This Argument Must Be Understood Precisely…

In order to understand this passage we have to understand Paul’s argument here. It is made to a very Greek audience, an audience steeped in the skills of logical argument. This argument turns on the idea of the Covenant and the promises that God made to Abraham. That covenant and those promises were made to “Abraham and to his seed.” This is a very sophisticated argument that depends on a clear understanding of the terminology being used. It must be understood precisely.

Paul explains that the promises made by God were to Abraham’s “seed.” He makes a point of showing that the Scripture used the singular, “seed,” not the plural, “seeds.” The difference is very important. If it had been the plural, “seeds,” it would have meant that the promises were made to many. What, then, is this “seed” that the Scriptures point to? It is Jesus. It is through this “Seed,” promised to Abraham, that the promises of God would be fulfilled.

Paul then goes into a short discourse concerning the law, that is the Law of Moses, which was given to all. It was given because of sin, because of our weakness and our capacity for breaking the covenant with God. Paul explains that the law is not opposed to the promises of God. But he advances the fact that righteousness does not come from the law. It comes through the Seed, Jesus Christ. It is in and through Jesus Christ alone that God’s promises come to fulfillment for all of us.

Paul then tells us why Scripture is so important. Scripture has revealed all things that are “under the control of sin.” Sin has been “imprisoned” in the Scripture so that we could see clearly what is of sin and what is of God. Because of Christ, the Seed, what was promised by God in his covenant with Abraham, “could be given to those who believe” in him. The law did not set aside the covenant or do away with the covenant. It could not. The promise of the One God to Abraham would be fulfilled in his Son, Jesus Christ because, “God is One.” (verse 20) God and the Seed are One.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.