Galatians 3:16
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.
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(16) A parenthetical explanation of the true object of the promise. That promise was shown by its wording to have reference to the Messiah. It did not speak of “seeds,” but of “seed”—not of “descendants,” but of “descendant.” And the Messiah is, par excellence, the “descendant” of Abraham.

The object of this parenthesis is to prove a point which the Judaising opponents of the Apostle would not contest—viz., that the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham was reserved for that Messianic dispensation to which they themselves belonged. The Law therefore intervened, between the promise and its fulfilment, but, inasmuch as it was itself later than the promise, could not alter the terms of its fulfilment. If the promise had been fulfilled before the giving of the Law, and if the Messianic dispensation to which the Apostle and his readers belonged was not a fulfilment of the promise, then the Law might have had something to do with it: the restrictions of the Law might have come in to limit and contract the promise: the Gentiles might have been saddled with the obligations of the Jews. But it was not so.

To Abraham and his seed were the promises made.—It was expressly stated that the promises were given “to Abraham and his seed.” The exact terms are worth noting.

The quotation appears to be made from Genesis 13:15, or Genesis 17:8. The word “promise” is put in the plural because the promise to Abraham was several times repeated—to Abraham first, and, after him, to the other patriarchs. The object of the promise, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, was, in the first instance, the possession of the land of Canaan; but St. Paul here, as elsewhere, gives it a spiritual application.

He saith not.—The “he” is not expressed. We must supply either “God” or the promise given by God—”it says,” as in quotations from an authoritative document.

And to seeds, as of many; but as of one.—The argument of the Apostle turns upon the use, both in the Hebrew and in the LXX., of a singular instead of a plural noun. Both in the Hebrew and in the LXX., however, the noun, though singular, is collective. It meant, in the first instance at least, not any one individual, but the posterity of Abraham as a whole. The Apostle refers it to Christ and the “spiritual Israel” (i.e., the Church, of which He is the Head), on the same principle on which, throughout the New Testament, the history of the chosen people under the old covenant is taken as a type of the Christian dispensation. We may compare Matthew 2:15, where an allusion to the exodus of Israel from Egypt is treated as a type of the return of the Holy Family from their flight into Egypt. Such passages are not to be regarded as arguments possessing a permanent logical validity (which would be to apply the rigid canons of Western logic to a case for which they are unsuitable), but rather as marked illustrations of the organic unity which the apostolic writers recognised in the pre-Christian and Christian dispensations. Not only had both the same Author, and formed part of the same scheme, but they were actually the counterparts one of the other. The events which characterised the earlier dispensation had their analogies—sometimes spiritual, sometimes literal—in the later.

Galatians 3:16. Now to Abraham, &c. — To apply this to the case before us. The promises relating to the justification of believers, and the blessings consequent thereon, were made first by God to Abraham and his seed, who are expressly mentioned as making a party with him in the covenant. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many — As if the promises belonged to all his seed, both natural and spiritual, or to several kinds of seed; but as of one — “The apostle having affirmed, (Galatians 3:15,) that, according to the customs of men, none but the parties themselves can set aside or alter a covenant that is ratified, he observes, in this verse, that the promises in the covenant with Abraham were made to him and his seed;” to him, Genesis 12:3; In thee shall all the families, or tribes, of the earth be blessed: to his seed, Genesis 22:18; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. “Now, since by the oath, which God sware to Abraham, after he had laid Isaac on the altar, both promises were ratified, the apostle reasons justly, when he affirms that both promises must be fulfilled. And having shown, (Galatians 3:9,) that the promise to Abraham, to bless all the families of the earth in him, means their being blessed as Abraham had been, not with justification through the law of Moses, as the Jews affirmed, but with justification by faith, he proceeds, in this passage, to consider the promise made to Abraham’s seed, that in it likewise all the nations of the earth should be blessed. And from the words of the promise, which are not, And in thy seeds, but, And in thy seed, he argues that the seed in which the nations of the earth should be blessed, is not Abraham’s seed in general, but one of his seed in particular, namely, Christ; who, by dying for all nations, hath delivered them from the curse of the law, that the blessing of justification by faith might come on believers of all nations, through Christ, as was promised to Abraham and to Christ. To this argument it hath been objected, that the word seed was never used by the Hebrews in the plural number, except to denote the seeds of vegetables, Daniel 1:12.” To this it may be answered, “That, notwithstanding the Hebrews commonly used the word seed collectively, to denote a multitude of children, they used it likewise for a single person, and especially a son, Genesis 3:15; I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. And Eve, speaking of Seth, says, (Genesis 4:25,) God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. The word seed being thus applied to denote a single person, as well as a multitude, is ambiguous, and therefore the Jews could not certainly know that they were to be instruments of blessing the nations, unless it had been said, And in thy seeds, or sons. And from the apostle’s argument, we may presume the word was used in the plural, to denote either a multitude or a diversity of children. In this sense, Eve had two seeds in her two sons, as is evident from her calling Seth another seed. So likewise Abraham had two seeds in Isaac and Ishmael. See Genesis 21:12-13. Now, because God termed Ishmael Abraham’s seed, perhaps Ishmael’s descendants affirmed that they also were the seed of Abraham in which the nations were to be blessed. And if the Jewish doctors confuted their claim, by observing, that in the promise it is not said, in seeds, that is, in sons, as God would have said, if he had meant both Ishmael and Isaac, but in thy seed, the apostle might, with propriety, turn their own argument against themselves, especially as the Jews were one of the nations of the earth that were to be blessed in Abraham’s seed. Lastly, to use the word seed for a single person was highly proper in the covenant with Abraham, wherein God declared his gracious purpose of saving mankind; because that term leads us back to the original promise, that the seed, or Song of Solomon of the woman, should bruise the serpent’s head.” — Macknight. Which is Christ — In Christ, and in no other of Abraham’s seed, have all the nations of the earth been blessed. They have not been blessed in Isaac, although it was said of him, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Neither have they all been blessed in Abraham’s posterity collectively as a nation; nor in any individual of his posterity, except in Christ alone. He therefore is the only seed of Abraham spoken of in the promise, as the apostle expressly assures us. Besides, Peter, long before Paul became a Christian, gave the same interpretation of this promise, as we see Acts 3:25.

