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1 And when Abram was ninetie yeres old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said vnto him, I am the almightie God, walke before me, and be thou perfect.

2 And I wil make my couenant betweene me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

3 And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,

4 As for me, behold, my couenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall bee Abraham: for a father of many nations haue I made thee.

6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitfull, and I will make nations of thee, and Kings shall come out of thee.

7 And I will establish my couenant betweene me and thee, and thy seede after thee, in their generations for an euerlasting couenant, to bee a God vnto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8 And I will giue vnto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an euerlasting possession, and I will be their God.

9 And God said vnto Abraham, Thou shalt keepe my couenant therefore, thou, and thy seede after thee, in their generations.

10 This is my couenant, which yee shall keepe betweene me and you, and thy seed after thee: euery man child among you shall be circumcised.

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskinne; and it shal be a token of the couenant betwixt me and you.

12 And he that is eight dayes olde, shalbe circumcised among you, euery man child in your generations, he that is borne in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

13 He that is borne in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my couenant shall be in your flesh, for an euerlasting couenant.

14 And the vncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskinne is not circumcised, that soule shall be cut off from his people: hee hath broken my couenant.

15 And God said vnto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

16 And I will blesse her, and giue thee a sonne also of her: yea I wil blesse her, and she shalbe a mother of nations; Kings of people shall be of her.

17 Then Abraham fell vpon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be borne vnto him that is an hundred yeeres old? and shal Sarah that is ninetie yeeres old, beare?

18 And Abraham said vnto God, O that Ishmael might liue before thee.

19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall beare thee a sonne in deede, and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my couenant with him, for an euerlasting couenant, and with his seed after him.

20 And as for Ishmael, I haue heard thee: behold, I haue blessed him, and will make him fruitfull, and will multiplie him exceedingly: Twelue princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

21 But my couenant wil I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall beare vnto thee, at this set time, in the next yeere.

22 And he left off talking with him, and God went vp from Abraham.

23 And Abraham tooke Ishmael his sonne, and all that were borne in his house, and all that were bought with his money, euery male, among the men of Abrahams house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskinne, in the selfesame day, as God had said vnto him.

24 And Abraham was ninety yeeres old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskinne.

25 And Ishmael his sonne was thirteene yeeres old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskinne.

26 In the selfe same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his sonne.

27 And all the men of his house, borne in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

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Commentary for Genesis 17

God renews the covenant with Abram. (1-6) Circumcision instituted. (7-14) Sarai's name changed, Isaac promised. (15-22) Abraham and his family are circumcised. (23-27)1-6 The covenant was to be accomplished in due time. The promised Seed was Christ, and Christians in him. And all who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abram, being partakers of the same covenant blessings. In token of this covenant his name was changed from Abram, "a high father," to Abraham, "the father of a multitude." All that the Christian world enjoys, it is indebted for to Abraham and his Seed.

7-14 The covenant of grace is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it. The token of the covenant was circumcision. It is here said to be the covenant which Abraham and his seed must keep. Those who will have the Lord to be to them a God, must resolve to be to him a people. Not only Abraham and Isaac, and his posterity by Isaac, were to be circumcised, but also Ishmael and the bond-servants. It sealed not only the covenant of the land of Canaan to Isaac's posterity, but of heaven, through Christ, to the whole church of God. The outward sign is for the visible church; the inward seal of the Spirit is peculiar to those whom God knows to be believers, and he alone can know them. The religious observance of this institution was required, under a very severe penalty. It is dangerous to make light of Divine institutions, and to live in the neglect of them. The covenant in question was one that involved great blessings for the world in all future ages. Even the blessedness of Abraham himself, and all the rewards conferred upon him, were for Christ's sake. Abraham was justified, as we have seen, not by his own righteousness, but by faith in the promised Messiah.

15-22 Here is the promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, in whom the promise made to him should be fulfilled. The assurance of this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only; Sarah signifies a princess. The more favours God confers upon us, the more low we should be in our own eyes. Abraham showed great joy; he laughed, it was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day; now he saw it and was glad, #Joh 8:56|. Abraham, dreading lest Ishmael should be abandoned and forsaken of God, put up a petition on his behalf. God gives us leave in prayer to be particular in making known our requests. Whatever is our care and fear, should be spread before God in prayer. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and the great thing we should desire is, that they may be kept in covenant with Him, and may have grace to walk before him in uprightness. Common blessings are secured to Ishmael. Outward good things are often given to those children of godly parents who are born after the flesh, for their parents' sake. Covenant blessings are reserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him.

23-27 Abraham and all his family were circumcised; so receiving the token of the covenant, and distinguishing themselves from other families that had no part nor lot in the matter. It was an implicit obedience; he did as God said unto him, and did not ask why or wherefore. He did it because God bade him. It was a speedy obedience; in the self-same day. Sincere obedience makes no delay. Not only the doctrines of revelation, but the seals of God's covenant, remind us that we are guilty, polluted sinners. They show us our need of the blood of atonement; they point to the promised Saviour, and teach us to exercise faith in him. They show us that without regeneration, and sanctification by his Spirit, and the mortification of our corrupt and carnal inclinations, we cannot be in covenant with God. But let us remember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by the Spirit, #Ro 2:28,29|. Both under the old and new dispensation, many have had the outward profession, and the outward seal, who were never sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Genesis 17

  • JP
    Cheryl, Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

    But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
  • Alex
    Karl the Ultimate PERFECTION cd only come via the Blood of Christ,the NEW covenant. Men from the O.T. acheived a TYPE OF perfection by FLESHLY Circumcision a type of the CIRCUMCISION THAT CAN ONLY COME VIA THE SWORD OF CHRIST. The ultimate PERFECTION CD ONLY COME VIA THAT 2 ND COVENANT. BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKETH AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD.TO WHOM THE WORD CAME IT MADE THEM GODS PERFECTION
  • Karl
    Genesis 17:1 - Almighty God, Yahweh (YHWH) commands Abram (Abraham) to walk before
    him and to be PERFECT in the Old Testament. In Matthew 5:48 Christ says " be ye PERFECT
    as your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect". Here we have clear, irrefutable evidence that despite what many people say and teach about no one can be perfect, we find out from the
    word of God that we can in fact achieve it.
  • Ashley
    Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly*; neither is that circumcision, which is outward* in the flesh:
    29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly*; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
  • Judah
    ALL PRAISES TO THE MOST HIGH!
    It said he will be THE FATHER of many nations, NOT all nations; Gen 17:4.
    Bless You!
  • Cheryl
    If Abraham be the father of all nations why aren't we all Jews ?

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