The Heir of Abraham

The introduction to Matthew states that Jesus is the “Son of Abraham.” He is nothing less than the heir of the covenant promises made by the God of Israel to the Patriarch, the “Seed of Abraham.” His identification as the descendant of the Patriarch points to the theme of fulfillment that dominates the Gospel of Matthew. In him, all the promises find their “Yea, and Amen”!

The Book of Genesis traces Abraham’s lineage to Adam, a line that included many righteous men. Yet rather than Adam, the genealogical starting point in Matthew is Abraham, the line that would culminate in the arrival of the Messiah - (Matthew 1:17).

Alpine Flowers - Photo by Seb Zurcher on Unsplash
[Photo by Seb Zurcher on Unsplash]

Not only did the covenant begin with Abraham, but the appearance of his true “Seed” in “Galilee of the Nations” was its climax. Everything that preceded Jesus prepared the way for his appearance. He was the anointed Son who brought the covenant to fruition - “
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He says not, ‘and to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ” – (Galatians 3:16).

God promised to bless the “seed” of Abraham. Nations and kings would come from him, and “all the tribes of the Earth” would be blessed. The covenant always envisioned the redemption of the “nations,” and not just of Israel - (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:4-8).

In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel announced that God would fulfill His covenant promises, especially to Abraham and David - “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give unto him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there shall be no end” - (Luke 1:31-33).

In her song celebrating what God did, Mary invoked the Abrahamic Covenant and linked it to the miraculous child in her womb:

  • (Luke 1:47-55) – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has looked upon the low estate of his handmaid… He has given help to Israel his servant, that he might remember mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, TOWARD ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED FOREVER.”

Jesus fulfilled the promise “to Abraham and his Seed.” Mary’s reference to his “mercy being to generations and generations” echoes the words of the covenant - “Your seed after you throughout their generations.” Yahweh sent His Son as promised. As Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, confirmed:

  • (Luke 1:68-73) – “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he has visited and wrought redemption for his people and raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of HIS SERVANT DAVID, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old… To show mercy towards our fathers and REMEMBER HIS HOLY COVENANT; THE OATH WHICH HE SWORE TO ABRAHAM OUR FATHER.


Descent from Abraham does not qualify anyone for membership in the covenant community. Ishmael was his biological son but did not receive the promise. Likewise, Jacob was accepted by God, but Esau was rejected. Being the true “Son of Abraham” entails much more than any biological relationship.

John the Baptist warned the leaders of Israel NOT to appeal to their biological connection to Abraham for confirmation of their covenant status, as Matthew wrote for our benefit:

  • (Matthew 3:9) – “And they were being baptized in the Jordan River by him, openly confessing their sins. But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Broods of vipers! Who suggested for you to flee from the coming wrath? Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance; and THINK NOT TO SAY WITHIN YOURSELVES, WE HAVE ABRAHAM AS OUR FATHER. I say to you, God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Repentance and submission to the Messiah were mandatory for entering the Kingdom, and in John’s declaration, the term “stones” is metaphorical for the Gentiles that would be brought into the covenant, just as God promised Abraham:

  • (Matthew 8:8-12) – “Now Jesus, hearing, marveled and said to them that were following him: Truly, I say to you, with no one in Israel such faith as this have I found. But I say to you, MANY FROM EAST AND WEST will come and recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens, but the sons of the kingdom will be cast into the darkness outside.
  • (Genesis 13:14-16) – “And Yahweh said to Abram: Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are; NORTHWARD AND SOUTHWARD AND EASTWARD AND WESTWARD; for all the land which you are beholding, I will give to you, and to your seed to times everlasting.

The clause in the first passage, “from east and west,” echoes the command to Abraham to look “north and south, east and west” and see the extent of the Promised Land.

The Greek term translated as “land” can refer to the entire Earth. Not coincidentally, Paul reinterprets the promise so that Abraham is now the “Heir of the World.” The covenant anticipated something larger than the territory of Canaan, or just the biological descendants of the Patriarch – (Romans 4:13).

Like its beginning, the conclusion of Matthew recalls the Covenant of Abraham and the Messianic promises to the House of David:

  • And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on Earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” - (Matthew 28:18-19).

His departing words echo the promise in the Second Psalm to give him the “nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the ends of the Earth.” Likewise, the promise to “bless all the nations” reverberates in his words.

Accordingly, he began to send his disciples as his envoys to announce his Good News and Sovereignty to all men and women. The era of fulfillment arrived in the ministry, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. His glorious message is heralded to the nations whenever the Gospel is proclaimed by his people.

  • His Name is Jesus - (Jesus’ means ‘Yahweh saves.’ In the man from Nazareth, the salvation promised by the God of Israel arrived in all its glory)
  • Salvation for All - (The Good News announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)
  • Son of David - (Jesus is the son of David and heir to the Messianic Throne, the beloved Son of God, and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh)

{Originally published on the Quickening Spirit website}



The Living Word

The Suffering Servant