1242 DIATHEKE (33): dia = through + theke (noun form of tithemi, to put place, or lay, in the sense of distributing); a disposition, especially of possessions; a covenant, agreement or testament. In the FCM (NT) diatheke means an agreement made between God and human(s) concerning their present and future relationship with him; or a testament in the sense of a "last will."
"Covenant" accurately translates diatheke but it is a seldom used word, usually meaning a formal, written agreement. The word "agreement" seems more appropriate to describe the child-like trusting relationship believers have with their Father, God, who wrote his "agreements" in his message. Those who trust God need not sign a contract with him but must instead "change their hearts" (repent), and thereafter serve God rather than self. For example, 2Co.3.4-6: "...and through the Anointed One we have such trust concerning God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to consider ourselves as [being] anything, but our sufficiency is of God, who has also made us sufficient as servants of a new agreement (diatheke)."
Over half of the usages of diatheke in God's FCM (NT) occur in the book of Hebrews. Diatheke is equivalent to the Hebrew word "beriyth in God's AM (OT).
A COVENANT, AGREEMENT OR CONTRACT MAY BE UNCONDITIONAL OR CONDITIONAL.
UNCONDITIONAL AGREEMENTS: God made an unconditional agreement with Noah in Genesis 9.11: "And I will establish my covenant (beriyth) with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood, neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."
God made an unconditional agreement (beriyth) with Abraham in Gen.22.18.It is quoted in Act.3.25: "You+ are the sons of the spokesmen, and of the agreement (diatheke) which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be benefited.'" That agreement is called a "promise" (1860 epangelia) in Gal.3.16: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises spoken. It does not say, 'And to seeds,' as concerning many; but as concerning one, 'And to your seed,' who is the Anointed One." God kept his promise; Jesus' was born from that "seed."
Note that in the preceding verse 15, that God's agreement concerning that "seed" could not be changed: "Brothers, I speak as would a human, 'No one cancels or adds to the agreement of a human [that] has been confirmed.'"
Note also that a diatheke differs from a "promise" (1860 epangelia) in that Diatheke specifies the terms of an agreement, whereas a "promise" assures its fulfillment.
CONDITIONAL AGREEMENTS: A conditional agreement specifies the actions by two or more persons or parties. God, the greater one, offers agreements to humans, the lesser ones. And humans may either accept or reject their terms.
For example, the the conditional agreement God proposed to the nation of Israel in Ex.19.5: "Now then, if you+ will indeed obey my voice, and keep my agreement (beriyth), then you+ shall be my own possession among the peoples, for all the earth is mine..." Note that the word "if" begins the condition to be fulfilled, and the word "then" introduces the result of one's decision.
The Israelites agreed to this covenant in verses 7-8: "So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Yahweh had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, All that Yahweh has spoken we will do. And Moses brought back the words of the people to Yahweh."
In Heb.8.6-9 God's agreement with ALL humanity (including Israelites) is declared to be an improvement over the agreement he offered to the Israelites: "...but now he (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent service, as he is indeed mediator of a better agreement (diatheke), which has been enacted on better promises (epangelia). For if that first agreement had been faultless, a place for a second would not have been sought. For finding fault [with] them he said, 'Look, days are coming, says the Master, when I will conclude a new agreement with the household of Israel and the household of Judah. Not according to the agreement which I made with their fathers when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they continued not in my agreement.'"
God fulfilled this better agreement when his Son Jesus died on a cross: In Mt.26.28 (similarly in Mk.14.24 and Lk.22.20) Jesus said, "...this is my blood of the [new] agreement, being shed concerning many for forgiveness of sins."
This conditional agreement or promise may also be stated as a "truth" or a "fact," as in Jn.3.16: "For thus God lovingly cared for the world of humans: that he gave his only-born Son; so that everyone who is trusting in him will not be destroyed but will have life into the age." Note that only the one who is trusting in him (Jesus) will have "life into the age."
Eph.2.8 states this same "fact" differently: "For you were rescued as a favor, through trust..." That is, anyone who trusts God will not be destroyed, but will, through a favor of God (grace), be rescued.
LAST WILL, OR TESTAMENT:
The diatheke of Heb.9.16-17 did not take effect until after the death of Jesus, thus is was truly a "last will" or a testament: "For where [there is] a testament (diatheke), there necessarily is the death of the one making the testament (diatithemai). For a testament (diatheke) is in effect [only] over dead ones, since it never has power while the one making the testament (diatithemai) is alive."
Verb form of 1242 diatheke:
1303 DIATITHEMAI (5) to make a "last will;" or, to put something into effect in the sense of "designating" or "appointing."
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