Galatians 3, the Land, and the Abrahamic Covenant: What Was Paul Thinking? (Pt.1)

One of my readers (Justin) wrote to ask me if I might say a few things about this post by former Dispensationalist Grover Gunn.  I don’t have time or inclination to respond to the whole paper, but I shall at least try to address Justin’s specific problem.  Before commenting let me reproduce Justin’s question:

The Question:

“Hello Paul. Thanks indeed for this. I have a question relating to this. I’m sorry the text I’ve copied below is long. Perhaps when you get a chance you might like to write a separate post on it though.

Grover Gunn http://grovergunn.net/andrew/disp10.htm says dispensationalists say the spiritual seed of Abraham (defined in Gal 3) have no claim to the national land promise of the Abrahamic covenant. But he rejects this. He writes:

“Paul’s point is that the Abrahamic promises were made to Abraham and to his seed (verse 16), that the seed of Abraham is Christ (verse 16) and all who are in Christ (verse 29), and that therefore the promise given to Abraham belongs to all who are in Christ (verse 29).

“In his argumentation, Paul specifically quotes from the Old Testament the phrase “and to thy seed,” the “thy” referring to Abraham (Galatians 3:16; see also Romans 4:13). The Greek phrase in Galatians 3:16 translated “and to thy seed” could have come from only two passages in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek: Genesis 13:15-17 and Genesis 17:8.10 And in both of these Old Testament passages, that which is promised to Abraham’s seed is the land promise.

“Beyond this, every time in the book of Genesis where the phrase “to your seed” is used in the context of a divine promise to give something to somebody, the reference is to the Abrahamic land promise. [Gen 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3,4; 28:4,13; 35:12; 48:4]. When Paul was talking about the Old Testament promise that belongs to the Christian, he was referring specifically to the land promise, the one promise that dispensationalists argue that Paul could not have been referring to.”

So Gunn’s point is that the dispensationalist argues that the statement “In thee shall all nations be blessed” (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:8), has reference to the spiritual blessings that are now enjoyed by Christians, ie. that the Christian as a seed of Abraham is related only to the unniversal statement that in Abraham all the nations would be blessed. But he says there is no basis for limiting the Christian application to this part of the promise. He says Paul in Gal 3:16 and 29 relates the language of the land promise to the Christian (which Gunn interprets as the Christian’s spiritual rest and heavenly position).

How do we respond to his claim that the land promise aspect includes Christians and not just the idea that all nations will be blessed?

God bless

Justin”

My Response:

First off, let me say that one should always welcome a good criticism (I think it pointless to bother with bad or sloppy criticism).  Gunn’s claim deserves the attention of even a reluctant dispensationalist!

Let me make a couple of initial observations here:

1. If Gunn’s thesis is right then the apostle has redirected promises made to ethnic Israel to the church.  This does not involve merely an expansion of the land promise, otherwise Gunn would believe that the physical boundaries of the land would be extended.  No, this involves a change.  This change, it could be argued, is only from our perspective not from God’s.  But then, who gave us the perspective?  Thus, the dilemma of a disingenuous God raises its ugly head.

2. Gunn’s argument also assumes that there is no prima facie hermeneutical continuity between the two Testaments.  He thinks taking the land promises to Israel to be land promises to Israel is an interpretative and theological mistake.  Why?  Because the NT, in this case Paul, shows us another way and divulges God’s real intention when He made His covenant promises in the OT.  This opens the Bible up to the sort of criticisms I have pinpointed elsewhere.

Gunn writes: “Paul’s point is that the Abrahamic promises were made to Abraham and to his seed (verse 16), that the seed of Abraham is Christ (verse 16) and all who are in Christ (verse 29), and that therefore the promise given to Abraham belongs to all who are in Christ (verse 29).”

There is no real issue here.  As it stands, nothing in this statement or in Paul’s statements threatens to make the land promise to Israel evaporate into the ether of Reformed typology.  If Gunn had written “all the promises given to Abraham belong to all who are in Christ” (which is what he really meant), he would have stepped over the line into territory out of bounds of Paul’s argument.

But Gunn continues: “In his argumentation, Paul specifically quotes from the Old Testament the phrase “and to thy seed,” the “thy” referring to Abraham (Galatians 3:16; see also Romans 4:13). The Greek phrase in Galatians 3:16 translated “and to thy seed” could have come from only two passages in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek: Genesis 13:15-17 and Genesis 17:8.10

These four words (actually one word in the Hebrew) could only have come from two OT passages quoted from the Septuagint (LXX)?  That is quite an assertion.  Where is the proof?  

