What is Progressive Covenantalism? Part 2


In the previous article, I began to discuss what progressive covenantalism is in four steps. So far I have described (1) some of its distinctive points and (2) some of its basic hermeneutical assumptions. In addition, I have (3) begun to summarize how it views the unfolding of God’s eternal plan through the progression of the covenants, starting with the pre-fall creation covenant with Adam, the first post-fall covenant with Noah, and the Abrahamic covenant. In this article, I will finish the third step by picking up our discussion with the Mosaic covenant in order to discover how the covenants reach their fulfillment in the new covenant. Then, I will conclude (4) by describing how all of the covenants are fulfilled in Christ, thus highlighting how progressive covenantalism thinks of both continuity and discontinuity across the covenants.

3. Continuation of How God’s Plan Unfolds through the Covenants to Christ

The Mosaic Covenant

In the Old Testament, the amount of space devoted to the old covenant is vast, yet Scripture teaches that it is not an end in itself. Scripture views it as temporary in God’s plan and thus when Christ comes, as an entire covenant, it is fulfilled and Christians are no longer under it as a covenant (Gal. 3:15–4:7). What was its purpose? The answer is diverse, but centrally it revealed and intensified sin and prepared God’s people for Christ’s coming (Rom. 5:20–21; 7:13; Gal. 4:4). Also, three points are important in summarizing the role of the old covenant in God’s plan.

First, given its epochal/covenantal context, God calls Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt and establishes a covenant with them because of his promises to Abraham (Exod. 3:6; cf. 2:24–25; Deut. 4:36–38). In relation to the previous covenants, the old covenant reveals with greater clarity how Abraham’s “seed” is narrowed to the nation of Israel. Israel, as a nation (gôy) (Exod. 19:5–6), is a “corporate Adam” as she fulfills that role to the nations. It is through Israel that God fulfills his promise (Gen. 3:15) to undo Adam’s sin. Further proof of this truth is that Israel, as a nation, is called God’s “son” (Exod. 4:22–23). The “Father-son” relationship looks back to Adam and looks forward to the Davidic kings, linking the covenants together. Israel, as a nation, is called to serve as God’s son-priest-image, and through this nation God will bring blessing to the world.

Second, the old covenant is a unit. Scripture does not partition the covenant into moral, civil, and ceremonial laws. Rather, it is a unit that governed Israel’s life, and now, in Christ, is fulfilled. Also, as a unit, the covenant develops in greater detail a number of typological patterns that find their antitypical fulfillment in Christ and his people. For example, Israel, as a kingdom of priests, needs Levitical priests (i.e., the sons of Aaron) to represent them before God. Related to the priesthood is the entire tabernacle-temple-sacrificial system, which not only served as a means by which Israel dwelt in God’s presence, but also pointed to their antitypical fulfillment in Christ and the full forgiveness of sin (John 2:19–22; Isa. 52–53; Heb. 5:1–10; 7–10). The same is true of the role of the prophet and the anticipation of the king (Deut. 18:15–18; Acts 3:22–26; Deut. 17:14–20; Rom. 1:3–4; Heb. 1:5). Or, the Passover and Exodus become patterns of a greater, new exodus/redemption to come, all of which is fulfilled by Christ.

Third, although the covenant is strongly bilateral (involving two parties), it is also more. It is not simply (as some have asserted) the republication of the covenant of creation, and thus merely a “law” covenant. No doubt, one of its key purposes is to reveal and increase Israel’s sin (Gal. 3:19), but in God’s unfolding plan, it serves as a means to a larger end, namely to reveal, anticipate, and point forward to the need for the coming of Christ and the new covenant. In this sense, the Mosaic covenant is prophetic (Matt. 5:17–20; 11:13; Rom. 3:21). As with all the post-fall covenants, God is the one who unilaterally keeps his promises, yet Israel is also called to be an obedient son. And like Adam, they disobeyed. The old covenant heightens the tension in how God’s kingdom comes through fallen people. God will keep his promise to bring forth the offspring of Abraham, now through an Israelite. And yet, Israel cannot produce the son and faithful covenant partner that God demands. This is why the Old Testament prophets anticipate a permanent, unbreakable new covenant to solve this dilemma (Jer. 31:31–34).

