New Covenant Virility

or The Spirit Bids Geldings Be Fruitful


It’s cat-among-the pigeons time again.

Identifying the Bible Matrix in Acts reveals in quite a number of places that the author, Luke, has a sense of humour. Or the Holy Spirit does. In Acts 8, at Ascension (Firstruits), the Ethiopian eunuch asks Philip to hop up into his chariot. [1]

Philip opens the Law for him at Pentecost, the man is “resurrected” at Trumpets, baptized at Atonement (the Laver), and at Tabernacles we have both a Jew and Gentile whose witness flows out into the nations.

I think I’ve dealt with the significance of the position of the Laver as baptism elsewhere around here. Today I want to deal with the significance of the Covenant model as it overlays onto this passage.

As Eric Rauch has very helpfully summarised for us, the pentamerous Covenant model is:

1  Transcendence: Who’s in charge?

2  Hierarchy: To whom to I report?

3  Ethics: What are the rules?

4  Sanctions: What happens if I obey or disobey?

5  Succession: Does this relationship have a future? [2]

I believe that this pentamerous pattern as WORD becomes the heptamerous pattern as HISTORY when the central point (Ethics) is split into three. The Law is given to the Covenant head (Ascension), opened to the Body (Testing) and received by the Body (Maturity), unless of course the Body breaks the Law, in which case Moses has to bring a new set of Tablets (deutero-nomos) at Maturity.

This is exactly what we see in Acts 8. The Eunuch possesses the scroll; Philip “opens” it for him; the Eunuch receives it. Baptism follows at Sanctions (Atonement) and the Eunuch’s life is “cut in two.” And then, at Succession, which is my point, HOW CAN A EUNUCH HAVE COVENANT CHILDREN?

Throughout the Old Testament, this step of the pattern concerns either having children, or being made barren. Elisha atones for the sins of Jericho with a bowl of salt (barrenness) and the Gentiles are made fruitful. Then he sets the bears onto the Israelite children of Bethel (home of a golden calf). One bloodline is reconnected with history, and another is cut off. [3] He is doing exactly the opposite of what Joshua did to Jericho. He is cutting off the “old” Covenant of stones so a new one can be made—a new set of tablets, written on flesh.

So, what kind of stones does the Ethiopian get in this new, new, New Covenant. Jesus went about healing people of things that made Israelites ceremonially unfit to approach God. [4] So did the apostles. If these strange laws weren’t simply pedagogical, why didn’t Philip make this gelding truly fruitful and restore him physically?

Because, in the true New Covenant, having children doesn’t require that kind of testicles.

In his book on the Covenant structure, That You May Prosper, Ray Sutton wisely wrote, “Everyone talks about the Covenant, but nobody does anything about it.” What is it, exactly, that we are to do under the New Covenant?

The theonomy movement has helpfully reapplied the Bible to many areas long-neglected by evangelicals: to family, to economics, to politics. Under God’s Law, obedience brings blessing at Sanctions instead of cursing. As it did in the Old Testament, it still brings an abundance of children, prosperity and godly government. This redux is slowly fixing the myopic gnosticism of evangelicals who think that we under Covenant have nothing to do but witness and wait.

My problem with all of this wonderful stuff is that it takes the focus off witness. Brave testimony takes the kind of balls that Philip gave the Ethiopian eunuch.

Baptism isn’t about physical offspring at all. It gives any believer (child or adult) the authority to conceive and raise the kind of “children” an Ethiopian eunuch can have—by testimony. The New Covenant sign is outward-looking, not inward-looking. It’s not about crowding around the offspring of the Woman any more because the Child has already come. It’s about proclaiming this truth to the nations and watching them submit and join the church.

So, should Christians be careless about discipling their children under the Covenant? Of course not. God is cutting off an apostate western culture by rendering it childless.

Should Christians be careless with their finances? Of course not! Look at the debt the west is in.

Should Christians neglect to vote or run for office? Of course not. Look at the corrupt individuals in office.

None of those things has been rendered unimportant by the New Covenant. Disobedience in any of those areas still brings barrenness to a culture. But that is not the heart of the issue. Under the New Covenant, Christians also have the kind of fruitfulness that Noah’s animals, Ruth’s womb and Mordecai’s willing vassals all pointed to: a permanent, miraculous supply of true dominion by the Spirit at the very heart of the cultus: a Covenant body kept fruitful by the constant addition of willing Gentiles from outside: NEW BLOOD. We obey God and witness (as martyroi), and He gives us kingdom on a platter. [5]

Thus, I believe credo-baptism is the only kind that is truly postmillennial.

