In a covenant God makes promises and in exchange asks the other party (Abram) to fulfill certain commitments. Within the whole bible, God makes a total of 5 covenants God (Noah, Abraham, nation of Israel, King David and the New Covenant).

From reading Genesis 17 we understand about the partnership God makes with Abram (covenant). In this chapter, God speaks / talks to Abraham 5 times.

The chapter has two different parts, (1) Abram becomes Abraham (1-14), and (2), the promise of Isaac (15-27).

Reading verses 6-8 we see God making five "I will" statements.

I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17:6‭-‬8 NLT

Within part 1, I mention only between verses 6-8 because that's part of one of the total 5 blocks within the chapter where God speaks / talks to Abraham.

There's a clear presence of the number 5.

What's the significance of using five times "I will"?

  • 1
    @TiagoMartinsPeres just as a side remark there are fifteen great covenants in Scripture (including those you mentioned). For example He made a covenant with Hagar (A very important one) in Genesis 16:7-14...But this is not the main aspect of your question...
    – alainlompo
    Dec 25, 2019 at 13:45
  • @alainlompo from GotQuestions it's spoken of 7. I used The Bible Project as source, they mention 5. Dec 25, 2019 at 14:12
  • 2
    Interesting. We should maybe discuss here also as a separate question. I am willing to open it later. I will let you know then.
    – alainlompo
    Dec 25, 2019 at 14:20
  • Sure, great idea @alainlompo. Not sure if there's such question already, that's the first thing to do. Dec 25, 2019 at 15:10
  • @TiagoMartinsPeres, right, there is a similar question here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14401/….
    – alainlompo
    Dec 25, 2019 at 16:04

3 Answers 3


Actually, when I looked at verses 4-8 in the literal translation (Young's Literal) I found ten things :

  • 1) I -- lo, My covenant `is' with thee, and

  • 2) thou hast become father of a multitude of nations;

  • 3) and thy name is no more called Abram, but thy name hath been Abraham

  • 4) for a father of many nations have I made thee.

  • 5) and I have made thee exceeding fruitful, and made thee become nations

  • 6) and kings go out from thee.

  • 7) And I have established My covenant between Me and thee,

  • 8) and thy seed after thee, to their generations, for a covenant age-during

  • 9) to become God to thee,

  • 10) and to thy seed after thee;

To take the words 'I will' in English is not accurate to the whole of the passage, because all of the verbs are not translated in the same way into English.

Taking the Hebrew words, as they are expressed literally, is, I think, more in keeping with what God actually uttered to Abraham.

Robert Young makes it clear in the extensive prefaces to his Literal Bible that verbs in the Hebrew scripture, and, more particularly, verbs relating to Deity, express a past tense when the future is in view.

Just as in English we express a future (some argue there is no future tense in English but it is a very controversial subject) often as a matter of an intention (I will) so, in the Hebrew, God's previous intention (before he communicates it) is so certain (because He is God) that it is expressed as a past tense.

Thus God says 'I have' meaning he has purposed it before he communicated it, and, for Him to purpose it, is for it be a certainty, to such a degree, that his previous intention being past, the thing is seen done - in the past.

What stands out in this passage is that it is not actually a 'partnership' or an 'agreement', as such, with Abraham . . . .

. . . . God is telling Abraham what he will do, of his own will and of his own accord.

The writer to the Hebrews points this out :

Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee ... Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: [Hebrews 6:14, 17 KJV]

The writer to Hebrews is, of course, quoting from Genesis ...

in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; [Genesis 22:17 KJV]

Thank you @Tiago for your question.

  • 1
    You can comment on what I'm about to say after you get some rest Nigel. Technically speaking when you quoted Genesis 22:17 it was the angel of the Lord that swore the oath at Genesis 22:15-16. Of course the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ and "NOT" an actual angel like Michael or Gabriel.
    – Mr. Bond
    Dec 21, 2019 at 21:53
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    Yes, thank you I'm well aware of that verse and at Luke 1:73. In fact, I addressed the following question someone ask a while ago. Here's the question. "Can a person prove that Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament without going to the New Testament?" Please check out my answer. Thank You!
    – Mr. Bond
    Dec 21, 2019 at 23:10
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    Thank you @NigelJ, your answer opened a new word to me (reading from Young's literal to compliment my current bible studies). Dec 22, 2019 at 1:38
  • 1
    Hey Mr. Tiago. If you want to know why I brought up the angel of the Lord you can find my answer on another thread. The following is what I said to Nigel. "Yes, thank you I'm well aware of that verse and at Luke 1:73. In fact, I addressed the following question someone ask a while ago. Here's the question. "Can a person prove that Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament without going to the New Testament?" Please check out my answer. Thank You! – Mr. Bond 3 hours ago Delete
    – Mr. Bond
    Dec 22, 2019 at 2:21
  • 3
    +1 Seeing 10 is an interesting observation because 10 has obvious connections to God's work in general (Noah can be seen as the 10th from Adam, 10 commandments). I questioned the significance to a five-fold introduction in Zechariah: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27038/… As prophecies can be seen as having a two-way nature (from God to the prophet/people and from the prophet/people to God), a ten-fold nature to this covenant to Abraham is in keeping with that element. Dec 22, 2019 at 16:04

To be honest I don't think there is any significance in what God (Actually what the angel of the Lord) said to Abram. At Genesis 17:2 God says, "I will establish My covenant between Me and you. God also says in the same verse, "And I will multiply you exceedingly.

Then we come to the five "I will's" at verses 6-8. At verse 18 God says, "I will bless her/Sarah. At verse 19,20 and 21 God says "I will establish My covenant with Isaac. I will make him a great nation. Why are not these "I will"s" counted? In short, why read something into the text that is "eisegesis" which is the process of interpreting text in such a way as to introduce one's own presuppositions or just outright manufacturing or raising questions that may not even be there, i.e. numerology?

  • 3
    "To be honest" doesn't add anything to your answer, or were you considering not being honest? Dec 21, 2019 at 4:42
  • "(Actually what the angel of the Lord)", in KJV, NLT, BPT, JFA, LUTH1545 mentions God, not "angel of the Lord". Where are you getting that from? Dec 21, 2019 at 4:45
  • 1
    Question was updated to address your concerns. Dec 21, 2019 at 5:25
  • 3
    Even after adjusting your some of your answers the main question you posted is, "What's the significance or relevance of using five times "I will?" Why does there have to be any significance to your question? I have not seen anybody give a reason why, and even if they did it would be their opinion just like I gave my opinion that there is nothing there. If you notice after verse 8 God says verse 9, "God said further to Abraham." Tell me, what's the significance of some more "I will's" in the rest of the chapter?
    – Mr. Bond
    Dec 21, 2019 at 20:42

Good question. The Abrahamic Covenant is unilateral. God is taking the terms upon Himself. This is emphasized when Abe blacks out during the agreement ceremony and God passes through the cut up pieces alone. (The tradition was that both parties would lock arms or hands and walk together between the pieces signifying that "may this happen to me if I fail to keep up my end")

Company with the Mosaic covenant, "You shall, do, do not, etc" which is conditional. If you do this you will be blessed...

New covenant, "I will take from you a heart of stone, I will put my Spirit within you".

  • Noah's covenant is unilateral, God doesn't expect commitments from Noah and his family. That's not the case here with Abraham, Abraham has certain commitments. Dec 21, 2019 at 4:58
  • Well pointed the new covenant, lead me to a new revelation: together with Noah, Abraham, nation of Israel and King David, that makes 5 covenants! Dec 21, 2019 at 5:00

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