TESTAMENT. A word the KJV uses thirteen times to translate the Greek word diathēkē, which signifies a testamentary disposition. KJV translates it “covenant” twenty times, as usually the NT uses diathēkē in the meaning of its cognate synthēkē, which accurately renders the OT berith, a binding agreement or contract between one human being and another or between a human being and God. Jesus, at the institution of the
TESTAMENT (διαθήκη, G1347). “Testament” came into Eng. as the tr. of the Gr. term, through the Lat. testamentum, which meant a will. Diathēkē was the ordinary word in Gr. for a will, but not the ordinary word for a covenant. The ordinary Gr. word for covenant was suntheke, which described an agreement, a bargain entered into between contracting parties. Diathēkē, meaning will, suggested the bequest of one individual that was received by another individual. Sometimes it appears that diathēkē had the double meaning of “will,” or “covenant.” Aristophanes used the word to mean “covenant”; also the author of Hebrews seemed to make a play on the double meaning of the term (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
tes’-ta-ment: The word diatheke, almost invariably rendered "covenant," was rendered in the
See COVENANT, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.