Eunuchs and barren women can be as fruitful as anyone else in the church. This is “New Covenant” life from the dead. That is the kind of offspring the New Covenant is, foremost, about, and these children are just as much “flesh and blood” as the ones that come out of the womb so the accusation of gnosticism rolls like water off a duck.

For all their myopia when it comes to the Covenant, this is one thing that even the most liberal, modernist, gnostic Baptist gets totally right, and it builds big churches. Paedobaptism, in practice, brings relative sterility. A tree is known by its fruit, and paedobaptism, like circumcision, seems to me to do little more than maintain the status quo.

I wonder if the ever-reforming Reformed church will contemplate reforming on that one.

I’m not saying big churches build quality Christians or culture. They don’t. But why can’t we have both in the one place? Under the New Covenant, we can have quality and quantity, and it will come as we submit entirely to the Word and its obvious patterns.

[1] The only reason Luke mentions sailing under the Sign of the Roman Twins in Acts 28 is because he is following the Feasts/Tabernacle pattern and he’s at Atonement. He needs two identical goats and a laver (sea).
[2]  See A Jaw-Dropping Book.
[3] See Dashing Her Little Ones and Elisha’s Short Fuse.
[4] See Why Jesus Healed Some.
[5] The significance of the nationality of the eunuch comes (mainly) from the Book of Esther.

Art: The Royal Procession of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Julian Van Dyke.

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4 Responses to “New Covenant Virility”

  • Doug Roorda Says:


    So there are no promises of God to bless the physical children of believers any more? it’s all outward? “Kids, God used to promise to bless you and make you love him, but that’s no more, it’s just about bringing unbelievers in from the outside — you’re pretty much on your own, and if you want to come in to the church you may, but you aren’t really God’s children now.”

    Or stated another way, are children in the Lord now, or not?


  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks, Doug

    My point is that this choice is a false dichotomy. As always, our offspring are to be a blessing to the nations. And the New Testament is pretty clear on who are God’s children now and how they are defined.

    Plus, the New Covenant is not about a “bloodline” succession that can be cut (by Athaliah, Haman, Satan, etc.) In fact, any time Satan tries to stamp out this new Messianic line, it simply grows, because of the testimony of those who suffer. Raising godly offspring is crucial, but witness, not child-rearing, is postmillennialism’s true heart. This “multiplication by Spirit” is Satan’s worst nightmare. It miraculously raises living sons out of dead stones.

    “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” Matthew 3:8-9

  • Steven Opp Says:

    Is paedobaptism really about bloodlines? My boss has nine kids, two adopted from ETHIOPIA! and they’ve all been paedobaptized. I would think that the argument against paedobaptism would make more sense if it was against the socialization of grace. I don’t know that anyone would claim a biological connection into the kingdom, it’s all sociological. That is, saying that each member of the tribe (and this large, homeschooling baby-baptizing families like I’ve been encountering since I moved to Moscow, ID are indeed quite tribal) must articulate his beliefs to a board in order to become a child in the kingdom results in no children at all. Tribes, like large, close paedobaptizing families, are have very strong social bonds which are behind this. If there is an argument to be made against paedobaptism as not being legit because it bypasses a spritual birth, the greatest counterfeit is not an imposing biological bloodline argument, but rather a sociological/metaphysical argument. If the eunich went and adopted some orphans and baptized them and raised them up in the Lord, would those baptisms not count? He’s not using nullified physical testicles to have children. He would be using either sociological or true spiritual balls. This creates a whole new argument.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Steven

    Thanks for your interesting comment.

    I take your point, but my point was that the New Covenant doesn’t abolish physical offspring (whether biological or adopted) but entirely transcends it. The Old Covenant was almost completely about maintaining a godly bloodline until the Christ. People could join the Covenant people, but they weren’t required to. The New Covenant is exactly the opposite. Yes, we are to raise godly children, but now God commands all men everywhere to repent and join the Covenant people. The focus is no longer succession by child rearing.

    Repentance is the key here. It is required for baptism. The concept of ‘children’ has been transfigured. The ‘children’ of Abraham are those of faith, and the arguments that babies can ‘believe,’ however true such infant faith might be, don’t qualify as this kind of repentant faith. If we have to un-redefine everything that the New Covenant has redefined to keep our errant tradition, it’s the tradition that must go.