Blessing of Abraham
The gift of the Spirit given by Jesus to his disciples is part of God’s covenant promise to bless all nations in Abraham’s seed. After the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John prayed for a man who was “lame from his mother’s womb” as he begged for alms near the Temple. Rather than money, they commanded him to stand up and walk “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” Immediately, he began to walk. Afterward, he was seen and heard “leaping and praising God.”
The incident was observed by many Jews as they entered and exited the Temple, filling them with “wonder and amazement.” This provided Peter with an excellent opportunity to preach the gospel – (Acts 3:1-11).
|[Photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash]
He attributed this healing to the “God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob,” and to faith in the name of Jesus, the “servant of Yahweh,” whom the Father raised from the dead.
FULFILLMENT IN JESUS
- “The things that God foreshowed by all the prophets, that his Messiah should suffer, he thus fulfilled… therefore, men everywhere ought to repent so their sins may be blotted out.”
Jesus is identified as the “Servant” of Yahweh, a reference to the messianic prophecy found in the Book of Isaiah. He is also the promised and greater “prophet like unto Moses.” Moreover, “all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after spoke of these days.”
As in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the theme of fulfillment in Jesus is quite pronounced. The Jews to whom Peter was speaking were the “sons of the prophets” and heirs of the covenant with Abraham, the one in whom “all the families of the earth would be blessed” - (Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Isaiah 42:1, Acts 2:17-38).
Thus, Peter linked the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the consequent outpouring of the Spirit, to the covenant with the Patriarch, especially the promise to “bless” all the nations of the earth in Abraham’s “seed” - (Genesis 12:1-3).
PROMISE OF THE FATHER
- (Acts 3:24-26) – “Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first, God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
Previously, the Gospel of Luke alluded to the same covenant promise. The opening chapters of Acts likewise refer to the “Promise of the Father” and the summons for the disciples to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and the reign of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, “to the uttermost parts of the earth”:
- (Luke 24:44-49) – “All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms concerning me… Thus, it is written, that the Messiah should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
- (Acts 1:4-8) – “He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father… For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence… But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.”
- (Acts 2:39) – “Being, therefore, exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this, which you see and hear… Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call to him.”
Thus, both in his gospel and the Book of Acts, Luke identifies the “Promise of the Father” with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and he links it to the original covenant with Abraham - The promise to “bless all the nations of the earth.”
And so, the bestowal of the Spirit on the church demonstrated that the era of fulfillment had commenced as the result of the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth.
Likewise, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul equates the “promise of the Spirit” with the “blessing of Abraham.” The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the Gentiles. Jesus is the “true seed of Abraham.” All men and women who belong to him are now the “children of Abraham” and “heirs according to promise” - (Galatians 3:13-14, Ephesians 1:13-14).
THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT
The covenant promises find their fulfillment in Jesus, beginning with the gift of the Spirit, the “Promise of the Father” that he now gives to Gentile and Jewish believers alike.
The inclusion of the “Gentiles” is not an afterthought or an ad hoc measure. It was integral to the original covenant from the start. And by granting the Spirit to all men and women who believe, God is now implementing the promised “blessing of Abraham” to the “nations” as the gospel is proclaimed throughout the Earth (the Greek term, ethnos, can be rendered “gentile” or “nation”).
With his resurrection and exaltation, the long-awaited gift of the Spirit has been poured out with all its blessings. The Book of Acts documents the first decades of this process as the disciples took the gospel throughout much of the Roman world under the direction and power of the Spirit.
And the declaration of the good news by the church commenced in the city of Jerusalem, but only after the disciples were “endued with power from on high” when they received the “Promise of the Father.”