What does the Bible say about God’s promises?
As believers, we have a “better covenant” based on “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). What are these better promises? What’s the difference between a covenant and a promise? What does it mean that the promises of God are “yes and amen?” Let’s explore these questions and more!
Christian quotes about God’s promises
“Gather the riches of God’s promises. Nobody can take away from you those texts from the Bible which you have learned by heart.” Corrie Ten Boom
“Faith…involves trusting in the future promises of God and waiting for their fulfillment.” R. C. Sproul
“God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine.”
“God always keeps His promises.”
“The stars may fall, but God’s promises will stand and be fulfilled.” J.I. Packer
“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” Saint Augustine
“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” Corrie ten Boom
What is the difference between a promise and a covenant?
These two words are quite similar but not the same. A covenant is based on promises.
A promise is a declaration that someone will do a certain thing or that a specific thing will happen.
A covenant is an agreement. For instance, if you rent an apartment and have a lease, that’s a legal covenant between you and your landlord. You promise to pay the rent and not play loud music late at night. Your landlord promises to take care of the property and make necessary repairs. The lease is the covenant, and the terms are the promises involved.
A wedding is another example of a covenant. The vows are the agreement (covenant) to keep the promises (to love, honor, remain faithful, and so on).
1. Hebrews 8:6 “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.”
2. Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV) “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
3. Leviticus 26:42 “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.”
4. Genesis 17:7 “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
5. Genesis 17:13 (KJV) “He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.”
Are God’s promises conditional or unconditional?
Both! Some have “if, then” statements: “If you do this, then I’ll do that.” These are conditional. Other promises are unconditional: it will happen regardless of what people do.
An example of an unconditional promise is God’s promise to Noah just after the flood in Genesis 9:8-17: “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be eliminated by the waters of a flood, nor shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God sealed His covenant with the rainbow as a reminder that God would never again flood the earth. This promise was unconditional and eternal: this promise still holds today, regardless of anything we do or don’t do – nothing changes the promise.
Some of God’s promises are dependent on peoples’ actions: they are conditional. For instance, in 2 Chronicles 7, when King Solomon was dedicating the temple, God told him that drought, plague, and locust invasions could happen due to disobedience. But then God said: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
With this promise, God’s people had to do something: humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from evil. If they did their part, then God promised to forgive them and heal their land.
6. 1 Kings 3:11-14 (ESV) “And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
7. Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
8. Exodus 19:5 “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine.”
9. Genesis 9:11-12 “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come.”
10. John 14:23 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
11. Psalm 89:34 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
12. Acts 10:34 “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.”
13. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Are God’s promises for everyone?
Some are, and some aren’t.
God’s promise to Noah is for everyone. We all benefit from this promise – even people who don’t believe in God benefit – our world will never be destroyed again by flood.
God’s promises in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:2-3) were mainly for Abraham specifically (we’ll discuss those below), but an element of the promise was for everyone:
“And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
That refers to Abraham’s descendent: Jesus the Messiah. All people in the world are blessed because Jesus came to die for the sins of the world. However, they only receive the blessing (salvation, eternal life) if they believe in Jesus (a conditional promise).
God made specific promises to specific people that were only for that person or group of people, not for everyone. One hundred years before Cyrus the Great was born, God made him a promise (Isaiah 45). It was specifically for him, by name, even though Cyrus hadn’t been born yet.
“This is what the LORD says to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him . . .
I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
So that you may know that it is I,
The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name . . .
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.”
Even though Cyrus was a pagan (unconditional promise), God made him a promise that came true! Cyrus built the Persian Achaemenid Empire, which spanned three continents with 44% of the world’s population. Once God got him in place, He used Cyrus to release the Jews from Babylonian captivity and finance the temple’s rebuilding in Jerusalem. God also placed Daniel the prophet in Cyrus’ palace to speak the truth into his pagan ears. Read about it here (Daniel 1:21, Ezra 1).
There’s an old chorus that begins, “Every promise in the Book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line.” But that’s not exactly true. We can certainly be encouraged by the promises that God made to specific people, like Abraham, Moses, or Cyrus, or promises God made specifically to the nation of Israel, but we can’t claim them for ourselves.
For instance, God promised Abraham his wife would have a baby in her old age. He promised Moses he would see the Promised Land but not enter in and would die on Mount Nebo. He promised Mary she would have a baby by the Holy Spirit. These were all specific promises for specific people.
Christians love to quote Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” But this is a promise made specifically to the Jews in the Babylonian captivity (the ones Cyrus set free). Verse 10 says, “When seventy years have been completed for Babylon . . . I will bring you back to this place (Jerusalem).”
God’s plans, in this case, were explicitly for Judea. However, we can certainly be encouraged that God did make plans to deliver His people, despite their disobedience, and that His prophecies came true! And He started setting things in motion before they even went into captivity: positioning Daniel in Babylon’s palace, shattering doors of bronze for Cyrus – it was all quite spectacular! Nothing takes God by surprise!
And God does have plans for our own future and hope (our salvation, our sanctification, our rapture when Jesus returns, our reign with Him, etc.), which are actually better plans (better promises!!) than what God had for the Babylonian captives.
14. 2 Peter 1:4-5 “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.”
15. 2 Peter 3:13 “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
How many promises are in the Bible?
The Bible contains 7,147 promises, according to Herbert Lockyer in his book All the Promises of the Bible.
16. Psalm 48:14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “This God, our God forever and ever— He will always lead us.”
17. Proverbs 3:6 “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
What are the promises of God?
