Galatians 3:16
Parallel Verses
New International Version
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.

New Living Translation
God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn't say "to his children," as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says "to his child"--and that, of course, means Christ.

English Standard Version
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Berean Study Bible
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The scripture does not say, "and to seeds," meaning many, but "and to your seed," meaning One, who is Christ.

Berean Literal Bible
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say "and to seeds" as of many but "and to your seed" as of One, who is Christ.

New American Standard Bible
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.

King James Bible
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say "and to seeds," as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ.

International Standard Version
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. It doesn't say "descendants," referring to many, but "your descendant," referring to one person, who is the Messiah.

NET Bible
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, "and to the descendants," referring to many, but "and to your descendant," referring to one, who is Christ.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But The Promise was promised to Abraham and to his seed, and he did not say to him, “To your seeds”, as to many, but, “To your seed”, as of one, who is The Messiah.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture doesn't say, "descendants," referring to many, but "your descendant," referring to one. That descendant is Christ.

New American Standard 1977
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He did not say, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

King James 2000 Bible
Now to Abraham and his descendant were the promises made. He says not, And to descendants, as of many; but as of one, And to your descendant, who is Christ.

American King James Version
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.

American Standard Version
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Douay-Rheims Bible
To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Darby Bible Translation
But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ.

English Revised Version
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Webster's Bible Translation
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Weymouth New Testament
(Now the promises were given to Abraham and to his seed. God did not say 'and to seeds,' as if speaking of many, but 'and to your seed,' since He spoke of only one--and this is Christ.)

World English Bible
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He doesn't say, "To seeds," as of many, but as of one, "To your seed," which is Christ.

