Covenants of Promise: What and For Whom?

Ephesians 2:12, Covenants. The Apostle Paul makes a very interesting and often overlooked statement in Ephesians 2:12. For ­context we will quote the surrounding verses:

Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth [citizenship] of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without Elohim in the world: but now in Messiah Yeshua ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah. (emphasis added)

Paul, talking to the redeemed believers in Ephesus, states that they had been (past tense) Gentiles (comprised of various ethnic or people groups) without Elohim and without hope, but now, through the work of Yeshua at the cross, provision had been made for these alienated people-groups to become citizens of the nation of Israel. Elsewhere Paul refers to these (former) Gentiles as now being Israelites and defines them as heirs to the promises YHVH made to Abraham and calls them “seed” or descendants of Abraham (Rom 4:15; 9:8, 11; Gal 3:7, 14, 29).

Paul further says that these same people had been aliens from YHVH’s “covenants of promise” and relates this to the “Gentile” believers at Ephesus. We know that the principles laid out in this teaching apply to all the redeemed believers down through the ages. So what covenants of promise were these redeemed believers strangers to in times past prior to their conversion? Most in the church have been taught that the New Covenant is the only covenant that pertains to them, yet Paul spoke of covenants (plural) of promise. To what was he referring? The two main covenants of the Tanakh (the Old Testament) affecting the nation of Israel were the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant. Additionally, Jeremiah prophetically speaks of a New (Renewed) Covenant that YHVH would make with the two houses of Israel (Jer 31:31–33); that is, a refreshed version of a former (marital) covenantal agreement which Israel broke with YHVH (verse 32). These are the three principal covenants that the Scriptures reveals affect YHVH’s people. Clearly, Paul is referencing these three covenants in Ephesians 2:12 (see the Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David Stern, p. 583).

Which of the three covenants forms the bedrock upon which the others are based, and upon which Elohim predicated his glorious plan of redemption for mankind? In Romans four, Paul references the Abrahamic Covenant in discussing the means by which one is saved. In his discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant, Paul gives us no indications that the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant are passé or invalid as pertaining to believers in Yeshua as relating to the New Covenant. He clearly shows us that this covenant forms the basis for man’s redemption (salvation) and subsequent relationship with his Creator.


2 thoughts on “Covenants of Promise: What and For Whom?

  1. It’s interesting Paul said we are, ‘strangers to the covenants…”. But isn’t that what was suppose to happen?
    Yeshua, (Jesus) was only sent to the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ (Matt.15:24) and not to the House of Judah.
    God said He would ‘seal (conceal) the law among His disciples’ (House of Israel) and hide His face from the House of Judah (Isaiah 8:16-17).
    No wonder Judah is over in the land of Israel waiting for the Messiah and we look at the law as a strange thing. (Hosea)
    These two sticks (Houses) are coming together just as He said they would in Ezekiel 37. This last movement of God is hardly noticeable but things are going to change as Ephraim (House of Israel) comes out of these Sunday harlot churches and begin to keep the Holy everlasting covenant like the first, second, and third century churches did until Constantine changed the Sabbath.


    David Wolf

    • What you say is basically correct with a clarification and a correction that needs to be made to line up with the truth of the Scriptures.

      First, as per Eph 2:11-19, the Gentiles start out as aliens to the covenants of promise, but then are grafted into Israel through Yeshua and become members of the nation/citizenship/commonwealth of Israel. Perhaps you meant this, but I just wanted to clarify it. Christians are coming in to the new covenant, yes, but the problem is that they’re also ignoring the covenants (plural) that Paul mentions in Eph 2:12. The new covenant is singular. What covenants (plural) is he referring to? The Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. The first has to do with salvation, while the second shows us how to walk once we’re saved. Yes, Christians know about the new covenant, but ignore the other covenants that Paul references here that he indicates they must be included in. The new or renewed covenant is predicated upon the previous covenants that all Israel broke. This little fact certainly isn’t preached in the churches.

      Second, who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel? What you say is incorrect per Scripture. Study out the term “house of Israel” as used in the Tanakh/OT. At times, it refers to the northern kingdom and at other times it refers all of Israel including the southern kingdom or Judah. As confirmation of the fact that Yeshua came not only to Ephraim/the northern kingdom, in his ministry he first went to the Jews—not the Gentiles. In fact, he endeavored to turn them away because his first mission was to reach out to the lost sheep of Israel who were Jews. Then he commanded his disciples before his ascent to go to the lost sheep of “the (whole) house of Israel” (another biblical term from the Tanakh) starting first with the Jews in Jerusalem, then those in Judea and then to both Jews and lost northern kingdomites scattered to in Samaria and then all over the world. So lost sheep of the house of Israel includes both Jews and non-Jews per the Bible.


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