True Seed of Abraham

OVERVIEW - Jesus in the true “seed” of Abraham, the heir of the covenant promises, and receipt of the inheritance is based on faith in Him

Small Globe - Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash
The introduction to Matthew declares Jesus the “son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is more than a simple genealogical notation. It sets the stage for the theme of fulfillment threaded throughout this gospel account. Jesus is the Davidic Messiah and King of Israel, and the True Son and promised “seed” of the Patriarch. In him, the covenant promises all come to fruition - [Small Globe - Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash].

In Genesis, Yahweh promised to bless Abraham and his “seed,” and in the future, “all the families of the earth” would be blessed in him. But the terms of the covenant raise questions. Just who, exactly, is the “seed” of Abraham? Is membership in the covenant determined by physical descent from him, or in some other way? How will the covenant result in “blessings” to the nations? - (Genesis 17:4-8),

Famously, John the Baptist warned the Jews of his day not to appeal to their physical descent from Abraham for confirmation of their covenant status:

  • (Matthew 3:9) – “And they were being baptized in the Jordan river by him, openly confessing their sins. But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Broods of vipers! Who suggested for you to be fleeing from the coming wrath? Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. I say to you, God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Repentance and submission to the Messiah are mandatory for entrance into the Kingdom of God, not biological descent from Abraham. In the saying, “stones” is metaphorical for the divine intent to bring Gentiles into the covenant, a part of the redemptive plan from the beginning. Compare the following words of Jesus with the words of Yahweh to Abraham:
  • (Matthew 8:8-12) – “But the centurion, answering, said, Lord! I am of no consideration that under my roof thou shouldest enter, but only say with a word and healed will be my servant… Now Jesus, hearing, marveled and said to them that were following him: Truly, I say to you, with no one in Israel such faith as this have I found. But I say to you, many from east and west will come and recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; Whereas, the sons of the kingdom will be cast into the darkness outside.
  • (Genesis 13:14-16) – “And Yahweh said to Abram: Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are; northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you are beholding, I will give to you, and to your seed to times everlasting. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, your seed also may be numbered.
In the saying of Jesus, “east and west” echoes the promise to Abraham to look “north and south, east and west” to see the extent of the promised land, and of the promise to bless all nations. From the very start, the covenant anticipated something far larger than the land of Canaan or the biological descendants of Abraham - (Genesis 12:313:14).

Jesus was the “son of David, the son of Abraham,” the heir destined to rule the nations, the “Son of the Most-High” who would possess the “throne of David”:
  • (Psalm 2:8-9) – “Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the ends of the earth: You will shepherd them with a scepter of iron, as a potter’s vessel, you will dash them in pieces.
In Luke, Gabriel announced to Mary that God was about to fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham and David, Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise “to Abraham and to his seed.” Ever mindful of his “holy covenantthe oath which he swore to Abraham our father,” God sent his Son, who would rule over all the nations of the earth - (Isaiah 9:6Luke 1:31-73).

Although he limited his ministry to the children of Israel, Jesus did not exclude Gentiles entirely from his efforts. His occasional interactions with non-Jews anticipated the opening of the gospel to the nations after the outpouring of the Spirit. And while many Jews did reject him, he responded positively to individual Gentiles who approached him in faith - (Matthew 15:22-28).

On one occasion, he declared to a group of Jews, “What things I have seen with the Father I speak; you also, then, what things you have heard from your father are doing.” They responded by pointing to their descent from Abraham. To this, Jesus countered:
  • If you are children of Abraham, then you would do the works of Abraham, but you seek to kill me, a man who has spoken the truth to you… this Abraham did not do.” - (John 8:38-44).
Indeed, they did do “the works of their father” - The Devil!  Biological descent was no guarantee of their participation in the inheritance promised to Abraham and his “seed,” let alone of their right conduct.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul pointed to the faith of Abraham to advance his larger argument. Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin, therefore, all men are set right before God on the same basis; namely, on faith. From the Hebrew scriptures, he demonstrated that Abraham was justified when his “faith was reckoned for righteousness,” even though he was yet uncircumcised. Circumcision was a “sign” of the covenant given after the fact:
  • A seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while yet uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all that believe in un-circumcision… And father of the circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the faith of our father Abraham” - (Romans 4:9-16).
Abraham a Blessing to the nations
The 
promise to Abraham is not received by keeping the requirements of the Law, but instead, through faith. Otherwise, faith and promise are rendered void. Because the promise is from faith, it is “firm to all the seed, not to that from the Law only, but to that also which is such by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” All men who are of the same faith as Abraham are accounted as his “seed,” whether circumcised or not.  Ethnicity has no bearing on inclusion in the covenant.

