What Are the Eight Covenants of the Bible?

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There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional and unconditional. "Conditional" means that in order for God to fulfill his part, humanity must fulfill its part first. "Unconditional" covenants are those that God fulfills with his divine power. Each of the eight major covenants in the Bible falls under one of these two categories and operates within "dispensations," or specific periods of time. Each addresses a specific set of participants and circumstances.

1 The Edenic Covenant

The Edenic Covenant is a conditional one, found in Gen. 1:26-31;2:16-17, that traces the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Their disobedience determined the fate of all of humanity. In the Edenic Covenant, God promises Adam that blessings and curses depend on the faithfulness of mankind. Because of their sin, the covenant provides that man ultimately falls to a spiritual and then physical death.

2 The Adamic Covenant

The Adamic Covenant is found in Gen. 3:16-19 and is an unconditional covenant. Although only God and Adam are participants in this covenant, Adam is considered to be a representative of all of mankind, meaning the provision still applies today. In the Adamic covenant, God tells Adam what kind of hardships he can expect in life because of his sin. Many Christians interpret this covenant to include the promise of a redeemer who will come to rescue men from the consequence of sin.

3 The Noahic Covenant

Found in Gen 9:1-18, the Noahic Covenant is an unconditional one that God made with Noah and his sons after the flood waters receded and everyone left the Ark. The Bible says that God caused a rainbow to appear in the sky on that day and used it to promise Noah, as well as all of mankind, that he would never again destroy the earth and all its inhabitants in a worldwide flood.

4 The Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant in which God makes a promise to Abraham that he would be the father to many different nations of people and that he would prosper and be blessed. Through Abraham came the race of the Jews, and the sign of the covenant is circumcision. The details of the Abrahamic Covenant can be found in Genesis 12:1-4;13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8.

5 The Mosaic Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was a conditional one that God made between himself and Moses. Found in Exodus 20:1 - 31:18, this covenant contains the commandments that God gave to the Israelites for uncovering God's will and for governing the people. In Christian theology, the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, which are commandments, ordinances and judgments, expired on the cross when Jesus died for the sins of men, which started the "New Covenant."

6 The Land Covenant

The details of the Land Covenant are given in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Some people have referred to this covenant as the "Palestine Covenant," however the Bible does not refer to this covenant in that manner. Here, God makes an unconditional promise to the Israelites that he will give them a land of their own. This covenant also includes a provision that when the land is given to that nation, the people will all be united once again in serving God and their enemies will be destroyed.

7 The Davidic Covenant

The Davidic Covenant is God's unconditional promise to David that he would have an eternal dynasty. Found in 2 Samuel 7:4-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:3-15, the provisions of the Davidic Covenant center around three major components: an everlasting throne, an everlasting King (Jeremiah 32:21) and an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:14). Christianity traces David's lineage to Jesus Christ, who was a descendant of David many generations removed, and see Christ as the rightful heir.

8 The New Covenant

The New Covenant is one that is mentioned many times throughout the Old Testament to promise a future Messianic Age. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah who presides over the New Covenant. The main mention of the New Covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:31-40. This is an unconditional covenant that was established between God and all of mankind who choose to partake in a life of obedience to a new source of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9), read in Christianity as the promise of Christ. One of the provisions includes freedom from the laws given in the Mosaic Covenant.

Alicia Purdy is a freelance writer and editor living in Utah. She has a master's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications.