The Promised Spirit

The Apostle Paul referred to the “Promise of the Spirit” which he equated with the “Blessing of Abraham.” Jesus subjected himself to the “curse” of the Law 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.” He wrote elsewhere that believers were “sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.”

The Gift of the Spirit is the down payment, the guarantee of the coming full possession of the inheritance by all men and women who respond positively to the “faith of Jesus Christ” - (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Waterfalls UK - Photo by Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media on Unsplash
[Photo by Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media on Unsplash]

The Greek term translated as “
purchased possession” in Ephesians echoes the land promise made to Abraham. God gave the Land of Canaan to him and his “seed” for an “everlasting possession.” Thus, Paul linked the Spirit to the covenant promises, including the possession of Canaan - (Genesis 17:8, Ephesians 1:13-14).

Jesus called the Gift of the Spirit 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,” and it was granted to the Church on the Day of Pentecost when the promised era of the Spirit commenced - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:16-21).

But the Promise was never limited to that first group of believers or the events of the Day of Pentecost. Instead, the Gift was 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 describes the opening of the Gospel to the Gentiles. At the height of Peter’s sermon, the Spirit fell on the Gentiles, and they began to speak in tongues. The Jews who accompanied Peter were amazed since the Spirit fell on uncircumcised Gentiles “just as on us at the beginning,” referring to the earlier outpouring of Pentecost - (Acts 10:44-48).

In response to his critics in Jerusalem, Peter pointed to the Gift of the Spirit as indisputable evidence that God had accepted believing Gentiles into His covenant community without the rite of circumcision. The Gentiles had received the same Gift as the circumcised and Torah-observant Jewish followers of Jesus. So, how could anyone insist that Gentiles must also be circumcised?

GALATIA


In his first argument to the Assembly of Galatia, Paul applied the same logic as Peter. Since the largely Gentile Galatians had received the Spirit “from faith” while yet uncircumcised, why were they contemplating the addition of circumcision and other “works of the Law” to “complete” their faith? – (Galatians 3:1-4).

Rather than “completion,” adopting circumcision would obligate them to keep the entire Mosaic legislation. Inevitably they would fall under its “curse,” yet God gave them the Spirit “through the hearing of faith,” and not “from the works of the Law,” including circumcision.

Next, Paul presented an argument from the life of Abraham. The underlying issue in Galatia was circumcision, the “sign of the covenant” given to Abraham. Nevertheless, Yahweh declared the Patriarch righteous from his faith BEFORE the rite of circumcision was even commanded by God - (“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness”).

In contrast to believing Abraham, “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,” therefore, believers receive the promised Gift of the Spirit through faith, and not from the deeds and rituals required by the Mosaic Law – (Galatians 3:10-14).

According to Paul, the promises were for Abraham and “his seed, Christ,” and the “inheritance” was from “promise,” not “from the Law,” otherwise, it would be voided. Since the Law came after the covenant promises confirmed by God, it could not 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 promises, and only “until” the “Seed came.” The time element is pivotal in Paul’s argument. The previous administration under the Mosaic legislation was in force only UNTIL the arrival of the Messiah. Since the “faith” has arrived in Jesus Christ, the true “Seed of Abraham,” believers were (and remain) no longer “under the custodian,” that is, the Law of Moses – (Galatians 3:22-25).

Rainbow Rain - Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash
[Rainbow Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash]

All believers become “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 are now wholly inappropriate in the Assembly of God – (Galatians 3:26-28).

Thus, the Gift of the Spirit given on Pentecost was not something unforeseen or made necessary by later events. The “Promise of the Spirit” was always an integral part of the “Blessings of Abraham” for the nations, and all men who receive it become the “children of Abraham” and heirs of the covenant promises.

The New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus was never intended to replace the Abrahamic Covenant, but to fulfill it.



RELATED POSTS:
  • The Life-Giving Spirit - (Jesus dispenses the Life-Giving Spirit without which there is no enduring life. His words are spirit, and they are life)
  • One Spirit, One People - (By his death and resurrection, Jesus formed one covenant community - One New Man - based on faith in him – Ephesians 2:11-22)
  • The Spirit Imparts Life - (The Spirit of God imparts life, especially the everlasting life of which the Gift of the Spirit is the First Fruits, foretaste, and guarantee)

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