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.Now to Abraham and his seed - To him and his posterity.

Were the promises made - The promise here referred to was that which is recorded in Genesis 22:17-18. "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."

He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one ... - He does not use the plural term, as if the promise extended to many persons, but he speaks in the singular number, as if only one was intended; and that one must be the Messiah. Such is Paul's interpretation; such is evidently the sentiment which he intends to convey, and the argument which he intends to urge. He designs evidently to be understood as affirming that in the use of the singular number σπέρμα sperma (seed), instead of the plural σπέρματα spermata (seeds), there is a fair ground of argument to demonstrate that the promise related to Christ or the Messiah, and to him primarily if not exclusively. Now no one probably ever read this passage without feeling a difficulty, and without asking himself whether this argument is sound, and is worthy a man of candor, and especially of an inspired man. Some of the difficulties in the passage are these:

(1) The promise referred to in Genesis seems to have related to the posterity of Abraham at large, without any particular reference to an individual. It is to his seed; his descendants; to all his seed or posterity. Such would be the fair and natural interpretation should it be read by hundreds or thousands of persons who had never heard of the interpretation here put upon it by Paul.

(2) the argument of the apostle seems to proceed on the supposition that the word "seed" σπέρμα sperma, that is, posterity, here cannot refer to more than one person. If it had, says he, it would be in the plural number. But the fact is, that the word is often used to denote posterity at large; to refer to descendants without limitation, just as the word posterity is with us; and it is a fact, moreover, that the word is not used in the plural at all to denote a posterity, the singular form being constantly employed for that purpose.

Anyone who will open Tromm's Concordance to the Septuagint, or Schmids' Concordance on the New Testament will see the most ample confirmation of this remark. Indeed the plural form of the word is never used except in this place in Galatians. The difficulty, therefore, is, that the remark here of Paul appears to be a trick of argument, or a quibble more worthy of a trifling Jewish Rabbi, than of a serious reasoner or an inspired man. I have stated this difficulty freely, just as I suppose it has struck hundreds of minds, because I do not wish to shrink from any real difficulty in examining the Bible, but to see whether it can be fairly met. In meeting it, expositors have resorted to various explanations, most of them, as it seems to me, unsatisfactory, and it is not necessary to detail them. Dr. Burner, Doddridge, and some others suppose that the apostle means to say that the promises made to Abraham were not only appropriated to one class of his descendants, that is, to those by Isaac, but that they centered in one illustrious person, through whom all the rest are made partakers of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant.

This Doddridge admits the apostle says in "bad Greek," but still he supposes that this is the true exposition. Noessett and Rosenmuller suppose that by the word σπέρμα sperma (seed) here is not meant the Messiah, but Christians in general; the body of believers. But this is evidently in contradiction of the apostle, who expressly affirms that Christ was intended. It is also liable to another objection that is fatal to the opinion. The very point of the argument of the apostle is, that the singular and not the plural form of the word is used, and that therefore an individual, and not a collective body or a number of individuals, is intended. But according to this interpretation the reference is, in fact, to a numerous body of individuals, to the whole body of Christians. Jerome affirms that the apostle made use of a false argument, which, although it might appear well enough to the stupid Galatians, would not be approved by wise or learned men - Chandler. Borger endeavors to show that this was in accordance with the mode of speaking and writing among the Hebrews, and especially that the Jewish Rabbis were accustomed to draw an argument like this from "the singular number," and that the Hebrew word זרע zera‛ "seed" is often used by them in this manner; see his remarks as quoted by Bloomfield in loc.