Young's Literal Translation
and to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed; He doth not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to thy seed,' which is Christ;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:15-18 The covenant God made with Abraham, was not done away by the giving the law to Moses. The covenant was made with Abraham and his Seed. It is still in force; Christ abideth for ever in his person, and his spiritual seed, who are his by faith. By this we learn the difference between the promises of the law and those of the gospel. The promises of the law are made to the person of every man; the promises of the gospel are first made to Christ, then by him to those who are by faith ingrafted into Christ. Rightly to divide the word of truth, a great difference must be put between the promise and the law, as to the inward affections, and the whole practice of life. When the promise is mingled with the law, it is made nothing but the law. Let Christ be always before our eyes, as a sure argument for the defence of faith, against dependence on human righteousness.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 16. - Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made (τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ ἐῥῤήθησαν [or, ἐῥῤέθησαν] αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ); now to Abraham were the promises made (Greek, spoken) and to his seed. The question now to be determined is, who the parties were that were concerned in the covenant made with Abraham, and with respect to whom the principle just stated must be taken to apply. Of course, God is himself one of the two parties. This the apostle assumes without specific mention in this verse, though he refers to it in the next. On the other side, he discerns "Abraham and his seed;" for the form of the sentence, we feel, lays emphatic stress upon the latter copartner. He has in view, apparently, in part, the promise recorded in Genesis 13:15, "All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever;" perhaps in part the vision related in Genesis 15, wherein (ver. 18) "the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land," etc.; but most particularly, since on this occasion circumcision was appointed as the "sign of the covenant," the words in Genesis 17:7, 8, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee: and I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." In the present connection the reference is not so obvious to the important promise in Genesis 22:17, 18, on which such stress is laid in Hebrews 6:13-18. These passages, in their primary and plain obvious sense, point to a covenant established by the Lord between himself on the one hand, and Abraham and Abraham's natural seed on the other; ratified on the persons of Abraham and his offspring by the seal of circumcision, and collating to them the gift of the laud of Canaan. But the apostle teaches us to read these passages mystically: in place of Abraham's natural seed substituting "Christ," a spiritual seed; and in place of the land of Canaan substituting a spiritual inheritance. For "covenant," to which term the apostle reverts in the next verse, we have here "promises;" thus also in Hebrews 7:6, Abraham is described as "he that had the promises." He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed (οὐ λέγει Καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν ἀλλ ὡς ἐφ ἑνός Καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου). The use of the preposition ἐπὶ with λέγει, as meaning "of," not found elsewhere in the New Testament, occurs repeatedly in Plato (see Ellicott and Alford, and Winer's 'Gram.,' 47, g). With "many" and "one," we are, of course, to supply "seeds" and "seed." It has been questioned whether such a form of expression as "to thy seeds" would have been possible in the Hebrew. Certainly we do not in the Hebrew Bible find a plural of the noun zera when used for "offspring," but only when used for a grain of seed. But still, such a plural may not have been unknown to St. Paul in the Hebrew spoken in his time; for it occurs, De Wette tells us, in the Chaldee Paraphrast for "races" in Joshua 7:14; Jeremiah 33:24; Genesis 10:18. Such a grammatical cavil to his observation, however, the apostle might well have brushed aside by giving his objector to understand that it was not upon a nicety of lingual criticism that he was taking his stand, but upon a fact which was not to be called in question; namely, that of the many branches of descendants owning Abraham as their progenitor, there was only one contemplated by the Almighty as destined to inherit the promise. This principle of discrimination among several lines of descendants he has himself drawn marked attention to in Romans 9:7, 8, by quoting the words, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called," and adding the gloss, "That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed." And so here. Among Abraham's descendants one particular head of a race was beforehand selected in the counsels of God, whose issue alone should inherit. As the principle of discriminative predestination was applied with respect to the inheriting of the promises viewed in their secular meaning, so also was it applied with respect to the inheriting of them spiritually: to only one branch of Abraham's descendants did the Divine Disposer guarantee the promised grant; that which should originate from Abraham's great Descendant, Christ, and which was to be in him and by his name to be called. Which is Christ (ὅς ἐστι Ξριστός); that is, which seed is Christ; the gender of the relative pronoun, which logically, as reciting a neuter noun, σπέρμα, should be neuter, being according to a very common usage of the language made masculine by the attraction of the predicate Ξριστός. The word "seed" still retains its signification of a collective noun, and does not even here denote a single descendant - a sense which usage would not justify us in assigning to it; for even in Genesis 4:25 zera acher means "other offspring," and not "another offspring." The word "Christ" is itself employed by the apostle as a collective, as in 1 Corinthians 1:13, "Christ is divided!" or, "Is Christ divided?" 1 Corinthians 12:12, "As the body is one, and hath many members... . so also is Christ." It is usual in the Hebrew idiom to apply to a people the very name, unmodified, of the head from which they derive; as "Israel," "Jacob," "Ephraim," "Judah," and a large multitude of instances. It is certain from vers. 27-29 that St. Paul has in view those who are "in Christ" as being in and with him the "seed" to whom the "inheritance" was by that covenant given. Jesus, viewed in his own solitary personality, has no place in the apostle's present argument: he it was not that was to inherit the blessing, save only with, or rather in, that multitude of human beings for whose sake he is there at all. Perhaps it is on that account that his official title "Christ" is alone named, in preference to "Jesus" his appellation as an individual man. Having thus ascertained as definitely as we may what it is that the apostle here states, we are naturally led to consider on what grounds he is justified in affixing to the passage or passages of the Old Testament which he refers to, the sense that he does; both as to the import of the gift which the covenant guaranteed to Abraham's seed and as to the specific seed itself as being" Christ." The answer to such questioning is, for us, at once in a great measure determined by our belief in the claims which St. Paul makes to be regarded as an inspired teacher. With this belief, we do not wait first to ascertain that his exposition is warranted by linguistic or historical reasoning before we will give it our assent. We accept his exposition as one imparted to himself by heavenly teaching, and as the result of inspired spiritual insight gazing into the oracles of God. We refuse to regard it, as some would fain persuade us to do, as mere midrash of unscientific rabbinism. Perhaps, indeed, rabbinism itself in its better schools - and in such St. Paul had himself in his earlier years been trained - was often far more profound and scientific in its scriptural exegesis than many who have not been conversant with Jewish commentators are disposed to imagine. His exposition is, therefore, not at once and of course condemned, because, if indeed it be the fact, its method seems to bear upon it the brand of being rabbinical. Thus much is clear - its substance was beyond all question not drawn from rabbinism, but learnt from higher teaching. If at first it arouses in our minds a feeling of surprise, and even a degree of hesitation in accepting it as it lies there before us, we may have good grounds for suspecting that this is owing, not to our superior wisdom, but to the superficiality of the views which we are in the habit of taking of the histories and utterances found in the Old Testament. Fuller and clearer insight into the depths of inspired teaching will perhaps enable us by-and-by to grasp with a firmer hold than now the veritable reasonableness and certainty of this apostolic word, and to discern its coherency with other portions of revealed truth. Meanwhile it may conciliate our judgment to a more unfaltering acceptance at once of what we here read, if we will consider how transcendently great is the glory of the personage whose Name is here attached to Abraham's spiritual seed, and how transcendent too is the corresponding glory of that economy of benediction which that august Being has brought in. The infinite grandeur of "God manifest in the flesh" imparts its magnificence both to the community which he graciously takes into union with him, and to the "kingdom of God" which through him they inherit. The glory of Christ fills the whole Church, which, resplendent therewith, eclipses into utter obscurity all other communities heretofore promised to be recipient of Divine blessing: those, feeble types of her, fade away at her coming, their glory and very being absorbed in hers. We need, then, not hesitate to believe that she with her Lord was from the beginning contemplated by the Almighty in the revelations of future benediction which he accorded to men, certainly with a view ultimately to this crowning dispensation; and that anterior dispensations of benediction were symbolically predictive of this.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made,.... The promises design the promises of the covenant of grace mentioned in the next verse, which are exceeding great and precious, better than those of any other covenant; and which are all yea and amen in Christ, and are chiefly of a spiritual nature; though all the temporal blessings of God's people come to them in a covenant way, and by virtue of the promise; for godliness has the promise of this life, that God will verily feed them, withhold no good thing from them proper for them, sanctify all their afflictions, support under them, and never leave nor forsake them: but the promises here intended principally are such as these, that God will be their God, and they shall be his people, the promise of Christ as a Saviour and Redeemer of them; of the Spirit as their sanctifier, and the applier of all grace unto them; of justification by Christ's righteousness, and pardon by his blood; of adoption through free rich grace; of perseverance in grace, and of the eternal inheritance: now these promises were made, "were said unto", or spoken of, to Abraham and his seed; that is, they were discovered, made manifest, and applied to Abraham, the father of many nations; and were declared to belong to him and his spiritual seed, even all that believe, whether Jews or Gentiles; for the apostle is not speaking of the original make and constitution of the covenant of grace and its promises, which were made from all eternity; the grand promise of life was made before the world began, and Christ was set up as Mediator from everlasting, before ever the earth was, which suppose a covenant in which this promise was granted, and of which Christ was the Mediator as early; it was made long before Abraham, or any of his spiritual seed, were in being; nor was it made with any single person, any mere creature, Abraham, or any other, but with Christ, as the head and representative of the whole election of grace: but what is here treated of is, the declaration and manifestation of the covenant, and its promises to Abraham; which was frequently done, as upon the call of him out of the land of Chaldea, upon his parting with Lot, when he was grown old, and when Eliezer his servant was like to be his heir, and just before the giving of him the covenant of circumcision, and again upon the offering up of his son Isaac:

