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by Dr. John Thomas
This mortified the Jews exceedingly.
They despised Jesus because of his poverty and ignominious death.
A suffering and crucified king was a reproach to the nation in their esteem; and to be put on a level with Gentiles, whom they regarded as "dogs," filled them with indignation and madness against the preachers of such pestilent heresies.
But it was the apostolic mission to withstand their fury with "the testimony of God"; and to establish their preaching by what is written in the law of Moses and the prophets, and by what they had seen and heard, and which was attested by the power of God exhibited in the miracles they performed.
We have, then, arrived at a great truth, namely, that the "one hope of the gospel" preached by the apostles to the Jew first, and afterwards to the Greek, was "the hope of Israel"; that the subject of it was the kingdom of God and Shiloh; and that these were the matters of promise made to the fathers.
It remains for us now to look into this promise so that we may come to understand it well; for its provisions are the things of the kingdom; and to be ignorant of these is to be without understanding, and therefore faithless, of the gospel of Christ.
The apostle Paul, who will be our interpreter, tells us that the promise, which is the subject of the "one hope," was made to "the fathers".
This is a phrase which signifies sometimes the predecessors of the generation of the apostle's time, who were contemporary with the prophets; and at others the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It is in the latter sense the apostle uses the phrase in connection with "the promises"; for speaking of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he says: "These all died in faith not having received the promises"; that is, the things contained in the promise: and after adding "a cloud of witnesses," who lived in after ages, and who illustrated their faith in the promise made to the fathers, he concludes by saying, "These all, having received a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect," by a resurrection from the dead to inherit the kingdom.
They must rise from the dust before they can receive the promise.
They are imperfect now, being in ruins.
But when they are re-fashioned by the Spirit of God, and spring forth glorious, incorruptible, and powerful men, "equal to the Elohim," they will have been "made perfect" and fit for the kingdom of God.
But they are not to be thus perfect until all the believers of the promise are brought in; for all the faithful of all previous ages are to be perfected together.
The study of the promises unconnected with the study of the fathers is impossible.
Those who are ignorant of the biographies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be ignorant of the gospel; for these patriarchs were the depositories of the promises which constitute the gospel-hope; and of them, Abraham is especially designated as him that hath the promises -- to;n e]conta ta;" ejpaggeliva".
It is for this reason that a man must become of Abraham's seed by adoption through Jesus Christ.
Unless a son of Abraham by a like faith and disposition with him, neither Jew nor Gentile can share in Abraham's estate.
It is only Abraham's spiritual family that can divide with him the promises he holds.
God has made him the spiritual father of mankind; and the Lord Jesus, the elder brother of the family.
If, therefore, a man become a brother of Jesus, he at the same time becomes a son of Abraham; for Jesus is Abraham's seed, and was in the loins of Isaac, when Abraham offered his only son, and received him from the dead again, in a figure.
If the reader understand this matter, he will fully comprehend the meaning of the apostle's saying, that believers "are all the children of God (being Abraham's) by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
And if Christ's, then Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".