But the objection to this is, that though this might be common, yet it is not the less a quibble on the word, for certainly the very puerile reasoning of the Jewish Rabbis is no good authority on which to vindicate the authority of an apostle. Locke and Clarke suppose that this refers to Christ as the spiritual head of the mystical body, and to all believers in him. LeClerc supposes that it is an allegorical kind of argument, that was suited to convince the Jews only, who were accustomed to this kind of reasoning. I do not know but this solution may be satisfactory to many minds, and that it is capable of vindication, since it is not easy to say how far it is proper to make use of methods of argument used by an adversary in order to convince them. The argumentum a.d. hominem is certainly allowable to a certain extent, when designed to show the legitimate tendency of the principles advanced by an opponent.

But here there is no evidence that Paul was reasoning with an adversary. He was showing the Galatians, not the Jews, what was the truth, and justice to the character of the apostle requires us to suppose that he would make use of only such arguments as are in accordance with the eternal principles of truth, and such as may be seen to he true in all countries and at all times. The question then is, whether the argument of the apostle here drawn from the use of the singular word σπέρματα spermata (seed), is one that can be seen to be sound? or is it a mere quibble, as Jerome and LeClerc suppose? or is it to be left to be presumed to have had a force which we cannot now trace? for this is possible. Socrates and Plato may have used arguments of a subtile nature, based on some nice distinctions of words which were perfectly sound, but which we, from our necessary ignorance of the delicate shades of meaning in the language, cannot now understand. Perhaps the following remarks may show that there is real force and propriety in the position which the apostle takes here. If not, then I confess my inability to explain the passage.

(1) there can be no reasonable objection to the opinion that the promise originally made to Abraham included the Messiah; and the promised blessings were to descend through him. This is so often affirmed in the New Testament, that to deny it would be to deny the repeated declarations of the sacred writers, and to make war on the whole structure of the Bible; see particularly Romans 4; compare John 8:56. If this general principle be admitted, it will remove much perplexity from the controversy.

(2) the promise made to Abraham Genesis 22:18, "and in thy seed זרץ zera‛, Septuagint ἐν τῷ σπέρματί σου en tō spermati sou), where the words both in Hebrew and in Greek are in the singular number) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," cannot refer to all the seed or the posterity of Abraham taken collectively. He had two sons, Isaac by Rebecca, and Ishmael by Hagar, besides numerous descendants by Keturah; Genesis 25:1 ff. Through a large part of these no particular blessings descended on the human family, and there is no sense in which all the families of the earth are particularly blessed in them. On any supposition, therefore, there must have been some limitation of the promise; or the word "seed" was intended to include only some portion of his descendants, whether a particular branch or an individual, does not yet appear. It must have referred to a part only of the posterity of Abraham, but to what part is to be learned only by subsequent revelations.

(3) it was the intention of God to confine the blessing to one branch of the family, to Isaac and his descendants. The special promised blessing was to be through him, and not through the family of Ishmael. This intention is often expressed, Genesis 17:19-21; Genesis 21:12; Genesis 25:11; compare Romans 9:7; Hebrews 11:18. Thus, the original promise of a blessing through the posterity of Abraham became somewhat narrowed down, so as to show that there was to be a limitation of the promise to a particular portion of his posterity.

(4) if the promise had referred to the two branches of the family; if it had been intended to include Ishmael as well as Isaac, then some term would have been used that would have expressed this. So unlike were Isaac and Ishmael; so different in the circumstances of their birth and their future life; so dissimilar were the prophecies respecting them, that it might be said that their descendants were two races of people; and in Scripture the race of Ishmael ceased to be spoken of as the descendants or the posterity of Abraham. There was a sense in which the posterity of Isaac was regarded as the seed or posterity of Abraham in which the descendants of Ishmael were not; and the term σπέρμα sperma or "seed" therefore properly designated the posterity of Isaac. It might be said, then, that the promise "to thy seed" did not refer to the two races, as if he had said σπέρματα spermata, "seeds," but to one σπέρμα sperma, "the seed" of Abraham, by way of eminence.

(5) this promise was subsequently narrowed down still more, so as to include only one portion of the descendants of Isaac. Thus it was limited to the posterity of Jacob, Esau being excluded; subsequently the special blessing was promised to the family of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob Genesis 49:10; in subsequent times it was still further narrowed down or limited to the family of Jesse; then to that of David; then to that of Solomon, until it terminated in the Messiah. The original intention of the promise was that there should be a limitation, and that limitation was made from age to age, until it terminated in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. By being thus narrowed down from age to age, and limited by successive revelations, it was shown that the Messiah was eminently intended, which is what Paul says here. The promise was indeed at first general, and the term used was of the most general nature; but it was shown from time to time that God intended that it should be applied only to one branch or portion of the family of Abraham; and that limitation was finally so made as to terminate in the Messiah. This I take to be the meaning of this very difficult passage of scripture; and though it may not be thought that all the perplexities are removed by these remarks, yet I trust they will be seen to be so far removed as that it will appear that there is real force in the argument of the apostle, and that it is not a mere trick of argument, or a quibble unworthy of him as an apostle and a man.


