All Nations

Part II: Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant

In a contentious conversation with Judean leadership, Jesus makes a bold, offensive claim: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”1

The thing is, though: the Abrahamic stories take place long before the time of Christ. What, then, does Jesus mean by saying Abraham saw his day

Several times in the stories, God promises: through Abraham’s seed—that is, through one of his descendants—2 all nations on earth will be blessed.3 By nature, humans veer off, and wander the rough terrain of life apart from their God, like sheep who have gone astray.4 But through Abraham’s lineage, one will come, bring blessing to all peoples, and carry the wayward sheep back into the fold of their Shepherd. 

With awe and earnest passion, the first Christians declare: Abraham’s descendant, Jesus, fulfills this promise.5 And now, Jesus calls his followers to make disciples of all nations,6 and to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.7 

By his blood, Christ has consummated the Abrahamic covenant; ransomed people for God from every tribe, tongue, people, and ethnos;8 and the ancient prophecy comes to pass: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”9

Part II in our series Where is Jesus in the Pentateuch? 

Previous: I AM: Jesus and the Divine Name

Notes

1. John 8:56 ESV.

2. Here I follow Paul’s exegesis of Genesis 22:18 in Galatians 3, especially v. 16. Paul argues that the promise was to come through a singular seed (or offspring) means it was to come through only one person, namely Christ. 

3. Genesis 22:18; cf. the original covenantal promise in 12:3, and the reaffirmation of a coming blessing to all peoples in 17:4-6; 26:4; 28:14.

4. See Isaiah 53:6; cf. Psalm 119:176; Jeremiah 50:6.

5. Galatians 3:16; cf. e.g., Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:54-55, 72-73; 2:27-32.

6. Matthew 28:18-20.

7. Acts 1:8.

8. Revelation 5:9-10; The word commonly translated into English New Testaments as nation is the Greek word ἔθνος (ethnos), from which comes the English word ethnicity and its cognates. See Strong’s Greek: 1484. ἔθνος (ethnos) — a race, a nation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2021; and Merriam-Webster: Ethnic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2021.

9. Genesis 49:10 NIV; emphasis added.

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