“Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)
It is commonly thought that Abraham’s seed here is Christ. I do not believe the context will allow that. The promises were made to Abraham’s seed. The promises were not made to Christ, but about Christ. Failing to recognize the metonymy “which is Christ” has led to this false conclusion. Again, in verse 19, it says “till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made.” Again, verse 22 says the promise was to them that believe. Then verse 29 concludes by saying “if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Abraham’s seed all through verses 16-29 are those who are Christ’s.
If the verse had not said “which is Christ” all would have easily seen this.
When verse 16 says, “He saith not, to seeds, as of many, but as of one” it has reference to the seed coming through Isaac and not Ishmael. See Genesis 17: 18-21.
It also shows that there is one seed, i.e., one people of God. Seed produces after its kind. The one seed cannot produce many kinds of religious bodies. This is a death blow to denominationalism.
Now let us consider the trouble spot “which is Christ.” As mentioned earlier, this a Metonymy. Acts 15:21 says: “For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath.” Just as Moses was put for being read, Christ is put for His people – Abraham’s seed. A statement is to be taken literally unless there is something that makes a literal meaning make no sense. They could not read Moses; thus, we know that statement is not to be taken literally, but by metonymy means what he wrote. Just so, the promise to Abraham’s seed cannot refer to Christ. The promise was not made to Christ, but to Abraham’s descendants in Christ. Thus, by metonymy “Christ” in this passage is put for those who are His. How do we know that? Because the promise was not made to Christ, but to Abraham’s seed in Christ.
Verse one says the promises were made to Abraham’s seed. Verse 29 says those who are Christ’s are Abraham’s seed. That should settle who Abraham’s seed in this passage is. The promises were made to Abraham’s seed and those in Christ are Abraham’s seed.