God’s Promises

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Personal Evangelism

“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

The apostle Paul carefully exegetes the language of the Abrahamic covenant and notes that the promises of this covenant were made to Abraham and to his seed. The word seed, Paul explains, is not plural but singular. Therefore the covenant designated one person, not many people, to be the recipient of the promises. That one person, says Paul, is Christ.

We have to realize that Paul’s definition of seed contradicts the Jewish nationalistic interpretation of this term. Jews were convinced that the term seed referred to the physical descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people. Therefore they believed it was absolutely necessary to belong to the Jewish nation in order to receive the blessings promised to Abraham.

In Jewish literature the generic singular seed was usually interpreted as a collective singular, referring to the nation of Israel. Paul’s attention to the grammatical form of this term is very much like the rabbinic practice of exegesis. But Paul’s interpretation is based on his conviction that Christ is the sole heir and channel of God’s promised blessing. So while he uses common Jewish methods of exegesis, Paul’s messianic interpretation of seed restricts the reference to Christ and negates the common nationalistic interpretation. It is no longer necessary to be in the Jewish nation to be a recipient of the promises; it is necessary to be in Christ.
THE IVP NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY SERIES – THE BENEFICIARY OF THE TRUST (3:16)

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