#169 “HOW WAS ABRAHAM SAVED?” (GALATIANS 3:6-9)
Do you know how Abraham was saved? In Galatians 3, Jason explains how Abraham was saved from his sin in Old Testament times prior to Jesus’s death and resurrection.
- 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted (credited; reckoned) to him as righteousness”? This portion of Scripture (3:6-9) acts as a parallel passage as Paul quotes from Genesis to show the connection between the Abrahamic covenant and the establishment of the Law and Abraham’s faith as a prototype for future children of God. Abraham—To defend justification by faith, Paul introduces the life of Abraham (the father of the Jewish people) as the perfect example to repudiate the Judaizers. The Jews boast in Moses as their great teacher, the father of the Law. However, Paul goes back even before Moses and cites when God called Abraham and he believed God’s calling for his life. Believed God—Paul quotes from 15:6, “He [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Elsewhere, Paul will later refer back to Abraham when arguing with the Romans over justification: “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (see Rom. 4:13-15, 20-25; Heb. 11:8-19). Paul validates that Abraham’s faith is prior to making a covenant with God through circumcision (see Gen. 17:10; Rom. 4:9-10). Therefore, salvation by God’s grace through faith was represented in the OT—demonstrated in the life of Abraham. [For further insight into Abraham’s faith, check out Rom. 4; Js. 2; Heb. 11].
- 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. God had promised Abraham that He would bless him in three specific areas: (1) his descendants will establish nations, (2) their nations will be blessed, and (3) the coming Jews will receive a holy land as their inheritance. Sons of Abraham—Abraham didn’t just belong to the Jews. Just as Abraham (forefather of God’s children) put his faith in God for salvation, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are considered children of God and will inherit the promises of blessing given to Abraham. The true spiritual children of Abraham are those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. In Romans 9:6-8, Paul writes, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” In countering to the lies, hypocrisy, and outright sin of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus rebuked them by stating, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did” (Jn. 8:39). The religious leaders were not true children of Abraham because they lacked faith in God, were twisting the Scriptures, upholding to a false religion, and rejected the Messiah to the point they wanted Jesus killed.
- 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing (to have seen prior or beforehand) that God would justify (bless)the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations (ethnos, customs; ethnic groups; Gentiles) be blessed.” Paul quotes Gen. 12:3 to refer to the future justification of the Gentiles. Righteousness was not only for the Jews. It was also for the Gentiles. IVP New Testament Commentary Series, “In Paul’s quotation the phrase all nationsfrom Genesis 18:18 is inserted in place of the phrase “all the families” (NIV “all peoples”) in Genesis 12:3. This combination of texts in his quotation indicates that Paul’s primary purpose is to demonstrate that Scripture witnesses to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the blessing promised to Abraham.” Preached the gospel beforehand—Abraham obviously didn’t receive the fullness of the gospel at the time God spoke to him. He received a prototype of the gospel. Nevertheless, God extended his grace and promised blessings through a covenant to Abraham which he received by faith.
- 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Even as God called Abraham, he foretold him that his “seed” will extend to a new group of peoples, the Jews and future Gentiles. Paul points out that Abraham is considered a man of faith because he believed and obeyed the voice of God. Abraham, in obedience, left his hometown of the Chaldeans and traveled thousands of miles to finally arrive in Canaan (the future promised land of Israel).