Chapter 9:16, 17. Much has been written on the meaning of the word diatheke in this passage. It is rendered |covenant| throughout by Doddridge, Macknight, Scholefield, etc.; and Scott is disposed to take the same view. Macknight's version is this, --
16. |For where a covenant is, there is a necessity that the
17. death of the appointed sacrifice be brought in; for a covenant is firm over dead sacrifices, since it never hath force whilst the appointed sacrifice liveth.|
The difficulty here is as to the word diathemenos, rendered above, |the appointed sacrifice,| -- by Doddridge, |he by whom the covenant is confirmed,| -- and by Scholefield, |the mediating sacrifice.| But the word is never found to have such meanings in the New Testament, in the Sept., or in the classics. It is therefore impossible to accede to such a view of the passage.
It is then said, on the other hand, that diatheke does not mean a testament or a will in the New Testament nor in the Sept. This is not true; for it clearly means a testament or a will in Galatians 3:15, and in connection, too, with its common meaning, a covenant, see verse 17. Besides it has commonly, if not always, this meaning in the classics.
These two verses are to be viewed as an illustration, and may be regarded as parenthetic; and were gar rendered |in fact,| or indeed, this would appear more evident, |Where indeed a testament is,| etc. As an illustration, a reference to a testament is exceedingly suitable; for with regard to Christ, his death was really the ratification of the covenant; as by death a Will attains its validity, so by Christ's death the covenant of which he is the Mediator. Death in both instances has a similar effect. And this, and no more than this, seems to have been the intention of the Apostle. The different meaning of the same word in the same passage is to be found out by words connected with it; in the present instance diathemenos is sufficient, independently of the 17th verse, which can be rightly applied to nothing but to a will or a testament.
Many agree with Calvin on these verses, such as Erasmus, Beza, Schleusner, Stuart, Bloomfield, etc.