Gunn seems pretty certain that Paul is quoting the LXX in Galatians 3:16 and 29, but that is highly debatable.  Where does he get this nugget from?  Not from most of the commentaries I checked.   William Hendriksen locates Paul’s quotation in Gen. 22:18 along with 17:7.  Jeffrey Weima, in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old, (ed. G. K. Beale & D. A. Carson) fails to mention the LXX here and appears to have completely overlooked Gunn’s cast-iron thesis.  Even worse, F. F. Bruce, while citing Gunn’s references alongside several others, explicitly declares that,

“The reference to the land, however, plays no part in the argument of Galatians..” – F. F. Bruce, Commentary on Galatians, NIGNTC, 172.

Timothy McClay, in his The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research warns against assuming that a NT writer employs the LXX simply because of the similarities of language (43).  How much more tentative ought Gunn to have been when speaking about only four commonplace words?  Strangely (or not), McClay does not even hint at Paul’s use of the LXX at Gal. 3:16, although he does refer to Gal. 3:6.  The witnesses could be multiplied.  Gunn’s bold assertion is simply not to be trusted.

But let us take a look at the two passages in question from Genesis:

17:8 “Also I give to you and your descendants [seed] after you the land in
which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting
possession; and I will be their God.”
9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My
covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their
generations.
10 “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and
you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you
shall be circumcised;

I include verse 9 here because whoever the “seed” is here it is very unlikely to be a reference to Christ, since “throughout their [plural] generations” does not fit messianic prediction comfortably.  But also notice the condition for obtaining the land in the passage: circumcision!  This condition has been met, but not by the Church.  Yes, I know that Paul speaks about “the circumcision made without hands” in Col. 2:11, but he is not referring to this OT passage in the Colossians text; nor is he arguing in that place the same thing he is arguing in Galatians 3.  Truthfully, God was not speaking about spiritual circumcision in Gen. 17 (viz. “every male child”).

13:15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your
descendants forever.
16 “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so
that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your
descendants also could be numbered.
17 “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give
it to you.”

It will not have escaped the notice of the discerning reader that verse 16 pretty well makes it impossible that it is a reference to Christ.  It wouldn’t take anybody long to count to one!  Is it then a reference to all Abraham’s spiritual seed “in Christ”?  The specificity of the instructions given to Abraham, plus the mention of “the land of Canaan” (v.12), and the strife over the land with which the chapter is concerned, do not encourage us to imagine that God is not talking about the literal land which He called Abraham to.

I might add this note of clarification from John Sailhamer,

To begin with, it is clear in Galatians 3 that the “seed” of Abraham does not have a collective meaning.  A collective seed would undermine Paul’s entire argument in Galatians 3.  Not only does Paul assert in Galatians 3:16 that “the seed is Christ”, but also he is quite clear in Galatians 3:29 that only those who belong to Christ (Christou) are the seed of Abraham.  The argument cannot be turned around to say that those who are the “seed” of Abraham belong to Christ.  The premise of Paul’s argument is that the “seed” of Abraham is Christ (singular).  On the basis of that understanding, Paul concludes that if the Galatians belong to Christ, they are (plural) descendents of Abraham. – John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch, 442.

It ought to evident to anyone that Gunn’s argument looks dubious to say the least.  He is, as the English say, on a bit of a sticky wicket.  His reasoning appears threadbare.

Gunn continues:

“And in both of these Old Testament passages, that which is promised to Abraham’s seed is the land promise.”

Correct.  The land of Canaan to be specific (Gen. 13:12).  Of course, we know that Gunn sees a deeper meaning to the “land.”  He sees Heaven!  And Heaven is for the Church.  And the Church is “Abraham’s seed.”  Therefore, the Church gets all the blessings entailed in the covenant with Abraham, including the (wink) “land.”  So the reasoning goes.  See:

“Beyond this, every time in the book of Genesis where the phrase “to your seed” is used in the context of a divine promise to give something to somebody, the reference is to the Abrahamic land promise. [Gen 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3,4; 28:4,13; 35:12; 48:4]. When Paul was talking about the Old Testament promise that belongs to the Christian, he was referring specifically to the land promise, the one promise that dispensationalists argue that Paul could not have been referring to.”

