The Covenantal Context of Redemption

In speaking of the gospel, it is important to understand the covenantal context in which it occurs. Though Adam sinned in the garden and brought guilt and corruption upon all his posterity, Jesus Christ institutes a new covenant in his blood for all those who believe in him. Dr. Lane G. Tipton speaks about covenant and salvation.


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Robert Marshall Murphy

8 years ago

What would Dr. Tipton say to those who do not see the positive promise of more in the Genesis narrative or Romans 5 or 1 Corinthians 15? Honestly, I don’t see a positive reward held out, only a negative threat. Clearly, there are two covenants and clearly Christ succeeded where Adam failed, but couldn’t we say that Christ failed to demerit where Adam demerited?

Mark G

8 years ago


I cannot speak for Dr. Tipton but Adam was commissioned by God (Gen 1:26ff) and this included the following: 1) God blessed them, 2) they were to be fruitful and multiply, 3) they were to fill the earth, 4) they were to subdue the earth, 5) they were to rule over all the earth. Note that Adam’s task went beyond the garden to the whole earth and parallels Gods creative work that ultimately end is His rest. This commission starts in the garden but progresses to involve the whole earth to God’s (and derivativley man’s) glory.

Beale in A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New pp. 30-46 presents several observations that when taken together make a reasonable case that Adam, if he had accomplished his commission would have experienced elevated eschatological blessing. I probably cannot do justice to the arguments but I will try to summarize them.

1) Included in carrying out the mandate of Gen 1:28 likely was defeating and ruling over the evil serpent. Adam was created a royal priest who was to prevent unclean things from entering the garden which was the place where God dwelt with man (a garden-temple; see Beale’s Temple and the Church’s Mission). As a royal priest and image bearer of God Adam was commissioned to rule over and subdue (i.e., to judge) the serpent. Again this is reminiscent of God (the Great King) ruling over and subduing chaos in his creation. Furthermore, Adam was to extend his rule beyond the garden to all the earth. This inaugurated but losable kingship in the garden was designed originally to reach a climactic point of irreversibility, so that his reign would never be lost. If Adam had faithfully executed his kingly and priestly task of defeating the serpent, then evil in the midst of the good creation would have been decisively judged, and from that point forward Adam and his progeny would have enjoyed endless security from the lethal threat of evil. Note that Adam was created with the possibility of sinning. Ultimate human freedom in our glorified state is the ability to worship God without the possibility of sin. We will not return to a pre-fall state of testing but enter God’s ultimate Sabbath rest (Hebrews).

2) As image bearer, Adam fulfilling his commission indicates that not only would he rule & subdue the entire earth, and fill it with progeny, but fill it with image-bearing progeny who will reflect God’s glory and special revelatory presence. Adam was a son of God (e.g., see Luke’s genealogy) intended to extend God’s glory image beyond the garden throughout the entire earth. The achievement of this divine commission would have represented a greater blessing for humanity starting out from the edenic garden-temple. Thus, the aim of spreading God’s glory worldwide through glorious image-bearers is to be understood more specifically as extending the boundaries of the Eden temple (which contained the divine glory) around the entire earth.

3) God’s exclusion of Adam from the Garden of Eden lest he “live forever” indicates that Adam would be prohibited from enjoying the consequent blessing of eternal life.

4) Other: A) It appears Adam’s decisive defeat of the serpent in the garden would have ultimately led to entering God’s unending eschatological rest. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews connects the ultimate rest of the church with the Sabbath and God’s creation rest. (I wonder if this gives some additional insight into Jesus statement that the Sabbath was made for man.) The likely intent of Gen 2:3 is that Adam was to observe a Sabbath rest every seventh day as a token of the eternal, eschatological life and rest to come. B) parallel principles would apply to Adam’s physical body. That is, if Adam had achieved God’s commission he would have inherited irreversible physical life. C) The creation itself would have obtained decisive protection from corruption. D) The marriage relationship of Adam and Eve and all their progeny appears to have been established as a kind of shadow to point to the consummated end-time relationship of God and his bridal people (Isa 54:1-6; 62:2-5; Eph 5:29-32). E) Adam’s nakedness also appears likely to point to the need for clothing, the bestowal of which would have been part of their later escalated blessing. They grasp for their reward at the wrong time and in the wrong way. They ineptly try to provide clothing for themselves, but God subsequently clothes them to signify their inaugurated restoration to him (Gen 3:21).

Note that these observations present pre-fall conditions as an inaugurated creation and the yet-to-come escalated creation conditions to be a consummate “eschatologically” enhanced stage of final blessedness. This pattern is then repeated in the OT until finally repeated and fulfilled in Christ in the NT.

Hope this helps or at least shows that one can make a reasonable argument that Adam would have experience elevated eschatalogical blessing had he obeyed.


Robert Marshall Murphy

8 years ago

Thank you so much, Mark. Do you blog or engage in social networking anywhere? I’d love to follow your thoughts.
The Beale books sounds interesting. I will definitely pick that up. You/his arguments are good, but I suppose I am not dislodged from my “failure to demerit” formulation of Christ over the Covenant of Works. Any reader of the Bible is able to *find* eschatological blessings, it’s just that none are held forth in Genesis 2, unlike Genesis 17, 2 Samuel 7 etc. There is no reason to force God into having all the features of an ANE suzerain/vassal treaty at every point.
I know this is an anti-Vosian move, and I was loathe to make it for just that reason, but I honestly think the CoW is about sons (Adam and the Second Adam) who stand to inherit the kingdom. Children don’t earn sonship, but it is possible to act so badly as to disinherit themselves.

Mark G

8 years ago

I wonder if we should be thankful that Adam fell so that Christ could come and take us beyond Adam’s pre-fall state. If he had obeyed maybe we’d all have to cram into a little estate somewhere in the middle east and live with Satan. … he says, tongue in cheek.

Nope I don’t blog. I mostly read and follow a few reformed internet sites.



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