he saith not unto seeds, as of many; in the plural number, as if Jews and Gentiles were in a different manner his spiritual seed:

but as of one; using the singular number:

and to thy seed, which is Christ; meaning not Christ personal, though he was of the seed of Abraham, a son of his, as was promised; but the covenant and the promises were not now made with, and to Christ, as personally considered, this was done in eternity; but Christ mystical, the church, which is the body of Christ, of which he is the head, and is called by his name, 1 Corinthians 12:12 and designs all Abraham's spiritual seed, both Jews and Gentiles; who are all one in Christ, and so Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise; hence there is no room for the objection of the Jew to the apostle's application of this passage to Christ (c), that the Scripture speaks not of any particular person, but of seed in a general and collective sense, of a large and numerous offspring; since the apostle designs such a seed by Christ, as numerous as the stars of the sky, and the sand on the sea shore, even all believers in all nations, Abraham is the father of; though did the apostle mean Christ particularly, and personally considered, there are instances to be given, where the word "seed" is used, not in a collective sense, but of a single person, as in Genesis 4:25. Nor has the Jew (d) any reason to charge him with a mistake, in observing that the word is not in the plural, but in the singular number, when it is the manner of the Hebrew language to speak of seed only in the singular number; but this is false, the word is used in the plural number, and so might have been here, had it been necessary, as in 1 Samuel 8:15 concerning seed sown in the earth, from whence the metaphor is here taken. The first tract in the Jews' Misna, or oral law, is called, "seeds"; and the word, even as spoken of the posterity of men, is used in the plural number in their Talmud (e); where they say,