What about Genesis 22:17-18?

17 “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your
descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is
on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of
their enemies.
 18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,
because you have obeyed My voice.”

“Every time”?  No it ain’t!  And many scholars, especially OT scholars like Sailhamer, would say that Paul most likely had this text in mind when he wrote Galatians 3.  Further, I could not find one single scholar who agreed with Gunn’s argument.  I have already shown that non-dispensationalist F. F. Bruce flatly denied it!

One last observation about Gunn’s belief that, “When Paul was talking about the Old Testament promise that belongs to the Christian, he was referring specifically to the land promise.”  Apart from the fact that the Apostle was so “specific” that every Biblical scholar I consulted missed his point, I hope you can see that arguing this way about Divine revelation makes God’s Word, and hence His character, equivocal.  According to Gunn’s reading of Paul, when God promised the land of Canaan to Israel (Gen. 13; 15; Psa. 105:8-11), He had in His mind “not-Canaan” and “not-Israel.”

To quote from another part of the original article:

I believe the Jewish inhabitation of Palestine in the Old Testament was a temporary typological symbol and pledge of the ultimate eternal inheritance of the saints. I also believe that the land promise applies to the Christian today in the spiritual rest and heavenly position that is his in Christ Jesus

According to Gunn, this is “progressive revelation.”  Trouble is, it isn’t “progressive” but rather “mercurial revelation.”  Revelation-on-the-ramble.  If Gunn thinks he has good reason to trust a god who naturally equivocates good luck to him.  In the follow-up I shall try to show that there is no reason whatsoever to derail the train so that one can set it running along another track in the opposite direction.

Part Two

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11 comments

  1. Paul, this is completely unrelated to the post, but maybe it fits the theme of late. Tell me how you would relate 1 Corinthians 10:4 to Exodus 17/Numbers 20. E.g. You are teaching on the Exodus passage. How does 1 Cor. influence what you teach, how you speak about the event?

    1. Briefly, the clue is in the activity of the “spiritual Rock.” Paul is not placing any importance on the actual sandstone or whatever which Moses spoke to/struck. The point is that because God was with Israel under the leadership of Moses He produced water at the prescribed time. Thus, Christ is here connected with the glory-cloud (1 Cor. 10:1) that accompanied the wanderers.

      This recalls the interesting teaching of Meredith Kline’s “Images of the Spirit” which sets forth an intriguing case for Adam being created in the image of the glory-manifestation of God (the pre-incarnate Christ).

  2. Greetings Paul

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post. It’s extremely helpful. I knew there must be a satisfactory answer to Gunn for the reasons you state in your opening observations. I’m glad to see what that reasonable answer is! So thanks once again. I’m looking forward to the follow up.

    Can I please ask about the quote from Sailhamer though? He says “the seed [of Abraham] is Christ, but also… that only those who belong to Christ (Christou) are the seed of Abraham.” I imagine he means that we are the seed of Abraham by virtue of us being in Christ who is the seed (singular). Is that right? Also he says “The argument cannot be turned around to say that those who are the ‘seed’ of Abraham belong to Christ.” I imagine he means by this that if we were to say the believer is the seed which belongs to Christ this could mean Christ himself is not the seed but only those who belong to him. Is that also correct?

    1. Essentially you are right. Sailhamer only says it would “considerably weaken Paul’s argument” because, of course, our claim to be called “Abraham’s seed” depends utterly on our being in Christ, whereas the Jewish claim (though the meaning would entail a difference) would not rely on such an outcome.

      1. Good, thanks very much. I was a bit puzzled but I’m grateful for the confirmation that I had interpreted him correctly.

  3. Dear Dr. Reluctant,

    I do not think you have understood Gunn, and it seems you relied too much on commentaries and too little on the Scriptures Gunn cites. I think this made the matter needlessly complicated.

    I think your discussion boils down to what is the simplest meaning of Galatians 3, which reads:

    “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ (v. 16)…

    “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (v. 22)…

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (vv. 28, 29).

    The key is in verse 16: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ (v. 16)…

    This is striking. Paul is quoting Scripture. Paul is quoting a specific Scripture.

    A very easy way to check which Scripture Paul quotes is to search the phrase “and to thy seed” with a Bible search tool such as, studylight.org. This returns six Old Testament passages. All seven promise the land.

    Four passages can be eliminated because they do not refer to Abraham. One passage can be eliminated because it refers to the law. That leaves Genesis 13:15. The whole passage is vv. 14-17. (Gunn notes that “and to thy seed” repeats in v. 17 of LXX.)