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."

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made; the promises, Genesis 12:3 22:18; in the one of which places it is said: In thee; in the other: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. He saith, promises, either because of the repetition of the same promises, or taking in also other promises.

He saith not: And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ: some may object against the apostle’s conclusion, that the promise respected only one, and that was Christ; because God said not seeds, as of many, but seed; whereas the term seed is a noun of multitude, and signifieth more than one; besides that the Hebrew word, which is used Genesis 22:18, admitteth not the plural number. But it is answered, that though the word translated seed admitteth not the plural number, yet had God intended more than one, he could have expressed it by words signifying children, or generations, &c.

Secondly, that the term seed, though a noun of multitude, yet is often applied to a single person; as Genesis 3:15, where it also signifieth Christ; Seth is called another seed, Genesis 4:25; and so in many other places. Some think that by seed he meaneth believers, and so interpret it of Christ mystical; and that the scope of the apostle in this place is to prove, that both the Jews and Gentiles were to be justified the same way; because they were justified in force and by virtue of the promise, which was not made to many, but to one church, which was to consist both of Jews and Gentiles, for (according to the prophecy of Caiaphas, John 11:52) Christ died, that he might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. The promises made to Abraham, were but the exhibition of the eternal covenant of grace, made between the Father and his Son Christ Jesus (who was in it both the Mediator and Surety); which covenant was promulgated, as to Adam and Noah, so to Abraham, in these words: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be called, that is, in Christ. From whence the apostle proveth, that there is no justification by the works of the law, but in and by Christ, and the exercise of faith in him.

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.

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, {18} which is {l} Christ.

(18) He puts forth the sum of the seventh argument, that is, that both the Jews and the Gentiles grow together in one body of the seed of Abraham, in Christ alone, so that all are one in Christ, as it is afterward declared in Ga 3:28.

(l) Paul does not speak of Christ's person, but of two peoples, who grew together in one, in Christ.

Galatians 3:16. This verse is usually considered as minor proposition to Galatians 3:15, so that Galatians 3:15-17 contain a complete syllogism, which is, however, interrupted by the exegetical gloss οὐ λέγει κ.τ.λ., and is then resumed by τοῦτο δὲ λέγω in Galatians 3:17 (see Morus, Koppe, Rückert, Schott, de Wette, Hilgenfeld). But against this view it may be urged, (1) that the minor proposition in Galatians 3:16 must necessarily, in a logical point of view,—as corresponding to the emphatic ὅμως ἀνθρώπου in Galatians 3:15,—bring into prominence the divine character of the promises, and must have been expressed in some such form as Θεὸς δὲ τῷ Ἀβρ.; and (2) that the explanation as to καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ, so carefully and emphatically brought in (not merely “allusive,” Hilgenfeld), would be here entirely aimless and irrelevant, because it would be devoid of all reference to and influence on the argument. The train of ideas is really as follows (comp. also Wieseler):

After Paul has stated in Galatians 3:15 that even a man’s legally valid covenant is not invalidated or provided with additions by any one, he cannot immediately link on the conclusion intended to be deduced from this, viz. that a valid covenant of God is not annulled by the law coming afterwards; but he must first bring forward the circumstance which, in the case in question, has an essential bearing on this proof,—that the promises under discussion were issued not to Abraham only, but at the same time to his descendants also, that is, to Christ. From this essential circumstance it is, in fact, clear that that covenant was not to be a mere temporary contract, simply made to last up to the time of the law. Accordingly, the purport of Galatians 3:15-17 is this: “Even a man’s covenant legally completed remains uncancelled and without addition (Galatians 3:15). But the circumstance which conditions and renders incontestable the conclusion to be thence deduced is, that the promises were spoken not merely to Abraham, but also to his seed, by which, as is clear from the singular τῷ σπέρματι, is meant Christ (Galatians 3:16). And now—to complete my conclusion drawn from what I have said in Galatians 3:15-16—what I mean is this: A covenant previously made with legal validity by God is not rendered invalid by the law, which came into existence so long afterwards” (Galatians 3:17).

