The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: L

Previous Index Next

Law and covenant

LAW: The orderly means by which a society enforces its will. A law not enforced is simply not a law. Based on accumulated experience of past.

COVENANT: A binding promise in a relationship between individuals and groups. It has far-reaching effects on behavior and attitudes. Based on loyalty and love in future.

In both cases, where there is no relationship, there is no obligation -- and no security.


(A) PURPOSE: Law/to regulate existing relationships by orderly means; Covenant/to create new relationships (ie marriage).

(B) PENALTY: Law/punishment defined by and administered by society's means (police/military); Covenant/punishment and reward meted out by God (curses/blessings).

(C) NORMS: Law/formal rules defined by society; Covenant/precepts and principles developed by God.

(D) BINDING: Law/by enactment of legitimate social power, regardless of individual's attitude; Covenant/by voluntary commitment of individual (ie baptism).

(E) VALIDITY: Law/territorially bound, not valid beyond territory; Covenant/unlimited, bound to the individual wherever he might be.

(F) TIME REFERENCE: Law/past; does not operate until a violation has taken place; may deter bad behavior; Covenant/ future; a solemn promise concerning future behavior.

"The primary function of any political system is to secure and maintain its own power... All that any legal system in normal human society can expect to do is to secure its own continuity by maintaining a delicate balance between conflicting interests."

"It is clear that in Biblical usage love is first of all a label for the fact that persons have established and continue to maintain personal relationships with others, in which the concern for the wellbeing of the other is recognized as an obligation that takes precedence over other concerns such as the exercise of power or profiting at the other's expense."

(Adapted from NZ)

Previous Index Next