“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Rom 9:6-8
I have been learning a lot lately about the principle of the seed, the foundational principle of Scripture! And this is the principle that Paul is talking about here in Rom 9. So first, some background:
The principle of the seed begins in Gen 1 and continues throughout the Scriptures. There are three seeds spoken of in just the first three chapters of Genesis!
The first seed is the agricultural seed:
“Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Gen 1:11-12
The principle is, God created the seed first, of grass and trees and the different kinds of plants, and planted, or hid it, in the ground. The ground then brought forth the grass and trees and fruit containing seed within itself, so that more grass and trees and fruits will be forever forthcoming.
The second seed is the biological seed:
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” Gen 1:27-28
The biological seed by which the fruitfulness and the multiplication takes place isn’t mentioned, but we know that we also contain seed within ourselves, just as the plants do. And the principle is the same: when a man hides his seed within his wife, his wife brings forth fruit after the kind, or in the image of, her husband. The fruit of the man also contains seed within himself or herself, so that more men and women will be forever forthcoming.
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.”” Gen 4:1
“And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” Gen 5:3
“Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh.” Gen 5:6
The third seed is the spiritual seed:
“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Gen 3:15
This seed, who is her seed, we know, is Messiah! He is the Promised Seed! Note that the serpent also has spiritual seed. Hmmmm …
Now, going back to Paul, he said that not all are children because they are the seed of Abraham, but in Isaac your seed shall be called.
Obviously he is talking about seed here. Abraham had two sons, or two fruits of his body. The firstborn was Ishmael, and he was of the seed of Abraham’s flesh – i.e., he was of the biological seed (type 2) mentioned above. The second born was Isaac, and he was of the seed of the promise, the seed of faith – i.e., he was of the spiritual seed (type 3) mentioned above.
Paul explains this same concept in Galatians:
“Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Gal 3:7
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” Gal 3:16
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic.” Gal 4:22-24
Paul is saying, that those who are children (of Abraham, who are children of God) are those who are born of faith, of the promise, of the Spirit; and not of the flesh.
John says the same:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Joh 1:12-13.
So how does the spiritual Seed work? The same way the agricultural seed and the biological seed works! The natural comes first, then the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46) i.e., the natural is a visual aid, which helps us see how the spiritual works. The natural is in fact the shadow cast by the spiritual (Heb 8:5).
When the Seed, who is Messiah, is hidden within the heart, then the heart brings forth the fruit of the Messiah, which Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). It cannot be any other way, because it is a law that like kind must produce like kind (Luk 6:43-44). The fruit of the Spirit, then, contains the Seed of Messiah within it (Him), so that it can be sown among other hearts, and perhaps implanted in some. It is because the Messiah, who is the Seed, is also the Word of God, that when the sower goes out to sow the seed, it means he is sowing the Word (Mar 4:13-20).
The Father and the Son and the Spirit and the Word and the Seed are all One! They all agree with each other!
Okay, back to Paul. Now there is a very clear law of the firstborn in Torah. It is the firstborn son who is to receive the blessing and birthright and inheritance from the father. Have you ever wondered why it was not Adam’s firstborn son – Cain – who contained the seed from which the Messiah would come, but his second born son – Abel? Abel was replaced by Seth, for Cain killed him. Cain was the son of the flesh, the biological seed, but Abel and Seth were the sons of the spiritual Seed. Abraham’s firstborn son was the son of the flesh – Ishmael – but God called Isaac Abraham’s only son! (Gen 22:2). Isaac was the firstborn son of the spiritual Seed.
Isaac’s firstborn was Esau, but the son of the spiritual Seed was Jacob. Jacob’s firstborn was Reuben, but the son of the spiritual Seed was Judah (and Joseph. Judah and Joseph – the two houses of Israel – appear together throughout Torah and throughout the Prophets for a reason).
God considers His children those who are born of the spiritual Seed – Messiah. These are those who are not born of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of the will of God. So God does not break His own Torah. But the second born of the biological seed received the inheritance, because they were the firstborn of the spiritual Seed. This is why God could call Isaac Abraham’s only son.
And this is why they are not all [spiritual] children who are of the [biological] seed of Abraham, because God’s children are born from His Seed, the spiritual Seed, who is Messiah.
I do NOT believe the Scriptures teach replacement theology; i.e. that believers in Messiah have replaced the Jews in God’s plan. The fact is, many Jews who have not yet seen that Yeshua is Messiah have circumcised hearts toward God! But not all who were born Jewish do. What will happen to the biological seed of Abraham? Stay tuned, Paul is going to explain that!
Let me just recommend Brad Scott’s book, The Principle of the Seed, if you liked this. He is a gifted Hebrew teacher who goes into the roots of everything to explain these principles: www.wildbranch.org/.