Bible Themes
Humanity: Abraham 5075-5078

What the scriptures say about
5075 - Abraham
    Individuals in the Old and New Testaments

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5075 - Abraham - 5076 Life of | 5077 Character of | 5078 Significance of
The OT patriarch born in Ur and called by God to live in Canaan. God promised to make his descendants into a great nation, a promise fulfilled initially in Israel, and subsequently in the Christian church. His trust in God is seen as exemplary by NT writers.

5076 - Abraham, Life of

God called Abraham to live as a nomad in Canaan and promised the land to his descendants, naming him “father of many”, although he had no heir until his old age.

Abraham's ancestors, marriage, and descendants

    The line of descent from Shem to Abraham
        1Ch 1:24-27

    Abraham's marriage to Sarah
        Ge 11:29-30

    Abraham's descendants
        1Ch 1:28-34

Abraham was called to live in Canaan

    His migration from Ur to Canaan
        Ge 11:31-12:5 See also
        Jos 24:2-3; Ac 7:2-4; Heb 11:8-9

    His nomadic way of life in Canaan
        Heb 11:9 See also
        Ge 12:6-10; Ge 13:1-4

    God gives Abraham his new name
        Ge 17:5

The giving of a new name signifies a new relationship to God. “Abram” has the sense of “revered father”, whereas “Abraham” means “father of many people”.
        See also Ge 17:15

    Abraham buys a burial site for Sarah
        Ge 23:3-4

This is his only acquisition of land in Canaan.
        See also Ge 23:17-20; Ge 49:29-32

Abraham's dealings with his nephew, Lot

        Ge 12:4-5 Abraham is accompanied to Canaan by Lot;
        Ge 13:5-12 Abraham and Lot separate;
        Ge 14:8-16 Abraham rescues Lot from five local kings.
        Ge 18:20-33; Ge 19:29 Abraham’s intercession for Sodom saves Lot

Significant encounters in Abraham's life

        Ge 14:18-20; Heb 7:1-10 with Melchizedek
        Ge 18:1-22 with three angels

God's covenant with Abraham

    God makes a covenant with Abraham Ge 15:1-21
        See also Ac 7:5-7

    God gives Abram the name Abraham, as a sign of the covenant
        Ge 17:1-8

    God gives Abraham the gift of circumcision as a sign of the covenant
        Ge 17:9-27 See also Ac 7:8; Ro 4:11

Abraham's family

    Abraham and Sarah were childless Ge 11:30
        See also Ge 15:2-3; Ge 17:17; Ge 18:11-13

    Abraham’s pretence that Sarah is his sister
        Ge 12:10-20; Ge 20:1-18

    The birth of Ishmael Ge 16:1-4,15-16

    The birth of Isaac Ge 21:1-7

    Abraham dismisses Hagar and Ishmael
        Ge 21:8-14

    God tests Abraham over Isaac Ge 22:1-19
        See also Heb 11:17-19; Jas 2:21

    Abraham’s wife Sarah dies
        Ge 23:1-2

    Abraham makes arrangements for a wife for Isaac
        Ge 24:1-9

    Abraham marries Keturah and has children by her
        Ge 25:1-2; 1Ch 1:32

    The death of Abraham
        Ge 25:7-11

The time span of Abraham's life

    Ge 12:4 Abraham leaves Haran at the age of 75.
    Ge 16:3,16 Ishmael is born when Abraham is 86.
    Ge 17:1 Abraham renamed and circumcised at the age of 99.
    Ge 21:5 Isaac born when Abraham is 100.
    Ge 23:1 Sarah dies when Abraham is 137.
    Ge 17:17 Sarah was ten years younger than Abraham.
    Ge 25:7 Abraham dies at the age of 175.

5077 - Abraham, character of
Despite some shortcomings as a husband and father, his obedience, faith, hospitality and effective intercession were exemplary. Such qualities led to his being called “friend of God”.
Abraham, the friend of God

He was blessed by God
   Ge 14:18-19 See also Ge 21:22; Ge 13:4,18

He worshipped God
   Ge 21:33 see also Ge 21:22; Ge 24:1,35

He had faith in God
    Ge 15:6 See also Ro 4:18-22; Heb 6:15

Abraham’s faith is seen in the length of time (25 years) that he waited for the realisation of the promise
Heb 11:8-12, 17-19

He was obedient
   Ge 22:1-19 See also Ge 12:4; Ge 26:5; Jas 2:20-22

He was a prophet and intercessor
    Ge 20:7 See also Ge 18:16-33

As a prophet, God reveals his will to Abraham; as an intercessor, Abraham brings the revelation back to God and pleads for him to change his mind.

