SYNOPSIS – With the ascension of Jesus, the gift of the Spirit has arrived with blessings for all believers – The “promise of Abraham” – Galatians 3:27-29.
The “promise of the Father” is identified as the gift of the Spirit. For example, it is linked by the Apostle Paul to the covenant promises given to Abraham by Yahweh, which are now fulfilled in the promised New Covenant. The gift of the Spirit demonstrates that the era of fulfillment has arrived. Moreover, it marks out the Gentile believers as co-heirs of Abraham with the Jewish followers of Jesus.
Paul also equates the “promise of the Spirit” with the “blessing of Abraham.” The original covenant with Abraham always envisioned the inclusion of the Gentiles, an important point that Paul uses to argue for the acceptance of Gentile believers without circumcision. By definition, all who belong to Jesus are “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise” – (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:13, 3:29).
The promise to Abraham finds its fulfillment in the gift of the Spirit that God has bestowed on Gentile and Jewish believers alike. The old distinctions between “Jew and Gentile” are no longer relevant. Gentile inclusion was not an afterthought but an integral part of the promise from the very get-go. The Spirit is received by Gentiles from faith, not based on circumcision or the other rituals required by the Torah – (Galatians 3:1-4, 3:14).
(Ephesians 1:13-14) – “In whom, you also hearing the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of OUR INHERITANCE, for the redemption of THE ACQUISITION; for his glorious praise.”
The Spirit is the “down payment,” a guarantee of the full inheritance still to come. The references to the purchased-possession and the inheritance allude to the land promise given to Abraham – (Genesis 17:8, “I will give to you and your seed all the land of Canaan for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION”).
Once more, Paul connects the gift of the Spirit to the covenant with Abraham, including its original land promise – (Genesis 12:7, 13:17, Leviticus 14:34, Deuteronomy 12:9-10, 32:49).
Likewise, Jesus described the gift of the Spirit as the “promise of the Father.” Before his ascension, he commanded the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit – “Power from on high” – (Luke 11:13, 24:49, John 14:16, 14:26, Acts 1:4).
In his first sermon, Peter pointed to the outpouring of the Spirit as the fulfillment of the prophecy from Joel – “In the last days God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” The presence of the Spirit among believers proved that the period known as the “last days” had commenced – (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:1-4, 2:15-21).
- The gift of the Spirit was “for you, and your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” – (Acts 2:38-39).
- (Genesis 12:2-3) – “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curses thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
- (Genesis 17:7-10) – “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your seed after you in their generations.”
The gift of the Spirit is how men and women participate in the blessings of Abraham. By the Spirit, men of every ethnicity – From “all the nations of the earth” – Find themselves blessed with faithful Abraham – (Genesis 12:3, Acts 3:25).
What the disciples received on the Day of Pentecost began to fulfill the promises to Abraham. All who receive the Spirit and are baptized into Jesus become the “children of Abraham”; therefore, the old distinctions between Jew and Gentile no longer apply:
(Galatians 3:27-29) – “For ye, as many as into Christ have been immersed, have put Christ on: There cannot be Jew or Greek, there cannot be bond or free, there cannot be male and female, for all ye are one in Christ Jesus: Now, if ye are of Christ, by consequence, ye are Abraham’s seed, according to promise, heirs.”
The Mosaic legislation anticipated the need for something further; the Torah could not complete what God has begun with Abraham. Inevitably, Israel would disobey. But, after chastisement and repentance, she would “return to Yahweh and obey His voice.” God would gather His people from all nations and “circumcise their hearts to love Him” – (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).
The themes of renewal and circumcision of the heart were taken up by the prophet Jeremiah. God “would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” but not like the covenant He made at Mount Sinai. He would write His laws in the hearts of His people. The circumcision of the heart anticipated by Moses would be realized in a new covenant, which was inaugurated by Jesus – (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13).
The book of Ezekiel takes up the same theme but adds the element of the Spirit. When Yahweh re-gatherers the children of Israel He puts “a new spirit” in them – Yahweh will “put His spirit in them and cause them to walk in His statutes” – (Ezekiel 36:16-28).
Ezekiel combines the promises of Spirit, circumcised heart, and the new covenant. Thus the New Covenant is dependent on the gift of the Spirit – Without it, the covenant is impotent – (Ezekiel 37:25-28, 2 Corinthians 3:1-6).
Consistently, the New Testament authors apply these promises to the gift of the Spirit given freely to Jewish and Gentile believers. The gift is labeled the “promise of the Father” and the “blessing of Abraham.” It is the distinctive sign of the people of God, and the power of the New Covenant.
With the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, the long-awaited gift of the Spirit has arrived with all its promised blessings for believers from all nations.