The Davidic Covenant

This covenant is the epitome of the Old Testament covenants; it brings the previous covenants to a climax in the king. There are two main parts to it: (1) God’s promises about the establishment of David’s house forever (2 Sam. 7:12–16), and (2) the promises concerning the “Father-son” relationship between God and the Davidic king (2 Sam. 7:14; cf. Ps. 2; 89:26–27). The “sonship” promise links the Davidic covenant to the previous covenants, and it anticipates in type the greater Sonship of Christ. Previously sonship applied to corporate Israel (Exod. 4:22–23; cf. Hos. 11:1), but now it is applied to the individual Davidic king, who, in himself, is “true Israel.” He becomes the mediator of the covenant thus representing God’s rule to the people (2 Sam. 7:22–24), and fulfilling the role of Adam by effecting God’s rule in the world (2 Sam. 7:19b).

God’s redemptive plan was always to restore humanity’s vice-regency via the woman’s seed (Gen. 3:15). We now know that this will occur through the Davidic king. This truth is borne out in many places that speak of the Davidic son as having a universal rule (e.g., Pss. 2, 8, 45, 72, cf. Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1–10; 53–55). Yet, in Old Testament history, this was never realized. As previous covenant mediators disobeyed, so the Davidic kings, but the hope of salvation is in them. God continues his unilateral resolve to keep his promise to bring forth Abraham’s seed, now more specifically a Davidic king, who will reign under God over the whole world. And yet, there is no faithful son-king who effects God’s saving reign. This leads to the message of the Prophets and the anticipation of a new covenant.

The New Covenant

All of the Old Testament writing prophets are post-Davidic. Why is this significant? Because their prophecies build on what God has already revealed through the covenants. The prophets proclaim an overall pattern of renewal by recapitulating the past history of redemption and projecting it into the future. The prophets announce that God will unilaterally keep his promises to save, but he will do so through a faithful Davidic king (Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; 11:1–10; 42:1–9; 49:1–7; 52:13–53:12; 55:3; 61:1–3; Jer. 23:5–6; 33:14–26; Ezek. 34:23–24; 37:24–28). In this king, identified as the “servant of Yahweh,” a new or everlasting covenant will come, and with it the pouring out of the Spirit (Ezek. 36:24–38; 37:11–28; Joel 2:28–32), God’s saving reign among the nations, the forgiveness of sin (Jer. 31:34) and a new creation (Isa. 65:17). The hope of the prophets is found in the new covenant.

Within the Old Testament, the new covenant is national (Jer. 31:31–40; 33:6–16; Ezek. 36:24–38; 37:11–28) and international. It will include Jews and Gentiles, and its scope is universal, thus fulfilling the Abrahamic promise.[1] Isaiah projects the ultimate fulfillment of the divine promises in the new covenant onto an “ideal Israel,” i.e., a community tied to the Servant of Yahweh located in a rejuvenated new creation (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). This “ideal Israel” picks up the promises to Abraham and is the ultimate fulfillment of the covenants that God established with Adam, the patriarchs, the nation of Israel, and David’s son.

1. For example, see Isa. 14:1–2; 19:23–25; 42:6, 20; 49:6; 55:3–5; 56:4–8; 66:18–24; Jer. 16:19; 33:9; Ezek. 36:36; 37:28; Amos 9:11–12; cf. Ps. 47:9; 87:3–6; 67:2–3; 117:1.

What is “new” about the new covenant? Jeremiah 31:29–34 speaks of “newness” by a change in the structure and nature of God’s people because of the work of its greater covenant mediator. Let us look at these respective changes.

First, the new covenant changes the structure of God’s people. Under the old covenant, God dealt with his people through specially called leaders. The Old Testament does pay attention to individual believers, as evidenced in the remnant theme. But in general, the people’s knowledge of God and their relationship with him depended upon specially endowed leaders. The entire nation benefited when these leaders did right, and they suffered when they did not. Thus, the Old Testament does not emphasize God’s Spirit being poured out on every individual believer and empowering them but distinctively on prophets, priests, and kings. But Jeremiah signals a structural shift in the covenant community where all of God’s people will know him, from the least to the greatest. By this change, the new covenant raises every member of the covenant to the same relationship with God through the universal distribution of the Spirit (see Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2). The Messiah, being the first to be anointed with the Spirit (see Isa. 11:1–3; 49:1–2; 61:1ff), will in turn pour out his Spirit on all flesh, namely, everyone within the covenant community (see Ezek. 11:19–20; 36:25–27; Joel 2:28–32; cf. Num. 11:27–29).

