The Father William Most Collection
Blessing in Abraham
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
There is a problem of the meaning of Genesis 12. 3 .
We could render either: "All families of the earth will invoke blessings on one another through you, i.e., will want to be blessed by God as you are (May you be blessed like Abraham!). Or as passive: "All nations will be blessed in you." The Septuagint version, made by Jews in 3rd century B.C. and St. Paul understand the line to mean that all nations can be blessed by imitating the faith of Abraham.
Of course we should follow the inspired understanding given us by St. Paul. Abraham at age 75 did not retire. God told him to leave his own people and go to a land God would give him. Abraham had faith. Now that word faith as it appears in St. Paul includes three things: belief, confidence, and obedience. We see them all in Abraham. He believed what God told him. He had confidence, and he obeyed (cf. Romans 1. 5 which speaks of the "obedience of faith" i.e., the obedience that faith is.
St. Paul in Galatians and in Romans makes this faith of Abraham pivotal. All can, and must be, children of Abraham not merely by race, which is impossible, but by imitating this faith of Abraham's. If they imitate that faith, then they are really children of Abraham. That is essential, and that suffices. Of course it does not mean that if one has faith he is free to sin as much as he wills, and still will be saved. Not at all. For the word faith, as we have just seen, includes obedience. To say that if one has faith, which includes obedience to God, he can disobey God freely. Abraham did not act that way. Now could we. If we really imitate Abraham in his faith, which includes obedience to God, that is everything, that brings eternal blessing.