Difference Between Covenant and Promise

Covenant vs Promise
 

Although some people consider a covenant and a promise as synonymous, it is a wrong assumption because there is a difference between a covenant and a promise. First, let us define the two words. A covenant can be defined as a formal agreement between two or more parties where they agree to do or not to do something. This word is mostly used in religious backgrounds as well. On the other hand, a promise is an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen. The main difference between a covenant and a promise is that while, in a covenant, both parties have clear obligations and responsibilities, in a promise, this characteristic cannot be observed. Instead, in a promise, what we can observe is the active role undertaken by one party while the other remains passive. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two words, covenant and promise.

What is a Covenant?

Simply, a covenant can be defined as a formal agreement between two or more parties where they agree to do or not to do something. In this sense, a covenant has legal validity. However, this word is also used in religions as well. For example, in Christianity, a religious covenant refers to the promise made by God to humanity. Christians consider the Bible as a covenant.

When focusing on the Bible, specifically, in the light of a religious covenant, it consists of various obligations between the two parties involved. It also explains the rewards and the punishments that the individual is to expect if he breaks and keeps the covenant. In the religious setting, one can observe many examples for covenants. Some of these are the Noahic covenant, Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic covenant, Priestly Covenant, and Davidic covenant.

Difference Between Covenant and Promise

Noahic covenant

What is a Promise?

A promise is an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen. It usually consists of an effort made by an individual or a group of people to perform something. In life, people make numerous promises to others as well as to themselves. However, it is interesting to note that not all these promises are kept.

Unlike in the case of a covenant where there is a legal validity, a promise holds no such power. Even if the individual breaks his promise, no legal action can be taken. A promise also does not involve a lot of obligations and responsibilities from both parties as the attention is mainly on a single party. These are the main differences between a covenant and a promise.

 Covenant vs Promise

Promise is an assurance that one will do something

What is the difference between Covenant and Promise?

Definitions of Covenant and Promise:

Covenant: A covenant, in general context, can be defined as a formal agreement between two or more parties where they agree to do or not to do something.

Covenant in Religious Context: A religious covenant refers to the promise made by God to humanity.

Promise: A promise is an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen.

Characteristics of Covenant and Promise:

Roles:

Covenant: In a covenant, the roles of both parties have to be active.

Promise: In a promise, the role of only one party is active as the attention is mainly on a single party.

Responsibilities and Obligations:

Covenant: In a covenant, both parties have clear responsibilities and obligations.

Promise: In a promise, responsibilities and obligations are not there for both parties as only one party takes active role while the other remains passive.

Legal Validity:

Covenant: A covenant, being a formal agreement, has legal validity.

Promise: Promise do not hold any legal validity.

Context:

Covenant: The word covenant is mostly used in religious contexts, unlike the word promise.

Promise: Promise can be used in any context.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Noah’s Thanksoffering via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Hands via Pixabay (Public Domain)