In Galatians 3:16 Paul offers an odd argument on the face. He claims that the promise of God was to Abraham and his seed. Paul argues that, since seed is in the singular and not seeds, plural, the Scripture refers to Christ and not the Jews in general. The problem is, however, this is the only place in the Bible where the word seeds is used in the plural in reference to man. Everywhere else it is used in the singular to indicate all that would come after a person, whether Abraham, Isaac or Jacob or even David—in every occurrence seed is in the singular, but nearly always refers to all who would come after them as their descendants. Therefore, we must ask: is this a real distinction, or is Paul really being picky, arguing on a technicality that has little, if any, support?
The fact is Paul is being very logical and carries his argument to its ultimate source, which is Christ. The promise is that all nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham and his seed (Genesis 12:3). Certainly it can be shown that the world has been blessed through the Jews, but is this Scripture referring to them directly or subsequently as a result of it referring primarily to Christ? To answer this question, we must ask how many children Abraham had. Ishmael is his son by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Has the world been blessed to a significant degree through Ishmael? After Sarah died Abraham married Keturah, and she bore him several sons. Has the world been blessed to a significant degree through any of them? The obvious answer is “No!” Therefore, the word seed does not refer to all of Abraham’s sons, but refers to fewer or even a single descendent. The path of blessing gets even narrower as we follow Abraham’s descendents. Isaac had two sons, but the blessing went to Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, but this particular blessing went to Judah. Even further on in the genealogies of Abraham the blessing seems to envelop the promise of the Messiah that would come through David. Therefore, Paul’s argument is very logical and is supported by all of the pertinent Scriptures. The promises of blessing which includes salvation came through Abraham and his seed, even Christ, Jesus, our Savior.
Paul goes on to argue that the Law was added 430 years later and could not be construed as a stipulation of the blessing which was promised to Abraham and his seed (Galatians 3:17). This is only logical. Once an agreement has been made, further stipulations cannot be added as requirements to that original agreement. Why was the Law given? The Scriptures show that it was added to preserve the national identity until Christ would come (Galatians 3:19). It was added due to transgressions—sinfulness. If a preservative was not added, the Jews would not have been able to trace their heritage back to Abraham, and through him to Adam. Look at the nations today. How many of them can trace their lineage back as far as the Jews? While everyone has to come from somewhere, what nation is able to trace its heritage back that far? God says in the Scriptures that he raises up kingdoms and tears them down. When the transgressions become too great, he destroys a kingdom, by bringing another against it. The Jews have been preserved through the Law. Through periodic repentance brought usually through the preaching of the prophets, the Jews have been saved from destruction, and their national identity has been preserved throughout the centuries. This is what the Law has done. Paul argues, truly if life could come through law, surely it would have come through the Torah (Galatians 3:21). However, the Law cannot offer life, it curses those who disobey its requirements. It requires our lives, offering only judgment, even death.
When Jesus, who is the promised seed, came the Law had served its purpose (Galatians 3:24-25), and the promised blessing comes through trust or faith in him. Whether Jew or gentile, we are one in Christ. Whether free or slave, we are one in Christ. Whether male or female, we are one in him (Galatians 3:28). The Law would separate Jew and gentile, the freeman and the slave, and the male and female. The Law makes distinctions between each of these, but Jesus does not. His message is to one and all the same: come onto me all you who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28); and all who come unto me, I will not cast out under any circumstance (John 6:37). In Christ there are no distinctions, for the wall of separation have been pulled down in him (Ephesians 2:14).