Q&A: The Promise of a Seed

The Promise of a Seed

What is the significance of what theologians call the protoevangelion in Genesis 3:15?

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In Genesis 3:15, we find a remarkable promise that God gives to Eve. This is in the context of Adam and Eve having rebelled against God. It's important to understand that neither Adam nor Eve are cursed; the ground is cursed and Satan is cursed. But also in this context, Eve is given a remarkable promise: she is told that her offspring will eventually bring about the downfall of the serpent. Now, this promise actually continues through the rest of Scripture in some remarkable ways. So we begin to see this, for example with Noah, where God rescues one, and of course his family, as the means by which God will then bless the rest of creation. Let's fast forward to Abraham. With Abraham once again we see this pattern where God singles out the one through whom he will bless all the families on earth. This is also the logic between the choice of the nation of Israel, the one nation that will display the glory of God to other nations. Now, in the promises that are given to Abraham we see a promise, of course, of many things, but one of which is descendants. So, we look through the rest of the biblical record, we see the that the promise of descendants begins with a concentration or focus on Isaac. But then it expands rather quickly. By the time we get to the beginning of Exodus, there are many descendants. Then we begin to see something very interpreting that happens. Once we move to the time of Samuel and then David, we begin to see that this promise of descendants crystallizes in one, the promised Son. We see this very clearly in Psalm 2, where God's response to human rebellion is to say that he has installed his Son on Zion. This sets up an understanding for how the Son will eventually point to David's greater son, Jesus Christ. So, we put all of this together we can see in the most remarkable way that what God promised to Eve eventually culminates in Jesus Christ. This is the remarkable conclusion that Paul talks about in Galatians 3, when he specifies that it's not seeds that are talked about but the seed, so that Paul himself understands that what's going on in Genesis 3:15 is ultimately pointing to its greatest fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Answer by Dr. Dana M. Harris