Home > abrahamic covenant > A Twitter Exchange on Galatians 3:16

A Twitter Exchange on Galatians 3:16

Galatians 3:16 is not an easy verse to understand. It has stumped many, many theologians. Paul’s argument, however, is actually very simple. He is making a distinction between the seed in Genesis 13:15 & 17:8 and the seed in Genesis 22:18. And he is, thereby, making a distinction between the promise made to the seed in 13:15 and 17:8 and the promise made to the seed in Genesis 22:18. The promise that in Abraham’s offspring (singular) all nations of the earth shall be blessed (note Gal 3:8) is different from the promise that Abraham’s offspring (plural) will inherit the land of Canaan. To see this argued and explained more fully, please see here.

The following was an exchange with Brad Mason (Heart & Mouth blog). I thought it was useful in showing 1) that the paedobaptist has no coherent, logical explanation for how Paul could possibly be making an argument from the text of Genesis, and 2) that their argument that all Abrahamic promises were only made to Christ contradicts their claim that the Abrahamic promises were made to Abraham’s children, and thus to ours. Note Paul’s logic:

  • P1 The “offspring” in the text under discussion cannot mean both offspring plural and offspring singular (law of contradictionlaw of excluded middle).
  • P2 The text says offspring singular.
  • C Therefore the text does not say offspring plural.

The paedobaptist simply cannot affirm Paul’s syllogism (as we see below).

I did my best to format this to make it readable.


Who was the Abe Cov’t made with? Christ (Gal. 3:19). What was the sign of this Cov’t? Circumcision. Circumcision was the OT sign of Christ.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3h3 hours ago

I’m assuming that’s a typo and you meant Gal 3:16?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 3h3 hours ago

Riffin’ off of 19, “until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made”

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3h3 hours ago

So, just to be clear, you would say that the promise of Gen 17:7-8 was made to Christ, not to Abraham’s children?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 3h3 hours ago

To his children, by means of the Mediator, Christ.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3h3 hours ago

Paul’s argument in v16 rests on mutual exclusivity. Was it made to Abraham’s children (plural) or to Abraham’s child (Christ)?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 3h3 hours ago

To Christ, and through Christ to Abe’s children, or also Paul contradicts himself in Rom 4, or Moses is wrong in Gen. 17.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3h3 hours ago

So the promise says both “and to offsprings” referring to many, and “to your offspring” (singular) referring to Christ?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 3h3 hours ago

Paul’s point is not that the promises were not to Abe’s offspring, or we’d have hundreds of false statements in the Bible, even from Paul…

.. His point is that Christ is the primary recipient of these promises, and that He is the means to all the plural offspring receiving…..

…the promises, and therefore receiving the “sign” of the promises.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3h3 hours ago

What is Paul denying in v16? “It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 3h3 hours ago

Not himself, God, or Moses, that’s for sure.
19h19 hours ago

What is Paul denying in v16? “It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 2h2 hours ago

It seems clear to me that we either have to assume Paul contradicts himself, Moses contradicts himself, or that the point is that Christ …

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 2h2 hours ago

…is and always was the sole means of anyone receiving the promise.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 2h2 hours ago

It seems to me you can’t answer the question. What is Paul denying in v16? “It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 2h2 hours ago

It is obvious he is denying plural; what is not as obvious is what he is intending to mean by this, given that he himself often uses plural.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 2h2 hours ago

Is Paul making an argument from the text of Genesis?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 2h2 hours ago

Gen 13:15 (very next verse identifies the seed as numerous as the stars and sand)

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

What is Paul denying Genesis 13:15 says?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

I don’t think he is. In vs. 8 he quotes Gen. 22:18. I think is welding them to make the point that the plural is and always was via the….

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

…singular, Ot and NT. Ergo, Gentiles are not excluded, which was his point from ch. 2 on.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

What text is Paul referring to when he says
“It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”
?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

Closest would be Gen. 22:18, though cannot be abstracted from the others and he does not specify.

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

How about I go Socratic. Do you think his point was to exclude the plural seeds from the promises expressly given to them?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

Is his point still Gentile inclusion as in tge first half of tge chapter, or has he changed his point?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

Does he call the plural seed sons but under a guardian in the same context because he is attempting to exclude them?

