Aug 13, 2010
The Gospel of Faith was "preached" to Abraham, along with a commission. Galatians 3:8 says,
(8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles [ethnos, "nations"] by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations shall be blessed in you."
Those who teach that the Gentiles are saved by faith, while Jews are saved by the law, never seem to understand that Abraham himself was justified by faith. The fact that Abraham was to be made a great nation [goy] adds some humor to our dispute, because one might argue that Abraham was not one of the "chosen people" who was allowed to be saved by the law. He was one of the ethnos, orgoy, justified by faith, along with Paul and everyone else.
(9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
Keep in mind that faith and belief are the same thing in the Greek language. The Greek word forfaith had a noun form as well as a verb form. Unfortunately, this made it virtually impossible to translate into English consistently, because English does not use faith as a verb but only as a noun. Hence, we have faith, but we believe God. So the Greek verb must be translated as "believe," because it makes no sense to faith God.
Paul says that Abraham was called, chosen, and elected to bless all nations with this gospel of faith. He was not called to hoard the idea of faith for himself, but to teach it and to dispense it to all other nations. Abraham was not the only one capable of faith. He was to bless all nations by teaching them to have faith in God as well. Hence, those who respond are "blessed with Abraham" in the same manner that Abraham himself was blessed.
Paul was passionate about overthrowing the Jewish idea that being "chosen" meant that they were a people of privilege. He saw the Abrahamic commission as a mandate to dispense the blessings of faith to all nations. He argued forcefully that all men were justified by faith equally, and that there was just one way to be saved. Though the Old Covenant gave opportunity (if it were possible) to be saved by one's own works, that method was destined to fail from the start because "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23).
So Paul's conclusion was that anyone who exhibited genuine faith in Christ was figuratively a "son of Abraham." The Scriptures speak of the "sons of light," the "sons of thunder," the "children of the devil," the "children of wisdom." These are all figurative "sons," based on the idea that those who follow the example of their "father" were his "sons."
So also with the children of Abraham, as Paul tells us later in Galatians 3. The point is that no one has to be physically descended from Abraham to be a "son of Abraham." One must, however, exhibit the faith seen in Abraham to be truly his "son." It is ironic that this actually disqualified the Jews as far as God was concerned, because in their adherence to the Old Covenant, they were zealously working to achieve justification before God.
This is the tenth part of a series titled "Galatians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones