth offers a similar criticism to this in Church Dogmatics IV/1, 65; as does Letham in “John Owen’s Doctrine of the Trinity,” 196.

[3] Alexander Peterkin, ed., Records of the Kirk of Scotland (Edinburgh: John Sutherland, 1838), 158.

[4] David Dickson, Expositio analytica omnium apostolicarum epistolarum (Glasgow, 1645); Thomas Goodwin, Encouragements to Faith drawn from several Engagements both of Gods [and] Christs heart (London, 1645); Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (London, 1645); Peter Bulkeley, The Gospel-Covenant (London, 1646); and John Owen, Salus electorum, sanguinis Jesu (London, 1647); Johannes Cocceius, Summa doctrina de foedere et testamento Dei (Leiden, 1648); and David Dickson and James Durham, The Summe of Saving Knowledge (1648; Edinburgh, 1671).

[5] See, e.g., Johannes Oecolampadius, In Iesaiam prophetam hypomnematon, hoc est, commentariorum, Ioannis Oecolampadii libri vi (Basel, 1525), 268r (Isaiah 55:3); and Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians (1519), in Luther’s Werke (Weimar), 2:521.

[6] Richard A. Muller, “Toward the Pactum Salutis: Locating the Origins of a Concept,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 18 (2007): 40.

[7] James Arminius, “Oration 1: The Object of Theology,” in The Works of James Arminius, eds. James and William Nichols, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991), 1:415-17.

[8] Thomas Blake, Vindiciae foederis (1653; London, 1658), 14-15; Anthony Burgess, The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted and Vindicated (London, 1654), 375-7; Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life Opened (Edinburgh, 1655), 282-315;  John Bunyan, The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded (1660), in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offor, 3 vols. (1854; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1:522-3, 525-6; Patrick Gillespie, The Ark of the Covenant Opened, or A Treatise of the Covenant of Redemption between God and Christ, as the Foundation of the Covenant of Grace (London, 1677); Herman Witsius, De oeconomia foederum Dei cum hominibus (Leeuwarden, 1677), trans. as The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man, trans. William Crookshank, 2 vols. (London, 1822), 2.2-3; James Durham, Christ Crucified, or The Marrow of the Gospel (Edinburgh, 1683), 154-64; Savoy Declaration (1658), §8.1; Helvetic Consensus (1675), §13; and Second London Baptist Confession (1689), §8.1.

[9] Muller, “Toward the Pactum Salutis,” 14.

[10] David Dickson, Therapeutica sacra (Edinburgh, 1664), 23-34. See also Durham, Christ Crucified, 121-2.

[11] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 6. Indeed, agreement has been the basic definition of covenant from at least Martin Luther in the 16th century to Charles Hodge in the 19th. See J.V. Fesko, The Covenant of Redemption: Origins, Development, and Reception (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), 172.

[12] Rutherford, Covenant of Life Opened, 293.

[13] Dickson and Durham, Summe of Saving Knowledge, 2.2.

[14] See Cocceius, Summa doctrinae, 14.34.2; Witsius, Economy of the Covenants, 2.2.3; Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1993), 1:255; Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 12.2.14.

[15] Theodore Beza, Testamentum Novum, sive Nouum foedus Iesu Christi, D.N. (1567; n.p., 1588), Luke 22:29, 318.

[16] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 11-12. More attention will be given to Ps. 2:7 below.

[17] Westminster Confession §8.1.

[18] Savoy Declaration, §8.1; London Baptist Confession, §8.1.

[19] Gillespie gives five ways that Christ consented to the Father’s proposals in Ps. 40. See his Ark of the Covenant Opened, 14-16.

[20] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 17.

[21] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 17-18.

[22] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 18-19.

[23] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 19.

[24] Gillespie, Ark of the Covenant Opened, 19-20.

[25] Muller, “Toward the Pactum Salutis,” 24.

[26] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, vol. 5, Zechariah and Malachi (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), 152-6

[27] à Brakel, Christian’s Reasonable Service, 1:254.

[28] The idea that covenants establish peace is a well-attested Old Testament principle (see, e.g., Deut. 2:26-34; 20:10-18; Josh. 10:1-4; and 2 Sam. 10:19). Peace is also integral to the Messiah’s work in the New Testament (see, e.g., Luke 2:14; John 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:36; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:13-18 and 6:15; and Col. 1:20).

[29] Witsius, Economy of the Covenants, 2.2.7.

[30] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Psalms, vol. 4, trans. James Anderson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 295.

[31] Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, 299.

[32] Psalm 110 is a royal psalm and would most likely have been used at the inauguration of Israel’s king. It presents the king as being invested with power and dominion. See Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101-150, vol. 21, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), 83.

[33] Meredith G. Kline, By Oath Consigned: A Reinterpretation of the Covenant Signs of Circumcision and Baptism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 16.

[34] O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1980), 6n7. Robertson points his readers to the work of G.M Tucker for “a full statement of the evidence that an oath belonged to the essence of covenant” (Tucker, “Covenant Forms and Contract Forms,” Vetus Testamentum 15 [1965]: 487-503) and to Bible passages like Gen. 21:23-31; 31:53; Ex. 6:8; 19:8; 24:3, 7; Deut. 7:8, 12; 29:12-13; 2 Kings 11:4; 1 Chron. 16:16; Ps. 89:3, 34-35; 105:8-10; and Ezek. 16:8 for further support of his claims (Robertson, Christ of the Covenants, 6-7).

[35] The word “guarantor” (enguos) occurs only here in the New Testament but was commonly used outside the Bible to speak of “a surety who assumed responsibility for another person’s debt if the latter could not meet it” (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010], 271). Thus, the “guarantor” guaranteed that the promised debt-repayment would be made.

[36] Rutherford, Covenant of Life Opened, 309.

[37] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, vol. 19, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), 67.

[38] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, vol. 1, trans. James Anderson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 17-18.

[39] Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, 1:18. See also G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 927-8.

[40] Fesko, Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, 138.

[41] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 251. See also the helpful discussion in Fred Sanders, The Triune God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 69-75.

[42] Sanders, Triune God, 131.

[43] Scott Swain and Michael Allen, “The Obedience of the Eternal Son,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 15:2 (2013): 117, 127.

[44] GC Berkouwer, Divine Election (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1960), 164.

[45] à Brakel, Christian’s Reasonable Service, 1:261-263.

[46] à Brakel, Christian’s Reasonable Service, 1:263.