In Jesus, both Gentile and Jewish believers become the true “seed” and “children” of Abraham, now destined to inherit the promises. And the Hebrew scriptures anticipated the inclusion of the Gentiles):
  • (Romans 4:17-25) - “Even as it is written, ‘Father of many nations have I appointed you… This was not written for his sake alone that it was reckoned to him, but for our sakes also to whom it is to be reckoned, even to them that believe upon him who raised Jesus our Lord from among the dead.
  • (Romans 9:6-8) - “It is not, however, as though the word of God had failed; for not all they who are of Israel, the same are Israel. Neither because they are seed of Abraham are all children, but In Isaac shall there be called for you a seed. That is, not the children of the flesh are the children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned as a seed.
Physical descent does not qualify anyone to become an heir of Abraham. Ishmael was the biological son of Abraham, yet he did not receive the promise. Likewise, Jacob was accepted, but Esau rejected. God always intended to shower:
  • The riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory, whom he also called, even us, not only from among Jews but also from among the Gentiles” - (Romans 9:23-36Hosea 1:9-102:23).
In Romans, Paul did not refer to two peoples of God, but only to one, and one that included Jews AND Gentiles. Inclusion was accomplished in the same way for both:
  • If you will confess that Jesus is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved… For there is no distinction of Jew or Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of allfor whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” - (Romans 10:9-13Isaiah 28:16).
Gentiles are not formed into a separate people of God; instead, they are “grafted” into the one holy “root.” In contrast, unbelieving Jews are broken off from that same root, though they can be grafted back in if they exercise faith in Jesus - (Romans 11:16-20).

Paul is more explicit in his letter to the Galatians. Some Jewish believers were claiming that Gentiles must be circumcised, and otherwise, “live like Jews” in order to be saved. He labeled that claim a “different gospel, which is not a gospel at all, and used the Abrahamic promises to argue for Gentiles as acceptable members of the covenant community, without submitting to circumcision and becoming Jewish proselytes - (Galatians 1:6-7).

He presented Abraham as the premier example of faith. “He believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness,” therefore, “they who are of faith are the sons of Abraham.” The Patriarch exercised this faith BEFORE he received circumcision, therefore, circumcision is not necessary for right-standing before God - (Galatians 3:6).

Scripture foresaw that “God would declare the Gentiles righteous,” therefore, it fore-announced the good news to Abraham - “All the nations shall be blessed in you.”  Those who are from faith “are blessed with believing Abraham.” Jesus redeemed us so that the “blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in him.”
The promises were given “to Abraham and to his seed,” and that “seed” is none other than Jesus, and by familial relationship, all who are “in him”. The “inheritance” is by promise, NOT by the requirements of Torah or ethnicity.

Next, Paul raised the question: “Why, then, the law.” It was given because of “trespasses,” and functioned as a “custodian until the seed should come.” Note well the temporal aspect - “Until.” But now that the “seed” had come, Jesus, the custodianship of the Law with its social distinctions was no longer in force:
  • All are sons of God through the faith of Christ Jesus; for as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Therefore, there cannot be Jew or Greek… now, if you are of Christ, by consequence, you are Abraham’s seed, according to promise, heirs.” - (Galatians 3:19-29).
Thus, in Jesus, all ethnic, cultural, and social boundaries are eliminated. Inclusion in the Abrahamic covenant, including all its promised blessings, is based on the “faith of Jesus,” not on biological descent. The Apostle’s statement is unequivocal: Those who are “in Christ,” whether Jew or not, are heirs and children of Abraham.




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