Summary: This article was written and published Jan. ’16.
Galatians 3:16 (NKJV)
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”
The questions may easily be asked, how does this make sense except in that all of Israel were physical descendants of Abraham, and Jesus was one of them? Is God saying simply that after all this time having passed and millions of descendants after the flesh have come and gone, this is finally and actually Abraham’s intended one Seed, the one He meant when He spoke to Abraham long ago? I believe if we would look closer, having a spiritual mind and the eye of faith, with the help of the Spirit, we will see the bigger picture that God has drawn for us here in this passage. We will find that behind this short phrase, “And to your Seed,” there is a great redemptive truth that God intends for us to fully understand.
Let’s start by first dispelling some misleading thoughts. We might be tempted to think that Abraham’s one seed refers back to the promise God made in Genesis 3:15 – the woman’s Seed who would defeat the serpent. Even though it is true the two phrases point to the same person – Jesus Christ – they reference Him in different ways by use of two different allegories/types. The Seed of the woman is definitely referencing Jesus Christ as the last Adam. The hope God gives by His simple promise contained in the cursing of the serpent is hope given after completely passing by the first Adam. There is no hope placed in the first man. His disobedience in the garden caused his fall and gave him a sinful nature – man in Adam was now a sinner and biblically described as “in the flesh.” (Rom. 8:8) God would spend some 4000 years testing and proving the first man’s depravity, including that of all his children. Before the cross God condemns the entire world (John 12:31). Man in Adam, man in the flesh, is condemned to death. Recurring back to the passage in Genesis three (3) we see there was no hope placed in the first Adam by God. He was absolutely and completely passed by in preference to the one to come (Rom. 5:14). Adam, the first man, only served as a type of the second.
What then does the one Seed of Abraham reference? Well, obviously, it is Christ, as we are told in the passage in Galatians. But what is the reasoning of the Spirit through Paul in making such a connection? Everybody knows that if we speak of many seeds of Abraham, this would refer to Israel. If we speak of Abraham’s one seed we know we should be referencing Isaac – he was the child promised to Abraham. Isaac became known as “the child of promise.” (Gal. 4:28, Rom. 9:9) How could Abraham believe God’s promises to him about giving him the land and many descendants as numerous as the sand of the seashore, if he had no son? If Abraham and Sarah did not have a son, any legitimate hope in all the remaining promises God made to them would be gone. The birth of Isaac, a miracle birth no less, was crucial to any ongoing hope and faith for Abraham that God would be eventually found faithful to fulfill His words, covenants, and promises made to him, even after his and Sarah’s passing (death). Essentially Isaac became the physical guarantee of the promises of God. And we know the testimony of scripture is that both Sarah and Abraham died in faith, not having received the promises.
Heb. 11:13 (NKJV)
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Although this is not the main point of this teaching, which I will get to shortly, I have to pause here and ask you, does any of this sound familiar? Does having a guarantee of future promises in any way sound familiar concerning New Testament doctrine?
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NKJV)
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NKJV)
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
As the son of promise, Isaac was all that Abraham needed as a guarantee. He now knew that God would be faithful to him to eventually fulfill all He had promised, even though it would be after he died. In like manner, the Holy Spirit every believer has received from God is all we need as a guarantee (Gal. 3:14). Now we know, with all assurance of faith, God will be pleased to someday glorify us, take us into His glory, and fulfill every promise He has ever made to His sons. We will abide eternally in the Father’s house as sons and heirs of the living God.
This is the important point: All the promises God made to Abraham he never received in his lifetime. He believes the word of God and promises unseen, walking by faith as a stranger on the earth. The birth of Isaac is the guarantee and security to Abraham of the truthfulness of God and all He has promised to him. In the same way Abraham received a son by faith, the believer has received the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14). The seal of the Spirit becomes the believer’s Isaac – the guarantee and security of all that God has promised us. These promises will begin to be fulfilled to us after the rapture of the church. Like Abraham, in this lifetime on this earth, we do not receive the promises. But the believer has a better guarantee than Abraham did. In this sense, Isaac is a type foreshadowing the Spirit being given to the believer during this dispensation. The Holy Spirit does have many present ministries and actions on behalf of the believer, but He remains the deposit, our assurance, of all the glory that is to come (I Cor. 2:7-10).
But now we move on to the main point of the article – the one Seed of Abraham, who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). In this again Isaac serves as a type, only through a different event and action. Isaac was the one son of Abraham of importance to the counsels of God. Ishmael was Abraham’s son, born of the bondwoman. But he was not the choice of God (Rom. 9:7-9, Gal. 4:22-23; 4:30). Isaac was the child of promise, and essentially Abraham’s one seed. So how do we get to the Seed being Christ?
