The “Promise of the Father” is the Gift of the Spirit, and Paul links it to the Abrahamic covenant in his letters. The promises made to the Patriarch find their fulfillment in the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus of Nazareth. The bestowal of the Spirit on his Assembly marks the commencement of the “Last Days,” the time of fulfillment. Because of his death and resurrection, Gentile believers are full heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant along with believing Jews.
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The Apostle Paul equates the “Promise of the Spirit” with the “blessings of Abraham.” The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the nations, a point he uses when contending for the acceptance of Gentile believers in the Assembly without the rite of circumcision.
All men and women who belong to Jesus become “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” “In Christ,” the old distinctions between “Jew and Gentile” no longer apply. The inclusion of the Gentiles is not an afterthought but was always integral to the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Gift of the Spirit is received from faith - (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:1-14, 3:29):
- “In whom, you also are hearing the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of OUR INHERITANCE, for the redemption of THE ACQUISITION, for his glorious praise” - (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The Spirit is the “earnest,” the “down payment” that guarantees the disciple’s participation in the inheritance. The references in Ephesians to “inheritance” and “acquisition” allude to the territory promised by God to Abraham - “I will give to you and your seed all the land of Canaan for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION” - (Genesis 17:8).
Thus, Paul connects the Gift of the Spirit to the original covenant, including its promise of territory. Likewise, Jesus labeled the Gift of the Spirit the “Promise of the Father,” and before his ascension, he commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit. Thereafter, they would become his “witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth” - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4).
In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the outpouring of the Spirit was in fulfillment of the prophecy in the Book of Joel - “In the last days, God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.”
The presence of the Spirit demonstrated that the “Last Days” were now underway, an era that would continue until the return of Jesus at the end of the age - (Genesis 17:7-10, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:38-39).
The Gift of the Spirit is how men and women receive the “blessings of Abraham.” By the Spirit, men from every nation find themselves blessed with faithful Abraham, heirs of the promises and members of the covenant community - (Genesis 12:3, Acts 3:25, Romans 4:13).
The actualization of the promises began with the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost. Since then, every man and woman who receives the Gift becomes a “child of Abraham,” and therefore, the old boundaries that divided Jew from Gentile are wholly inappropriate in the Body of Christ - (Galatians 3:27-29).
THE NEW COVENANT
The Mosaic Legislation itself anticipated the need for something beyond the Law. The Torah could not complete what God began with Abraham. Inevitably, the nation of Israel disobeyed and violated the Covenant.
However, after chastisement and repentance, the nation would “return to Yahweh and obey His voice,” and He would gather His people from all nations and “circumcise their hearts to love Him” - (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).
The themes of renewal and the circumcision of the heart were taken up centuries later by the prophet Jeremiah. God fully intended to “make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” but not like the one legislated at Mount Sinai. With the outpouring of the Spirit, God began to write His laws on the hearts of His people, and the promised circumcision of the heart was and is being actualized in the Body of Christ - (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13).
The Book of Ezekiel adds the aspect of the Spirit to the promised “New Covenant.” When Yahweh gathered the children of Israel, He would put “a new spirit” in them, and thereby He would “cause them to walk in His statutes.”
Moreover, Ezekiel combines the promises of the Spirit, the circumcised heart, and the New Covenant. Thus, the covenant promises are linked to and dependent on the receipt of the Spirit by the saints - (Ezekiel 36:16-28, 37:25-28, 2 Corinthians 3:1-6).
Consistently, the New Testament applies the promises to Abraham to the Gift of the Spirit that is now granted freely to Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, and the Bible labels it the “Promise of the Father” and the “blessing of Abraham.”
Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Gift of the Holy Spirit has become the identifying mark of the people of God rather than circumcision or physical descent from Abraham. Moreover, the Spirit provides believers with the power to walk in the New Covenant and thereby fulfill the “righteous requirements of the Law.”