He was called the friend of God
    Jas 2:23 See also Ge 15:6; 2Ch 20:7; Isa 41:8

Abraham's weaknesses as head of his household

He was held responsible by God for his family
    Ge 18:19
As the following references show, Abraham did not discharge this responsibility well.

He exploited his wife in a cowardly way
    Ge 12:10-20; Ge 20:1-18

He fathered Ishmael as a result of wavering faith
    Ge 16:1-4

He allowed Sarah to mistreat Hagar
    Ge 16:4-6; Ge 21:9-14

Abraham's strengths as a member of society

He was well-respected outside his household
    Ge 21:22; Ge 23:6

He sought to resolve disputes amicably
    Ge 13:5-12; Ge 21:25-31

His wealth was a source of prestige
    Ge 24:35 See also Ge 13:2; Ge 24:1

He was honoured for his military prowess
    Ge 14:13-21

He was concerned to maintain his independence from the Canaanites
    Ge 14:22-24 See also Ge 23:7-16; Ge 24:1-4

He showed hospitality to strangers
    Ge 18:1-8

5078 - Abraham, significance of
Whereas Jews see Abraham as the father of their nation on account of God’s covenant with him, Christians see Abraham as the father of all who believe in Jesus Christ.
The significance of Abraham for nations other than Israel

Abraham was the father of many nations Ge 17:3-6
    See also Ge 17:20; Ge 25:1-4,12-18
    Muslim Arabs trace their ancestry through Ishmael to Abraham.

Abraham was to be a means of blessing to many nations
    Ge 12:3 See also Ge 18:18; Ge 22:17-18; Ac 3:25

The significance of Abraham for the people of Israel
Israel traces its origins back to God’s call of Abraham
    Ge 12:1-2 See also Jos 24:2-3; Ac 7:2-3; Heb 11:8-10

God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants
    Ne 9:7-8 See also Ge 15:1-21;
    Ge 17:1-8; Ex 6:8; Dt 9:5; Ac 7:4-5

God is subsequently known in Israel as the God of Abraham
    1Ki 18:36 See also Ge 24:26-27; Ge 26:24;
    Ge 31:53; Ps 47:9; Ac 7:32; Ex 3:6

Abraham is seen as the father of the Jewish nation
    Jn 8:39 See also Ps 105:5-6; Isa 41:8;
    Isa 51:1-2; Lk 1:54-55; Jn 8:33; Ac 13:26; Ro 11:1

God deals with Israel on the basis of his covenant with Abraham
    1Ch 16:14-18; Ps 105:7-11 See also Ex 2:23-25;
    2Ki 13:22-23; Ps 105:42-45; Lk 1:68-75

Circumcision was the sign of participation
    in God’s covenant with Abraham
    Ge 17:9-14 See also Lev 12:3; Jn 7:22; Ac 15:1

The significance of Abraham for Christians
Abraham was an ancestor of Jesus Christ Mt 1:1; Lk 3:34

Jesus Christ attacks Jewish confidence in mere physical descent from Abraham
    Mt 3:9-10; Lk 3:8-9 See also Jn 8:33-41

Jesus Christ makes a point of identifying outcasts as children of Abraham
    Lk 19:7-9 See also Lk 13:10-16

God’s promise to Abraham is not inherited by those who obey the law
    Gal 3:15-18 See also Ro 4:13-16; Gal 4:21-31

God’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is Abraham’s seed
    Gal 3:16 See also Ge 12:7; Ge 13:15; Ge 24:7; Gal 3:19,29

Abraham is the father of those who are justified by faith
    Gal 3:6-9 See also Ge 15:6; Ro 4:1-25

Abraham’s obedience to God shows that faith must lead to good works
    Jas 2:20-24

Fellowship with Abraham is a symbol of salvation
Mt 8:11-12 See also Lk 13:28-29; Lk 16:19-26

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