God Preached the Gospel of Racial Reconciliation to Abraham

In spite of numerous racial tensions in the U.S. in recent months, there are still Christians who choose to remain silent about reconciliation and justice. They continue to remain steadfast in the belief that the gospel of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with rectifying the racial divide.

In fact, a prominent white evangelical celebrity pastor stated on a YouTube video that race is really a non-issue and Christians should simply preach the gospel, because God has determined how many people from different races will make up the elect for whom Jesus came to die.

Although these kinds of remarks are often preached from evangelical pulpits and will arouse a hardy amen from the mouths of some evangelicals, they nevertheless reveal a misunderstanding of God’s promise of cosmological renewal and universal blessing through Abraham.

God Preached the Unity of the Gospel in Genesis to Abraham

Paul continues his argument from Galatians 3:6-7 in 3:8 with comments about the inclusion of the Gentiles within the Abrahamic promise. He asserts that God’s justification of the Gentiles was foreseen in the scripture when the scripture announced the good news in advance to Abraham that “all the nations will be blessed by means of you” (3:8). Don’t miss this point: Paul says that the scripture foresaw and announced in advance the good news that God will justify the “Gentiles” (ethnē) by faith.

God’s plan to save the cosmos through Christ apart from works of law was not novel with Paul’s gospel. God announces this good news to Abraham beforehand in the scripture (Gal 3:22, 27; 4:30; cf. Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-5). Since Paul cites Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-5 in Gal. 3:6, 8, the “scripture” clearly refers to the OT scripture. The gospel always had a universal and a cosmological nature from Gen. 3:15 to 12:1-3. And the gospel has always intended to unify all things and all people through the promised seed from Gen. 3:15 to 12:1-3, 15:1-5, 18:18, 24:7, and 26:4.

God has always desired and designed to make one family on the basis of faith out of a universal and diverse people through a singular seed (Gen. 3:15; 18:18; 24:7; 26:4; cf. Gal. 3:16). Paul’s statement in Gal. 3:8 about God’s promise of the justification of the Gentiles is a conflation of Gen. 12:3; 18:18, and 22:18. His exegesis provides a counter punch to his opponents’ exegesis of the Abrahamic narratives in conflation with their interpretation of the role of works of law in the lives of God’s covenant people.

Gen. 12:3 states that “all the tribes” (phulai) of the earth will be blessed, whereas Paul states all of the “nations” (ethnē) of the earth will be blessed. The specific reason for the difference between the two textual traditions could be coincidental (i.e. Paul used a different Greek version of Genesis from the traditions available to us) or intentional (i.e. Paul could have intentionally switched the words to make his remarks more appropriate to the Gentiles in Galatia, who were being compelled by Jewish teachers to embrace another gospel [Gal. 1:6-7]).

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SOURCE: Reformed African American Network
Dr. Jarvis J. Williams

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