What’s it all about? God made a covenant with Abraham wherein He promised to bless his offspring (cf. Genesis 12-18). Both Paul and his opponents were claiming to be the rightful heirs of this covenant. The legalists (agitators) claimed that only those who had the mark of the covenant (circumcision) were the children of Abraham. On the other hand, Paul defended the view that, apart from any external signs, all believers in Christ (Jew and Gentile) were children of Abraham.
So, what? Being an heir of the Abrahamic covenant is synonymous with saying that one is a part of the family of God. Believers do not come to God through Abraham, but we do come to God the same way Abraham did, that is, by faith alone. Therefore, we must not put our trust in outward signs or good works but in the grace and mercy of God that is only available through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Questions from the Text:
1. How was Abraham reconciled to God (3:6; cf. Genesis 15:6)?
2. What makes a person a son of Abraham (3:7)?
3. What does it mean to be a child of Abraham (3:8-9)?
Now, what? Both the Old and New Testaments teach that people are saved (justified) by grace through faith alone and not by works, external marks, or ethnicity. Therefore, the only prerequisite for acceptance into the family of God is receiving the grace that God has provided through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must not look to our own perceived goodness or abilities to be accepted by God. Instead, we must trust that through the person and work of Christ, God has forgiven and adopted us as His children.
Biblical Text: Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:6-9 ESV).
Small Group Questions
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3; 15:6; Galatians 6:14-16; James 2:14-26
1. How does Paul interpret and apply the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3?
2. Do the promises made to Abraham apply to the modern nation of Israel and/or to believers of all ethnicities from all nations?
3. How does James interpret and apply the life of Abraham (cf. James 2)?
4. What role do good works play in the life of a believer (cf. James 2)?