The Son of Abraham

The introduction to the Gospel of Matthew declares that Jesus is the “Son of Abraham,” the descendant destined to fulfill the covenant promises made by God to the Patriarch, Abraham. His identification as the son of Abraham in Matthew stresses the theme of fulfillment. Through Jesus, the promises become reality.

The Book of Genesis traces the Patriarch’s genealogy to the first man, Adam, a line that included many righteous men. Yet rather than Adam, the starting point in Matthew is Abraham, and his lineage culminates in the arrival of the Messiah of Israel - (Matthew 1:17).

River souce - Photo by Daniel Beilinson on Unsplash
[Photo by Daniel Beilinson on Unsplash]

Not only was Abraham important to the history of Israel, not only did the covenant begin with him, but the appearance of the “
Seed of Abraham” in “Galilee of the nations” was its climax. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah who brings the promises of the God of Abraham to fulfillment:

  • (Galatians 3:16) – “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He says not, ‘and to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ.”

God promised to bless Abraham and his “seed.” Nations and kings would come from him, and in him, “all the tribes of the Earth” would be blessed. The inclusion of the Gentiles or “nations” was envisioned from the start of the covenant. It was never limited to the small nation of Israel or the biological descendants of the Great Patriarch - (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:4-8).

In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel announced that God would fulfill His covenant promises - “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son and call his name JESUS. He shall be great and be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give him the throne of his Father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there shall be no end” - (Luke 1:31-33).

Jesus is also called the “Son of David” in the opening passage of Matthew. He is the king destined to reign forever on the Messianic Throne, not only over Israel but also the nations and the “Kings of the Earth” - (Psalm 2:7-9, Revelation 1:4-6).

In her song celebrating what God did, Mary invoked the Covenant of Abraham and linked it to the miraculous child in her womb:

  • (Luke 1:47-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has looked upon the low estate of his handmaid… He has given help to Israel his servant, that he might remember mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, toward Abraham and his seed forever.”

Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the promises “to Abraham and his seed.” The reference of Mary to his “mercy being to generations and generations” echoes the covenant with Abraham - “Your seed after you throughout their generations.”

God sent his Son as promised. He now rules over the nations of the Earth in fulfillment of that promise from the presence of God. As Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist confirmed in Luke’s account:

  • (Luke 1:68-73) – “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he has visited and wrought redemption for his people and raised a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of oldTo show mercy towards our fathers and remember his holy covenant; the oath which he swore to Abraham our father.

NOT BIOLOGICAL DESCENT


Physical descent from Abraham does not qualify anyone for membership in the covenant people of God. Jacob was accepted but God rejected Esau though he was of the Patriarch’s blood. Being a true “Son of Abraham” entails much more than any biological relationship.

Famously, John the Baptist warned the leaders of Israel not to appeal to their descent from Abraham to validate their covenant status, as Matthew informed us:

  • (Matthew 3:9) – “And they were being baptized in the Jordan River by him, openly confessing their sins. But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Broods of vipers! Who suggested for you to flee from the coming wrath? Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. I say to you, God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Repentance and submission to the Messiah are mandatory for entrance into the Kingdom. In John’s declaration, the term “stones” is metaphorical and refers to the Gentiles who would be brought into the covenant as God promised Abraham. Compare the following words of Jesus with those of God to Abraham:

  • (Matthew 8:8-12) – “But the (Roman) centurion said, Lord! I am of no consideration that under my roof you should enter, but only say with a word and healed will be my servant… Now Jesus, hearing, marveled and said to them that were following him: Truly, I say to you, with no one in Israel such faith as this have I found. But I say to you, many from east and west will come and recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens, but the sons of the kingdom will be cast into the darkness outside.
  • (Genesis 13:14-16) – “And Yahweh said to Abram: Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are; northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you are beholding, I will give to you, and to your seed to times everlasting. And I will make your seed as the dust of the Earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the Earth, your seed also may be numbered.

The clause in the first passage, “east and west,” echoes the command to Abraham to look “north and south, east and west” and see the extent of the Promised Land. In both Hebrew and Greek, the term translated as “land” can refer to the “Earth.” The covenant anticipated a territory larger than Palestine and a people more numerous than the biological descendants of Abraham - (Genesis 12:3, 13:14).

Like its beginning, the conclusion of Matthew recalls the covenant with Abraham and the messianic promises to the House of David - “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on Earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” - (Matthew 28:18-19).

His departing command echoed the promise of the Second Psalm to grant him the “nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the ends of the Earth.” The promise to “bless all the nations” through Abraham reverberates in his words. He is the true “Son of Abraham.” Therefore, Jesus has “all authority” in Heaven and on Earth.

Therefore, he sends his disciples as ambassadors to announce his Good News and sovereignty over the Earth. The time of fulfillment arrived in the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and this glorious message is heralded to the nations whenever his Gospel is proclaimed. All this began with the promises of God to the Great Patriarch, Abraham.



RELATED POSTS:
  • His Name is Jesus! - (Jesus’ means ‘Yahweh saves.’ In the man from Nazareth, the salvation promised by the God of Israel arrived in all its glory)
  • Salvation for All! - (The Good News announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)
  • Son of David - (Jesus is the son of David and heir to the Messianic Throne, the beloved Son of God, and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh)


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