    And the LORD said unto Abram (after that Lot was separated from him), “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”

    This is striking. The text does not read “Jacob’s seed.” But the text does note that Abraham’s seed will be “as the dust of the earth.

    Paul exegetes “and to thy Seed” in the specific Scripture he quotes as Christ, and that ONLY those in Christ are “heirs according to the promise.” The New Testament gives the definitive interpretation of the Old; it is no re-interpretation, but the one original that was there all along. Similarly, in his seventh main point, Gunn uses other Old Testament passages to prove that “and to the Seed” must refer to Christ, who rules the land of the earth. For example:

    This Seed Redeemer would be a Seed of Abraham through whom Abraham would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:3). This Seed Redeemer would be a son of David who would have the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession (Psalm 2:8)…

    Historiographically, this fits well with the premillennial view of such as Justin the Martyr (AD 110–165), who said “those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem.” (Trypho LXXXI & LXXX). As Paul says, the promise of the land was given to Christ the Lord, and thus to them who have faith in him.

    1. Dear “Far Talk”,

      You might have noticed that this is the first post with more to come. I assure you I have not misunderstood Gunn’s argument, I simply showed up some of its presumptive weaknesses. Galatians 3:16 is a tough text for every interpreter. As I have yet to complete my response I ask you to exercise some patience till the piece is finished. At which time we can discuss things with more clarity on both sides.

      It does appear, though, that your approach (Gunn’s too) lays itself open to the kinds of difficulties outlined, for example, in this post: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/do-we-need-the-new-testament-to-understand-the-old/ which you might wish to read.

      Blessings,

      Paul H.

  4. “I do not think you have understood Gunn, and it seems you relied too much on commentaries and too little on the Scriptures Gunn cites. I think this made the matter needlessly complicated. ”

    Did you even read what he posted ? You made me wonder about that. I think the burden of proof to claim that Paul is cited from the LXX is on Gun himself. Remember the Genesis was originally written in OT Hebrew. Thus any exegesis would have to involve the OT Hebrew since that is what it was originally written in instead of the LXX which is just a Greek translation of it. It seems you are unaware of how dispensationalist generally view Galations 3. Much of it has suffered gross distorting by many Amillennialist and Postmillennialist and some compromised forms of Premillennialism ( Like that of George Ladd ) . Context dicates the issue is dealing with spiritual blessings as the text involves is about justification. Of which is a universal promise.

    The basic issue is this. All sides agree that ” the seed ” is referring to Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul is dealing specifically with the universal blessing of justification by faith. Paul is refuting those who taught the heresy of Galationism which taught that we are justified by works of the law or partly by faith and partly by law. Paul is teaching a single manner of justification throughout history for Jews and Gentiles. The issue relating to the land is not in view since the context of Galations 3 is soteriological in content. The spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant is shares by all believers . That is the blessing that is specifically universal in nature. That is the spiritual blessing of justification.It was never changed by the addition of the Law of Moses. The core issue relating to the giving of ” the land ” you must consult Gen 12:7 along with the other passages Gunn cited which promises the land to the physical descendants of Abraham. Dispensationalist hold the Abrahamic Covenant includes not only spiritual blessings which is for all believers but also material blessings that is reserved for Israel alone in the land. Gunn on that point I believe misrepresented dispensationalist on that. Dispensationalist affirm it involves spiritual and material blessings. The issue relates to aspects relating to the land with respect to Israel. Dispensationalist do agree that one must have faith in Jesus to receive the spiritual and land promises. Only a believing Israel will inherit the land aspect of the promise and not unbelieving ones. But Amillennialism and Postmillennialism fails when it wants to cancel out or change the giving of the land in to a heavenly promise. While it is true of a heavenly promise but there is a land promise which was given to Israel which will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom. The fallacy of Gunn and others is that they like to equate the land promises and that of the heavenly promises. It is not a this or that when in reality both things are true.

    From what I see is that people such as Gunn attempt to transform the land promises in to a spiritual promise of heaven that is fulfilled presently in the church all in a feable attempt to deny premillennialism. Basically Gunn reinterpretes Scripture. The problem lies in what Gunn claimed and not what Paul Henebury wrote in his comments in this article. The arguments presented by Gunn is not consistant with premillennialism at all. Your partial quote of Justin Martyr is proof of an inconsistant premillennialism which concedes so much that most like this later on usually reject premillennialism and come either Amillennial or Postmillennial. Gunn evidently does not know what context really is.

