By: William Finck ©2005
In the first installment of this series, various lexicographers’ explanations of the word “seed”, as it appears at Genesis 3:15 and elsewhere, were discussed. Hopefully it has become manifest to the reader, if it was not already, that the woman’s “seed” of Gen. 3:15 is the entire line of Adam’s descendants through Seth. While not a direct topic of discussion here, a topic difficult to avoid, it may also have become manifest that the serpent’s “seed” is the entire line of descendants through Cain, yet that is a topic which this ministry has discussed at length on many other occasions.
The endeavor here is to demonstrate, that while Thayer and other lexicographers, commentators and theologians use the text found at Galatians 3:16 to support their errant viewpoint, that the “seed” of the woman of Gen. 3:15 portends Yahshua Christ alone, such is not truly what Paul is saying in Galatians. Many Israel Identity pastors, in a quandary because of this situation and several others like it, unfortunately reject Paul rather than take the time to understand what is being said, examining the Greek and reading things carefully and in context. It is easier to jump to false conclusions than to engage in difficult study. Such is why Peter wrote “... even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Pet. 3:15, 16).
At Galatians 3:16 Paul contrasts σπέρματι, the Dative singular of σπέρμα (sperma, 4690), with σπέρμασιν, the Dative plural. These differences cannot be detected with a concordance, such as Strong’s. One needs a Greek text to see the actual forms of each word, and a grammar book to decipher them. Thayer says of σπέρμα: “... properly the seed i.e. the grain or kernel which contains within itself the germ of the future plant ... the singular is used collectively of the grains or kernels sown ... the semen virile .... By metonymy the product of this semen, seed, children, offspring, progeny; family, race, posterity ...” and so it should be evident that the Greek use of σπέρμα, and the New Testament use of the word, is quite the same as the way that zera‘ was used in the Old Testament Hebrew, as discussed in the first pamphlet of this series.
Yet further on in his definition Thayer goes on to state: “By a rabbinical method of interpreting, opposed to the usage of the Hebrew זרע , [zera‘] which signifies the offspring whether consisting of one person or many, Paul lays such stress on the singular number in Gen. xiii. 15; xvii. 8 as to make it denote but one of Abraham’s posterity, and that the Messiah: Gal. iii 16, also 19; and yet, that the way in which Paul presses the singular here is not utterly at variance with the genius of the Jewish-Greek language is evident from ... 4 Macc. xviii. 1, where the plural is used of many descendants ...” And so Thayer, like Vine, “by a rabbinical method of interpreting” twists the writings of Paul to remove all of the promises of Yahweh from Abraham’s “natural descendants”, distorting Paul’s use of the language and calling it “genius”! It shall be shown here that Paul’s use of “seed” in the plural at Gal. 3:16 cannot be equated to the way in which the word was used at 4 Macc. 18:1, or the way the “rabbis” began to use the word, surely in an effort to cause confusion as the rest of their Talmudic writings do. For the moment it shall only be stated that most of Paul’s quotes of the Old Testament are nearly verbatim from the Greek Septuagint, and not from the “rabbis” or the Aramaic Targums. Like the Hebrew, the word “seed” in Septuagint Greek appears in the singular everywhere, but for a few exceptions. First it is plural at 1 Sam 8:15, as it is in the Hebrew. The exceptions are found at Psa. 125 (126):6; Isa. 61:11; Dan. 1:2 and 11:31, all of these harmless to either side of the debate here. (Source: Hatch and Redpath’s Concordance to the Septuagint).
Where Paul wrote at Hebrews 8:6, speaking of Yahshua Christ, “But now He has obtained a more distinguished office, and by so much better a covenant is He a mediator, by which better promises are ordained by law”, or at Hebrews 9:15 “And for this reason He is a mediator of a new covenant, so that from death resulting in redemption of the transgressions against the first covenant, those having been invited would receive the promise of the eternal inheritance”, where Paul calls Yahshua Christ the mediator of the covenant and the promises, he also shows that Christ alone is not the intended recipient of those promises. What mediator is also the sole party to that being mediated?
Now while it is true that Yahshua Christ is the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), this does not separate the children of Israel from the promise of the inheritance (Gal. 3:29), as Thayer and Vine both attempt to do. For “the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring” (Rom. 4:16) of Abraham down through Jacob-Israel. Yet the children of Israel can not be separated from Yahshua Christ (Rom. 8:31-39), and all others are excluded (Matt. 15:24, Rom. 9:4, Heb. 8:8, Rev. 21:12).
