so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14).
Our first encounter of Abraham in Scripture is his call by God from a pagan background. God’s call included a pronouncement of blessings and a covenantal relationship to be later sealed by faith (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-2). Scripture also presents Abraham as a wealthy man “very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” (Genesis 13:1). He had 318 servants he trained militarily (Genesis 14:14). And as if to summarise his wealth, Genesis 24:1 tells us “Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.” Emphasis is mine
Abraham was blessed materially and by the standards of the day he lived in, he was indeed a wealthy man. And this is where it gets interesting. Among some Christian denominations—Pentecostals and Charismatics— The Blessing of Abraham promised the believer in Galatians includes material wealth.
A whole theology of “health and wealth” popularly called prosperity gospel has been built around the life of Abraham and many other passages of Scripture. Some notable Pentecostal preachers have gone lengths to interpret the life of Abraham to suit their theology of health and wealth. When Paul spoke about The Blessing of Abraham, was he speaking of a promise of material prosperity? Has God indeed promised to bless the Christian with material prosperity just as Abraham was blessed in all things?
The Blessing Of Abraham Is Salvific
When God called Abraham, it was to separate a people out of the world for Himself. Abraham was told he will be made a great nation. Out of this great nation will be people who will be called the people of God. Abraham’s call, therefore, was forward-looking. God through Abraham will redeem a people for Himself. Abraham will become the Progenitor for God’s people starting with the Jewish nation and spreading out to other parts of the world: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3c).
Christ The Source of The Blessing
Paul in his discourse with the Galatians says “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8). What Paul says here is what was said in Genesis 12:3. This then clearly tells us The Blessing of Abraham as promised is the blessings of salvation: the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God.
Paul identifies the source of The Blessing of Abraham is Jesus Christ: “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” In Christ Jesus: This blessing is only in Christ. Later on in Galatians, Paul will again point to Jesus Christ as the offspring of Abraham to whom God gave the promise: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring . It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16).
Jesus is the source through whom the nations will be blessed. And what does Christ offer, material wealth? No. What is on offer from Christ is the justification of sinners: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith…” (Galatians 3:8a). And how is this offer given the sinner? Through faith, faith in the finished work of Christ which comes by the hearing of the gospel: “preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham” And how does this faith come? By the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit through the preached word (Romans 10:17). It is the Holy Spirit who applies the work of Christ to our hearts so we are saved: “so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” He regenerates us and gives us new life (John 3:3; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13). The Blessing of Abraham is not material. It is spiritual—salvation.