The Promises of God fulfilled in Christ (Luke 1:68-73) part 3: The True Seed of Abraham
In the last part we laid out the fact that the promises to the fathers mentioned in Luke of a coming seed were not just physical in nature. There seems to be a deeper spiritual undertone to it all. We have seen how the fulfilment of the “seed of the woman” promised in Genesis 3:15 was Christ and in this part we will see if the seed promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and eventually David is also fulfilled in Christ. We will also dive into what the thoughts of the Jewish people were about this “seed” when Jesus was born.
In the gospel times we see that the promise of the “seed” was understood in a physical way. The Jewish people did expect a Messiah to come from their physical line but they also understood that anyone born into a Jewish family was a son of Abraham and therefore a part of chosen God’s people. We actually see this in many branches of dispensational churches today as well. There is an understanding that the Jewish bloodline is special to God and if you are physically from this bloodline you are a part of God’s “chosen race”. Is this true? Or have parts of the Christian church adopted a belief that is clearly rejected by the New Testament? Let’s look at what the New Testament has to say on this topic.
Let’s start with John the Baptist. Look at Matthew 3:7-9,
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
John the Baptist came on the scene preaching repentance before Jesus was revealed as the Messiah. When the religious leaders of the day came out to him he not only rebuked them as vipers but said something very interesting about their physical lineage from Abraham. He told them not to look at their physical lineage as proof that they were special to God. He tells them that “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”. In this comment John is telling them that there is something deeper about being a child of Abraham than physical lineage and that it is in fact God who creates children for Abraham and he can create them in anyway, from anything (or anyone) that he wants. This is a great foreshadowing of Gentiles being made children of Abraham. An interesting side note is that in calling them a “generation of vipers” John is also tying them to the seed of the serpent and not the seed of the woman talked about in Genesis 3:15.
To reinforce this even more we will turn to what Jesus himself had to say on this topic. Look at John 8:34-47,
“34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”
In this passage Jesus is making a point about who Abraham’s true children are. He is also laying out this idea of there being a “seed of the serpent” (children of the devil) and a seed of the woman (children of Abraham). Jesus tells them in verse 37 that he knows they are PHYSICALLY Abraham’s children but in verse 39 he tells them that SPIRITUALLY they are not children of Abraham. In verse 44 he reveals to them that although physically they are children of Abraham spiritually they are children of the devil. They are not Abraham’s true children just because of physical descent. This is the same thing we saw with Ishmael, Esau, and others in the Old Testament; although they were physically from Abraham God did not count them as true children of Abraham that would inherit the blessings.
Although there are many more places we can turn to where Jesus reinforces this idea I will only cover two more in the interest of time. Look at Matt 8:8-12,
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In this story Jesus has a Gentile Roman centurion come to him and ask him to heal his servant. When Jesus tells him he will go to his house and heal him the centurion tells Jesus that he is unworthy of even having Jesus in his house but knows that if Jesus just says the word his servant will be healed. Jesus makes a point to his Jewish listeners that he has not seen such great faith in the physical descendants of Israel as he has found in this Gentile man. He then tells them that many people will come from Gentile nations (North, South, etc) and will enter into the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while those who believe (because of physical descent) that they belong there will be cast into outer darkness. In this passage, by implication, Jesus is stating that because of FAITH many Gentiles will be a part of the kingdom while many of the physical sons of Abraham will be cast out.
Turn also to John 10:16,
“16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
Here Jesus is speaking about his sheep, the people of God. He tells the Jewish audience that he has other sheep that are not of this fold but will be brought into the fold and made one flock with one shepherd. What he is telling them is that there will be a part of His church, the true Israel, that are Jewish in descent but there will also be a part that will be gentile. Even though physically they are different, in God’s eyes they are spiritually the same and there will be one flock with no differentiation between them based on physical descent.
I have tried my best, in a short and concise way, to show that the promised seed to Eve in Gen 3:15 is also the promised seed to Abraham. That this seed was not fulfilled in Cain, Abel, Isaac, Jacob, or in the physical nation of Israel as a whole. I will now layout how the New Testament shows that this Seed is actually Christ and the plural references to seed are fulfilled in those who have true faith in Christ (whether physically from Abraham or not).
Open up to Galatians 3:16,
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
In one verse Paul puts all the controversy to rest. The “Seed” to which the promises are made is Christ. The blessings of Abraham do not come to people because of a bloodline they were born into but only through Christ. So what about the promises to Abraham of his seed becoming “as the dust of the earth”? There were many promises made that sounded plural in nature. Could those be referring to fleshly Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham? I believe Paul addresses those questions in the same chapter of Galatians. Look at what Paul says in Gal 3:6-9, 14,
”6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham……14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Paul explains that the blessings promised to Abraham are inherited only through faith and can come to Jew and Gentile alike through that faith. To make perfectly clear what Paul is saying he states in Gal 3:29,
“29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Paul is saying that the true children of Abraham are not just physically related to him (although some were and are) but are spiritually related to him because they share in the same faith that Abraham had. Anyone, Jew or Gentile, can be a true child of Abraham through a saving faith in Christ granted to them by God. This is how God makes children for Abraham, saving faith! And through faith you become heirs to the promises made to Abraham. It is not just the physical children that inherit the promise but the spiritual children!
This is why John the Baptist said God can raise up children for Abraham from stones (Matt3:7-9). This is why Jesus told some of the Jews that they were physical children of Abraham but spiritual children of Satan (Joh 8:34-47). This is why Jesus said that people from North, South, East, and West would come into the kingdom. And this is how Abraham’s seed becomes as the dust of the earth and ALL NATIONS are blessed in him (Gen 12:1-3). The way we are able to know who the seed (plural) of the woman are, who the children of Abraham are, is if they have faith in Christ!
I am aware that much of the modern church in America (and most of the world) holds to a dispensational view of prophecy in which the church is a Gentile organization and those that are physically Jewish are God’s chosen people. In light of what we have studied I would say you need to reexamine your thoughts on this subject if you come from a dispensational background. Paul is very clear in what he writes. Many traditions take root in the church throughout the years and we need to realize that just because something has been taught for a few generations it does not mean it’s true. I know there are more questions to be answered and I am not going to avoid them. I will talk more in depth about some of the natural questions that arise out of this in my next study. We will touch on the land promise made to Abraham and ask the question “what about Israel of the flesh?”. I came from a dispensational background but after studying this topic for years I had to abandon dispensational ideas for what Gods truth clearly states.
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