Second, the new covenant changes the nature of God’s people. Jeremiah distinguishes between the old and new covenant based on the heart condition of its members (Jer. 31:31–34). Whereas only a remnant under the old covenant truly knew Yahweh, God changes the heart (“circumcision of heart”) of every new covenant member (Jer. 31:33–34; cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25; Rom. 2:29). This does not mean that Old Testament saints were not regenerate; instead it implies that that the new covenant people will all be regenerate. The old covenant community was a mixed people (Rom. 9:6), but this is not true of the new. The entire community will savingly know God.

Third, the new covenant changes the sacrifice made for God’s people. The old covenant offered the forgiveness of sins through the priestly-sacrificial system, which was never intended to save (Heb. 10:4). The old covenant sacrifices were designed to remind God’s covenant people of their sinfulness through repetition. Yet, Jeremiah says, God “will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Jer. 31:33–34; Heb. 10:17). Under the new covenant, then, a better priest will offer a better sacrifice (Ps. 110), and all in the covenant will be justified before God.

4. How the Old Testament Covenants are fulfilled in Christ and the New Covenant

As the New Testament begins, fulfillment is in the air: what the Old Testament anticipated and predicted is now here in Christ. Our Lord’s identity is that he is the eternal Son of the Father and the promised Messiah who has come to restore humanity’s vice-regent rule over creation. Jesus teaches us that he is now fulfilling all of God’s covenantal promises and establishing God’s promised “kingdom through new covenant” by his obedient work and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. Also, Jesus reminds us that his work is to redeem a new people for that kingdom, his church (Matt. 16:18). Let us think of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises in three steps, which in turn allows us to think properly about the continuity and discontinuity in God’s plan: (1) how Christ fulfills the previous covenants; (2) fulfillment in terms of inaugurated eschatology; and (3) how the church is new and receives all of God’s covenant promises in and through Christ.

Messiah Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Covenants

From the opening verse of the New Testament, Jesus is identified as “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1), which is significant. Jesus, the eternal Son made flesh (John 1:1–2, 14), has not only become the first man of the new creation, but also in him all of the previous covenant mediators, typological structures, and promises have reached their fulfillment (2 Cor. 1:20).

Think about how the New Testament presents Jesus’s identity, especially tied to the covenants. Jesus is the divine Son who comes to save his people, and, by virtue of his incarnation and work, becomes the son, the antitypical fulfillment of the previous covenant mediators, thus securing our eternal redemption by his obedient life and death (Rom. 1:3–4; Phil. 2:6–11; Heb. 1:1–3). In his incarnation and cross, Jesus becomes David’s greater Son, who inaugurates God’s kingdom, and is now seated as the Davidic king, leading history to its consummation at his return (Matt. 1:1; 28:18–20; Acts 2:32–36; Rom. 1:3–4; Eph. 1:9–10; Phil. 2:9–11; Col. 1:15–20; Heb. 1 [cf. Ps. 2, 45, 110]). Jesus is also the true Israel, who fulfills Israel’s role and brings Israel’s exile to its end in a new exodus, and who obeys where Israel disobeyed (Matt. 2:15 [Hos. 11:1]; Matt. 3:15–17 [cf. Isa. 11:1–2; 42:1; 61:1]; Matt. 4:1–11; John 15:1–6 [Isa. 5:1–7]). Jesus is Abraham’s true seed (Gal. 3:16) who constitutes all those in him, the true children of Abraham, and inheritors of all the Abrahamic promises (Rom. 2:25–29; 4:9–22; Gal. 3:6–9; Heb. 2:14–18; Rev. 5:9–10).

