This site is dedicated to Epangelicalism or 'Promise Theology'.
The promise of God is one of the greatest unifying themes running throughout the various books of the Bible and binding them into one organic whole. The N.T. men regarded this one Promise as the theme of the whole O.T. Paul argued this way before Agrippa in Acts 26:6–7 saying “And now I stand to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; whereunto our twelve tribe nation, strenuously serving night and day, hopeth to obtain …" Paul's hope was located in the promise. It is expected that someone who is on trial and whose life is on the line would "formulate most carefully the central article of [one's] creed." The most surprising fact is that the apostle did not base his appeal to Agrippa on a number of scattered prediction in the OT (which would be accurate enough in substance but certainly not scriptural in form). Instead, Paul founded his case on a single, definite, all-embracing promise. And the context clearly indicated what promise Paul meant - the same one given to Eve, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Thus, the offense for which Paul stood accused was the offense that the promise included the Gentiles as well as the Jews! The writer of Hebrews (6:13–15, 17) says Abraham “having endured, …obtained the promise.” Isaac and Jacob were also “heirs with him of the same promise” (Heb. 11:9). There is the formula: “the promise made of God unto our fathers”; not promises, but promise, not predictions, but promise, not a promise, but THE promise doctrine.
This one promise stretches over the total history of the Scriptures in an arc from promise to fulfillment. Often the language of the promise is cast in technical terms of collective nouns (e.g., “seed”) and in carefully chosen phrases deliberately reflecting a “corporate solidarity” of a representative office or a personified people, which finally narrows down to the man Christ Jesus (e.g., Son, Servant, Messiah, Holy One, Chosen One, Branch, etc.). In this way of speaking, the will of God remains single and ever open to its ultimate fulfillment in the triumph of the Man of Promise, but the interim between promise and fulfillment is not filled with separate meanings or senses to these promises which will await another and later sense or meaning in Christ (double fulfillment), but rather the interim is filled with a series of fulfillments or historical events which in themselves as corporate parts of the single plan of God, as seen in this representative office or personified people, constitute a further realization and/or “pledge ” of the final accomplishment of that multi-form salvation and triumph of God. Hence the expressions are deliberately made inclusive of this larger whole by the writers of Scripture, to denote either the many ( Israel ) or the one person (Christ) and so Paul argues in Galatians 3:16, 19. This is neither a double meaning, equivocation of terms, rabbinic exegesis or spiritualizing the text for Christian edification; on the contrary it argues that the writers of Scripture knowingly intended that both their readers and our contemporaries might see that the Promise doctrine was a generic unit with a series of parts, separated by time intervals, but expressed in a language which deliberately could be applied and was applied to the whole process: its nearest fulfillments or even ultimately to the crowning fulfillment which supplied the perspective, joy, and hope for each contemporary manifestation. Only on this basis can one explain the “Servant ” simultaneously being explicitly designated as “Israel” (Isa. 44:1 ) and the person of Christ (Isa. 52:13–14) or the “Son” at once being explicitly designated “all Israel” (Ex. 4:22, Hos. 11:1 ) and Christ (Matt. 2:15).
Therefore, the promise of the “seed” to Abraham is “fulfilled” when Isaac is born and the promise of “a place” is “fulfilled” when Joshua takes Canaan. Fulfilled, yes, but only as “pledges” of the one who can gather up all of the manifold parts of the one promise in himself in their ultimate fulfillment. Thus, a connection is seen between the doctrine of the promise and many of the great doctrines of the gospel, e.g., the salvation of the Gentiles (Gal. 3:8 , 29), the gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:14; Acts 2:33; 38–39; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4–5), and the Kingdom of God (Ps. 2:8 ; 45:8; Luke 1:51–55).
It would appear that Hebrews does not warrant a radical break between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’…The Old Testament saints already participate in the New Age in anticipation even though in time they still belong to the old order… The ‘new’ is only different from the old in the sense of completion. ”The “new” began with the “old” promise made to Abraham and David. Its renewal perpetuated all of those promises previously offered by the Lord and now more. Therefore Christians presently participate in the new covenant now validated by the death of Christ. They participate by a grafting process into the Jewish olive tree and thus continue God’s single plan. However, in the midst of this unity of the “people of God” and “household of faith” there is an expectation of a future inheritance. The “hope of our calling” and the “inheritance” of the promise (in contradistinction to our present reception of the promise itself) awaits God’s climactic work in history with a revived national Israel, Christ’s second advent, his kingdom, and the heavens and the new earth. In that sense, the new covenant is still future and everlasting but in the former sense, we are already enjoying some of the benefits of the age to come. With the death and resurrection of Christ the last days have already begun (Heb. 1:1), and God’s grand plan as announced in the Abrahamic-Davidic-New Covenant continues to shape history, culture and theology.
The book of Hebrews “notes the difference between receiving the promise and receiving what is promised. In receiving the promise, recipients are declared heirs; in receiving what is promised, they obtain their inheritance” (Heb. 9:15).
This promise is eternally operative, immutable and irrevocable as witnessed by Hebrews 6:13, 17–18 where God made a promise to Abraham and swore by himself “to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel …" Nor does this immutability concern just the “spiritual seed,” but the “national seed” also as shown by the prophets prediction in Zechariah 10:9–12, after Israel’s return from the Babylonian exile and Paul’s discourse in Romans 9–11.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "The Eschatological Hermeneutics Of 'Epangelicalism': Promise Theology", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 13:2 (Spring 1970), pp. 92-99
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "The Old Promise And The New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 15:1 (Winter 1972) pp. 12-23
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "The Theolgy of the Old Testament", Expositors Bible Commentary (Zondervan 1979), Volume I-Articles, pp 285-305
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., "Toward Rediscovering the Old Testament" (Zondervan 1987), pp. 89