I am not convinced by the texts Owen cites in defense of the notion of a “covenant of redemption,” a “compact” between Father and Son “concerning the work to be undertaken, and the issue or event thereof” ( The Death of Death in the Death of Christ ). But the covenant of redemption idea has some interesting results as Owen unpacks the Father-Son relationship in redemption.

By the compact, the Father commits Himself to defend and encourage His Son:

“His promise to protect and assist him in the accomplishment and perfect fulfilling of the whole business and dispensation about which he was employed, or which he was to undertake. The Father engaged himself, that for his part, upon his Son’s undertaking this great work of redemption, he would not be wanting in any assistance in trials, strength against oppositions, encouragement against temptations, and strong consolation in the midst of terrors, which might be any way necessary or requisite to carry him on through all difficulties to the end of so great an employment.”

From the Son’s side, it is because of the Father’s assurance that the Son undertakes the “heavy burden” of the work of salvation. Jesus’ confidence and courage are the product of faith in His Father’s commitment to Him: “Hence arose that confidence of our Saviour in his greatest and utmost trials, being assured, by virtue of his Father’s engagement in this covenant, upon a treaty with him about the redemption of man, that he would never leave him nor forsake him . . . . the ground of our Saviour’s confidence and assurance in this great undertaking, and a strong motive to exercise his graces received in the utmost endurings, was this engagement of his Father upon this compact of assistance and protection. ”

The Father-Son relationship is thus a highly interactive one, and we can speak, on Owen’s theory, of Jesus’ obedience as an “obedience of faith” and we can say that Jesus was a man, even a God -man, of faith.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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