22 July 2022

Promise of the Spirit

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

Waterfalls WV - Photo by Sean Robertson on Unsplash
Paul refers to the “promise of the Spirit,” and he identifies it with the “blessing of Abraham.” Jesus came under the Law’s “curse” to redeem believers, and 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.” - [Photo by Sean Robertson 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 full possession of the promised inheritance by all who exercise faith in Jesus - (Ephesians 1:13-14).


The term “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).

Thus, Paul links the gift of the Spirit to the covenant promises made to Abraham, including the possession of the promised land.

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,” the gift of the Spirit - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:16-21).

Following his resurrection and ascension, the promised gift was granted to God’s covenant community, and the new era of the Spirit began on the “Day of Pentecost” when the Spirit was poured out on the disciples gathered in prayer in Jerusalem.

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.

And the Jews that had accompanied Peter were amazed because the Spirit had been received by uncircumcised Gentiles, “just as on us at the beginning,” a reference to the first outpouring on Pentecost.

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


In his first argument to the Galatians, Paul applied this same logic. Since they had received the Spirit by faith, and while in an uncircumcised state, and thus apart from the “works of the Law,” why were they contemplating adding circumcision and other “works of the Law” to their faith?

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 had given them the Spirit “through the hearing of faith,” not “from the works of the Law,” including circumcision – (Galatians 3:1-10).

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.

Cascade Mountain - Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash
[Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash]

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).


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.”

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).

So, all of us are “sons of God through the faith of Christ Jesus,” both Jews and Gentiles; that is, all 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 – (Galatians 3:26-28).

And if we do truly 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 redemptive plan. They are integral parts of His purposes. The “promise of the Spirit” is part of the “blessing of Abraham” promised for the nations, and those who have received it are the “children of Abraham.”

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