The Abrahamic Blessing

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 7 Oct 2011


“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

The letter of Paul to the Galatians is a very important one. In a nutshell, this book is designed to teach us justification by grace through faith alone and its implication for the Christian life.

Some of us will remember that this is the theme of the book of Romans too. However, the book of Romans deals with the subject doctrinally, whereas Galatians deals with it correctively. Its just like the book of Ephesians deal with ecclessiology doctrinally whereas the book of Colossians deals with it correctively. 

Some of the Jewish converts to Christianity in the Galatian church brought with them a false notion and attitude regarding the Christian life. In a word, they were legalistic. Their life centred on dos and don’ts. Their definition of a good Jew was how precisely he walks according to the Law. To them, to be a good Christian, one must be circumcised, and also observe the demands of the law including the keeping of days and months and times and years (Gal 4:10), as well as touching not; tasting not or handling not this or that (cf. Col 2:21).

Paul, you must realise is not denying that the Christian ought to keep the moral law of God. Christ came to deliver us from sin. Sin is lawlessness. It is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. Therefore, Christians must keep the Law.

However, keeping the law does not make one a child of God whether he is living under the Old or the New Testament.

A person is not necessarily a Christian just because he is baptised and go to church regularly. Neither is he necessarily a Christian because he keeps the Sabbath holy and sings only the psalms.

This is the point that Paul is trying to bring across in this letter. A Christian will obey God’s Word and keep the Law; but obeying God’s Word and keeping the Law does not make one a Christian.

A Christian is saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he keeps the Law of God, he does it freely and out of a grateful heart.[1]

The Christian life is not defined by a list of dos and don’t; it is defined by faith in Christ and a grateful and willing respond to Him. For this reason, the law of God is not a burden to the Christian; for He finds joy walking in the way of the law of God.

But now, because of the nature of the church, there will always be those who are walking legalistically and those who are walking spiritually. This corresponds to the Lord’s instruction that in this world there will be wheat and tare. And it corresponds to the fact that there are some who are in the church who are not yet converted.

This is this reason for the conditional promise in our chosen text for this study:

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise

This verse, I believe, well represents Paul’s letter to the Galatians and is one of the great promises of God in His Word.

The Lord helping us, we want to study this statement by asking 3 questions: (1) What is it to be Abraham’s seed? (2) What is it to belong to Christ? (3) What is it to be an heir according to the promise?


1. What is it to be Abraham’s Seed?

Now, it is crucial for us to answer this question correctly, if we are to understand what Paul is saying in our text.

You see, the Judaisers or the legalists in the church were saying that the seed of Abraham will be saved, and the seed of Abraham must not only be circumcised, but must observe the law intricately.

But what exactly is the seed of Abraham?

In the first place, let us understand that the word seed can mean descendant or descendants. In verse 16, Paul is speaking about the seed in the singular. But here it is obvious that he is speaking about a body of people called the “Seed of Abraham.”

But let us understand that Abraham had a twofold seed. You could be Abraham’s Seed in one of two ways. This idea is a biblical one.

Paul says:

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom 4:13).

And again:

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham” (Rom 4:16).

So we see that one could be Abraham’s seed according to the Law or according to the righteousness of faith.

What does that mean?

Well, simply stated, to be of the seed of Abraham according to the Law is to be either a physical descendant of Abraham or to be a proselyte or the child of a proselyte.

The Lord did not deny that the unbelieving Jews who were opposed to him were the seed of Abraham in a sense. He says to them:

“I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” (Jn 8:37; cf. v. 37).

Paul himself claim to be of the seed of Abraham in this sense when he says:

“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I” (2 Cor 11:22).

So the first way of being a seed of Abraham by the law is by being born a Jew.

But there is a second way. The second way of being the seed of Abraham by the law is by being a proselyte. At the time when Moses instituted the Passover, he declared to the people that a stranger who was circumcised was to be regarded as a Jew (Ex 12:48-49). Such strangers were, as it were, engrafted unto the olive tree which represents God’s covenant people.

The children of these proselytes would automatically be olive shoots and therefore members of the covenant and therefore were circumcised.

Now, in the New Testament, circumcision has been replaced by baptism. So an adult convert who is baptised is in a sense engrafted onto the Olive Tree which represents God’s covenant people or the church. God does not have 2 bodies of people, there is only one ‘Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16). When the gentiles are baptised, they are considered the circumcision (Rom 2:26-28; Col 2:11-12).

And likewise, the children of baptised adults would automatically be members of the covenant are therefore are to be baptised.

So to put it plainly, the seed of Abraham according to the law are not only those who descended from him, but all who are circumcised or baptised and their children.

What about being the seed of Abraham according to faith?

Well, in the first place, let us understand that one who is of the seed of Abraham according to the law is not necessarily of the seed of Abraham according to faith.

The apostle Paul makes this clear when he says:

“Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Rom 9:7).