τῷ δὲ Ἀβρ. ἐῤῥέθησαν αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι κ. τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ] The emphasis is laid on καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ, the point which is here brought into prominence as the further specific foundation of the proof to be adduced. This element essential to the proof lies in the destination of Christ as the organ of fulfilment; in the case of a promise which had been given not merely to the ancestor himself, but also to Christ, the fulfiller, it was not at all possible to conceive an ἀθέτησις by the law. Comp. also Holsten, z. Ev. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 204. The passage of the O.T. to which Paul refers in καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ, is considered by most expositors, following Tertullian (de carne Christi, 22) and Chrysostom, to be Genesis 22:18 : ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν τῷ σπέρματί σου πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς. But, from the words οὐ λέγει· καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν κ.τ.λ. which follow, it is evident that Paul was thinking of a passage in which καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου is expressly written. Hence (with Estius and Bengel, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Hofmann, Reithmayr, Buhl) the passages Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8, are rather to be assumed as those referred to,—a view confirmed by the expression κληρονομία in Galatians 3:18.[134] Comp. Romans 4:13.

ἐῤῥέθησαν[135]] they were spoken, that is, given, as some min., Eusebius and Theophylact, actually read ἐδόθησαν. The datives simply state to whom the promises were spoken, not: in reference to whom (so Matthias),—an interpretation which was the less likely to occur to the reader, well acquainted as he was with the fact that the promise was spoken directly to Abraham, who at the same time represented his σπέρμα.

αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι] in the plural: for the promise in question was given on several occasions and under various modifications, even as regards the contents; and indeed Paul himself here refers to a place and form of promise different from that mentioned above in Galatians 3:8. In καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ he finds that Christ is meant; hence he adds the following gloss (Midrasch): οὐ λέγει· καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν κ.τ.λ., in which the singular form of the expression is asserted by him to be significant, and the conclusion is thence drawn that only one descendant (not: only one class of descendants, namely the spiritual children of Abraham, as, following Augustine, Cameron and others, Olshausen and Tholuck, d. A. T. im neuen T. p. 65 ff. ed. 6, also Jatho, hold) is intended, namely Christ. That this inference is purely rabbinical (Surenhusius, καταλλ. p. 84 f.; Schoettgen, Hor. p. 736; Döpke, Hermeneut. I. p. 176 ff.), and without objective force as a proof, is evident from the fact that in the original text זֶרַע is written, and this, in every passage in the O.T. where it expresses the idea of progenies, is used in the singular (in 1 Samuel 8:15, זַרְעֵיכֶם are segetes vestrae), whether the posterity consists of many or of one only (Genesis 4:25; 1 Samuel 1:11; Targ. Psalm 18:26, where Isaac is called Abraham’s זרע[136]). Also the later Hebrew and Chaldee usage of the plural form in the sense of progenies (see Geiger in the Zeitschr. d. morgenl. Gesellsch. 1858, p. 307 ff.) does not depend, any more than the Greek use of σπέρματα (Soph. O.C. 606. 1277; O.R. 1246; Aesch. Eum. 909), on the circumstance that, in contradistinction, the singular is to be understood ὡς ἐφʼ ἑνός. Comp, 4Ma 18:1 : ὦ τῶν Ἀβραμαίων σπερμάτων ἀπόγονοι παῖδες Ἰσραηλῖται, πείθεσθε τῷ νόμῳ τούτῳ. The classical use of αἵματα is analogous (comp. on John 1:13). Moreover, the original sense of these promises, and also the τῷ σπέρματι of the LXX., undoubtedly apply to the posterity of Abraham generally: hence it is only in so far as Christ is the theocratic culmination, the goal and crown of this series of descendants, that the promises were spoken to Him; but to discover this reference in the singular καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου was a mere feat of the rabbinical subtlety, which was still retained by the apostle from his youthful culture as a characteristic element of his national training, without detriment to the Holy Spirit which he had, and to the revelations which had been vouchsafed to him. Every attempt to show that Paul has not here allowed himself any rabbinical interpretation of this sort (see among recent expositors, particularly Philippi in the Mecklenb. Zeitschr. 1855, p. 519 ff.: comp. also Hengstenberg, Christol. I. p. 50 f.; Tholuck, l.c., and Hofmann) is incompatible with the language itself, and conflicts with the express ὅς ἐστι Χριστός; which clearly shows that we are not to understand σπερμάτων with ἐπὶ πολλῶν, nor σπέρματος with ἐφʼ ἑνός (Hofmann, Buhl), but that the contrast between many persons and one person is the point expressed. But the truth itself, which the gloss of the apostle is intended to serve, is entirely independent of this gloss, and rests upon the Messianic tenor of the promises in question, not on the singular τῷ σπέρματι.

οὐ λέγει] sc. ΘΕΌς, which is derived from the historical reference of the previous ἘῤῬΈΘΗΣΑΝ, so well known to the reader. Comp. Ephesians 4:8; Ephesians 5:14.

Ὡς ἘΠῚ ΠΟΛΛῶΝ] as referring to many individuals, in such a manner that He intends and desires to express a plurality of persons. On ἐπί, upon, that is, in reference to, with the genitive along with verbs of speaking, see Heindorf, ad Plat. Charm, p. 62; Bernhardy, p. 248; Ast. Lex. Plat. I. p. 767.