Moreover, Jesus, as the last Adam, fulfills the foundational role of Adam and the creation covenant (Rom. 5:12–21; 1 Cor. 15:21–22; Heb. 2:5–18; 8–10). In his conception, the Spirit, brings about the beginning of the new creation (Luke 1:35; cf. Gen. 1:2). In Jesus’s baptism, the promised Messiah receives the Spirit in full measure (Isa. 11:1–5; 61:1–2; Luke 4:14–21) and he pours out the Spirit on his people (John 20:21–23; Acts 2:1–36; 10:44–48; Gal. 3:1–6; 3:26–4:7), fulfilling Old Testament expectations of the new covenant. In fact, in Christ’s bodily resurrection, the new creation is now visible and physical. No wonder, in Christ, we are now “new creation” by the Spirit, both individually (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1–10) and corporately as the church (Eph. 2:11–22).

In every aspect of Jesus’s life, ministry, and cross-work, he fulfills all of the promises, instruction, and typological patterns of the previous covenants. Yet, it is important to think about the nature of this fulfillment in terms of inaugurated eschatology.

Inaugurated Eschatology and Fulfillment in Christ

The New Testament clarifies how Christ fulfills all of the Old Testament promises and covenants. The Old Testament prophets speak of the one coming of the Lord and Messiah to consummate all things. This one coming will result in the end of “this present age” (characterized by sin, death, and opposition to God) and the beginning of the “the last days”/“the age to come” (characterized by life, forgiveness of sin, the defeat of God’s enemies, and the arrival of a new creation).

Additionally, the Old Testament prophets think of the “age to come” in terms of an entire package. Minimally, when the Lord and Messiah come, we will see such things as: the arrival of God’s kingdom, the pouring out of the Spirit, a new temple, the full forgiveness of sin, the judgment and defeat of God’s enemies, resurrection life, eschatological rest, a restored Israel, a transformed people comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, and a new creation.

The New Testament teaches the same truths, yet it modifies the redemptive-historical timeline to speak of two comings of Christ. In his first coming, Jesus appears as Lord and Christ, and brings all that the Old Testament associates with “the age to come” into “this present age” in principle. Yet, the consummation of “the age to come” awaits the second coming of Jesus. Between these two comings, Scripture teaches that Christ is currently reigning over his creation-kingdom. The realities of life in “the age to come” have already come into “this present age,” but not yet in full.

What is true regarding the already-not yet dynamic of Christ’s rule is also true of the entire package of prophetic anticipation of the “age to come.” For example, because Jesus is the risen and exalted Davidic king and Lord, he pours out the promised Spirit on his new covenant people, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:32–36; cf. Luke 24:46–51; John 14:15–17). Yet, the present gift of the Spirit is the deposit and guarantee of our future inheritance (Eph. 1:13–14). The reception of the Spirit signals that the Old Testament restoration promises, first given to Israel, are now taking place in Christ and the church, which entails that everyone in Christ has the Spirit and now participates in the promised age.

Or, think of other Old Testament promises which are now here, yet await their final consummation. In Christ, we are now forgiven of our sin, partakers of new covenant blessings (Jer. 31:34; Rom. 3:21–26; 8:1), yet we will still publicly stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Presently, in Christ, we are raised from spiritual death to life, adopted, redeemed, reconciled, and holy. Yet, we still await our bodily resurrection at Christ’s return, the full benefits of our adoption and inheritance, and our glorification. Presently, in Christ, new covenant believers are now, individually and corporately, God’s temple indwelt by the Spirit. Yet, we still await the new creation where there is no temple because of the Lord and the Lamb (Rev. 21:22). Even the new creation promise is fulfilled in an already-not yet way. Our Lord is the first man of the new creation in his incarnation and resurrection. And, in union with Christ by the Spirit, we, individually and corporately, are now “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1–22), although we await the consummation of all things.

Also note how the promise of a transformed people participates in the already-not yet dynamic. The prophets anticipate that Messiah’s new covenant people (believing Jews and Gentiles) will not be like Israel (Jer. 31:29–32). God will circumcise their hearts (Deut. 30:1–6; Jer. 31:33) by the Spirit (Ezek. 36:25–27; 37). The Spirit will empower/gift the entire community (Joel 2:28–32) so that all know God (Jer. 31:34) and all experience the forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34). In Christ, this is fulfilled in us, individually and corporately. A Christian is now no longer “in Adam” but “in Christ,” which entails that all new covenant blessings are ours now, although we still await our glorification and resurrection bodies.

Why is inaugurated eschatology significant in debates over theological systems? Because although inaugurated eschatology is widely accepted within evangelical theology, dispensational and covenant theology often apply it inconsistently at specific points in their systems.