So the Lord Jesus, who a moment ago acknowledged that the Jews are the seed of Abraham according to the law, tells them in no uncertain term that they are spiritually of the seed of the devil (Jn 8:44).

They are only of the seed of Abraham in a superficial way. They were not of the seed of Abraham in the deepest sense of the word. They were not truly of the seed of Abraham whatever they may think.

This is the point that Paul was trying to bring across in our text. It is indeed important to be of the seed of Abraham. There is no question about that. If you are not of the seed of Abraham, then woe are you, for your religion is a scam. The promises in the word of God do not apply to you. So it is important to make sure that you are of the seed of Abraham.

BUT not everyone who thinks he is of the seed of Abraham is truly of the seed of Abraham. Every Jew and indeed every member in the Christian church thinks that he is of the seed of Abraham because he is circumcised or he is baptised. But Paul is saying: That is not so!

Yes, if you are circumcised or baptised, you are of the seed of Abraham in a sense. You will be of the seed of Abraham according to the Law. But it is not enough to be of the seed of Abraham only in this sense. You must also be of the seed of Abraham according to the righteousness of faith. Otherwise, you would be outwardly of the seed of Abraham, but inwardly of the seed of the devil!

I wonder if anyone of us is in this state? You are baptised, and therefore is of the seed of Abraham by the Law, but you are not of the seed of Abraham by faith.

But wait a minute! How do you know if you are truly of the seed of Abraham?

Well, Paul gives a simple answer:

 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise

Simply stated: Those who belong to Christ are truly of the seed of Abraham. These are those who are of the seed of Abraham by the righteousness of faith? But what exactly does it mean to belong to Christ?

This is the second question we must ask.


2. What is it to Belong to Christ?

The context indicates that those who are Christ’s have put on Christ. Paul says in verse 27—

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27)

What is it to put on Christ? I believe Martin Luther is right when he points out that there are two ways of putting on Christ,—one according to the Law and the other according to the Gospel.

To put it simply, one can put on Christ externally by water-baptism, or internally by spirit-baptism.

When we are baptised with water, we bear the sign and seal of Christ. In that sense we have put on Christ.

But we can also put on Christ internally by spirit baptism, which is regeneration.

Paul is, no doubt, referring to spirit-baptism when he says, “If ye be Christ’s.” He is referring to being truly belonging to Christ.

It is one thing to belong to Christ in an external way; it is quite another thing to truly belong to Christ.

The Lord speaks of believers being in this world but not of the world (Jn 17:11, 16). It is possible to be in Christ, but not of Christ.

You may be baptised, but the question is: Do you truly belong to Christ? Do you belong to him not just externally, but internally?

How do you know you truly belong to Christ?

Well, let me suggest a few marks. These are not intended to be exhaustive, but they will give you some ideas.

First, if you truly belong to Christ, you will believe in Christ and love Him more than anything or anyone else (Mt 10:37). Nothing can shake your faith and love for Christ.

Secondly, if you truly belong to Christ, you will keep His commandments out of love and gratitude for Him. You will want to keep the commandment because you want to, not because you have to.

Thirdly, if you truly belong to Christ, you will love and enjoy the ordinances of Christ—his worship, the means of grace, preaching, psalm-singing, prayer, and the sacraments etc.

Fourthly, if you truly belong to Christ, then you will deny yourself and take up your cross daily to follow Him (Lk 9:23). The rights of Christ will be greater than your own rights and privileges.

Fifthly, if you truly belong to Christ, then you will find yourself actually loving the brethren whom Christ laid his life down for—including those you cannot fully agree with (1 Jn 3:16 etc).

Do you truly belong to Christ, beloved brethren and children? Blessed are you if you are, for Paul says:

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”

But what is so great in being Abraham’s seed? It is not just a name, you must understand, it is about being heirs according to the promise.

So let us ask thirdly,…


3. What is it to be Heirs according to the Promise?

To answer this question, we need to ask what the promise is.

Well, the promise to Abraham was that he would inherit the Promised Land and that he would have many children and that they would be a blessing unto the world.

But it is obvious that the promise was couched in shadowy terms, for the writer of Hebrews informs us that Abraham was looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10).

How then should we understand the promise? Well, I think we can look at the promise from 3 angles.

First of all, those who are truly the seed of Abraham will have the Holy Spirit.  The apostle Paul refers to this blessing in Galatians 3:13-14—

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal 3:13-14).

The apostle Peter tied this blessing of the Spirit with water baptism in his inaugural sermon, in answer to the question, “What must we do to be saved?”—

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children…” (Acts 2:38-39).

Water-Baptism points to Spirit-Baptism. Water baptism may make us the seed of Abraham by the law; whereas Spirit-Baptism makes us the seed of Abraham by faith

Those who truly belong to Christ will be baptised.



[1]     So it is possible for a Christian even to be a Sabbath breaker… because he is wrongly taught about the 4th commandment. To help such a person, we must instruct him rather than condemn him as an unbeliever.