Seed of Abraham

2nd study in the series on the ‘Names of Christ’ adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 27 July 2007

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).

The Bible is filled with the names and titles of Christ, for Christ and His redemptive work is the unifying theme of the Bible.

In our last study, we considered the first name of Christ to appear in the Scriptures, namely, “Seed of the Woman”. We noted that this name speaks of Christ as being the covenant head of the elect, who would take on human flesh and be born of a virgin. We saw how this name, ‘Seed of the Woman’ ought to strengthen our faith and fill our hearts with gratitude and courage to live for the glory of God.

In this second study, we must consider another name of the Lord which is related to the first. In fact, it is through the apostle Paul’s reference to this second name that we have a better understanding of the meaning of the first. I am referring to the name “Seed of Abraham”.

The apostle Paul says, Galatians 3:16:

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

By this declaration, the apostle is saying that when God promised Abraham that He would bless him and his seed, He had Christ in mind.

In Genesis 17:7, God had said to Abraham:

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

From these 2 verses, we get the impression that God is referring to all the descendants of Abraham, don’t we? After all, what could “thy seed after thee in their generations” mean? And then the land of Canaan: who inherited it but the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham?

And YET, the apostle Paul says that the promise is not made unto many, but unto one, which is Christ!

Christ is the seed of Abraham! This is what the Holy Spirit, who inspired Paul, wants us to know.

1. What Is The Significance 
of This Name?

This name, like the name ‘Seed of the Woman’ informs us that Christ did not live for Himself. As the ‘Seed of the Woman’ is Christ on the one hand, and the Church of Christ on the other hand; so ‘Seed of Abraham’ is Christ on the one hand, and the Church of Christ on the other hand.

The word ‘seed’, we must remember, is a special theological word. It is singular and plural at the same time. It can mean a descendant or descendants.

The ‘Seed of Abraham’ when viewed from one angle comprises the descendants of Abraham, but when viewed from another angle is Christ!

So the full meaning of the name ‘Seed of Abraham’ would be ‘Christ and His Church united to Him.’

What do we mean by the church? Well, there are some who say that it is the church that comprise of all the elect and the elect alone.

This is the Baptist view.

But this view fails to take into account the way in which the word seed is used in the Old Testament.

Consider the follow verses apart from our text.

· Genesis 15:5—“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”

· Genesis 15:18—“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

· Genesis 17:10—“This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”

Can you see how the word ‘seed’ in these promise texts, in addition to Genesis 17:7-8, appears to point to the physical descendants of Abraham? What else can “thy seed after thee in their generations” mean?

So the plain sense of the word ‘seed’ in Genesis appears to point to the physical descendants of Abraham—at least, to the descendants who would descend from Isaac. This is how the Jews would have understood the word. This was how Abraham would have understood it in part.

Paul could not be contradicting this plain sense of the word. How then do we explain the apparent contradiction?

Well, I believe that by saying that the seed of Abraham is Christ, Paul is saying that there is more than meets the eye in the promise texts.

He is suggesting is that the promises are fulfilled fully only in Christ. Yes, the promise is that the physical descendants of Abraham would inherit the promised land; but no, the land is not the ultimate object of the promise.

The land was but a type of the eternal inheritance that is in Christ.

Does this mean that the promise has no eternal substance for Abraham’s physical descendants? Were they just there to serve as an illustration or a type of the New Testament church?

No, no, not at all, for the Gospel that is preached to us is the same Gospel that was preached to them (Heb 4:2). For the promise that is unto us and to our children is the same promise that they first received (cf. Acts 2:39; Gal 3:14-16, 29)!

What this leads us to see is that, in fact, it is the church of all ages, both of the Old and New Testament, that is united to Christ as the seed of Abraham. And this church has both a visible, physical, and temporal aspect, and an invisible, spiritual and eternal aspect.

We are talking about the church visible and invisible. The church visible comprises of all professing believers and their children. This is what the Lord means by “thy seed after thee in their generations.” The church invisible comprise of all the elect.

The seed of Abraham points us to Christ and to the church visible and invisible united to Him. There are those who are of the seed of Abraham who would only enjoy the outward things of the kingdom of Christ. In the Old Testament, that refers to the land and the sacrifices. In the New Testament it may refers to the ordinance and all the privileges of church membership.

