How can the seed of Genesis 3:15 be both plural and singular? I have demonstrated the nature of plurality and singularity from the Seed Promise itself and from the overall narrative of Genesis 1-4. How can this be?
The answer lies in concomitance. Don’t let this word scare you. It’s simple enough to understand. Concomitance is the idea of two distinct things being so intertwined that they are for all intents and purposes inseparable. The instance where I first read this word was in reference to the LORD’s supper. This book spoke of the concomitance of the body and the blood; of the bread and the cup. Indeed both the body and the blood are a part of the LORD’s supper, so much so that you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have the LORD’s supper with only bread, or with only the cup. They are inseparable yet distinct.
So the seed is both singular and plural. The seed is both Christ and Christ’s people. All throughout scripture you will see that God speaks of Christ and Christ’s people as essentially ONE. They are concomitant with each other. This brings out an important aspect of how God sees things. God sees Christ and Christ’s people as already being joined in a way that they are inseparable. Let me give an example.
In Numbers 23 as Balaam is trying to curse the Israelites so he can collect big money from Balak, God keeps foiling his plans by causing him to speak the deep mysteries of God. Here is what Balaam proclaims:
20 Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. 21 "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, And the shout of a King is among them. 22 God brings them out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox. 23 "For there is no sorcery against Jacob, Nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob And of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’
Here God is revealing that it is impossible for Him to anything but ultimately bless His people. The reason why is that He sees them from His perspective. He sees His people as being completely righteous, even while in the midst of their idolatry. The chastisement which He gave to them for that idolatry was because He intended and continued to intend to fully bless them. God also sees Israel as having a King in their midst. Note that there was no king in Israel at that time and there wouldn’t be for some time. Yet God sees the nation of Israel, completely righteous, and having a King ruling over them as they are a righteous nation. From a prophetic perspective, God is seeing into the future to a time when Israel will inherit the land, will be righteous in God’s sight, and have a righteous King over them. The seed singular, and seed plural, are concomitant. It is Christ and Christ’s people and they are inseparable from a prophetic viewpoint.
Another passage which portrays concomitance uses the word “Israel” to refer to both Christ and Christ’s people. Isaiah 49 cannot be disputed. The versed scholar must concede that the passage is speaking of both Christ as the true Israel, and the nation of Israel in the same context. 49:3 refers to “my servant, O Israel”. The meek and mild servant from back in Isaiah 42 comes into view once again. The two passages are quite similar, but let’s stick with Isaiah 49. This passage describes an individual who will raise up the tribes of Jacob, restore the preserved of Israel, and regather the nation from their dispersion. This individual will also be a light to the Gentiles that His salvation may be to the ends of the earth. Yet later in the chapter we have language that describes the nation of Israel in the midst of Gentile nations as they hold Israel in reverence, honor, and even nigh worship, 49:22-23. The Gentiles are not despised by the nation of Israel, but serve as precious ornaments like a bride has received to wear on her wedding day, 49:18, 21. Here we have language which describes the Messiah of Israel, and the true Israel of the Messiah. It is Christ and Christ’s people, yet the passage is so intricate that it is difficult to see which is which.
The last example will actually be the passage which first demonstrated this truth to me. Let me explain what’s going on in this passage before posting it. Hebrews 2 is explaining how inseparable Christ is from His people. Just before writing the statement “both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one”, he has just referred to Christ in Psalm 8. When we look at that psalm, we see Jesus. After he writes that statement, the writer quotes several OT passages demonstrating how they refer to both Christ and Christ’s people. Here is the passage in Hebrews:
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." 13 And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
The OT scriptures which the writer quotes are Psalm 22:22, Psalm 18:2, and Isaiah 8:18. Each one of these scriptures is written for the intent to show how the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are essentially one. In each one of these passages, we must operate under the assumption that both Christ and Christ’s people are woven into the passage somehow, even if we don’t completely understand. I will give a brief summary of how I see each passage demonstrating the truth of concomitance.
Psalm 22:22 ~ The Anointed One is forsaken by God in the most humiliating way possible. David’s life served as the pattern as his psalms prophesied of the Messiah. His rejection period while being hunted by Saul became prophetic of the rejection of the true Messiah. Psalm 22 serves as the most detailed description of the Messiah’s death with Isaiah 53 being a close second. Yet at the end of this death experience, the Messiah is declaring the name of God in the midst of His brothers, also referred to as the congregation and even the church by the NT author. Later in 22:30-31, David prophesied of “a seed that shall serve Him” and “a people that shall be born”. Remember that the nation of Israel had already been born, but here there is a prophecy of a future people of God, a people that would one day be born. Within that future people, the Messiah would be declaring the name of God to the congregation which is the church. Note: the use of the word “church” in the NT in reference to the “congregation” in the OT demonstrates my dissatisfaction with both dispensationalism and covenant theology. Dispensationalists must concede that God has one people and one covenant plan. Covenantalists must concede that the church was not just in view in the OT, but was in existence. The form of existence was prophetically declared by God. God saw His people as already having Messiah as their King. So to say that the church has assumed the role of Israel is inaccurate. The church was within the nation of Israel all along, and continues in just that fashion.
Psalm 18:2 ~ A truly Messianic psalm, Psalm 18 is the voice of David, yet the voice of the true Messiah as well. Here the voice of the Messiah resonates with the voice of humanity. The Messiah, while being God, must also put His trust in God. He became flesh that He might learn to trust in God just as we must learn to trust in God. It is written here that the Messiah speaks of God as One “in whom I will trust”. The NT author puts it that the Messiah states “I will put my trust in Him”. The point is that the Messiah (the Christ) is not just a supernatural figure, but a human who will bridge the gap between God and humanity by becoming human. The rest of Psalm 18 is so majestic, so God manifest, that the writer to the Hebrews must pull out a slightly overlooked phrase at the very beginning to show that this Messianic figure who wreaks havoc on His enemies is someone who must trust God like the rest of us. Again, it is Christ and Christ’s people that are inseparable.
Isaiah 8:18 ~ Here is a passage that will give dispensationalists fits. The background of Isaiah 8 is Messianic in nature. The earlier prophecy in chapter 7 is that a virgin would give birth to a “God-with-us” persona. Now in chapter 8, the God-with-us language is reinstated. Vs. 14 shows that both houses of Israel (northern kingdom and southern kingdom) would stumble at the LORD. I read the Messianic figure into this passage slightly, but the God-with-us language is plainly there. So when we come to verse 14, I see both houses of Israel rejecting their Messiah. Yet as both Samaritans (northern kingdom) and Jews (southern kingdom) are rejecting their Messiah, there would be a group known as His disciples which would have the law sealed among them. These disciples of the Messiah would wait upon the LORD as He seemingly hides His face from the nation of Israel as a whole. While God is hiding His face from the nation of Israel, and while these disciples have the law sealed among them, we have verse 18 stating, “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.” So these disciples, along with their Messiah, will be performing signs and wonders while the nation of Israel as a whole rejects their Messiah and God hides His face from the nation of Israel. By quoting this verse, the writer to the Hebrews links the Messiah with His disciples as being essentially One. They both perform miracles together. They both testify to the nation of Israel. Later in 9:1-2 it states that the region of Galilee would be the foremost recipients of this light which would come from Messiah and Messiah’s disciples. The NT fulfillment is obvious, see Matthew 4:12-17.
Concomitance. Think about it. The seed singular and the seed plural. It dominates the entire Bible. It has its foundation in Genesis 3:15 in the Seed Promise.
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-The Orange Mailman