by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10 February 19, 2012 Dayton, Texas
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
I. Paul's Linkage of the Gospel to the Methodology of God's Dealings With Abraham [See notes for Dec. 4, 2011(135)].
II. Paul's Focus Upon Abraham's "Believing" [See notes for Dec. 11, 2011(137)].
III. Paul's Interpretation of God's "Accounting" (KJV word, NASB uses "reckoned") [See Notes for Dec. 18, 2011(139)].
IV. Paul's Adamant Application of Genesis 15:6 to the Gospel [See notes for Jan. 1, 2012(141)].
V. Paul's Logic Regarding "the Curse".
A. Being "of the works of the Law" puts a person "under a curse" [See notes for Jan. 8, 2012(143)].
B. The biblical record simply declares that "the righteous by faith shall live" [See notes for Jan. 15, 2012(145)].
C. The antithesis involved in Law and Faith [See notes for Jan. 22, 2012(147)].
D. Christ's redemption involved becoming "a curse for us" [See notes for Jan. 29, 2012(149)].
E. Christ's redemption involved paving the way for a new unity with a new "first-level" Actor on the stage of humanity [See notes for Feb. 12, 2001(151)].
F. Christ's objective in redemption was the communication of His Spirit to human beings.
1. Paul's declaration is that Christ was cursed "so that...": a clear introduction to an intention.
a. It was His purpose to extend the "blessing of Abraham" to the nations.
b. As with all purpose statements, we need to be aware that it is neither exclusive nor comprehensive. This intention was not the only reason Christ did what He did "for us", but it, clearly, was among the reasons He allowed Himself to be hanged upon a tree (John 10:17-18). He also did what He did to extend the "blessing of Abraham" to the Jews. He also did what He did to reconcile Justice and Grace. He also did what He did to make the love of God manifest. Etc. Many theological mistakes are made by elevating a purpose statement to exclusivity, ultimacy, or some other difficulty, without textual support for the action.
2. Paul's point is that Christ was not exclusively concerned about Israel. He was also concerned about the non-Israelites.
3. The specific nature of the "blessing" He sought to extend to the nations is identified: that "we" might receive the promise of the Spirit.
a. When Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, He instructed His disciples to "wait for the promise of the Father ... ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit ..." (Acts 1:4-5).
b. When Paul was addressing the "blessings" of the Father upon His children, he used the "the Spirit of the promise" terminology (Ephesians 1:13).
c. There arises this question: what link did Paul see between the Genesis 12:2 "blessing" and the giving of the promise of the Spirit to the nations?
1) One of the issues was a "promise" made to Abraham by God that he would be the father of a host of nations (Genesis 17:4). This makes Paul's argument that the "blessing" was to extend to the "nations".
2) Another of the issues was the actual essence of "blessing". In Genesis 12:2, the issue is a promise of God "to bless" as well as a promise that "thou shalt be a blessing". In the very next verse God commits Himself to "blessing" them who "bless" Abram and to "cursing" them who "curse" him. Without dispute, the issue at stake is the issue of seeking some "good" for another.
3) Though it is a stretch to take the promise of God to mean that He will give His Spirit to everyone who sought a "good" for Abram, this is likely where Paul's linkage exists. In the final analysis, the truest sense of "good" is that which plumbs the depths of the degrees of "goodness". In our shallow minds, giving someone a drink of water in the face of their thirst is a "good". But, since their thirst will return in a matter of hours, it is, indisputably, a "shallow" good and the shallowness is in its transitoriness. It is a greater good to give someone a "well" so that their thirst can be assuaged at all times. Again, the "greatness" involves a matter of "duration". The longer a thing lasts, the greater is the "good". Eventually we will get to Jesus' promise to the woman at the well that if she was to drink of His "water" she would never thirst again. And this "water" is ultimately identified as His Spirit (John 7:38-39) and His impact is extended (in terms of "duration") into eternity. It is not much of a stretch to see that Paul simply pressed the terms of "blessing" to their ultimate forms, the core of which is God and His willingness to unite His Spirit with us. This is how John summarizes all of the promises of God into one issue: the promise of eternal "life" (1 John 2:25). Apart from the unity of a man with the Spirit of God, there is no "life" for the man. At the heart and soul of the Gospel is the reality that the "One" God created humanity to be "one" with Him and all of His reclamation activities since the Fall of Man have been geared to bringing this creation-purpose to fulfillment.
4) One of the difficulties for Abraham was the fact of the absence of the essence of the thing promised for a very long time. Likewise is this promise of the indwelling of the Spirit of God and the giving of Him to the nations by way of the Gospel. Paul's claim in Galatians 3:8 was that the Gospel was preached to Abraham in the words of the promise of the "blessing" being extended to all nations. It was not understood that way when Abraham received it, but it was "there" even in the face of the misunderstanding by way of necessary, implied, meaning. However, it did not happen in history for a very long time. There are multiple references in the New Testament that God's Spirit was not "given" to be an indwelling reality until after Jesus was crucified and had ascended into heaven (John7:39). Jesus even told His disciples that the Spirit was "with" them but would, eventually, be "in" them (John 14:17). This means that the promise of "eternal life" as it was to be eventually experienced by believers in this world was a developing reality over time and those who received the promise early did not have the same level of reality that those did who received the promise late.
a) Even now, 2000 years beyond the "giving" of the Spirit, there are "questions", one of the most significant being this: what is the actual, daily, impact of the indwelling of God's Spirit in a person? In the records of the initial giving of the Spirit, the focus is upon some pretty phenomenal events (i.e., the miraculous activities recorded in the Acts). However, right alongside that highly touted record of the phenomenal is the fact that the churches Paul established gave evidence of some terrible activities and choices made by those who "possessed" this Spirit. Most of the New Testament is a record of apostles attempting to "correct" terrible heresies and behaviors. Even Galatians is a record of the corruption of the very Gospel itself while those in the leadership of the Church in Jerusalem simply sat by and let it happen until Paul forced the issue more than a decade and a half after the giving of the Spirit.
b) Rightly does Paul call the gift of the Spirit an "earnest" of the inheritance of the saints (Ephesians 1:14) and also rightly does he insist that our current situation is that of one who groans even though we possess this Spirit (Romans 8:23). In other words, the giving of the Spirit does not make all things "peachy", nor does His presence have very many inevitable consequences in the lives of those who have received this amazing gift from God.
c) Thus, the bottom line in Paul's concept of "the blessing of Abraham" seems to be that God has taken up a very personal residence in our bodies but that that presence does not automatically produce much of a discernible consequence. Life, no matter how you slice it, is eventually always going to boil down to two things: what a person has come to "love" and what a person has come to "believe", and those are the areas wherein the wrestling of the Spirit with us is found. The "blessing of Abraham" opens the door to incalculable possibilities, but, alone, it underwrites very little in this world.