To understand the use of “seed” at Galatians 3:16, one must only look to Paul’s other writings concerning the offspring of Abraham, and to Old Testament history. For Paul tells us at Romans 9:6 that not all of the people in Israel are Israelites. Then Paul goes on to compare Jacob and Esau, to quote from Malachi 1:1-2 in that comparison, and then to compare the “vessels of mercy” (Israel) to the “vessels of destruction” (the Canaanite-Edomites), metaphor which Paul must have drawn from Jeremiah, chapters 18 and 19. From history and from Scripture we know that by the time of Christ, the Edomites and other Canaanites in Palestine had been wholly absorbed among the population and into Judaean life and religion, as also described in detail by Josephus, and so the reason for Paul’s discourse in chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Romans. At Galatians 4:21-31, Paul contrasts the children of Isaac with the children of Ishmael, and then explains that the Ishmaelites shall not be eligible for any share of the inheritance. At Galatians 3:14 “the nations” could be only those descended from Jacob (Gen. 35:10-12), as evident in history and in many other places in Scripture.
Before proceeding, the word χριστός (5547, usually “Christ”), which also appears at Gal. 3:16, must be examined since it is surely a component of what is being investigated here. The word χριστός is basically a Greek adjective, meaning “anointed.” Most often in the New Testament the word is applied to Yahshua as an epithet, “the Anointed One”, and so “Yahshua Christ.” Yet often the term applies not to Yahshua, but to the children of Israel collectively, as “the Anointed.” This is perfectly clear in context – although always mishandled by the A.V. – at Rom. 9:1-5; 1 Cor. 1:13; 4:15; 12:12; 2 Cor. 1:21; Phil. 1:21; Col. 1:24, 27; 2:2; and especially at 1 Tim 5:11 and Heb. 11:26. Such an application of the word χριστός is found outside of Paul’s writings at 1 Sam. 2:10, 35; 1 Chr. 16:22; Psa. 2:2; 28:8; 84:9; 89:38; 105:15; 132:17; and 1 John 2:20 and 27.
Here it shall be evident that such application of the word in Paul’s writings – as Paul certainly intended it – illuminates many otherwise difficult passages. The following translations are from my own edition of Paul’s epistles:
Romans 9:1-6: “I speak the truth among the Anointed, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, that grief for me is great, and distress incessant in my heart, for I have prayed that I myself would be accursed from the Anointed for the brethren, my kinsmen in regards to the flesh; those who are Israelites, whose is the position of sons, and the honor, and the covenants, and the legislation, and the service, and the promises; whose are the fathers; and of whom are the Anointed in regards to the flesh, being over all blessed of Yahweh for the ages. Truly. Not, however, that the word of Yahweh has failed; since not all those who are from Israel are those of Israel:”
1 Cor. 1:13: “Have the Anointed been divided? Has Paul been crucified on your behalf? Or have you been immersed in the name of Paul?”
1 Cor. 4:15: “Although you may have had a myriad of tutors among the Anointed, certainly not many fathers; indeed in Christ Yahshua through the good message I have begotten you.”
1 Cor. 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also the Anointed.”
2 Cor. 1:21: “Now He who is establishing us with you in the Anointed and anoints us, is Yahweh:”
Phil. 1:21: “For me to live Anointed and to die is gain.”
Col. 1:24: “Now, I rejoice in these sufferings on your behalf, and I substitute for those deficiencies of the afflictions of the Anointed with my flesh on behalf of the body itself, which is the assembly;”
Col. 1:27: “to whom Yahweh did wish to make known what the riches of the honor of this mystery are among the nations, which is the expectation of honor anointed in you.”
1 Tim. 5:11-12: “But younger widows you must excuse, for when they behave wantonly towards the Anointed, they desire to marry with judgement because they have set aside that former assurance.”
Heb. 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, becoming fullgrown, refused to be called a son of the daughter of Pharaoh, rather preferring to be mistreated with the people of Yahweh than to have the temporary rewards of error, having esteemed the reproach of the Anointed greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, since he had regard for the reward.”
The Anointed, as a group, are the “body of Christ”, which is the children of Israel with Yahshua Christ as their Head, explained by Paul at 1 Cor. 11:3; 12:12-31; Eph. 4:15-16 and elsewhere. Note also Acts 15:17 and James 2:7. And so it may be evident that R. L. Harris, explaining the Hebrew word zera‘, or “seed” in Gen. 3:15, was right in stating that it described the “whole line of descendants as a unit”, as cited in the first pamphlet of this series. Yet the descendants of the serpent, who were in first century Judaea represented by the Edomite Jews, are also a “line of descendants as a unit” down through Cain, Canaan, and Esau, and called “Satan”, the Adversary, among other epithets, often in the New Testament.
