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Bible verses about Abraham's Spiritual Children
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 12:3

A turning point in the saga of God's people occurred when God called Abram to leave Mesopotamia for a land he knew little or nothing about, Canaan. He promised him great blessings of wealth and rulership, as well as spiritual blessing: "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3; also 22:18). This could only be a reference to the work of the Messiah.

Paul mentions this prophecy in Galatians 3:16: "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." It is evident from the genealogies in both Matthew 1 (Joseph's) and Luke 3 (Mary's) that both legally and naturally Jesus is a descendant of Abraham.

"And if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29). We Christians are also children of God through our faith in Jesus (verse 26), and this makes us spiritual descendants of Abraham and co-heirs of the promised blessings.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Born of a Woman


 

Genesis 13:14-15

This is a direct promise of not only Abraham's children's owning of the land, but also of Abraham's personal ownership of it. Yet the only land he ever truly owned was Sarah's burial plot—certainly not all the land he could see! For him to receive this promise, and for him to receive it “forever,” means that he and his descendants will live forever.

Now eternal life has entered the picture. Eternal life includes a spirit body that will not decay and a nature that is appropriate or fitting for endless life, one that is sinless and not continually incurring the death penalty. Only in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return will the called of God—including Abraham—be raised incorruptible and given immortality, such that death is swallowed up in victory (see I Corinthians 15:42-54). Then, Abraham and his spiritual descendants will inherit the Promised Land, retaining it forever.

Romans 4:13 expounds on the promise of the land: “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.” God's promise to Abraham was not based on perfect obedience to the law, but on the imputed righteousness that comes by faith, which happened when Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). This took place well before the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:1-14). Abraham's faith produced good works, as true faith always will; in Genesis 26:5, God says, “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” But his righteousness in God's eyes was shown in his belief in God's faithfulness, not in anything he did or did not do.

Clearly, God's promise of the land to Abraham goes far beyond physical inheritance—it is, rather, an eternal inheritance, bestowed on those who have become his spiritual descendants through receiving the faith of Abraham. The patriarch, though, was among those who “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them” (Hebrews 11:13). So significant are these promises that God confirmed them with a covenant that condemned Him to destruction if He failed to fulfill the terms. Not only that, the timing of Christ's sacrifice coincided with the preparations for God's covenant with Abraham, for it is His sacrifice that allows us—Abraham's spiritual seed, his “great nation”—to begin to receive these promises.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)


 

Genesis 13:16

Genesis 13:16 emphasizes the concept of fecundity. God promises to multiply Abraham greatly.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 14:20

Abraham is the father of the faithful. He is a type of God the Father; Isaac was a type of the Son, Jesus Christ. Humanly, he is the head of the family—of those who are loved by God, who love God, and are obedient to Him.

Abraham is the patriarch. He is the leader and elder. He is the primary example among men. Considering the way God speaks about him, there has been nobody on earth as great as Abraham, except for Jesus Christ. What an example we have here!

If we are Christ's, we are Abraham's seed and no other's (Galatians 3:29). Because we are Abraham's children, we are heirs according to the promise.

In Abraham, we are looking at one of the prime examples in all of mankind. In Genesis 26:5, the promise is repeated to Isaac, and God says to him, "Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." That covers everything, does it not? Consider this in reference to Genesis 18. This is God speaking:

Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him [meaning "by experience I know him"], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken to him. (Genesis 18:18-19)

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

Joshua 24:2-3

When Abraham was called, he was literally living in Babylon on the plain of Shinar in the city of Ur. He did not come from a God-fearing family, and there is no evidence that he was converted at the time of Genesis 12:1. Every indication is that he, too, was a heathen. As we shall see, every called person begins in idolatry.

God had in all likelihood begun to work with him, preparing him for his calling by guiding his thinking to begin to question areas of life he had previously accepted without question. Historical traditions indicate that his family was of a priestly caste, and perhaps he was already questioning the validity of the false gods he served.

