Timeline of Abraham

Paul in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 used the life of Abraham to reject the justification by works heresy of the Jewish legalists, so it is important for us to know and understand some of the basic facts of Abraham’s life and their relationship to each other and their explanations in the scriptures to learn true doctrine.


EventO.T. VersesN.T. VersesExplanation and Interpretation
Called out of UrGen 11:27-32; 12:1-5; 15:7Acts 7:2-4; Heb 11:8-16; Luke 13:28; James 2:23By faith Abraham obeyed God to leave Ur and idolatry (Josh 24:2-3,14-15; Neh 9:7-8; Gen 31:53), which showed great faith long before the justifying text of Genesis 15:6, though Abraham understood the promises of the land to primarily refer to heaven and the kingdom of God. His relationship with God, which was great from the beginning, made him the friend of God (II Chron 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), though knowing Him only as God Almighty (Gen 17:1; Exodus 6:3).
God’s promisesGen 12:1-3 Acts 3:25; Gal 3:7-9; Rom 4:9-17; Mat 8:5-13From the very beginning, God promised Abraham many natural and spiritual blessings before 15:6, including justification of Gentiles by the same system of faith that the Jews would need, so the Holy Spirit relates in the N.T. that Abraham had the gospel preached to him by God in this and related passages (Gen 17:1-8; Micah 7:14-20).
Worship at BethelGen 12:7-8Abraham feared Jehovah and believed God to worship Him like this.
Faith triedGen 12:10With all the blessings God had promised Abraham, why would he encounter such a famine that he had to leave the land God had promised him for Egypt?
Weak faithGen 12:11-13Abraham showed weak faith by lying with Sarah about her relationship to him, which should comfort the wise righteous that must admit their own fears at times.
Pharaoh stoppedGen 12:14-20God protected Sarah and him in spite of weak faith, punishing Pharaoh instead,and He prospered him abundantly by Pharaoh, as David would later record (Gen 13:1-2; I Chron 16:22; Psalm 105:15).
Worship at BethelGen 13:1-4In spite of the great wealth he acquired, Abraham feared Jehovah and believed God to worship Him like this. Riches destroy most men, but not Abraham.
Gracious godlinessGen 13:5-13Though being the uncle that walked with God, Abraham graciously gave Lot the choice of land, who greedily took the best and began his vexing compromise with Sodom to the destruction of his family. Abraham passed over the transgression, and God immediately confirmed him with a promise of the land, including Lot’s!
God’s promisesGen 13:14-17Heb 11:8-16God promised Abraham many natural and spiritual blessings before 15:6, including the vastness of the land of Canaan, which in time Israel fully possessed, but which Abraham understood to refer to heaven (Neh 9:7-8; Isaiah 51:1-2).
Worship at MamreGen 13:18Abraham feared Jehovah and believed God to worship Him like this.
Faith in battleGen 14:1-16Though he could have been discouraged that things were turning out poorly since leaving Ur, Abraham had faith to pursue four mighty kings with 318 servants. This hardly sounds like the man who lied to Pharaoh to save his own skin.
MelchisedekGen 14:18-20Heb 7:1-10Jehovah’s priest Melchisedek blessed Abram as God’s blessed man.
Paid tithesGen 14:20Heb 7:1-10Abraham feared Jehovah and believed God to worship Him with tithes.
God’s promisesGen 15:1God declared Himself presently Abraham’s God before his act of faith. He did not offer to become Abraham’s exceeding great reward by means of a decision.
Promised SeedGen 15:2-6Gal 3:14-18, 26-29; Heb 2:14-18; Mat 1:1-2,17By the New Testament’s light, we understand the seed of Abraham finds its ultimate and greatest fulfillment in Jesus Christ and those that are His, including Gentiles, first indicated by blessing on all nations (Gen 12:1-3; Gal 3:7-9).
Justifying faithGen 15:2-6John 8:31-45; Rom 4:1-3,16-22; Gal 3:6; James 2:23God declared Abraham a righteous man by virtue of the evidence of his faith in God’s extraordinary promise and power to perform the impossible. He had much faith long before this event, but God singled this great event of faith out as justifying evidence. Jesus declared that many Jews did not have this character.
