To count as, consider as, regard as, to deem as, to judge as.
Bringing Abraham into the discussion like this, shows that even the Judaizers didn’t understand their own Old Testament means of salvation. They didn’t consider the fact that Abraham was without the law, yet in a right relationship with God. They didn’t consider that Abraham was to serve as our example as the means of justification. Salvation has always been through a sincere faith in God. Obedience to the law was merely the evidence of faith, not a means of salvation. It’s no different today. True saving faith is always characterized by obedience. Faithfulness is not the means of salvation, it’s the evidence of it.
“7 Know therefore that those who are of faith, are sons of Abraham.”
Here Paul introduces an all-important subject, which is what Paul calls a mystery:
“3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.
4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,” ESV (Eph 3:3-9) (bold mine)
“26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.
27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” ESV (Col 1:26,27) (bold mine)
“2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” ESV (Col 2:2,3) (bold mine)
Everyone who shares the same faith as Abraham, are “sons of Abraham.” In other words, it’s not the Jews of of the flesh (the descendants of Abraham) that are true Israel, it’s those who share the same faith of Abraham, both Jew and Gentile. That’s the mystery of God. The mystery is that the Gentiles are now one with believing Jews, who combine to make up true Israel, the Church (“Christ in you”). More to the point, the mystery is Christ Himself (Col 2:2). All the promises to Israel are fulfilled in Him. Thus “everyone” who is of the faith of Abraham, are “fellow-heirs” with believing Jews.
Paul says later in this chapter that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) Thus, the true people of God are not the nation of Israel, but everyone who are in Christ, who combine to make up the Church, who is true Israel. As Paul says above, God no longer makes a distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile), but only between those who are in Christ and those who aren’t.
The idea that God has one plan for the nation of Israel, and a separate plan for The Church, is completely inconsistent with what the New Testament teaches about Christ being the fulfillment of all promises to Israel. I’m getting ahead of myself, but consider what Paul says in verse 16:
“Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘and to your seed,’ which is Christ.” (Gal 3:16)
All the promises were to Abraham and to his seed, that is, to Christ….not to ethnic Israel. All the promises to Israel are fulfilled in Christ. Furthermore, all those, and only those, who are in Christ, are regarded as Abraham’s seed:
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)
It’s simply a mistake to believe that the Bible teaches that God has a separate plan for the nation of Israel, and another for the Church. God’s plan all along has been to fulfill all His promises to Israel in His Son. Thus, the Church, of whom Christ is Head, doesn’t replace Israel, it is Israel. I don’t know how Paul could have made it any clearer.
Those who believe that God has a plan for the nation of Israel, apart from the Church, do so because they make the serious error of interpreting the New Testament according to the Old Testament. That’s a backwards way of trying to interpret the Bible. In order to properly understand the OT, we must first have a proper understanding of the NT. Once we have a solid understanding of the NT, then, and only then, are we able to correctly interpret the OT. We make a mess of things when we try to interpret the NT according to the OT. The key is to focus completely on Christ.
Before you go any further, please read what Paul says about this in Ephesians 2:11-22, as it’s a key passage regarding this subject. I also encourage you to read my commentary on those verses. Here is a link to that discussion:
Commentary on Ephesians, 2:11-22
“8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you all the nations will be blessed.’
9 So then, they who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
“And the Scripture, foreseeing…”
We’re to interpret the Old Testament promises and prophesies regarding Israel with Christ and the Church in view, because that’s what God Himself did. When the gospel was preached to Abraham, it was with the Gentiles in view. All people of all nations have their blessing through Christ, through faith in Him. We who “are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” Whatever blessings were promised to Abraham, were promised to us, who share his faith in Christ. The reason for that is because those who are of faith in Christ, are the true offspring (seed) of Abraham. It’s not the nation of Israel who is the offspring of Abraham, but those who share his faith.