ὅς ἐστι Χριστός] which σπέρμα, denoting a single individual, is Christ. The feebly attested reading is a mistaken grammatical alteration; for how often does the gender of the relative correspond by attraction to the predicative substantive! See Kühner, II. p. 505. ΧΡΙΣΤΌς is the personal Christ Jesus, not, as some, following Irenaeus (Haer. v. 32. 2) and Augustine (ad iii. 29, Opp. IV. p. 384), have explained it: Christ and His church (Beza, Gomarus, Crell, Drusius, Hammond, Locke, and others; also Tholuck, Olshausen, Philippi l.c., Hofmann), or the church alone (Calvin, Clericus, Bengel, Ernesti, Döderlein, Nösselt, and others). Such a mystical sense of ΧΡΙΣΤΌς must necessarily have been suggested by the context (as in 1 Corinthians 12:12); here, however, the very contrast between ΠΟΛΛῶΝ and ἙΝΌς is decidedly against it. See also Galatians 3:19; Galatians 3:22; Galatians 3:24; Galatians 3:27-28. Galatians 3:29 also is against, and not in favour of, this explanation; because the inference of this verse depends on the very fact that Christ Himself is the ΣΠΈΡΜΑ ΤΟῦ ἈΒΡ. (see on Galatians 3:29). The whole explanation is a very superfluous device, the mistaken ingenuity of which (especially in the case of Tholuck and Hofmann) appears in striking contrast to the clear literal tenor of the passage.[137] It is not, however, Christ in His pre-human existence, in so far as He according to the Spirit already bore sway in the patriarchs (1 Corinthians 10:1 ff.), who is here referred to, because it is only as the λόγος ἔνσαρκος that He can be the descendant of Abraham (Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3). Comp. Galatians 3:19.

[134] The correct view is found even in Origen, Comment. in Ep. ad Romans 4:4, Opp. iv. p. 532: “Ipse enim (apostolus) haec de Christo dicta esse interpretatur, cum dixit: ‘Scriptum est, tibi dabo terram hanc et semini tuo. Non dixit: et seminibus, tanquam in multis, sed semini tuo, tanquam in uno, qui est Christus.’ ” Comp. also p. 618, and Homil. 9 in Genes. Opp. II. p. 85; and earlier, Irenaeus, Haer. v. 32. 2; later, especially Jerome.

[135] As to this form, which has preponderant attestation (Lachm., Tisch.), comp. on Romans 9:12; Kühner, I. p. 810, ed. 2.

[136] In the so-called Protevangelium also, Genesis 3:15, the LXX. translators have referred σπέρμα to an individual (to a son); for they translate, αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν. But it does not thence follow that this subject was the Messiah, to whom the יְשׁוּפְךָ, correctly understood by the LXX., but wrongly by the Vulgate (conteret), is not suitable. The Messianic reference of the passage lies in the enmity against the serpent here established as the expression of a moral idea, the final victorious issue of which was the subject-matter of the Messianic hope, and was brought about through the work of the Messiah. Comp. Hengstenberg, Christol. I. p. 26 ff.; Ewald, Jahrb. II. p. 160 f.; also Schultz, alttest, Theol. I. p. 466 f.

