Hebrews 11:17 Question

Kaatje

Well-Known Member
Question: "How many sons did Abraham have?"

Answer:
All total, Abraham had eight sons.

Abraham’s first son was Ishmael through Hagar, his wife’s Egyptian maid (Genesis 16:1–4).

Abraham’s second son was Isaac through Sarah, his wife (Genesis 21:1–3). Isaac was the son God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15:4–5).

After Sarah died, Abraham had six sons through Keturah, another concubine: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Genesis 25:1, 6). Keturah’s sons became the fathers of Arabian tribes living east of Israel.

Some people claim that the Bible makes an error in regards to the number of Abraham’s sons. In Genesis 22:2, God speaks to Abraham after the birth of Ishmael, referring to Isaac as “your son, your only son, whom you love.” Then Hebrews 11:17identifies Isaac as Abraham’s “one and only son.” And Galatians 4:22 mentions only Isaac and Ishmael: “It is written that Abraham had two sons.” How could Abraham be said to have an “only son” and “two sons,” when in reality he had eight sons?

There is no true contradiction in the above passages. Isaac was the only son who was promised to Abraham and through whom Abraham would become the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:1–8; 21:12). Also, Isaac was the only son of Sarah and Abraham—Sarah being specifically mentioned in the prophecies of Genesis 17:16–21and 18:10. In addition, Isaac is the only son born in an official marriage: Hagar and Keturah were both concubines. While God blessed the concubines’ sons for Abraham’s sake, those sons had no part in the inheritance. Isaac was the one and only rightful heir to the promise (Genesis 15:4–5; 25:5).

Genesis 22:2 and Hebrews 11:17 both refer to Isaac as Abraham’s “only son” because those passages concern God’s promise and covenant. Since Abraham’s other seven sons are not part of the covenant, they are irrelevant to the issue and not mentioned as sons. Abraham had other sons, but only one son of promise.

The main theme in Galatians is justification by faith, apart from the Law. Galatians 4:22 mentions only two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, in an allegory to highlight the contrast between the old covenant of law and the new covenant of grace. The former leads to bondage while the latter to freedom and life. Paul’s reasoning is as follows: Ishmael was the son of Hagar, a slave, and thus symbolizes bondage and slavery to the Law. Ishmael was the product of a human effort to bring about God’s blessing; Ishmael equals the works of the Law. Isaac was born to the free woman, Sarah, and thus symbolizes freedom and life. Isaac was born in God’s time, according to God’s promise, without the scheming or interference of man; Isaac equals the gift of grace. This passage in Galatians 4 is meant to teach a spiritual lesson (verse 24), not to give a detailed account of Abraham’s life and how many actual sons he had. Mentioning the other six sons would not have served any meaningful purpose in Paul’s allegory.

Spiritually speaking, Abraham has many, many sons. The Bible points to the faith of Abraham (Genesis 15:6) and states that “those who have faith are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7; cf. verse 9). Those who exercise the same faith that Abraham had are showing themselves to be like him, spiritually, and so can be rightly called his “children.” All who trust in Christ, as Zacchaeus did, become true sons of Abraham (Luke 19:9). “The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring . . . to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16).

https://www.gotquestions.org/Abraham-sons.html
 

kboswell

Well-Known Member
Question: "How many sons did Abraham have?"

Answer:
All total, Abraham had eight sons.

Abraham’s first son was Ishmael through Hagar, his wife’s Egyptian maid (Genesis 16:1–4).

Abraham’s second son was Isaac through Sarah, his wife (Genesis 21:1–3). Isaac was the son God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15:4–5).

After Sarah died, Abraham had six sons through Keturah, another concubine: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Genesis 25:1, 6). Keturah’s sons became the fathers of Arabian tribes living east of Israel.

