In the book of Genesis, God makes the covenant of circumcision with Abraham for him and his descendants. In verse 7 we are told this is an everlasting covenant.
How does this go in hand with the fact that a new covenant is established by at the Last Supper?
This question is addressed to any Churches that believe in the New Covenant theology (Catholic,Lutheran,Reformed,etc.)

  • I assume you're not referring to the specific theological framework called New Covenant Theology? If not, then this is really too broad, the various denominations have widely different views on the relationship between the New Covenant and the various covenants found in the Old Testament.
    – curiousdannii
    May 22, 2020 at 14:55

2 Answers 2


Does God 'replace' his covenant with Abraham ?

What relationship does the 'new' covenant bear to the 'everlasting' covenant ?

In Genesis 17: 3-14, God is quite clearly expressing two different covenants.

One is an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his 'seed' (which is clearly, from hindsight, a spiritual seed). This is made clear in the New Testament writings in Romans and Galatians particularly, but also many other places.

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [Galatians 3:16, KJV]

The other covenant regards the natural nation of the Hebrews and the need for a country with borders to house them. Within that country, God will express, on earth, the prophecies regarding the Coming which will enable the everlasting covenant.

Within that nation, within its borders, God will display, by artefacts and by rituals, many representations of the everlasting covenant which will not fully come into force until the death of the Testator of the Testament.

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. [Hebrews 9:16, KJV]

For the everlasting covenant is also an everlasting Testament.

Once the everlasting testament is fully established it supersedes all the figures and temporary arrangements which pointed towards it and which foretold it. All of which required a covenant between God and the nation of Israel in order to facilitate the project of setting forth the everlasting covenant, as a testimony, among all nations, upon earth.

If I wish to build a substantial building, say a block of apartments, then I may commission an architect to provide a model of the building in order to demonstrate to those involved in its building - and also to its future occupants - what it will be.

But after the building is built, there is no need for the model. Nobody can live in the model. The model is superseded.

It becomes redundant.

It is 'old'.

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. [Hebrews 8:13, KJV]

  • Hello Nigel, thanks for answering. I am bit confused because one one hand the covenant of the Old Testament is refereed to as everlasting in Isaiah 24:5. However on the other hand, also in the Old Testament it's refereed to as passing, Jeremiah 31:31-34
    – Dan
    May 22, 2020 at 17:25
  • @Dan The first - in Isaiah - refers to the everlasting covenant/testament. The second refers to the first covenant which has now passed away and is redundant. The everlasting covenant is that which is determined by God before the foundation of the world. The 'first' covenant on earth which involves the Law is that which is superseded once the everlasting Testament is brought in through the death of the Testator.
    – Nigel J
    May 22, 2020 at 19:00

We know that Paul refers to this passage in a spiritual type as circumcising the heart.

Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Paul has not created a new understanding of circumcision of the heart, but is following the same idea presented in centuries before from the Old Testament.

Deut 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Deut 17:11 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Jer 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart,

Thus "covenant of circumcision" is not understood as of the foreskin, but of the heart. And at the same time, it remains an eternal covenant, as found in the seed Jesus Christ.

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Of course, not all understood the spiritual and the seed, rather than the physical.

Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This misunderstanding eventually led to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

So, the covenant of circumcision understood as referring to Jesus Christ and of the heart is an eternal covenant.

  • your answer is very satisfactory, thank you! There is one last bit I'd wish yo answer before I accept it. If that is the case, that the circumcision was always understood to be of the heart, then why does Luke 22:20 refer to it as the "new covenant "?
    – Dan
    May 22, 2020 at 17:18

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