"pecuniary judgments are not as capital ones; in pecuniary judgments, a man gives his money, and it atones for him; in capital judgments, his blood, and the blood "of his seeds", or posterity, hang on him to the end of the world; for we so find in Cain, who slew his brother; as it is said, "the bloods of thy brother crieth"; it is not said, the blood of thy brother, but the bloods of thy brother, his blood, and the blood "of his seeds".''

(c) Chizzuk Emuna, par. 1. c. 13. p. 134. (d) Ib. par. 2. c. 90. p. 468. (e) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 37. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16. This verse is parenthetical. The covenant of promise was not "spoken" (so Greek for "made") to Abraham alone, but "to Abraham and his seed"; to the latter especially; and this means Christ (and that which is inseparable from Him, the literal Israel, and the spiritual, His body, the Church). Christ not having come when the law was given, the covenant could not have been then fulfilled, but awaited the coming of Him, the Seed, to whom it was spoken.

promises—plural, because the same promise was often repeated (Ge 12:3, 7; 15:5, 18; 17:7; 22:18), and because it involved many things; earthly blessings to the literal children of Abraham in Canaan, and spiritual and heavenly blessings to his spiritual children; but both promised to Christ, "the Seed" and representative Head of the literal and spiritual Israel alike. In the spiritual seed there is no distinction of Jew or Greek; but to the literal seed, the promises still in part remain to be fulfilled (Ro 11:26). The covenant was not made with "many" seeds (which if there had been, a pretext might exist for supposing there was one seed before the law, another under the law; and that those sprung from one seed, say the Jewish, are admitted on different terms, and with a higher degree of acceptability, than those sprung from the Gentile seed), but with the one seed; therefore, the promise that in Him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Ge 12:3), joins in this one Seed, Christ, Jew and Gentile, as fellow heirs on the same terms of acceptability, namely, by grace through faith (Ro 4:13); not to some by promise, to others by the law, but to all alike, circumcised and uncircumcised, constituting but one seed in Christ (Ro 4:16). The law, on the other hand, contemplates the Jews and Gentiles as distinct seeds. God makes a covenant, but it is one of promise; whereas the law is a covenant of works. Whereas the law brings in a mediator, a third party (Ga 3:19, 20), God makes His covenant of promise with the one seed, Christ (Ge 17:7), and embraces others only as they are identified with, and represented by, Christ.

one … Christ—not in the exclusive sense, the man Christ Jesus, but "Christ" (Jesus is not added, which would limit the meaning), including His people who are part of Himself, the Second Adam, and Head of redeemed humanity. Ga 3:28, 29 prove this, "Ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus" (Jesus is added here as the person is indicated). "And if ye be Christ's, ye are Abraham's SEED, heirs according to the promise."

Galatians 3:16 Additional Commentaries
The Purpose of the Law
15Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. 17What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.…
Cross References
Genesis 12:7
The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 17:7
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Genesis 22:18
and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

Matthew 1:1
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Luke 1:55
to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."

Acts 3:25
And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'

Romans 4:13
It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Romans 4:16
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Romans 9:4
the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.

2 Corinthians 11:22
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I.

Galatians 3:19
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.
Treasury of Scripture

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.


Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen …

Genesis 12:3,7 And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: …

Genesis 13:15,16 For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your …

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, …

Genesis 17:7,8 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed …

Genesis 21:12 And God said to Abraham, Let it not be grievous in your sight because …

Genesis 22:17,18 That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply …

Genesis 26:3,4 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; …

Genesis 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God …

Genesis 28:14 And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread …

Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between …


Galatians 3:27-29 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ…

Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:12,27 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members …

Ephesians 4:15,16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, …

Ephesians 5:29,30,32 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes …

Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and …

Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, …

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Alphabetical: Abraham and as but butand Christ does He his is many meaning not Now one people person promises rather referring say Scripture seed seeds spoken that The to were who your

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