The Promised Spirit

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

Paul refers to the “promise of the Spirit” which he identifies as 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.

Elsewhere, the Apostle 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 constitutes the down payment, the guarantee of the coming full possession of the inheritance by all men and women 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 Paul’s letter to the 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 wait in Jerusalem until they received the “promise of the Father,” namely, the gift of the Spirit.

Thus, the promised gift was granted to the new covenant community, beginning on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and the new era of the Spirit commenced - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:16-21).

But the promise is 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 the book 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 began to speak in tongues - (Acts 10:44-48).

The Jews who accompanied Peter were amazed since the Spirit fell on uncircumcised Gentiles - “just as on us at the beginning” – referring to the first outpouring of the gift on Pentecost.

To his critics, Peter points to the gift of the Spirit as the definitive proof that God accepts believing Gentiles without circumcision. They receive the very same gift as the circumcised and Torah-observant Jewish followers of Jesus. Therefore, how can 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 receive 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 obligates believers to keep the entire Mosaic legislation, and inevitably they fall under its “curse.” But God gives 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 is circumcision, the rite and “sign of the covenant” originally given to Abraham. But 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”).

In contrast to believers who receive the Spirit “from faith,” “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 are for Abraham and “his seed, Christ.” Moreover, the “inheritance” is from “promise,” 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,” namely, the Law – (Galatians 3:22-25).

So, all of us are “sons of God through the faith of Christ Jesus,” both Jews and Gentiles. 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).

Thus, the gift of the Spirit is not something unforeseen and made necessary by later events, nor is it a detour in God’s plan. The “promise of the Spirit” is part of the “blessings of Abraham” promised to the Patriarch for the nations, and all men who receive the gift become “children of Abraham” and heirs of the covenant promises.



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