The promises of God are His declaration of what He will do and things that will happen. Some of His promises are for specific people or nations, and others are for all Christians. Some are unconditional, and others are conditional – based on something we must do first. Here are some examples of God’s promises that all believers can claim (and conditions that apply):
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) (condition: confess sins)
- “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) (condition: ask God)
- “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) (condition: come to God)
- “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) (condition: ask, seek, knock)
18. Matthew 7:7 “Ask, Seek, Knock 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
19. Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
20. Matthew 11:28 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
21. Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
22. Philippians 4:6–7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
23. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
24. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
25. Isaiah 65:24 (NKJV) “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
26. Psalm 46:1 (ESV) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
27. Isaiah 46:4 (NASB) “Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will carry you! I have done it, and I will bear you; And I will carry you and I will save you.”
28. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Praying for God’s promises
God loves it when we pray for things He’s promised us. We should pray boldly and with expectancy but at the same time with reverence and humility. We’re not telling God what to do, but we remind Him of what He said He would do. Not that He forgets, but He delights in us discovering His promises in His Word and asking Him to fulfill them.
Any time we pray, we should begin with worship and then confess our sins, asking God to forgive us – as Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer. Then we request fulfillment of His promises that relate to our circumstances, realizing that God’s timing and way of fulfilling these promises are in His sovereign hand.
Daniel 9 gives a beautiful example of praying for God’s promise. Daniel was reading Jeremiah’s prophecy (the one mentioned above about God promising to bring His people back to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years – Jeremiah 29:10-11). He realized that the 70 years were coming to completion! So, Daniel went before God with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (showing his humility to God and his sorrow over Judea’s captivity). He worshiped and praised God, then confessed his sin and the collective sin of his people. Finally, he presented his plea:
“Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” (Daniel 9:19) – (Humility in the Bible)
While Daniel was still praying, the angel Gabriel came to him with the answer to his prayer, explaining what would happen and when.
29. Psalm 138:2 “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.”
30. Daniel 9:19 “Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
31. 2 Samuel 7:27-29 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
32. Psalm 91:14-16 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.”
33. 1 John 5:14 (ESV) “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Trusting in the Promises of God
God never breaks His promises; it is not in His character. When He makes a promise, we know it will happen. As humans, we occasionally break promises. Sometimes we forget, sometimes circumstances prevent us from following through, and sometimes we had no intention of keeping the promise from the beginning. But God isn’t like us. He doesn’t forget. No circumstances can prevent His will from happening, and He doesn’t lie.
When God makes a promise, often He’s already set things into motion to bring it to fruition, as we discussed above with Cyrus, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Things are happening in the spiritual realm of which we are usually unaware in our human existence (see Daniel 10). God doesn’t make promises He can’t fulfill. We can trust God to keep His promises.
34. Hebrews 6:18 “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”
36. Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
37. Psalm 91:14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
God’s promises in the New Testament
The New Testament is filled with hundreds of promises; here are a few:
- Salvation: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
- Holy Spirit: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
- Blessings: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:3-12)
- Healing: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15)
- Jesus’ return: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:6-7).
39. John 10:28-29 (I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.)
40. Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
41. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
42. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
43. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
45. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
46. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV) “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What are the promises of God to Abraham?
God gave Abraham multiple promises (the Abrahamic Covenant) throughout his life.
48. Genesis 12:2-3 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
49. Genesis 12:7 “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”
50. Genesis 13:14-17 (NLT) “After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”
51. Genesis 17:6-8 “My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
52. Genesis 17:15-16 (NASB) “Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her by the name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
What Are God’s promises to David?
- God promised David, “You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a leader over Israel.” (2 Samuel 5:2, 1 Samuel 16)
- God promised David victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:1-5, 2 Samuel 5:17-25).
- The Davidic Covenant: God promised to make a great name of David, a dynasty of kings. He promised to plant His people Israel in safety, with rest from their enemies. He promised that David’s son would build His temple, and God would establish his descendants forever – his throne would endure forever. (2 Samuel 7:8-17)
53. 2 Samuel 5:2 “In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.”
54. 2 Samuel 7:8-16 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
God’s Fulfilled Promises
Of those 7000+ promises in the Bible, many have already come true! Let’s look at just a small sample of God’s fulfilled promises: some of the promises mentioned above:
- God did bless all the families of the earth through Abraham’s descendent: Jesus Christ.
- God fulfilled His promise to Cyrus the Great, using him to fulfill his promise to Jeremiah that the people of Judea would return from Babylon in 70 years.
- Sarah did have a baby when she was 90 years old!
- Mary did give birth to God’s Messiah by the Holy Spirit.
- God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that He would make him a great nation. Our world has over 15 million Jews, his genetic descendants. Through his descendent Jesus Christ, a new family was born: Abraham’s spiritual children (Romans 4:11), the body of Christ. Our world has over 619 million people who identify as evangelical Christians.
55. Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
56. Deuteronomy 3:21-22 “And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. 22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”
57. Lamentations 2:17 “The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.”
58. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
The Promises of God are “yes and amen” – Biblical meaning
“For as many as the promises of God are, in Him they are yes; therefore, through Him also is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NASB)
The Greek word for “yes” here is nai, meaning certainly or assuredly. God is strongly affirming that His promises are definitely, without a doubt, true.
Amen means “so be it.” This is our response to God’s promises, affirming our faith that they are true. We agree that God will do what He promises to do and give Him all the glory. When we believe God, He credits that to us as righteousness (Romans 4:3).
59. 2 Corinthians 1:19-22 “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
60. Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
61. Psalm 119:50 “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”
Stand on the promises! Even God’s promises that don’t apply directly to us teach us valuable lessons about God’s character and how He operates. And we can definitely claim the promises He has given directly to us as believers.
We need to know God’s promises before we can stand on the promises! That means immersing ourselves in His Word daily, reading the promises in context (to see who they are for and if there are any conditions), meditating on them, and claiming them! We want to know everything God’s promised for us!
“Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God, I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God!”