For example, dispensationalism distinguishes Israel from the church ontologically so that in the future, national/ethnic Israel must receive certain promises tied to the land, “distinct” from believing Gentile nations. The church is not viewed as the true, eschatological Israel who receives all of the promises, including the inheritance of the land fulfilled in the new creation. So, when Jeremiah’s new covenant promise addresses “the house of Israel and Judah” (Jer. 31:31) but in the New Testament this promise is applied to the church (Hebrews 8), many dispensationalists explain this by appealing to inaugurated eschatology. They would say that in the already, the new covenant is spiritually applied to the church, but in the not yet, the new covenant will be applied literally to national Israel in the land. In the future, Israel, as a nation, will receive her “distinct” promises (tied to the land) different from believing Gentile nations.

This view has two problems. First, it assumes a faulty understanding of the Israel-church relationship because it does not properly follow the Bible’s covenantal progression. It does not start with creation/Adam and then situate Israel and her role within the covenantal storyline. It does not consistently see how Christ, as David’s greater Son is the true Israel and last Adam, and how he fulfills all of God’s promises. In turn, it fails to view Messiah’s people, the church, consisting of believing Jews and Gentiles, as the recipient of all of the Old Testament promises equally as the one new man. Second, regarding inaugurated eschatology, dispensationalism fails to see how all new covenant realities are now here in Christ and applied to the church in principle. We cannot simply apply spiritual blessings to the already and physical blessings to the not yet. Both are present now, although the fullness of both still awaits the consummation.

On the other hand, covenant theology insists that the church, like Israel, is “mixed.” But this view conflicts with the Old Testament expectation that Messiah’s people will be a regenerate people. Some covenant theologians admit that Jeremiah 31:31–34 anticipates such a people, yet they explain the “mixed” nature of the church by appealing to inaugurated eschatology: presently, the church is “mixed,” but in the future it will be regenerate.

This view also has two problems. First, it does not sufficiently account for the relationship of Christ to his people. Through covenantal progression, the relationship between the covenant mediator and his seed is transformed in the new covenant. In the previous covenants, the relationship is more biological/physical, but now in Christ, the relationship is spiritual, i.e., of the Spirit. One is in Christ and the new covenant, not by physical circumcision but by spiritual rebirth and faith. Second, covenant theology fails to see how all new covenant realities are now here in Christ and applied to the church in principle. Now that Christ has come, one is either in the new covenant or not, and to be in the new covenant entails that one now knows God, is forgiven of their sins, and is circumcised in heart, even as we await the not yet.

In Christ, the Church Receives All of God’s Promises

The relationship between Christ and his people is inseparable. For this reason, the church receives all of God’s promises in Christ. Two entailments follow. First, the church is part of the one people of God (elect) across time, but covenantally the church is new and constituted as a regenerate people (pace covenant theology). Second, the church is God’s new creation that remains forever, consisting of Jews and Gentiles, who, in Christ, equally and fully receive all of God’s promises. The church is not a parenthesis in God’s plan. The church is not a present-day illustration of what national Israel and Gentile nations will be in the millennium (and/or consummation) as recipients of “distinct” blessings (pace dispensationalism). Three points warrant these entailments.[2]

2. For a further development of this new covenant ecclesiology, see Stephen J. Wellum, “Beyond Mere Ecclesiology,” in The Community of Jesus: A Theology of the Church, ed. Kendell H. Easley and Christopher W. Morgan (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2013), 183–212.

First, there is only one people of God over time who are saved by grace through faith in God’s promises grounded in Christ alone. Evidence of continuity between Old Testament and New Testament saints is in the language used to describe each (Rom. 1:1–2, 11; Phil. 3:3, 7, 9). Descriptions of Israel as God’s covenant people are applied to the church through Christ (Exod. 19:6; Deut. 32:15; 33:12; Isa. 43:20–21; 44:2; Jer. 31:31–34; Hos. 1:6, 9–11; 2:1, 23; see Rom. 9:24–26; Gal. 3:26–29; Eph. 2:12, 19; 3:4–6; 1 Thess. 1:4; Heb. 8:6–13; 1 Pet. 2:9–10). Also, the language of “assembly” is applied to Israel and the church (Deut. 4:10; Isa 2:2–4; Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 11:18; Heb. 10:25), and the church, comprised of Jewish and Gentile believers, is described as the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

