The Promised Spirit

The promise of the Spirit is part of the blessing of Abraham promised to the nations and the children of Abraham

Downpour - Photo by Andrey Andreyev on Unsplash
Paul refers to the “
promise of the Spirit,” which he identifies with the “blessing of Abraham.” Jesus came under the Law’s “curse” to redeem believers, so that the “blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” - [Waterfall photo by Andrey Andreyev on Unsplash]

Elsewhere, Paul states that believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased-possession.”

The gift of the Spirit promised by God constitutes the down payment, the guarantee of the coming full possession of the inheritance by all those who exercise faith in Jesus.

THE POSSESSION

  • In whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,--in whom, having also believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's PURCHASED POSSESSION unto the praise of his glory - (Ephesians 1:13-14).

In Ephesians, the term rendered “purchased possession” echoes the original land promise made to Abraham - “And I will give to you and to your seed after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them a God” - (Genesis 17:8).

In this way, Paul links the gift of the Spirit to the covenant promises made to Abraham, including the possession of the land of Canaan.

Jesus himself referred to the Spirit as the “promise of the Father.” Before his ascent to heaven, he commanded his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the “promise of the Father,” namely, the gift of the Spirit that was poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

Thus, the promised gift was granted to the new covenant community, and the new era of the Spirit commenced when the original group of 120 disciples received the Spirit in Jerusalem - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:16-21).

But the promise was not limited to that first group or the events of that day. Instead, it is for “your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” – (Acts 2:39).

Chapter 10 of Acts tells the story of the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles. At the height of his sermon to the household of Cornelius, the Spirit fell on the Gentiles, and they spoke in tongues - (Acts 10:44-48).

The group of Jews that had accompanied Peter to Caesarea was amazed because the Spirit had been given to uncircumcised Gentiles - “just as on us at the beginning” – referring to the first outpouring of the gift on Pentecost.

To his critics, Peter pointed to the gift of the Spirit as the definitive proof that God has accepted believing Gentiles without circumcision. They received the very same gift as the circumcised and Torah-observant Jewish followers of Jesus. Therefore, how could anyone insist that Gentiles must now be circumcised?

GALATIA

In his first argument to the Galatians, Paul applies the same logic as Peter. Since the largely Gentile Galatians received the Spirit by faith, and while in an uncircumcised state, why are they contemplating adding circumcision and other “works of the Law” to their faith? – (Galatians 1:1-4).

Rather than bring them to “completion,” adopting circumcision will obligate believers to keep the entire Mosaic legislation, and inevitably they will fall under its “curse.” But God has given them the Spirit “through the hearing of faith,” and not “from the works of the Law,” including circumcision – (Galatians 3:5-10).

Next, Paul presents an argument from the life of Abraham. The underlying issue at Galatia is circumcision, the rite and “sign of the covenant” originally given to Abraham.

Yet Yahweh declared him righteous by his faith BEFORE the institution of circumcision even existed - (“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness”).
  • Thus, those who are of the same faith as the Patriarch are the “sons of Abraham” apart from the “works of the Law.” And the Abrahamic covenant itself anticipated the inclusion of the Gentiles “from faith” when God declared to Abraham: “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” Therefore, “they that are from faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.”

In contrast, “as many as are from the works of the law are under a curse… cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law.” Fortunately, Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” And this was so that:
  • Upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” – (Galatians 3:10-14).

ABRAHAM’S SEED

And the promises were given to Abraham, and to “his seed, Christ.” Moreover, the “inheritance” is from “promise” and not “from the law,” otherwise, it would be rendered void.

And since the law came after the covenant confirmed by Yahweh Himself, it cannot add to, subtract from, or otherwise “disannul the promise” – (Galatians 3:15-21).

The Law was added to deal with “transgressions,” not to justify anyone or undo the covenant promises, and only “until” the “seed came.” And the time element is pivotal to Paul’s larger argument – the previous administration under the Mosaic legislation was valid UNTIL the arrival of the Messiah.

But now that the “faith” has come in the person of Jesus, the “seed of Abraham,” no longer are “we under the custodian,” that is, the Law – (Galatians 3:22-25).


Rain - Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash
[Rain - Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash]


So, all of us are “sons of God through the faith of Christ Jesus,” both Jews and Gentiles, all those who have been baptized “into Christ.” Therefore, no longer can there be “Jew or Greek, bond or free, male and female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. The old distinctions no longer apply, they have no place in the body of Christ, they are wholly inappropriate – (Galatians 3:26-28).

And if we do belong to him, then we are “Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise,” both Jewish and Gentile believers alike. And that “promise” includes the gift of the Spirit, the “blessing of Abraham.”

Thus, the Church and the gift of the Spirit are not things unforeseen and made necessary by later events, nor are they detours in God’s plan of redemption. Instead, they are integral parts of it planned from the beginning.

The “promise of the Spirit” is part of the “blessings of Abraham” promised to the Patriarch for the nations, and all those who have received the gift have become the “children of Abraham” and heirs to all the covenant promises.



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