Acts 7:2-4 clarifies a few things relating to the early period of his calling:

And [Stephen] said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.' Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell."

What is included in God's appearance is not known. Whether it was literal, in a vision, or by dream is not explained anywhere else. The element we need to understand is that, as with us, Abraham did not earn his calling. He had done nothing to earn or deserve God's notice.

Isaiah 51:2 adds a further piece of information worth considering: "Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." While Sarah is at least mentioned, no other family members are included within the scope of this statement. It appears that several members of Abraham's family depended on him, since much of his family left with him, yet God makes clear that Abraham was the only one spiritually called.

To how many of us has a similar thing happened? Why does this happen? Nobody knows! It is unanswerable. God shows mercy to whom He shows mercy. He loves Jacob but loves Esau less by comparison, despite their being twins. He accepts Abel and rejects Cain. He chooses only Noah among millions of others to whom He could have given grace.

This we know: At some time before leaving Babylon, God became a living reality to Abraham to a degree no one else near and dear to him experienced. Even amidst his personal self-seeking and self-pleasing, he was motivated to leave his set routines of life. It must have been similar to what Job experienced when he said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You" (Job 42:5).

Whether the opening of Abraham's mind was gradual or sudden, God had graciously revealed Himself enough to make him move, and he did so to the extent of leaving his homeland and journeying over 1,200 miles, probably on foot or at best by donkey or cart, to a land known for violent weather, especially for its high temperatures.

Abraham was already 70 years old, yet he severed virtually every relationship that matters to normal human concepts of life and well-being. For a long time, stability became a thing of the past, considering that he never again dwelt in a home with foundations. This may seem an unusually hard and harsh requirement. Nevertheless, he embarked on a journey into an utterly unknown future.

What can we learn from this God-engineered example? Undoubtedly, He was testing Abraham, a process we should expect a measure of in our calling as well. We may never have to leave our homeland and set out on a long journey without knowing where we are headed, but it is highly likely that disruptions will accompany our calling.

A primary instruction God wants us to understand from Abraham's calling is that we must make a complete break from our old lives. We must clearly begin to sever ourselves from the old, "inner" life that was implanted in our character by our living according to the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Luke 16:19-22

Jesus describes Lazarus as being taken to Abraham's bosom, which is simply the human breast, with the arms as an enclosure. His words depict a loving embrace, suggesting an intimate relationship. Lazarus, therefore, comes into an intimate relationship with Abraham and receives salvation (Galatians 3:29). Since Lazarus had given himself to Christ, he became one of Abraham's spiritual children and an heir to the promises of God (Galatians 3:7).

The "bosom" metaphor occurs frequently in Scripture. God will care for His people as a shepherd for his sheep, carrying them "in his bosom" (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus was "in the bosom" of the Father (John 1:18), enjoying His blessings and close relationship. Moses carried the children of Israel in his bosom (Numbers 11:12). Lazarus had gained such intimacy with Abraham, while the Pharisees, who considered themselves to be the recipients of God's promises to Abraham, had not.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Luke 16:22

God promised Abraham's descendants land on earth—the land of Canaan, and later it was all the land he could see (see Genesis 12:5-7; 13:15; 15:18; Romans 9:6-8). God even included the actual boundary line of the property in His agreement with Abraham. "Your seed" refers primarily to Christ, the chief of "Abraham's seed, and heir according to the promise." Since God's promise of the land of Canaan was forever, it is an eternal inheritance and includes eternal life (Hebrews 9:15). Because the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, he became one of Abraham's children and thus an heir to the Promised Land on this earth—not in heaven—and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Luke 16:22

A son who is heir to his father's property cannot inherit and possess it before his father inherits it. Lazarus could not inherit either eternal life or the land before his father Abraham received the promises. Abraham, however, died without actually inheriting these promises (Acts 7:2-5; Hebrews 11:8-13). He was still dead at the time of Christ's earthly ministry, and he still is in his grave today (John 8:52). He will inherit the promises at the time of the resurrection of the just. Human beings in Christ, living and dead, receive eternal life at Christ's second coming, Abraham among them (Luke 13:28).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

