When we consult a dictionary, it will tell us a testament is a persons will. We understand that a will contains our instructions to the living concerning our desires, after we die. However, in Bible usage the Greek term (diatheke) often carries the concept of a covenant or dispensation. Thus, we have the Old Testament or Covenant and the New Testament or Covenant. It is in Hebrews 9 that we have the concept that the New Testament is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth" (Hebrews 9:16-17).

 Although we generally think in terms of the Bible having but two testaments or covenants (OT and NT), Genesis does reveal a number of other covenants, agreements, or contracts between God and man. Although we know relatively little about God's covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we do know it was contingent on them not eating the forbidden fruit (i.e. of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -- Genesis 3). After Noah's flood, God made a covenant (Genesis 9) with mankind involving the death penalty for man or beast that kills a man (verses 5-6) because man was made in the image of God. As most of us recall, it is the rainbow (verse 13) that reminds us of this covenant with mankind, and His promise not to destroy the world with a flood the second time. Then there was the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17), which is known as the Covenant of Circumcision. However, when we think of the Old Covenant or Testament we think of God's covenant with the nation of Israel.

 God's covenant with Israel was established at Mt Horeb or Sinai. It was symbolized with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and repeated in Deuteronomy 5). It is vital to understand that this also was a covenant of blood (Exodus 24:8) as was the New Covenant (NT). The New Covenant or Testament is thus sanctified with the blood of Christ for the sins of all men. At the Last Supper, Jesus pointed out that the fruit of the vine was to symbolize the blood of the New Testament or Covenant (Matthew 26:28). Back to Hebrews 9:11-22, the New Testament of Christ has replaced the Old Testament of Moses. The blood of bulls and goats has been replaced by the blood of the Son of God on Calvary's Cross. Thus, in the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17), we are under a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

 Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK