Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The True Offspring

Romans 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

8 τοῦτ᾽ ἔστιν, οὐ τὰ τέκνα τῆς σαρκὸς ταῦτα τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα.

Romans 9-11 gives us a lot of insight as to the current nature of "Israel" and how that term relates to God's covenant people today. Does it refer to people who have a genetic tie to Abraham or to those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ?

This verse implies the latter. Who are τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας? Paul uses this chapter to show that although Ishmael was a child of Abraham, he was not part of the promise. The promise was through Isaac. In other words, having a genetic tie to Abraham was not enough.

What about Isaac? Could having a genetic tie to him be enough? Paul goes on to explain that before either one did anything outside the womb he loved Jacob, but hated Esau. To us this may seem arbitrary, but it's part of God's plan for saving His people.

So maybe it's about having a genetic tie to Jacob. In one sense that is true as the twelve tribes come from him, though two are indirect as they come from his beloved son Joseph. But we know from passages such as Numbers 24 that the ruler was to come from Judah. We see that later in 2 Samuel 7 as God makes His covenant with David. 

So does this mean that you need a tie to Judah? To David? To Solomon? To...Josiah? Who are the σπέρμα of Abraham?

The good news is that we have Christ, so we can see how this all works out. True Israel today is not associated simply with being able to trace genes to any of these men. It comes from being a new creation in Christ. To be sure, God is not done with those who have a genetic tie to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But as things stand right now we who are in Christ are part of Israel. Let's enjoy the blessings that come from being added to God's covenant people. We are just as deserving as Jacob was--meaning that we don't deserve it one bit. But we can still rejoice in being chosen by grace.

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