Some people claim that the Bible makes an error in regards to the number of Abraham’s sons. In Genesis 22:2, God speaks to Abraham after the birth of Ishmael, referring to Isaac as “your son, your only son, whom you love.” Then Hebrews 11:17identifies Isaac as Abraham’s “one and only son.” And Galatians 4:22 mentions only Isaac and Ishmael: “It is written that Abraham had two sons.” How could Abraham be said to have an “only son” and “two sons,” when in reality he had eight sons?

There is no true contradiction in the above passages. Isaac was the only son who was promised to Abraham and through whom Abraham would become the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:1–8; 21:12). Also, Isaac was the only son of Sarah and Abraham—Sarah being specifically mentioned in the prophecies of Genesis 17:16–21and 18:10. In addition, Isaac is the only son born in an official marriage: Hagar and Keturah were both concubines. While God blessed the concubines’ sons for Abraham’s sake, those sons had no part in the inheritance. Isaac was the one and only rightful heir to the promise (Genesis 15:4–5; 25:5).

Genesis 22:2 and Hebrews 11:17 both refer to Isaac as Abraham’s “only son” because those passages concern God’s promise and covenant. Since Abraham’s other seven sons are not part of the covenant, they are irrelevant to the issue and not mentioned as sons. Abraham had other sons, but only one son of promise.

The main theme in Galatians is justification by faith, apart from the Law. Galatians 4:22 mentions only two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, in an allegory to highlight the contrast between the old covenant of law and the new covenant of grace. The former leads to bondage while the latter to freedom and life. Paul’s reasoning is as follows: Ishmael was the son of Hagar, a slave, and thus symbolizes bondage and slavery to the Law. Ishmael was the product of a human effort to bring about God’s blessing; Ishmael equals the works of the Law. Isaac was born to the free woman, Sarah, and thus symbolizes freedom and life. Isaac was born in God’s time, according to God’s promise, without the scheming or interference of man; Isaac equals the gift of grace. This passage in Galatians 4 is meant to teach a spiritual lesson (verse 24), not to give a detailed account of Abraham’s life and how many actual sons he had. Mentioning the other six sons would not have served any meaningful purpose in Paul’s allegory.

Spiritually speaking, Abraham has many, many sons. The Bible points to the faith of Abraham (Genesis 15:6) and states that “those who have faith are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7; cf. verse 9). Those who exercise the same faith that Abraham had are showing themselves to be like him, spiritually, and so can be rightly called his “children.” All who trust in Christ, as Zacchaeus did, become true sons of Abraham (Luke 19:9). “The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring . . . to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16).

https://www.gotquestions.org/Abraham-sons.html
My thought was Isaac being the only son through Sara and the child of promise, but I wasn't sure. Thanks for the detailed explanation!
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

How was Isaac Abraham's only son when he already had Ishmael? This verse has me confused.
This is a reference to the story of Abraham offering Isaac in Gen. 22, and specifically to 22:2, "thy son, thine only son Isaac." This story is a "type" (Heb. 11:19, figure/KJV or type/NASB). Ishmael, not being part of God's promise or plan for Abraham, is not the son, and has no place in this "type."

Just as God the Father offers His only begotten Son, this father offers his son on the same mountain where later Christ was crucified, with Isaac carrying the wood as Christ carried His cross. Isaac does not resist, as Christ did not resist. The sacrifice was made on the third day after God commanded Abraham. Abraham believed God would resurrect his son, Heb. 11:17-19, just as God's Son was resurrected. Substitutionary atonement is also pictured--Isaac was to die, but God provided a ram in his place, just as we ought to die, yet God provided the Lamb in our place.
 

mattfivefour

Administrator
Staff member
Pete Garcia wrote this in his outstanding article on prophecy and the Rapture:

Isaac was not Abraham’s only son. I distinctly remember Abraham having another through his handmaiden Hagar and his name was Ishmael. The beauty and the reality of it is, Ishmael was born out of Abraham’s disobedience and sin. God in His forgiveness will not remember our sins when we ask for forgiveness even though we still might have to deal with the physical ramifications. And Abraham’s sin is still being dealt with today between the Arabs and the Jews.​
 
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