Second, the church is covenantally new and constituted as a regenerate people. Alongside Jeremiah’s depiction of a transformed new covenant people, which the New Testament applies to the church (1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:7–18; Heb. 8–10), are other truths that underscore the church’s newness. For example, the church is viewed as an eschatological and “gathered” community—identified with the “age to come”—which has arrived in Christ and is consummated at his return. Her identity is not with “this present age” but with the saving reign of Christ that is now here. Those who have placed their faith in Christ are now citizens of the new/heavenly Jerusalem, transferred from being “in Adam” to being “in Christ” with all the benefits of that union (see Heb. 12:18–29). Thus, to participate in these realities now is another way of saying that the church is, by definition, part of the new creation; consisting of people who are raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:5–6; Col. 2:12–13; 3:3)—which is only true of regenerate people.

Furthermore, in Christ, the church is God’s new temple (1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5). As God’s temple, we have direct access to the Father by the Spirit (Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19–22), something new in contrast to Israel. As God’s temple, the Spirit indwells each person, but this description is only true of regenerate people (Rom. 8:28–39; Eph. 1:13–14).

Third, the church is God’s new creation/humanity that remains forever, comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, who equally and fully receive all of God’s promises in Christ. Ephesians 2:11–22 teaches this truth. Gentiles, who were once outside of Israel (Eph. 2:11–12), now in Messiah Jesus are recipients of all of God’s promises. By Christ’s work, the law-covenant, which purposely separated Jews and Gentiles, is fulfilled. Result? Both Jews and Gentiles are now reconciled to God and each other by entering a new covenant (Eph. 2:14–18), who together inherit the same promises. Paul is forthright: the church is new (see 1 Cor. 9:19–23). The church transcends the old entities, although unbelieving Israel and disobedient Gentiles continue to exist. The church is not simply a replacement of Israel or a “renewed” instantiation of it, or one phase in God’s plan to end in the future when God returns to his previous plan for Israel and the nations. God’s eternal plan always anticipated the creation of the church (Eph. 3:8–13). What makes this possible is Jesus, who fulfills God’s promises and applies them to his people.

Further evidence that the church receives all of God’s promises is how Old Testament restoration promises for Israel are applied to the church in Christ (Acts 1:6; 2; 8; 10–11). That is why in Christ and the church, all of God’s promises are now being fulfilled (Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:9–10). The church is Abraham’s offspring (Rom. 4:9–22; Gal. 3:6–9); true Jews by heart circumcision (Rom. 2:25–29; Phil. 3:3); the one new man (Eph. 2:11–22); from the same olive tree (Rom. 11:17–24); and part of the 144,000 who symbolically refer to the entire church (Rev. 7:1–8; 14:3). Captured in Scripture’s final vision, the church is Christ’s bride, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose foundation is the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:9–14), an international people (Rev. 5:9–10) who inherit the new creation (Rev. 21–22).

Does this mean that God is finished with ethnic Israel? In Romans 9–11, Paul says, no. Although people debate over whether ethnic Jews are now being converted throughout church history, or we still await a mass conversion at the end of history, pace dispensationalism, this text says nothing about Israel as a nation receiving outstanding promises in the millennium (and eternal state) distinct from believing Gentiles. Instead, what Scripture teaches is that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ and his people, the church.


Here in brief is progressive covenantalism. On gospel issues, although there is more agreement than disagreement with covenant and dispensational theology, progressive covenantalism insists that at the center of God’s plans and purposes is Christ Jesus. In him, all of God’s promises are “yes and Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), and by grace, we, as the church, are the beneficiaries of his glorious, triumphant work.



  • Stephen Wellum

    Stephen Wellum is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his MDiv and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of numerous essays, articles, and books. He is also the co-author with Peter Gentry of Kingdom through Covenant, 2nd edition (Crossway, 2012, 2018) and the author of God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of the Person of Christ (Crossway, 2016).

Stephen Wellum

Stephen Wellum

Stephen Wellum is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his MDiv and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of numerous essays, articles, and books. He is also the co-author with Peter Gentry of Kingdom through Covenant, 2nd edition (Crossway, 2012, 2018) and the author of God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of the Person of Christ (Crossway, 2016).