John 8:39

He uses the words "father" and "children" in a well-accepted, spiritual way—that is, a son or a daughter can be considered the child of another if he or she shows the nature and works of that other person. Thus a "son of Belial" shows the characteristics of Belial, meaning confusion, though he is not physically Belial's child. A "son of Abraham," then, would behave or live as Abraham did.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 3)


 

John 8:42

They saw themselves as the sons of God due to the fact that they were the physical descendants of Abraham. Yet, Jesus rejects this by saying the proof that they are the sons of God is whether they love Him. If this was true for the Jews, it is also true for us. Though we may be sons of Abraham racially because we are part of the tribes of Israel, it fits us just as it fit the Jews. Abraham may be our father, but unless we have the love of God, He is not our spiritual Father. We find proof of our love for God in that we love Christ. His own advice: "If you love Me, keep the commandments" (John 14:15).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Loving Christ and Revelation 2:1-7


 

Romans 9:7

In Matthew 3:9 and Luke 3:8, John the Baptist tells the Jews gathered to hear him not to think that they had it made because they were sons of Abraham, for God can raise children up out of the very stones. In John 8, Jesus encountered the same argument from the Jews, and He said, "Don't think because you are descendants of Abraham that you are Abraham's heirs. He never did the things that you're doing. You want to kill me. Your father is Satan the Devil, not Abraham" (see John 8:37-44).

What we see in Romans 9 is a much bolder and clearer explanation of the same pattern. Paul is explaining what God has been doing all this time and why He will continue to work through Israel. He is not all that concerned about the physical nation. Perhaps He is to some degree, but only because within the physical nation He established through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the real Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 9:7-13

"The children of the promise are counted for the seed" means Abraham's seed, and "the children" are Esau and Jacob. Jacob was chosen or elected by God, but Esau was not. So through whom would God work? Obviously, it was Jacob, who on the surface was the weaker of the two—perhaps in character and certainly bodily. The question immediately arises, "Is it fair of God to do this?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Paul describes what happened to Abraham at his calling and must happen to us. Abraham's mind—and therefore his life—was so arrested and redirected by God's revelation of Himself that he responded dramatically, despite the realization that he could no longer live as he had for 70 years. He had to make changes, and some of them would be considerable and costly.

He could no longer live completely for himself. He no longer perceived people as he had all his life. He especially could no longer perceive his new God and Savior as He formerly had. A new man was being created from within, so he had to make a clean and permanent break from his old life. His life now had a new Object toward which he must walk. His life had a new direction, a new relationship, new desires, and new requirements to fulfill.

We must never forget that Abraham was a special case; he is the prototype who set a vivid, overall example for all his spiritual children to follow to some degree. There were bumps along the way; at times, he fell short of the ideal. Yet, on the whole, he did nothing less than set a superb example for all of us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Galatians 3:7

When Paul says, "know you therefore," he is instructing them to learn from this case (Psalm 100:3; Luke 21:31; Hebrews 13:23).

The Greek word translated "of" here is "a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds)." In this case, it is referring to those people whose origin or source is faith—those who have the right faith, which have been justified by God. This is the starting point of their spiritual life. Paul is showing that we are children of Abraham based on what we believe (have faith in), which is then evidenced by the way we live our life.

One of the many disputes that Christ had with the Jews during His time was over lineage. The Jews traced their physical lineage back to Abraham, and thus considered themselves to be children of Abraham. Christ disagreed with this because, if they were Abraham's sons in the fullest sense, they would have believed and acted just as Abraham did. The real children of Abraham are not his natural descendants (Matthew 3:9), but those who share his faith. This is why Abraham is called the "father of the faithful" (see also Luke 3:8; Romans 2:28-29, 9:6; James 2:21-23).