You should notice the phrase “And to your Seed” from the passage in Galatians is a quote from Genesis twenty-two (22). After Abraham was obedient to offer up Isaac on the altar on a mountain in the land of Moriah, God confirms all Abraham’s promises to Isaac. God says, “In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” This wording is now slightly different from what God said earlier in Genesis twelve (12). There God says, in you (Abraham) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Although this seems to be basically the same thing, yet now there is a greater meaning and understanding in God saying, “In your Seed.” We are helped in seeing this understanding by this passage from Hebrews;
Hebrews 11:17-19 (NKJV)
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
Abraham was obedient to offer up Isaac. He was the father who offered up in sacrifice his only begotten son. Does this sound familiar? But it goes farther than this. Abraham receives Isaac back from the dead. He receives Isaac back in the power of resurrection. Now all the promises of God to Abraham are confirmed in a son raised up from the dead. Of course Isaac is just a type, but every type has its true substance and fulfillment. This is the great truth about Abraham’s one Seed. Yes it is Christ, but it is a Christ raised from the dead, a Christ in resurrection power. And now all the promises of God have as their basis and foundation a resurrected and glorified Christ. All God’s promises now lie in the power of resurrection. Look how these thoughts come together in Romans four (4):
Romans 4:13 (NKJV)
“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his Seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Romans 4:17-25 (NKJV)
(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
Abraham’s faith was in a God who gives life to the dead. And righteousness is imputed to him because of this. But we see it is imputed to us as well because we believe in God who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. He suffered and died for our sins. These He bore away on the tree and by going down under death. But the symbol of our righteousness and justification is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. And our life, Christ living in us, is in the power of His resurrection (Eph. 1:18-20; 2:5-6, Rom. 4:4-11; 8:2, 11; 10:9; Col. 2:11-13; 3:1). The believer’s new life as associated with Christ’s death and resurrection is spoken of as redemptive truth in the following passage:
Romans 6:4-11 (NKJV)
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christ has died and has been raised – “Likewise you also…” The true believer is alive to God as Christ is now alive to God. By faith we reckon ourselves dead with Christ and now alive with Him. For both Christ and the believer, it is a new life, a new existence. It is a life in the power of His resurrection. And once we have this new life in resurrection, we are not “in the flesh” any longer (Rom. 8:9). So then Paul says:
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 (NKJV)
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer”
This passage may be misconstrued, so allow me to make some comments that should be helpful. Christ is the One who died. But the phrase “then all died” can only refer to believers, that is, “those who live.” It is only the believer who has died with Christ (Col. 3:3, Gal. 2:20), and therefore lives. In this new life we now have, we no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ who died for us and rose again. The group spoken of here are all believers, and the remainder of the chapter bears this out (II Cor. 5:17-21).
But notice verse sixteen, which is the consequence of verse fourteen and fifteen – from this point on, that is, from when Christ died, because we are believers redeemed through His death, we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. We know Christ no longer according to the flesh. We only know Him now in resurrection power and having entered into glory. And this is now the only way the believer is associated with Him. We are in Christ. This describes our relationship with God. It describes our position before God. We are no longer in the first Adam; we are no longer in the flesh (Rom. 8:8). As for the promises, they are all secure in a resurrected Christ:
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”
The believer’s/church’s promises involve the glory of God, and entrance into that glory. All our blessings are heavenly. Jesus went away to prepare places for us, in the Father’s house. We have an inheritance laid up for us in the heavens. In the government of the Most High God over the millennial earth, we will sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. But what has to be the highest privilege in promise given to us in glory will be our being conformed into the image of His Son, and taking the place in Christ of those who are closest to His God and Father, and this for all eternity. The church will be the tabernacle of God, the heavenly city, the bride of the Lamb.
But there were promises made to Israel’s forefathers, which the Jews are supposed to inherit. Did they not forfeit these when they crucified the Lord? God forbid! Even though Israel rejected their Messiah, and God, at this time, has set Israel aside, saying to them, “You are not My people, I am not your God” (Hos. 1:9), with all Jewish promises set aside as well, still we know that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). God must be faithful to keep all His promises, even if Jewish ones are so different than those for the church. We see that Jesus has secured these promises as well, and done so by resurrection.
Romans 15:8 (NKJV)
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”
Acts 13:34 (NKJV)
“And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.”