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

What is Paul denying Gen 22:18 says?
“It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

That the promises are not via Israel, such that the Gentiles need to be circumcised to recieve them. The promises, OT and NT, are via Christ

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

The Jews made themselves the door to the Gentiles. That is why Paul wrote the letter.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

You’re not answering the ?. What is Paul denying Gen 22:18, specifically, says?
“It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many,”

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

Is his point still Gentile inclusion as in the first half of the chapter, or has he changed his point?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

Does he call the plural seed sons but under a guardian in the same context because he is attempting to exclude them?

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

You keep jumping 15 steps ahead. Slow down. Let me help:
Paul is denying that “offspring” in Gen 22:18 is a plurality. Agree?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 1h1 hour ago

As I have said, yes.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 1h1 hour ago

So the original text of Gen 22:18 refers to a single descendant. But the text of 13:15 and 17:8 refer to a plurality of descendants. Agree?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 59m59 minutes ago

No. I think all of them are speaking of a plurality via a singular. Can’t separate Gen 22 from 12, 13, 15, and 17, & especially not Rom 4:16

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 54m54 minutes ago

So Paul is not making an argument about what the text of Genesis says?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 52m52 minutes ago

He is making an argument from Gen, taking the collective term as singular, w/out thereby excluding the plural and contradicting himself …

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 52m52 minutes ago

…and the texts from Moses.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 51m51 minutes ago

So when he denies that it is plural, he is not denying that it is plural?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 50m50 minutes ago

He is saying that the collective is summed up in the singular, who is Christ. Or he is contradicting himself and Moses.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 45m45 minutes ago

The collective is summed up in the singular, such that the two are not mutually exclusive? Text is both singular and plural?

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 43m43 minutes ago

It is, and treated as such by both Moses and Paul.

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 17m17 minutes ago

And the original point was that Gal 3:19 says the promise was made to Christ, and the children of Abraham recieved the sign of Christ.

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 16m16 minutes ago

The intricacies of how Paul uses the singular/plural is beside the point, especially since I began the argument by saying that the promise..
17h17 hours ago

…was to Christ. That was a premise of my argument. If that’s where you want to land, we are already there. The difficulty of how Paul ….

…uses a singular collective term to get there is just another discussion. We’re already there!

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 15m15 minutes ago

lol. No brother, it’s the entire point.

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 13m13 minutes ago

You’re not hearing me. I’ve granted from the start that the promise was to Christ. So, start there and make your point. I’m not willing….

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 12m12 minutes ago

…to involve Paul or Moses in contradictions in order to interpret his path to the singular, especially since it has been granted from ….

Brad Mason‏ @AlsoACarpenter 12m12 minutes ago

…the start.
17h17 hours ago

I suppose we could have this same discussion from Rom 4 which uses plural seed throughout and to much the same end.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 4m4 minutes ago

1. Paul’s argument from the grammar of singular vs plural is not “beside the point.” It is very much the point.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 4m4 minutes ago

2. “Or he is contradicting himself and Moses” Your assumptions are severely stunting your analysis.

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 4m4 minutes ago

3. In the original text, Gen 22:18 refers to a single offspring, unlike 13:15 and 17:8 https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/tb/seed_alexander.pdf and https://www.academia.edu/5312741/_Galatians_3_16_What_kind_of_exegete_was_Paul_

Brandon Adams‏ @brandon_adams 3m3 minutes ago

4. Thus Paul is making an argument about the promise to bless all nations (Christ) vs the promise of Canaan (Israel).
5. Israel and the land of Canaan are applied typologically to speak of Abe’s spiritual offspring & heaven.
17h17 hours ago

None of that is in Galatians, nor does Paul conclude that from his arguments, nor is that what he is arguing for. You have imported all …

…of that into the text. Paul is making a specific argument in those chapters, and never says any of that. It is about Jew & Gentile and…

…the place and purpose of the Law, explicitly.

At the very least, you cannot say you understand Paul’s argument if you come to completely different conclusions than does Paul.

32m32 minutes ago

1. Since you have no explanation of Paul’s line of argumentation regarding plural vs singular, you have no leg to stand on brother.

2. This is the only logical and grammatically possible explanation for Paul’s argument that has been offered 

34m34 minutes ago

3. The OT scholars I linked to who make this argument were not importing 1689 Fed. They were just reading the text.

4. All of what I said is in Galatians, and yes Paul does conclude that (see 4:21-31). Thank you for the exchange. It has been useful.

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