🚂 This is entry 2 of the blogtrain The Covenants of God.

AKA: pactum salutis, foedus redemptionis

Definition: “the pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian agreement among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to plan and execute the redemption of the elect.”1

History of the Doctrine: To learn about the development of the doctrine among the Reformed, you can read Richard Muller’s Toward the Pactum Salutis: Locating the Origins of a Concept for free.

The Westminster Confession of Faith does not use the term Covenant of Redemption but addresses the concept in 8.1:

It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

Key Evidence: Scripture points to the existence of such a covenant in several ways. Drawing from David Dickson (1583–1663), a Scottish minister who helped define the doctrine, Guy M. Richard, professor at RTS in Atlanta, points to these lines of biblical evidence (there are others). I’ve supplied some of the example proof texts.:2

  1. Our salvation in terms of transaction (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18)
  2. The titles of Jesus (“propitiation”, Romans 3:25; “covenant”, Isaiah 42:6)
  3. The appointment of Christ (Acts 2:23; Psalm 2:7; Luke 22:29 διατίθημι is a frequently a term of legal assignment as is done in a last will and testament)
  4. How Jesus talks about his mission (John 5:36-7; 6:37-39; 10:18; 17:4, 6-9, 24-25)
  5. The dialogue between the Father and the Son (Hebrews 10:5-10; John 17; Psalm 2)

The Roles of The Persons

  • The Father appoints the Son as covenant surety (Eph 1:4-10; John 6:57, 20:21; Luke 22:29) and promises to reward him for fulfillment (Deut 17:19-20, 29:1).
  • The Son is the surety of the covenant (Heb 7:22; Rom 4:25), meaning he “assumes the legal responsibilities on behalf of another.”3 He assumes human nature, is born under the law, etc. (Gal 4:4; Heb 2:10-15).
  • The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and the Son. He anoints the Son in his work (Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38). He applies the work of redemption by making the word a reality in the incarnation and in inscripturation (John 14:26, 15:26).

What difference does this make?

  1. It reveals to us the attributes of God so that we might worship him.
  2. It reassures us of our hope in Him.
  3. It reminds us of the deep and loving union we have with God.
  4. It helps us to understand the Covenants of Works and Grace.

  1. J. V. Fesko, The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, 131. ↩︎

  2. Guy M. Richard, The Covenant of Redemption↩︎

  3. J. V. Fesko, The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, 134. ↩︎