ESV Study Bible: Covenant Vs. Dispensational
Many visitors have asked me where the new ESV Study Bible comes down on the issue of Covenant theology vs. Dispensationalism. The ESVSB being so broadly eccumenical again gave hesitation because I thought it may not take a stand on this issue. I was wrong again. Eccumenial in this instance, simply means the contributors included Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicals and Charismatic. But the is it overall most definitely Reformed and quite strikingly covenantal in most places. While the Study Bible (perhaps wisely) does not take a firm stand on any millennial view, it does seem to openly affirm some basics of Covenant Theology rather than Dispensationalism or New Covenant Theology.
Vern S. Poythress wrote the ESVSB introductory article at the front of the Bible entitled Overview of the Bible: A Survey of the History of Salvation. As a committed covenant theologian, this view is clearly articulated here. This is a great article but especially read the subsections entitled, Covenants, Offspring, Christ the Last Adam and Shadows, Prefigures, and â€œTypesâ€
Also in some of the Bible notes it has the same ideas expressed:
Heb 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And a being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The note for Hebrews 5:8-10 says
Heb. 5:8 Although he was a son. See 1:1â€“14 and 5:5. Jesus, though fully divine, was also fully human. he learned obedience through what he suffered. Though always without sin (4:15; 7:26) and thus always obedient, Jesus nevertheless acquired knowledge and experience by living as a human being (cf. Luke 2:40, 52), and he especially came to know firsthand what it cost to maintain obedience in the midst of suffering (see notes on Heb. 2:9; 2:10; 2:18; 4:15). As Jesus â€œincreased in wisdom and statureâ€ (Luke 2:52), successive temptations were no doubt more difficult to deal with (cf. Luke 4:12), and as he obeyed his Father in the face of each temptation, he â€œlearned obedience,â€ so that his human moral ability was strengthened.
Heb. 5:9â€“10 being made perfect. During his childhood, Jesus was not lacking in any godly character quality, but he was lacking in the full experience of having lived a perfect human life, obeying the Father in everything, without sin. The lifelong perfect obedience of Jesus (v. 8; 7:26â€“28) provides the basis for eternal salvation (2:10; 9:23â€“28) and for the ultimate â€œperfectionâ€ of those who respond in faith and obedience (10:14; 11:40; 12:23; cf. 7:19; 9:9; 10:1). order of Melchizedek. See 5:6 and ch. 7.
While the terms Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism are never used as far as I can see, the ideas of CT are certainly articulated. It also may be of interest to note that the editors and a large number of the contributors subscribe to covenant theology, but I did notice one or two progressive dispensationalists like D. Bock as well. But the General Editors J.I. Packer and Wayne Grudem are clearly covenant in their outlook. See Grudems essay on The Covenant of Works which will cast aside all doubts where he stands. He is a credo baptist but in all else he is covenantal.
But also note that in very important critical books of the New Testament which touch upon this issues, the authors of the notes are covenantal. For example, the notes for Reveation are done by Dennis Johnson from Westminster Seminary; the notes for Ephesians are by S.M. Bough, also from Westminster, Hebrews by David Chapman from Covenant Seminary etc. Just one big happy family here. While I may not agree with everything in the notes, but overall the Bible has exceeded my expectations.