A careful study of all of the turmoils of our history clearly reveals the persistent enmity (mutual hatred) between the seed, or offspring, of the woman and the seed, or offspring, of the serpent, which so often manifests itself quite clearly, even to this day. Comparing the Ishmaelites (found in today’s Arab races throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions,) with the Israelites Paul states “But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh had persecuted him according to the spirit, so also now”, and so ever since.
With the understanding of these things, we may now venture to read Galatians 3:16 in context with the rest of the Bible. The following is again from my own edition of Paul’s letters, the words in brackets added only for illustrative purposes here: “Now to Abraham the promises have been spoken [Gen. 15:1-6; 17:1-7], and to his offspring [Isaac, Gen. 21:12 and Heb. 11:9; Jacob, Gen. 35:10-12]. It does not say ‘and to offsprings’, as of many [Esau and the Edomites, Ishmael and the Ishmaelites, the sons of Keturah, all along with Jacob]; but as of one: and to your offspring, which are anointed [Jacob and the Israelites!].”
Now one may point to the verb ἐστιν here, properly the singular “is” (of εἰμί, 1510, “to be”) but here “are”, yet it is easily demonstrable that ἐστιν is often translated “are” when it refers to a collective noun, or a collection of objects, or in similar circumstances. For examples of this, and in the A.V. itself, one need not look any further than Gal. 4:24 and 5:19, though there are many others. [See especially 1 Corinthians 6:15!]
And so the children of Jacob are the heirs of the promise, and not the children of Esau, of Ishmael, nor of anyone else. This is reinforced at Hebrews 6:17: “By which Yahweh is more abundantly desiring to display to the heirs [plural] of the promise the immutability of His will, mediated by an oath”, and at Hebrews 9:15: “And for this reason He is a mediator of a new covenant, so that from death resulting in redemption of the transgressions against the first covenant, those having been invited [plural, and portending Israelites only, i.e. Jer. 31:31-33] would receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Paul knew well that many of the nations of the οἰκουμένη (the “inhabited world”) of his time had descended from the Old Testament Israelites. These included the Romans, most of the Greek tribes, the Phoenicians of Iberia, Kelts, Scythians, Parthians etc. Paul knew well that the Corinthians, being Dorian Greeks, were among those descendants. For this reason he told them “that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all had passed through the sea”, referring to the Exodus at 1 Cor. 10:1.
It is of these Israelite Nations, who had all adopted pagan religions (as the prophets explain again and again) that Paul speaks, and not of any “Jews”, at 1 Cor. 10:14-20: “On which account, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry. As to those who are prudent I speak; you determine that which I say. The cup of eulogy which we bless, is it not fellowship of the blood of Christ? The wheat-bread which we break, is it not fellowship of the body of Christ? Because one loaf, one body, we the many are, for we all partake from the one loaf. Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? What then do I say? That that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or that an idol is anything? Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh. Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons.”
Here Paul affirms the history and the prophets. For “Israel down through the flesh”, Abraham’s “natural descendants” through Jacob, are those same Genesis 17:1-7 and 35:10-12 Nations. For Yahweh did not tell Abraham that He would make many nations his descendants (i.e. “spiritual” seed), but rather that He would make his descendants many nations (i.e. “natural” seed), and Paul knew just who they were!
Theologians, commentators, and lexicographers such as Joseph Thayer and W. E. Vine would tear the promises of the inheritance out of the hands of the heirs (Gal. 3:29), and assign them to the Mediator only, making the promises of Yahweh to be but vanity. Then they inform us that any beast who chooses to call himself a “Christian” may be a partaker, somehow being some sort of “spiritual seed”, a figment of some usurper’s imagination! Oh the shame they should have for themselves! Yet an examination of Scripture fully reveals that it is the work of these so-called “professionals” which is vanity. For it is clear that “Not through the law is the promise to Abraham or to his offspring, that he is to be the heir of the cosmos, but through righteousness of faith. For if they from of the law are heirs, the faith has been voided, and the promise annulled ... Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring ...” (Rom. 4:13-16). And so the lies which Thayer tries to attribute to Paul, even flatteringly calling them “genius”, are refuted again and again by Paul’s own writings. The “seed” of the promised inheritance (Gen. 17) are the same people today as they were 1000, 2000, 3000, and anticipated at the call of Abraham 4000 years ago, the “natural descendants” of Abraham through the chosen line of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12).