I reiterate, I emphasize, I underscore with all of the unction and function and emotion of my soul that one of the greatest concepts that you can ever learn is the concept of covenant—of blood covenant. Now, what was a covenant? A covenant was an unbreakable commitment of one man to another man, one woman to another woman, one person to another person. It dealt with an unbreakable partnership. And blood covenant has been practiced from time immemorial in the oldest tribes upon the face of this earth. And no one who entered into a covenant with another person would enter into that covenant lightly, because of the grave consequences and because of the deep implications of that covenant.

Now here’s the way that, often, ancient people would symbolize the fact that they had entered into a covenant. First of all, one would remove his coat and give it to the other person to wear, which symbolized, “Because we’re in covenant together, my possessions are your possessions.” And then that person would take up his weapons—perhaps his bow, his arrow, his spear, whatever he might have—and he would give to the other person those weapons, which symbolized, “My power is your power; my strength is your strength.” And then they would do something else. They would take a sharp knife and make an incision upon the wrist, and each of these persons who were entering into covenant would make an incision. The word that is translated in our Bible “covenant” comes from a root word which means “to cut.” And the word covenant is translated in some Bibles “blood covenant,” because blood was involved when a covenant was made.

And so the one person would make a cut upon his wrist, and the other person would make a cut upon his wrist, and then those two hands would be joined together and lifted to heaven while the blood would commingle, which was a sign that, “We are now joined together in such a way that not only are my possessions your possessions, and not only is my power your power, but my very person is mingled with your person.” There is a sharing of personhood itself. And when people entered into that kind of covenant, when human beings entered into that kind of covenant, that meant that they were closer together than any human relationship. Closer were people in covenant than people who were brothers by birth. Closer than relatives are those that we are in blood covenant with.

And once people entered into that covenant, then they started using a new terminology. A part of that new terminology is a word called loving-kindness—loving-kindness—which is a covenant word. It’s a very beautiful, poetic-sounding phrase. But what loving-kindness means is this, that “I will faithfully discharge to you the duties and the responsibilities of the covenant, no matter what it costs me and no matter how I feel about it. I am bound to you by an attitude called loving-kindness. I will always show loving-kindness to you and to yours.”

And people who entered into this covenant had a new term for themselves: They were now called “friends.” Now we use the word friend very lightly. Sometimes we will write a letter to a person that we don’t even know, and we will begin this way: “Dear friend …” But in that day, that word friend was not used as lightly as we use our word friend today. As a matter of fact, it was used ten thousand times more strongly. The word friend was given to those who were in covenant relationship.

Do you remember that scripture that says, “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”? (Proverbs 18:24) That’s referring to people who have become friends in the covenant sense of the word: even closer than human relationships, even closer than birth. “There is a friend”—a covenant friend—“that sticketh closer than a brother.” And the covenant relationship not only belongs to those who make the covenant, but it is also intended to extend to their friends and to their family.

And so, having said that by way of introduction, I want us to notice three things about the principles of the blood covenant that are going to bless and thrill your heart. First of all, I want you to see the importance of the blood covenant. Secondly, I want you to see an illustration of the blood covenant. Thirdly, I would like for you to see and enjoy the implications of the blood covenant.

Adrian Rogers, “The Principles of the Blood Covenant,” in Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust, 2017), 1 Sa 18:1–4.

We have just released a new Bible Study based on the topic: The New Covenant.

These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.

Lessons Include:

The New Covenant, Lesson #1
Jesus Institutes the New Covenant
Mark 14:17–25; Hebrews 8:6, 7, 10–12

The New Covenant, Lesson #2
Jesus Seals the New Covenant
Mark 15:6–15, 25, 26, 33–39

The New Covenant, Lesson #3
The New Covenant’s Sacrifice
Hebrews 9:11–22

The New Covenant, Lesson #4
Hearts United in Love
Colossians 2:1–15

The New Covenant, Lesson #5
Right Attitudes
Matthew 5:1–12

The New Covenant, Lesson #6
Fulfilling the Law
Matthew 5:13–20

The New Covenant, Lesson #7
Love One Another
Matthew 5:21–32

The New Covenant, Lesson #8
Transforming Love
Matthew 5:38–48

The New Covenant, Lesson #9
Spiritual Discernment
Matthew 7:1–6, 15–23

The New Covenant, Lesson #10
A Covenant Between Friends
1 Samuel 18:1–5; 19:1–7

The New Covenant, Lesson #11
A Mother-Daughter Covenant
Ruth 1:6–11, 14–18

The New Covenant, Lesson #12
A Covenant to Marry
Ruth 3

The New Covenant, Lesson #13
A Covenant of Mutual Love
Ephesians 5:21–33