    1. Mr. Cruz,

      You seemed to be replying to my post but then went off on several tangents, none of which addressed what I said. Please read my post above.

      A re-cap:

      “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps 24:1).

      A simple reading of Scripture proves that Paul in Gal 3 is quoting a precise passage of the Old Testament (in the Masoretic text!). Because Paul’s wording is so very precise, that passage in Scripture can only be Gen 13:14-17. (See my post above.) That passage talks about the land. Paul, in inerrant, infallible, divinely inspired Scripture, clearly states that the land is promised to Christ, and by faith in Him, we are heirs to it, too.

      If it might make it easier, remember that in Hebrew, the word for land and earth is the same.

      The topic of Gal 3 is Judaizers, not “Galatianism”; by making faith in Jesus Christ the requirement of inheritance (not the law!), Paul specifically rules out any Jew who is not a believer.

      The problem I see in your post, Mr. Cruz, is that you are spiritualizing Gal 3 rather than taking it literally. In fact, I count seven times throughout your post where you do precisely that.

      Jesus Christ is ruler of the earth. Jesus Christ shall literally rule for a thousand years in the Millennium, and in the new heaven and earth for ever and ever. This is both a spiritual and a literal promise.

      Believe in Him!

      Literally.

  5. “You seemed to be replying to my post but then went off on several tangents, none of which addressed what I said. Please read my post above. ”

    They were dealt with. The problem is really of your faulty reading of Galations 3. I had a good laugh at reading your reply to me and shall deal with it.

    “A re-cap:“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps 24:1). ”

    It teaches the universal owenership of the earth by the Lord. It still does not prove your point. You are using that to contradict passages which relate to a specific aspect within that relating to the land of Israel in Palestine which specified borders are stated as to where they will live and inherit. You are using that fact in Ps 24:1 in order to deny a specific land on the earth for Israel in a Kingdom. Very bad reading of Scripture there you have. Evidently you missed the specific land specifications for Israel in Gen 15:18-21. That specific land will be given to the nation of Israel in the millennial Kingdom. Hope you would agree with that.

    “A simple reading of Scripture proves that Paul in Gal 3 is quoting a precise passage of the Old Testament (in the Masoretic text!). Because Paul’s wording is so very precise, that passage in Scripture can only be Gen 13:14-17. (See my post above.) That passage talks about the land. Paul, in inerrant, infallible, divinely inspired Scripture, clearly states that the land is promised to Christ, and by faith in Him, we are heirs to it, too.”

    The context of Galations has nothing of Ps 24:1 at all of which I dont see any direct connection of what that has to do with the specific points of what is in Galations 3 at all. While The context is of the Abrahamic Covenant of which the passaged you cited is part of but is not what exactly is cited in Galations 3. The Apostle Paul to be exact is citing Gen 22:18 in his discussion in Gal. 3:16. In context all the promises belong to Jesus Christ. I did not disagree with that at all. The topic of Paul is the issue of justification strictly speaking as relating to the Abrahamic Covenant. It is the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant that belong to Jesus. It includes the spiritual and land blessings . But the context is of the spiritual blessing of justification. You are overlooking this. All believers are heirs to the promise of justification by faith. The land of Palestine is not in view. Of which you have begged the real question. You are equating the land of Palestine itself and that of the entire earth. I see the point of error that you have.

    “If it might make it easier, remember that in Hebrew, the word for land and earth is the same.”

    No one disagrees that land is on the earth. The point of issue relatings to the land of Palestine as specific for Israel in Gen 15:18-21 which is a specific location on the earth for Israel. Your position basically equates Palestine for the entire earth.

    “The topic of Gal 3 is Judaizers, not “Galatianism”; by making faith in Jesus Christ the requirement of inheritance (not the law!), Paul specifically rules out any Jew who is not a believer.”

    I considered the Judaizers as teaching the heresy of Galationism. We agree that the inheritance is grace through faith in Jesus. No one disagrees with an unbelieving Jew will inherit any of promise of the Abrahamic Covenant and thus making your point of ” Paul specifically rules out any Jew who is not a believer” as if anyone disagrees with that when leading dispensationalist do not. After all, in dispensational theology is it believers will enter the theocratic kingdom at the return of Jesus Christ to reign on the earth.

