Christ Or Family As The “Seed” Of Promise? An Evaluation Of N. T. Wright On Galatians 3:16 -- By: Jason S. Derouchie

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 14:3 (Fall 2010)
Article: Christ Or Family As The “Seed” Of Promise? An Evaluation Of N. T. Wright On Galatians 3:16
Author: Jason S. Derouchie


Christ Or Family As The “Seed” Of Promise? An Evaluation Of N. T. Wright On Galatians 3:16

Jason S. DeRouchie

Jason C. Meyer

Introduction

In Gal 3:16, Paul states that the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his “σπέρματι,” which the apostle then interprets as a reference to “Χριστός.” N. T. Wright translates 3:16 as follows, maintaining that this singular “seed” denotes not the Messiah but the “one family” of God that is represented by the Messiah: “The promises were made ‘to Abraham and to his family’. It doesn’t say ‘his families’, as though referring to several, but indicates one: ‘and to your family’–which means the Messiah.”1 In support of this rendering, he argues,2

If, as would accord with good exegetical practice, we approach the difficult passage about the “seed” in 3.16 in the light of the quite clear reference in 3.29, where (as in 3.15-18) it is found within a discussion of the Abrahamic “inheritance”, we might suggest that the singularity of the “seed” in v. 16 is not the singularity of an individual person contrasted with the plurality of many human beings, but the singularity of one family contrasted with the plurality of families which would result if the Torah were to be regarded the way Paul’s opponents apparently regard it.

This paper seeks to expose the unlikelihood of Wright’s reading of Gal 3:16, both from the internal logic of Paul’s argument in Galatians and from the Old Testament redemptive-historical trajectory that informs that logic. While Wright provides support for his reading, we believe the evidence below both counters Wright’s claims and justifies our interpretation. As will be shown, Wright does not appreciate enough Paul’s proper stress on the coming of Christ as Abraham’s “seed” (v. 16) in order to enable Gentile individuals to be granted the same title (v. 29).

An Evaluation Of Wright In Light Of Paul’s Argument In Galatians 3-43

Wright’s Reading: An Analytical Summary

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