Jesus is the Only Seed of Abraham
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
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.
Paul aims this part of the book directly at people from a Jewish perspective. They relate to the issue of circumcision as preceding the law of Moses, which it does, and therefore is for people who are not Jews. But Paul does not see it that way. Those who desire the blessing of Abraham, need to do the things of Abraham (that would be the Jewish argument)
Paul’s point in this passage is that God’s plan all along is for all people to come to Jesus so that they might be saved by God’s grace through faith in Him.
And all of the Biblical bases for a relationship with God are gathered up into Christ. Jesus is God’s plan and always has been.
Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
So, what about God’s promises to Abraham?
- God’s Promises are to Abraham and His Seed
- God does not break His covenants
God promised to bless Abraham. Those promises are still in play.
“I will make your name great.
Your descendants will be as the sands of the sea.
I will bless all nations through you.
I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you.
- God’s promises are given to Abraham and his Seed
Cover this from Genesis 12, 15 and 17. And emphasize the significance of this in salvation history.
- Jesus is the only Seed of Abraham
The promises are to Abraham and his seed singular. Isaac? Jacob? Judah? Etc. Down to Jesus. Why the genealogies of Jesus in the New Testament? To show He is the fulfillment of salvation history.
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
- Abraham’s promises are only in Christ
And therefore instead of them just being available to a select few who have the correct parents, they are now available to all who will come and follow Jesus!
Paul then deals with the issue of what we are supposed to do with the Old Covenant commands as they relate to Abraham’s promise of blessing.
- The Law and God’s Promises to Abraham
- The Law is given to inform behavior
It informs me what to do and not to do.
It informs me that I do not do what I am to do.
It informs me that I am at fault, not the law.
It informs me that I must rely on an alternate source for righteousness.
- The Law is given to prepare for Messiah
The Old covenant is not an end in itself.
Jeremiah 31 is very important:
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 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, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
- When Messiah comes the Law has done it’s job
Matthew 5: 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
And then the rest of Matt 5 Jesus extends the law to the heart and demands perfection.
Romans 3: 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
III. Faith and the Promise vs. Works and the Law
- The failure of human works leads us to faith
Our failure to be good leads us to trusting in God’s grace.
- Jesus is the only successful working human
We can see in Jesus life as it is meant to be lived.
22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
- There is nowhere else to go but into Christ
- 24-29 list what we receive by faith in Christ
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.