The Place of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Salvation of Mankind


Chapter 3 (A) - DIGRESSION ON THE WORD HEIR

The Bible uses several related words which are directly involved in the Abrahamic covenant. These are: Heir(s); inheritance; inherit; joint-heirs; fellow-heirs;

An heir is defined as:
"One who is entitled to receive a future endowment of quality from a predecessor; one who is entitled to succeed to a possession of any property or assets by reason of being named in a will or covenant"

It is necessary to make several observations about heirship.

  1. The assets that an heir receives are an entitlement under law. One who inherits property or assets under the terms of a covenant does so because it is a legal requirement. The heir is a rightful future recipient of the property named in the covenant.

  2. An heir is involved in the principle of the exclusiveness and limitations provided in the terms of the covenant. If the covenant names a certain person or persons as heirs, those, and only those, have a legal right and entitlement to the declared assets. All others are excluded.

  3. The parties to the covenant have the privilege to name or refrain from naming those who they wish to obtain the entitlement, property or assets. Once the covenant is ratified, no changes in the entitlement can be entertained. Unless a person is specifically named in the covenant as an heir, that person has no legal rights of inheritance and cannot expect redress under law.

In the case of the Abrahamic covenant, the heirs are specifically named. They are: (1) Abraham himself. (Gen. 15:8). (2) Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:19). (3) Those who have joined in the covenant and are the true seed of Abraham. (Gen. 17:8).

Because of this unspeakable privilege, the heirs of the Abrahamic covenant are described as the heirs of salvation by the writer to the Hebrews. (Heb.l:14).

INHERITANCE

The word inheritance appears frequently in the Bible. It is closely allied to the word heir since an inheritance is the rightful entitlement that comes into possession of the heir.

If a Protestant were asked, "What is the Gospel of salvation", the reply would be, "The forgiveness of sins by the atonement of Jesus Christ". This reply while necessary for Biblical understanding, is not sufficient. The reason that it is not sufficient is that the Apostle Paul states that the Gospel was preached to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Gal 3:8)

If the terms of the Abrahamic covenant are closely examined, it is seen that there is no mention, specifically about the forgiveness of sins. What is specifically mentioned is that Abraham and his seed are destined to inherit the land of Israel for an everlasting possession. The promise concerns real estate. The forgiveness of sins is implied because it is unthinkable that an unforgiven sinner could be rewarded with an eternal inheritance.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God concerns both the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus and also the inheritance of the Holy Land by the seed of Abraham. Let us examine three Scriptures which bear on this point:

  1. When Paul was reiterating, before Agrippa, his experience on the road to Damascus, he quoted the words of Jesus who instructed him as follows: "To open their (the Gentiles') eyes... thai they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26:18)

  2. In writing to the Ephesians, Paul, again, declares both sides of the Gospel message:
    "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Eph. 1:7)

    "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.... " (Eph 1:11)

  3. The same emphasis is contained in the letter to the Colossians:
    "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of
    the inheritance of the saints in light.." (Col 1:12).

    "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins..." (Col. 1:14)

A person can be personally sinless in the eyes of God (for example, new-born babies) and yet destitute of any hope of receiving an eternal inheritance. But one cannot receive the eternal inheritance (promised to the seed of Abraham) without receiving the forgiveness of sins through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Baptism into Christ accomplishes both provisions: The newly-baptized person arises from the water with sins forgiven - a new creature in Christ Jesus. In addition, by being baptized into Christ, the person becomes an adopted seed of Abraham and an heir of the everlasting covenant which entails a promise of an eternal inheritance in the Holy Land covenanted to Abraham and his seed.

INHERIT

The English verb connected with the noun heir is inherit. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." And again, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things..." (Rev. 21:7) The writer to the Hebrews declares, "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Heb. 6:12)

The promise of inheriting is limited to the heirs who are nominated in the covenant. It is an exclusive arrangement with clearly-defined limits.

JOINT-HEIRS and FELLOW-HEIRS

The word, joint-heir appears only once - in Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ..."

The word fellow-heir also appears only once - in Ephesians 3:6, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel."

The Greek word that the KJV translates by the two above words is sugkleronomos. This is composed of two Greek words: (1) sun, which means, "denoting a union by association, companionship or instrumentality. (Strong #4862). The other Greek word is, (2) kleronomos, which means, "an inheritor, a possessor, an heir. (Strong #2818)

Putting these two words together, the meaning is "participant in common, heir together, or heir with". (Strong #4789). In other words, more than one party is involved in the inheritance.

Romans 8:17 leaves no doubt that those called to be saints, the children of God, participate jointly in the inheritance with Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:6 leaves no doubt that Gentiles, who have been baptized into Christ, participate jointly with Abraham and Christ in the covenanted inheritance.

In other words, the beneficiaries of the inheritance promised in the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, consist of Abraham and his seed, namely Jesus Christ, and those who are called to be saints in his name. It is an arrangement divinely ordained to be exclusive and limited in its outworking.

It should be clearly noted that while the Lord Jesus has ascended to heaven and has been given a name which is above every name, nevertheless he remains, to this day, as an heir of the things covenanted - namely his inheritance of the Land of Israel