328: Pactum Salutis

I. Introduction

A. What is the Pactum Salutis? The pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian covenant in which the redemption of God’s people was secured.
B. Terminology

1. Covenant of Redemption (CoR)

2. Counsel of Peace (CoP); Zechariah 6.13

3. Pactum Salutis (Pactum)

4. Reasons for variation

C. Contents of the Pactum

1. The Father chose specific individuals out of the mass of sinful humanity and chose to redeem them.

2. The Son agreed to purchase those elect individuals through His active and passive obedience. In return, He would receive both exaltation and the elect people whom He had covenanted to redeem.

3. The Holy Spirit agreed to apply the redemption purchased by the Son to the elect and preserve them until the consummation of the age.

a. Critique

b. Diversity

i. Rutherford (bio)

ii. Cocceius

iii. Gib; Erskine

4. Before the ages began, the elect were chosen and their redemption was secured.

D. A Valid ‘Covenant’?
E. Scriptures present the pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian relations that gave rise to redemption as a covenant.

II. The Development of the Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis

A. Biblical Accounts of Redemption’s Eternal Foundation
B. Doctrinal Concerns
C. Development of Terminology

III. The Biblical Foundation of the Pactum Salutis

A. Strand A: The relationship between the Father and the Son is presented as one in which the Son renders obedience and receives a reward for that obedience.

1. In His earthly ministry, the Son rendered obedience to the Father

a. John 14.31; εντελλω. Cf. John 10.18, 12.49, 15.10.

b. Hebrews 5.8

c. A recurring NT theme – the Father has given commands and the Son has obeyed them.

2. The Son obeys the Father’s commands for a purpose

a. Isaiah 53.10-12

i. Is 53:10. The suffering of the Son – the atoning work of the Son – is the will of the Father.

ii. Is 53:12. The Son will receive reward.

i. The reward comes as a result of the atoning work.

ii. Grammatically, strongest of links between the Son’s performance of God’s will and His reception of the reward. ‘Because’ = אשר תחת; strong causal force.

iii. The Son does the will (the command) of the Father and He receives, for that obedience, a reward.

b. Philippians 2.5-11

i. Phil 2:5-8. The obedience of Christ; both active and passive.

ii. Phil 2:9. Begins with διο; ‘therefore’. Because of / as a result of His obedience, Christ is highly exalted.

iii. Phil 2:9-11. The exaltation of Christ, stemming from His obedience, is described.

iv. Christ renders obedience, and in return for that obedience, He receives great reward.

3. The Son’s reward is secured by the Holy Spirit

a. Acts 2.33

b. John 14.16-17, 26

c. Ephesians 1.11-14; Titus 3.5; etc.

4. The Son renders obedience to the will of the Father and in return for that obedience, He receives a reward that is applied by the Holy Spirit.

B. Strand B: This ‘obedience for reward’ relationship is presented as a covenant.

1. Presented as analogous to the ‘obedience for reward’ relationship between God and Adam.

a. Romans 5.12-19

b. I Corinthians 15.21-22

2. Luke 22.28-30

a. Luke 22:28. Jesus sets His comments in the context of His own suffering.

b. Luke 22:29. Jesus speaks of the Father ‘bestowing’ a kingdom upon Him.

i. In light of Luke 22:28, bestowal has come through Christ’s obedience.

ii. ‘bestowed’. In Vulgate, dispono; in Greek, διατιθεμαι; verbal form of διαθηκη which indicates covenant conferral. BAGD: ‘to make a disposition of something.’

iii. Jesus speaks of the Father bestowing a kingdom upon Him by covenant.

3. The rewarded obedience of the Son occurs within a covenantal framework.

C. Strand C: This covenantal relationship is seen as eternal.

1. Philippians 2.5-11

a. Lies behind even the Incarnation

b. Cf. John 6.38

2. Ephesians 3.8-12

a. Eph. 3:9

b. Eph. 3:10-11

c. Eph. 3:12

d. Paul speaks of an eternal purpose; hidden through the ages; that was accomplished in Christ and that now brings the blessings of salvation; the blessings of the covenant; to believers.

3. Other instances

a. Ephesians 1.4

b. Revelation 13.8

D. Summary

1. Biblically, the relationship between the Son and the Father is presented as one in which the Son renders obedience in return for reward; this obedience-for-reward relationship occurs within a covenantal context; and it has existed since eternity past.


IV. The Relationship Between the Pactum Salutis and the Covenant of Grace

A. Generally speaking, this eternal covenant is held in organic relation to the historical outworking of it.
B. Ephesians 3. You cannot separate Christ’s accomplishment of the Father’s eternal purpose from the present enjoyment of its blessings by the elect.
C. The intra-Trinitarian covenant never is treated as creating a static reality; seen as issuing in the blessing of the elect.
D. John 17.4-12. Christ speaks of the pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian covenant coming to realization then, in the things that He has done and that He is about to do.
E. The CoP ought to be considered as part of the CoG rather than as distinct therefrom. Whenever the CoP is discussed in Scripture, is discussed in unity with the CoG.

V. Implications/Importance of the Pactum Salutis

A. It is through the CoP that we receive some of our clearest views of the Trinity.
B. Provides a framework to understand passages that could be taken wrongly to imply the subordination of the Son; e.g. John 14.28.
C. Important for doctrine of justification, especially the active obedience of Christ. There is an active obedience of Christ even outside of the CoW.
D. Gives a right view of the overarching unity of the CoG.

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