[137] Tholuck holds that in ver. 16 Paul desired to show that the promises could not possibly extend to “the posterity of Abraham in every sense,” and that consequently the natural posterity was not included; that the singular points rather to a definite posterity, namely the believing. The latter are taken along with Christ as an unity, and, partly as the spiritual successors of the patriarch, partly in their oneness with the great Scion proceeding from his family, they constitute the descendants of Abraham. But in this case Paul, instead of ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, must at least have written ὡς ἐπὶ πάντων; instead of ὡς ἐφʼ ἑνός, ὡς ἐπὶ τοῦ ἑνός; and instead of ὅς ἐστι Χριστός, he must have written ὅ ἐστιν ἡ ἐκκλησία σὺν Χριστῷ.—According to Hofmann, in loc. (not quite the same in his Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 107 f.), Paul, following the analogy of Genesis 4:25 and thinking in τοῖς σπέρμασιν of several posterities by the side of each other, lays stress on the oneness of Abraham’s posterity expressed in the singular, the expression in the singular serving him only as the shortest means (?) for asserting a fact testified to by Scripture generally; but, on the other hand, he has, by means of estimating this unit of posterity in the light of the history of redemption, been able, and indeed obliged, to interpret τῷ σπέρματί σου as referring to Christ, the promised Saviour, without thereby maintaining that this expression in the singular could signify only an individual, and not a race of many members. But in this way everything which we are expected to read in the plain words is imported into them, and artificially imposed upon them, by the expositor. Besides, in Galatians 3:16. The clause καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ is quoted from God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8 with only the necessary change of the second person σου into αὐτοῦ. The original promise was limited to the possession of the promised land, but was coupled with a perpetual covenant between God and the seed of Abraham: I will be their God, Thou shalt keep my covenant, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations. Hence Hebrew prophecy imported into it the idea of a spiritual inheritance, and the Epistle adopts this interpretation without hesitation.—οὐ λέγει, sc. ὁ Θεός. As the clause in question was quoted from an utterance of God, it was not necessary to specify the subject of λέγει.—καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν: And to his seeds, i.e., families. This contrast between the many families and the one chosen family is more than mere verbal criticism: it contains the germ of that doctrine of continuous divine election within the stock of Abraham which is developed in the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. For Abraham had many children after the flesh; and the exclusion of Ishmael, Dedan, Midian, Esau in patriarchal times in favour of Isaac and of Jacob established the principle which culminated in the rejection of the Jewish nation in favour of Christ. This conception of a continuous holy family linking Christ with Abraham runs through the next section of the Epistle; just as πολλῶν and ἑνός here mean π. σπερμάτων and . σπέρματος, so ἑνός in Galatians 3:20 means ἑνὸς σπέρματος and τὰ πάντα in Galatians 3:22 τὰ πάντα σπέρματα. In like manner Christ is contemplated, not by Himself alone as constituting in the unity of His person the chosen seed, but as a new centre out of whom the family of God branched forth afresh. He became in a far higher sense than Isaac or Jacob a new head of the chosen family: for all Abraham’s children after the flesh that received Him not were shut out from the blessing, while all who believed in Him became by faith sons of Abraham and members of the true family of God. The whole Church of Christ are in short regarded as one with Christ—one in life and spirit, for they are members of His body and partake of His spirit (cf. Galatians 3:28-29).

16. ‘Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed’.

and his seed] These words are emphatic. Had the promise been made to Abraham only, it would have determined with his own life. But it was the precious heritage of his descendants, not disannulled or superseded by the law given on Mount Sinai.

the promises] Used, as in Romans 9:4, of that group of promises made to the patriarchs, which were regarded by their descendants as their title deeds to the land of Israel and all the privileges of the chosen race. But here with special reference to Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:7-8. At first sight these two promises seem to refer only to the land. But they include far more. The chief blessing promised is contained in the words, “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 be their God.” Comp. Hebrews 11:16. It is interesting to notice how this promise was appropriated by the seed. On the Cross He cried, ‘My God, My God.’ After His resurrection He said, ‘I ascend … to My God, and your God’.

made] Lit. ‘spoken’, as in R.V. They were made orally, not, like the law, written on tables of stone.

He saith not] Rather, ‘it (the promise) saith not’. It does not run, ‘And to thy seeds’, &c. This clause is parenthetical, illustrative of, but not necessary to the argument.

Exception has been taken to the emphasis which St Paul attaches to the use of the singular ‘seed’, on the ground that in the Hebrew the plural ‘seeds’ would not bear the sense which he seems to attribute to it, viz. several lines of descent. The same may be said of our own language, in which ‘seeds’ can only mean grains, or kinds of grain—not lines of human descent. But, without insisting on the fact that in Hellenistic Greek (which St Paul was writing), the plural, no less than the singular, is employed in the sense here required, we may observe that the import of the passage is not dependent on rigid conformity to linguistic usage. The Apostle pauses to point out, that, though the promise was given to Abraham’s seed, yet it was restricted to one line. The descendants of Hagar and Keturah and the posterity of Esau were not included in the covenant. Similarly in Romans 9:7-8, we read, “Neither because they are a seed (i.e. one of the lines of descendants) of Abraham, are they all children, but (so ran the promise), In Isaac shall thy seed be called”, i.e. the title of ‘seed’ par excellence to thee shall be in the line of Isaac.

but as of one] One line of descent, the spiritual seed, who are gathered up into and blessed in their One Head and Representative.

which is Christ] Which is Messiah. The seed to Whom the promise was made is the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the second Adam, Who is at once the Saviour and the Head of the body. It is only as we are in Him, united to Him by living faith, that we are in the bond of the covenant, the true seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise, partakers of the blessing—justification, life, glory.

