Why does Paul spend so much time writing about faith and then mentioning Abraham? It’s because, just like Abraham, we too can be justified by believing God.
Perhaps more than most of the patriarchs, Abraham personified the statement that “the just shall live by faith,” and he was the prototype of living by faith, however God expected Abraham to be obedient before blessing him. Obedience would come first and only then would the blessings come. Here was Abram’s first introduction to God: “the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:1-2). So did Abram (later changed to Abraham) stop and think about it? Did he consult with his family or father-n-law about leaving his nation, his old pagan religion, and all that was familiar to him? No, we read, “Abram went, as the LORD had told him” (Gen 12:3). He went to a place he’d never seen before, to go near people who he met, and to live serve a God he never knew before. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness, so who were those who were blessed by this and those who were cursed by this statement of God where it said that God would bless those who bless Abraham and would curse those who cursed him (Gen 12:3)? Those who believed God would have the curse removed in Christ, but those who rejected Him, shall live under and die under the curse. I understand that obedience precedes understanding and that blessing comes only after obedience, which is what Abraham showed when he left family, country, and everything that was familiar to him, so even after thousands of years, Abraham remains a supreme example of faith, and why he was so very blessed by God. I hope to show that Paul successfully linked Abraham with the present in writing to the Galatians writing that the blessings of Abraham are not only for “those who claimed to be his children” (Gal 3:7-8), but for those who trust in the Promised Seed of his. It is grace and not race, so like Abraham, we must believe God in order to be justified.
Separated from God
Paul clearly revealed that the boundary markers that inevitably provoke divisions between the Jews and the Gentiles are broken down in Christ, and that is this blessing spoken of, because we who were once afar are now reconciled to God through Christ. Romans 5:10 and Ephesians 2:13 say that we who were once the enemies of God, and alienated from him by our sins, were separated from God, but not by our race but by our unbelief, but now we are accepted by God through this Promised Seed. As it is written; “we are reconciled [and] shall…be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10b). This is the blessing of God given to Abraham, because after the fall in Eden, mankind was separated from God by sin. Isaiah 59:2 wrote; “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” however “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:13).
The blessings that God promised Abraham will come to all nations and all people who put their trust in the Promised Seed, but those who reject Him are still under the curse. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal 3:8). Notice that the gospel was preached even in the Old Testament, and in the Scriptures (the Pentateuch precisely) the promise is given by God to Abraham, but also to all who will believe in Christ. Paul even quotes Genesis 12:3 in writing Galatians 3:8, therefore there can be no mistake about it. The gospel is the message or good news of this blessing and this blessing is the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. That is how the nations or all people who trust in Christ will be blessed. It is more than land, it is more than wealth, it is more than children…it is eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Promised Seed
The story of Abram in Genesis 12 is a story that is interwoven throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament (Gen. 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, 28:15; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8). Abram’s obedience to go from his country, his kindred, and his father’s house was a covenantal promise that was unconditional. The blessings are still being received today by those who repent and put their trust in Christ. These blessings are to continue into eternity, which means they will have no end. Jesus Christ’s obedience resulted in blessings that have I implications for us today, and for all time, and this blessing was given as a royal grant-type of covenant, and is the golden thread stitching together the whole fabric of Scripture. Even today, this “golden thread” of blessings is reaching the families of the earth…from every tongue and every nation. For those who have yet to be born, they too can become the children of God and into the endless tomorrows of eternity. Matthew addressed the Jewish people and was very much interested in the historicity of Abraham’s Promised Seed, writing that “the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1), indicating that the unconditional fulfillment of that Promised Seed was in Jesus Christ. If only more would believe.
Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” (Gal 3:6), so you can believe God and be justified, since “it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal 3:7). Clearly, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal 3:9). This means that “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal 3:9), “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal 3:14).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.