    “The problem I see in your post, Mr. Cruz, is that you are spiritualizing Gal 3 rather than taking it literally. In fact, I count seven times throughout your post where you do precisely that.”

    I took it literally. I see zero proof of me taking anything of it in a ” spiritualizing manner in Galations 3 in the claimed 7 or so times you said I did. Each thing I stated is found in Galations 3. The context is justification by faith as the universal blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant which Paul makes mention of as the basis of his refutation of the so called Judaizers. There is nothing within the context of Galations 3 of which teaches that the land of Palestine is to be inherited by all believers throughout history. The land of Palestine is specifically defined as a land within the earth reserved for Israel as a nation and Kingdom. Nor is there anything there which teaches the equating of Palestine and the entire earth as one and the same thing. Remember the land of Palestine is not the entire earth and is a location within it. Not unless you wish to take away Gen 15:18-21 from Scripture which has the specific land location for Palestine on the earth. Do you wish to context that Gen 15:18-21 is the entire earth ? Take it literally. 🙂

    “Jesus Christ is ruler of the earth. Jesus Christ shall literally rule for a thousand years in the Millennium, and in the new heaven and earth for ever and ever. This is both a spiritual and a literal promise.”

    It must be remembered that Jesus reign on the earth has not started yet but shall start after the great tribulation as Matthew 25:31-34; Rev. 5:10; 20:4-6 which respect to the start of His reign on the earth. I do agree the millennial kingdom will be merged with the eternal state.

    “Believe in Him! Literally. ”

    I already do.

    1. Mr. Cruz,

      You still have not read my first post, and so you are talking about things I did not say.

      But to repeat, I am only taking up the key issue of Gal 3. We probably agree more than we disagree on the other matters.

      Gunn brought up an interesting comment about Gal 3:16, that Dr, Reluctant misunderstood. Paul quotes a specific, precise passage of Scripture, “And to thy Seed,” specifically noting that that refers to One and only One, Jesus Christ. That passage is Gen 13:14-17.

      You say Paul quotes Gen 22:18: literally, “through thy seed”, which misses the “and” that Paul was careful to insert, and replaces “to” with “through.” This is not what Paul says!

      And for this to be true, then either Paul was inept and Scripture is not inspired, or Scripture contradicts itself and is not inerrant.

      Gal 3:16 reads: Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, “And to seeds”, as of many; but as of one, “And to thy Seed”, which is Christ.

      We should avoid changing the simple, clear meaning of the quotation to a general, spiritualized allusion and pitting the literal meaning against it. This is what Gunn is good to complain about.

      Furthermore, Paul’s interpretation of Gen 13:14-17 is easy to understand when one reads it simply and carefully. The passage itself describes land in the broadest terms possible, in terms of all four compass points, of everything that Abraham could see, everything he could traverse. Then it speaks of his descendants in the broadest terms possible “as dust of the earth” in number (clearly more than just the descendant’s of his grandson Jacob). Paul had the best hermeneutical training possible under his famous tutor Gamaliel, and I think even a basic reading of the passage he quotes supports his interpretation.

      The following has less to do with Gal 3, and more to do with the general topic.

      I disagree with Gunn’s statement: “I believe the Jewish inhabitation of Palestine in the Old Testament was a temporary typological symbol…” I think that Scripture elsewhere is clear that the Biblical nation of all Israel shall be reunited in a literal 1000-year Millennium in the expanded promised land as you, Mr. Cruz, say. How else can Eze 37 and Rev 7 be interpreted? Gunn makes a serious error in this regard.

      At least Gunn concedes:

      …Palestinian fulfillment should be conditioned on the physical Jews’ being converted in mass to Christianity and being regrafted into spiritual Israel. Nowhere does the Bible promise blessings and return from judgmental exile to God’s covenant people when they are still living in rebellion. The blessing of return to the land from exile is always conditioned on repentance and spiritual revival.

      I don’t think Dispensationalism denies that. That said, I think Gunn does a good job in his seventh main point of describing the Christian’s role during the Millennium, although I infer he is postmill. We will be there. It will be a 1000 literal years.

      I find most amills and post mills I have met in person to be intellectual believers, which is to say, not believers at all. Thus, the best eschatology will still be found in Dispensationalism, despite the many problems in its many varieties (some of which are cultic).

      Believe in Him!

      (Yes I know you do, Mr. Cruz. This is just a general attaboy.)

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