Galatians 3:16. Ἐῤῥεθησαν, were spoken) a weighty expression.—αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι, the promises) In the plural; the promise frequently repeated [Galatians 3:17-18]: and it was twofold, of things on earth and things in heaven; of the land of Canaan, and of the world, and of all the good things of God, Romans 4:13. But the law was given once for all.—καὶ, and) Genesis 13:15; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8.—λέγει, He says) God.—ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, as of many) as if there was one seed before the law, another under the law.—ὡς ἐφʼ ἑνὸς, as of one) See how Paul draws a conclusion of great weight from the grammatical accident, number; and this is the more wonderful, because זרע is never put in the plural, unless in 1 Samuel 8:15, where it however denotes lands, not seeds. Indeed, in the LXX. Int. the force of the singular number is more apparent. Moreover, Paul has not here determined that seed denotes one single offspring alone, and that seeds, and they alone [i.e. that it is the plural alone, which must], signify a numerous offspring: for seed in the singular very often implies a multitude; but he means to say this, that there is one seed, i.e. one posterity, one family, one race of the sons of Abraham, to all of whom the inheritance falls by promise, [after Moses, as well as before Moses; of the uncircumcision not less than of the circumcision.—V. g.] not to some by promise, to others by the law, Romans 4:16. But you will do well to distinguish between the promise of the blessing and the promise of the inheritance of the world or of the earth; in the former, not in the latter, the appellation, seed, has regard to Christ. For the blessing is accomplished in Abraham, not by or in himself (per se), inasmuch as he died before the Gentiles obtained the blessing, but inasmuch as he has the seed; and it is accomplished in the seed of Abraham, not because that seed is innumerable; for Abraham himself did not bless, but received the blessing; how much less can his posterity bless, who only receive with him the blessing by faith. Therefore the blessing is accomplished in Christ, who is the one Seed most excellent and most desired, who in and by Himself bestows the blessing. But yet, because all the posterity of Abraham are akin to Him [Christ], therefore, the blessing is said to be accomplished in the seed of Abraham in common, but to come to the Gentiles, Galatians 3:14. The promise of the earth, and therefore of the inheritance, was given to Abraham and his seed, i.e. to his numerous posterity, Galatians 3:19; Galatians 3:22, not, however, to Christ, but in relation to Christ [in Christum, “until Christ should come,” Galatians 3:19; “with a view to Christ,” Galatians 3:24, εἰς Χριστὸν, and Galatians 3:17 in Rec. Text].—ὅς ἐστι Χριστὸς, who is Christ) ὅς, who, is not to be restrictedly referred to the expression, to the seed, but to the whole of the foregoing words in this sense: [all of which God says in reference to Christ] that which God says is wholly in reference to [with a view to] Christ.[23] [i.e. to Abraham and his seed belong the promises, or, in other words, the blessing promised in Christ.—V. g.] For Christ upholds all the promises, 2 Corinthians 1:20. In Greek and Latin the gender of the pronoun often corresponds to the substantive that follows. Cic. Ignes quœ (attracted to the gender of sidera, instead of that of ignes) sidera vocatis. [So here ὅς, attracted to the gender of Χριστὸς, instead of , referring to the whole antecedent discourse.]

[23] Beng. seems to take ὃς, who or which, i.e. as the subject of the whole previous discussion, and of all the promises, just mentioned, which God has made, is Christ.—ED.

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. Galatians 3:16The course of thought is as follows. The main point is that the promises to Abraham continue to hold for Christian believers (Galatians 3:17). It might be objected that the law made these promises void. After stating that a human covenant is not invalidated or added to by any one, he would argue from this analogy that a covenant of God is not annulled by the law which came afterwards. But before reaching this point, he must call attention to the fact that the promises were given, not to Abraham only, but to his descendants. Hence it follows that the covenant was not a mere temporary contract, made to last only up to the time of the law. Even a man's covenant remains uncancelled and without additions. Similarly, God's covenant-promises to Abraham remain valid; and this is made certain by the fact that the promises were given not only to Abraham but to his seed; and since the singular, seed, is used, and not seeds, it is evident that Christ is meant.

The promises (αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι)

Comp. Romans 9:4. The promise was given on several occasions.

Were made (ἐρρέθησαν)

Rend. were spoken.

To his seed (τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ)

Emphatic, as making for his conclusion in Galatians 3:17. There can be no disannulling by the law of a promise made not only to Abraham, but to his seed.

Not - to seeds (οὐ - τοῖς σπέρμασιν)

He means that there is significance in the singular form of expression, as pointing to the fact that one descendant (seed) is intended - Christ. With regard to this line of argument it is to be said, 1. The original promise referred to the posterity of Abraham generally, and therefore applies to Christ individually only as representing these: as gathering up into one all who should be incorporated with him. 2. The original word for seed in the O.T., wherever it means progeny, is used in the singular, whether the progeny consists of one or many. In the plural it means grains of seed, as 1 Samuel 8:15. It is evident that Paul's argument at this point betrays traces of his rabbinical education (see Schoettgen, Horae Hebraicae, Vol. I., page 736), and can have no logical force for nineteenth century readers. Even Luther says: "Zum stiche zu schwach."

Of many (ἐπὶ πολλῶν)

Apparently a unique instance of the use of ἐπὶ with the genitive after a verb of speaking. The sense appears in the familiar phrase "to speak upon a subject," many being conceived as the basis on which the speaking rests. Similarly ἐφ' ἑνός of one.

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