Friday, January 20, 2012

Part 5: Verse 29- Abraham’s Offspring

Part 5: Israel, Gentiles, the covenants, and the gospel

In Galatians 3 Paul gives a concise overview on how the Jews, Gentiles, and covenants interact in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The final paragraph of Galatians 3 reveals a wealth of information and clarification on the gospel.    

(Galatians 3:23-29 ESV)
[23] Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. [24] So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. [25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, [26] for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. [27] For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.     

Part 5:  Verse 29- Abraham’s Offspring
In Genesis 17:7 God gave Abraham the covenant of promise to his heirs:  “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

Here in Galatians 3:29 as well as Romans 9, Paul explains that this covenant was promised to the spiritual descendents of Abraham and not his physical descendents.  This promise was fulfilled and established with the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  This event also fulfilled the temporary Mosaic Covenant and ushered in the eternal New Covenant.  At the LORD’S supper Jesus instituted the new covenant when he said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood…..” [1 Cor. 11:25] 

Therefore, the covenant of promise to Abraham was fulfilled by Jesus and the recipients are the spiritual descendents of Abraham, who can be identified by being in Christ through faith and not in Abraham by flesh.  What about the physical descendents of Abraham that were not believers? 

Hebrews 8:9 tells us the following about them and the new covenant:
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.  For they did not continue in my covenant and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.  Hebrews 8 reveals the new covenant is “not like” the Mosaic [old] Covenant and is enacted on better promises.  It also points out, the Jews did not keep the Mosaic Covenant and God showed no concern for them.  Hebrews 8 goes on to describe the characteristics and blessings of the spiritual descendents of Abraham and it is clear that there are no unbelievers in the New Covenant.

A few verses earlier in Gal. 3:24-25 Paul explains that the Mosaic Covenant was a temporary covenant acting as a guardian until the coming of the New Covenant.  Therefore, there is currently no covenant between God and man other than the New Covenant made with believers.  This means that neither unbelieving Jews nor Gentiles are in any kind of covenant with God.  God commands men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, so unbelievers are without excuse according to Paul.  Those that do repent and believe by the power of the Holy Spirit are then brought into covenant with God.          

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