It is interesting to note again the link between faith (belief) and works (action). In this verse, Paul says that the true children of Abraham are the ones who have the same faith that Abraham had. Yet in John 8:39-41, Christ says the Jews really are not Abraham's children because their works—their actions—were not in accordance with what Abraham had done. There certainly is no contradiction here; the faith that made Abraham remarkable is the faith that motivates people to do good works (James 2:17-26)!

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:20

A mediator is only necessary when there is an agreement for two or more parties to agree to or discuss. God's promise to Abraham, and the inheritance that will come from that in the future, was not something that had to be negotiated. A mediator was not necessary, because there was only one party—God—who was agreeing to do a certain action. God's promise was His intent to carry something out, and so it was not necessary for there to be a mediator.

The Mosaic covenant required a mediator. Moses stood between the Rock and the children of Israel. The Israelites did not want to deal directly with God (Exodus 20:18-21) and instead requested that Moses speak with God and then speak to the children of Israel. The Old Covenant was set up with a high priest as an intercessor, who would stand between God and the people. The system, the covenant, did not allow for a personal relationship to develop between God and an individual, except in the rare exceptions where God made it happen. But it was not available to the average Israelite.

God's promise is sure! Abraham and the others in the "cloud of witnesses" all died without receiving the promises in their entirety. But the spiritual children of Abraham still stand to inherit eternal life, the earth, etc. This was not an agreement or covenant, but a promise.

When the covenant was ratified at Sinai, Moses was the mediator for only physical Israel. The Gentiles, the rest of the people who would be the spiritual descendents of Abraham, were not represented. Because of this, the agreement made at Sinai could not affect the unrepresented people. This is why the Old Covenant, or the Mosaic Covenant, is not binding anymore: Christ, the Seed, came to earth as a man, and the temporary covenant between God and Israel became obsolete.

God's law did not become obsolete, though—God does not change, and so His definition of what is right and what is wrong does not change. If it was wrong for the Israelites to commit adultery or fornication, it is still wrong now. If it was wrong for the children of Israel to break the Sabbath, it is still wrong now. Obedience to God's law was a condition of the covenanted agreement, but doing away with the covenant does not do away with God's law!

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:29

Abraham is the father of the physical nation God elected to work in and through, and he is also the father of those He calls to be part of His forming spiritual nation. Appreciating Abraham as the father of the physical nation is easy, but seeing him as father of the spiritual nation is not so simple, as we are more apt to think that, because God begets us, He is our spiritual Father. We must therefore see Abraham's spiritual fatherhood in a different light.

The Jews of Jesus' day did not grasp Abraham's spiritual fatherhood correctly. Jesus gives the answer to this perplexing title in John 8, where a great deal of the dialogue involves ancestry.

"And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. . . . I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." They said to Him, 'Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." . . . Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (verses 16, 18-19, 28-29)

Abraham's spiritual fatherhood soon becomes the focus of Jesus' instruction:

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" . . . "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this." (John 8:33, 37-40)

Members of the same family bear a likeness to one another. It is this principle that designates who is a spiritual child of Abraham. It is not a matter of physical resemblance but a similarity of moral and spiritual attitude and behavior. Christ designates that resemblance to be believing God as Abraham did, as well as doing the works that he did. In the larger picture, a spiritual descendant of Abraham will grow and overcome, gradually changing into the spiritual image of Jesus Christ.

The factor that set Abraham apart above all others was that faith drove, motivated, inspired, and guided—sometimes dramatically—what he did with his life. Thus, Abraham is not only the physical progenitor of Israelites but also the spiritual, moral pattern that his descendants are to conform to.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Hebrews 9:14

Christ became the inheritor of the promises made to Abraham because He alone of all men met all the conditions contained within the promises and the covenants that were made. He was perfect, blameless. Being in that position, He did something from which we benefit, which is explained here.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)


 

 




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