Saturday, September 17, 2022

Galatians Words ~ Day 9: Promise


Galatians Words ~ Word 9: Promise

In many of the passages we looked at on Thursday as we studied what the purpose of the law was, the words blessing and promise continually popped up. So, today we will dive into these words, which Scripture often uses interchangeably, for the promises of God are His blessings for the people of God.

In chapters 3 and 4 Paul refers often to the promises made to Abraham. In Genesis 12:2-3 there are seven promises given to Abraham.

“I will make you into a great nation, (1)
    and I will bless you; (2)
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing. (4)
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse; (6)
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.” (7)

It is this last promise, to bless all the peoples, or nations, through Abraham, to which Paul refers. This promise is also referred to numerous times throughout the entire Bible. God reiterates this promise to Abraham when He says to him,

“He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.Genesis 15:5-6

God promised that Abraham’s offspring, or ‘seed’ as some translations put it, would be more numerous than the stars and Abraham believed God’s promise to him. God considered Abraham to be righteous – justified – because of his faith.  Justification by faith is one of the promises Paul refers to in Galatians. The other is the promise of the Holy Spirit, which will come up in today’s study, but we will look at the Spirit more in-depth in a later study.

The Judaizers were trying to get the Galatians to become circumcised so that, by Jewish tradition, they would then become sons of Abraham and could be included in the promises of God. For them, faith in Christ alone was not enough because these promises were for Abraham’s children by physical descent, meaning the Jewish people.  And circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham to bless all the people. So, in their thinking, to be a child of God one must add circumcision to faith in Christ, becoming a Jew to become a child of Abraham and of God.

But Paul makes it clear that the promise of blessing to all people comes through one seed or offspring.

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

“Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.Galatians 3:19

“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:29

Christ is the Seed, the sole offspring and heir of the promise made to Abraham. To receive the promise, it is only necessary for one to be ‘in Christ’ by faith. This is how we belong to Christ. And Paul says, this is how we become children of Abraham and children of God.

“Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.Galatians 3:7

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Galatians 3:26

God’s promise to Abraham culminated in one person, Jesus Christ. And that promise extends to all – Jewish and Gentile.

"He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." Galatians 3:14

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.Galatians 4:4-7

Through faith in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin, but children of God. By virtue of God's promise we are now become His children and receive the gift of His Spirit.

In preparation for our next few words, read Galatians chapter 5. Try marking the words freedom, love, spirit, and crucified and see how significant these words become over the next week.

Share how you respond in the Words Challenge Facebook group. You can also share on social media using #galatianswords.



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