Metaphors of Jesus: The Surety

By Bruce James

In Heb. 7:22, Jesus is said to be a surety of a better covenant. This is the only place in the New Testament that the word is used referring to Jesus. The meaning of this word and the Greek words related to it is the idea of surety, guarantee, security, pledge. And the idea here is that of someone who will never break his word and of a pledge which is certain to be fulfilled.

It must be recognized that the word surety has a number of encircling meanings. The surety must be honored even at the cost of a man’s life savings or of his life itself. The more legal meaning of the term although being used as a noun, is really an adjective meaning reliable or under good security. The subjective form of the word means a sponsor, a surety, a guarantor. This word is used of the trustees of a bank, who guarantee its solvency and who are sureties that money deposited will be honored and repaid. The last thought regarding the meaning of the word “surety” has to do with pledging oneself, as in going bail for a man. It is like our saying: “I guarantee that . . . .”

It is into these encircling ideas that the Hebrew writer brings Jesus when he says that Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant. But what does this mean?

It simply means that Jesus is the guarantor that there is possible a new relationship between God and man. After all, that is really what a covenant is, a relationship between two parties. The old covenant’s basis was the law (Ex. 24:1-6) of Moses. But this left man in default for no man could keep it perfectly, except Jesus. And, He has shown us a new way, yes, a new relationship, a new covenant.

How can I be sure? How can I believe that it is true? Because Jesus is the guarantor of the new relationship. He did not come with words only but even in his own person it was demonstrated. Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). “The word became flesh . . .” (Jn. 1:14). Jesus has shown what God is like; He has demonstrated the mind of God; he has demonstrated God’s attitude toward man. Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the sorrowing and was a friend to sinners and outcasts. Jesus is the guarantor of the love of God. He lived and died to show us the heart of God. He is the surety of the possibility of the new relationship with God. What a means of encouragement and consolation that God has given to His children and to whosoever will obey the Prince of life!

Truth Magazine XXIII: 11, p. 183
March 15, 1979