But there are those who are truly of the seed of Abraham. These are the elect. These are those who truly believe in Christ, and love Him and serve Him. These have received an earnest of their eternal inheritance, namely the Holy Spirit. One day, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they shall be made perfect in the soul and subsequently raised with a perfected body at the Resurrection.

This is what the name of Christ, the Seed of Abraham teaches us.


2. What is This to Us?

Let me suggest 3 applications.

a. Firstly, let us thank God that as a people united to the Seed of Abraham, Christ, we can share in the blessings of Abraham and be a blessing to the world.
We are not of the physical stock of Abraham. Most of our ancestors would not have experienced the blessing that we enjoy today.

For it is by the mercy of God that we have been engrafted into the Olive Tree to enjoy the blessings of God that He had reserved for the Seed of Abraham.

Thank God for this glorious adoptive ancestry. Thank God for the privilege of being made recipients of the blessings of Abraham; and therefore being made a blessing to the world. God had said to Abraham:

“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen 12:2).

How would Abraham be a blessing to the world today? Not through the physical descendants of Abraham, but through those who have been engrafted into the Olive Tree and made the seed of Abraham in Christ. That is: through believers and their children!

We are blessed to be a blessing! May the Lord grant us help to be indeed a blessing, according as He has commended us in Abraham to be a blessing.

b. Secondly, let us examine ourselves to see if we are truly of the seed of Abraham.

We are all of the Seed of Abraham in some sense. If you profess to believe in Christ or you are born in a Christian family, you are part of the seed of Abraham. But the question is: Are you of the seed of Abraham as the unbelieving Jews of old, or as those who are truly united to Christ?

My prayer and desire is that all of us, young and old, would be the true seed of Abraham. The Lord Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (Jn 8:39). Abraham believed in Christ and Abraham served Him faithfully.

Those unbelieving Jews were in some sense the children of Abraham. They were the physical descendants of Abraham. But when they rejected Christ, they lost their status as the children of Abraham. Christ called them the children of the devil.

Beloved children, you are the seed of Abraham, but realise that if you do not continue to walk in faith and obedience, you may one day cease to be the seed of Abraham. This is what the apostle Paul means in Romans 11:22—

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

I pray that all of you are internally and externally, the seed of Abraham; and I believe that we live in such a day of blessing (now that Christ is risen from the dead) that most if not all of you would be truly the seed of Abraham.

Those who are truly the seed of Abraham will persevere in Christ unto eternity.

But I must warn you never to become presumptuous. For unless you continue to do the work of Abraham and refuse to walk in the ways of the world, you can have no assurance that you would one day inherit the substance of the promise that God made to Abraham.

In fact, the apostle Paul warns us that in the last days there shall be many who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. These are those who would be the seed of Abraham externally, but not truly the seed of Abraham in vital union with Christ. Look at what Paul says about them, 2 Timothy 3:1-5—

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Paul, you must realise, is not talking about the people in the world. He is talking about professing believers, or those who are externally of the seed of Abraham.

May the Lord spare us from such hypocrisy! Let us therefore take heed to examine ourselves.

Can you honestly say that you are of the true seed of Abraham by faith? If not, you must not harden your heart, but go before the Lord in humble repentance to ask Him to drive out the hypocrisy from your heart that you may truly believe in the Lord and serve Him faithfully.

c. Thirdly, as Christ is the Seed of Abraham and we are the seed of Abraham in Him, let us take heed to follow the example of Abraham in regard to his household.

God says, Genesis 18:19—

For 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 hath spoken of him.

You who are of the seed of Abraham, will you not do the same? Abraham obeyed God. He circumcised all his male children, and he led them in the way of the Lord. His son Ishmael was not a child of the promise. He would be lost, but Abraham circumcised him and brought him up in the fear of the LORD until God instructed him to cast him out (and essentially excommunicating him).

Today, we live in far more glorious days as compared to the days of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham has risen from the dead. The Holy Spirit has been sent as an earnest of our eternal inheritance.

Do we not have good reasons to believe that most if not all of our children are children of the promise? But whatever the case may be, as our children are the children of Abraham, shall we not seek to bring them up to love and fear the seed of Abraham, Christ Jesus our Lord?


The Seed of Abraham. What a great name! What a great privilege we have to share in that name! May the Lord help us to live up to that name with gratitude in our hearts. Amen.

—JJ Lim