[B-Greek] Rm 9:7a Seed of Abraham or Children of Abraham

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Sat Apr 29 13:06:31 EDT 2006

Oun Kwon wrote:

>On 4/27/06, Iver Larsen <iver at larsen.dk> wrote:
>>The Greek was:
>>GNB has: I am not saying that the promise of God has failed; for not all the people of Israel are the people of God. Nor
>>are all of Abraham's descendants the children of God. God said to Abraham, "It is through Isaac that you will have the
>>descendants I promised you."
>>Paul's concern from the beginning of chapter 9 is that the majority of the Jews had missed out on receiving the blessing
>>promised to Abraham, because that blessing was to come through one particular descendant of Abraham, the Messiah, whom
>>they had rejected. Since the majority of Jews did not see the promise of blessing fulfilled, does that mean that the
>>promise was wrong?
>>No, he says in v. 6, the LOGOS (word/promise) has definitely not "fallen down" (failed to be fulfilled). It may look
>>like failure on the surface, but Paul then goes on to give the reason why it didn't fail. The explanation is marked by
>>First, it did not fail, because not all those who physically belong to Israel (i.e. physical descendants of Jacob)
>>constitute "Israel" in the spiritual sense. This spiritual sense of "Israel" is rendered by GNB as "the people of God".
>>NCV says: "truly God's people". The promise to Abraham like all God's promises had a condition, namely obedience and
>>faith. Only a small group of the physical Israel had the faith that made them belong to the spiritual "Israel". The
>>promise only applies to the spiritual Israel, and they saw it fulfilled.
>>Secondly, it did not fail, because not all are children (OUDE PANTES TEKNA (EISIN)), just because they are seed of
>>Abraham (hOTI EISIN SPERMA ABRAAM). Again, TEKNA is here used in an extended, spiritual sense as the (true, spiritual)
>>children of Abraham, or as they are sometimes called the "children of faith", i.e. those who had faith in Jesus as the
>>Messiah. GNB calls them "children of God". NCV calls them "true children of Abraham". The SPERMA ABRAAM refers to the
>>physical descendants of Abraham in this sentence., i.e. all Jews whether they believed in Jesus or not. The promise only
>>applies to the "spiritual children", and they saw it fulfilled.
>>So, a literal translation could be as you originally suggested: not all (Jews are) children (of God/promise/blessing),
>>(just) because they are Abraham's seed/physical descendants.
>>But a literal translation is hard to understand, unless one realises the contrast between the physical and spiritual
>>senses of Israel, children and seed. The term "son/daughter of Abraham" similarly has a double sense, especially in
>>Luke: Either (1) a person who has faith like Abraham or (2) a person who is physically descended from Abraham. These two
>>groups partially overlap in the sense that some people in group 1 also belong to group 2, but there are also many people
>>in group 1 who do not belong to group 2, and many people in group 2 who do not belong to group 1.
>>Iver Larsen
>Thanks to all, Iver, Harold, and George:
>With the sentence relatively simple still makes my brain swirl. There
>are in the text, contrast between 'Seed' and 'Children' and their
>extended meaning all vying their attention, with different
>understanding of hOTI ('because' vs. 'that') thrown in.
>I think the solution is in appreciating what holds the thematic focus
>(theme) within the context. In v. 7b the quotation <It is through
>Isaac that 'your seed' shall be raised> tells us that 'seed'  (as God
>promised to Abraham) is the one commanding the focus.  Consequently,
>Hays' rendering (though more difficult understanding of the Gk syntax)
><not that all children of Abraham are 'his seed'> appears to be a
>better choice than the other rendering <because they are Abraham's
>seed, all are not children> (which shifts the focus to 'children).

HH: That would be fine except the text does not say that. "Abraham" 
modifies "seed," not "children."

Harold Holmyard

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