God’s promisesGen 15:7-21Acts 7:6-7,17; Luke 1:54-55; Heb 11:8-16God promised Abraham many natural and spiritual blessings in seed and land, including the boundaries of Canaan, which He in time perfectly fulfilled (for He is righteous!), though Abraham understood them of heaven (Neh 9:7-8; I Chron 16:15-22; Psalm 105:8-15,42-45; etc.).
Weak faithGen 16:1-16Rom 9:6-8; Matt 3:9; Luke 3:8; John 8:31-45Abraham showed very weak faith to obey his wife for marriage and sex with another woman to help gain him and Sarah a seed, in spite of the justifying faith he had in this matter (15:2-6)! But God’s seed is to always be distinguished, as the physical descendants of Abraham are not his spiritual seed, the sons of God.
Name changeGen 17:1-8Rom 4:16-22God violated ordinary verb rules to show His sovereign power to bring to pass a numerous seed from Abraham and Sarah, now well past reproductive years. From a name meaning father, God changed his name to mean father of many nations.
CircumcisionGen 17:9-27Acts 7:8; Rom 4:9-12God declared Abraham righteous by his justifying faith long before He ordained circumcision for him and seed, proving circumcision had nothing to do with it.
Weak faithGen 17:15-22Abraham showed very weak faith to laugh at God and continue begging for Ishmael. Most know that Sarah laughed, but Abraham laughed first, and this came after the signal event in his life of justifying faith about the same matter (15:2-6)!
Great entertainerGen 18:1-8Heb 13:2Abraham entertained three men that were angels accompanying God visiting him.
Great wifeGen 18:9-15I Peter 3:5-6While Sarah quickly prepared a meal for God’s angels, she showed reverence for Abraham by calling him lord, though weak in faith at God’s word, as indicated by her laughter; yet she made the Hall of Faith for this very event (Heb 11:11)!
Great fatherGen 18:16-19Acts 3:25Abraham illustrated a great father by God’s own testimony of godly leadership.
Great intercessionGen 18:16-33Abraham boldly interceded for Lot and family, but he overestimated Lot as father.
Different from LotGen 19:1-38II Peter 2:6-9 Lot, though a righteous man, showed an entirely different level of conversion.
Weak faithGen 20:1-16Abraham showed weak faith again, but God protected him and prospered him.
Great intercessionGen 20:17-18Abraham was God’s man, so it was his prayer that brought mercy to Abimelech.
God fulfils promiseGen 21:1-8God kept his promise and the reproductively-dead couple had a son Isaac.
Casting out IshmaelGen 21:9-21Galatians 4:21-31God approved the rejection of Hagar and Ishmael at Isaac’s weaning, and He used the event as an allegory for the rejection of earthly Jerusalem for the heavenly.
Abraham a strangerGen 21:22-34Abraham showed prudent cooperation with the Philistines to preserve his livelihood, and God blessed the arrangement to Isaac (Gen 26:12-33).
Abraham’s worksGen 22:1-14Heb 11:17-19; James 2:21-24Abraham proved his justifying faith by works, which are greater evidence than faith alone, as James explained and others confirmed (I Thes 1:2-4; II Pet 1:5-11).
God’s promisesGen 22:15-19Luke 1:68-75; John 8:51-58; Acts 3:25; Heb 6:13-15, 11:13; Mat 16:18God reaffirmed His promises to Abraham based on his performance at Moriah, though the earlier promises were sure (Gen 12:1-3; 15:2-6) and Abraham’s performance added nothing to them; and He confirmed them with an oath by swearing by Himself for great assurance. Jesus testified Abraham knew of Him, though darkly and afar off. [Note the use of “his” and not they for the seed in 22:17.]
Burial of SarahGen 23:1-20Acts 7:5,16Abraham never possessed any land of Canaan other than this burial plot (showing the importance of burial), for he looked for a heavenly country rather than the sand of Canaan (Heb 11:8-16), which is called Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). But even here take note – Abraham had to buy the land, for God did not give it to Him by inheritance. Jewish fables emphasize the land, but the Bible heaven.
A godly marriageGen 24:1-67Abraham required an oath of his servant that Isaac would marry in the LORD.
Restorative powerGen 25:1-6Abraham took another wife and had six sons by her after Sarah’s death, though far past such things (I Chron 1:32), for he was 137 at the time of this marriage!
A family reunionGen 25:7-10Mat 22:23-33; Luke 16:19-31; Acts 7:16Abraham’s body was buried in Canaan beside Sarah, but his spirit went to heaven and met elect ancestors, therefore it is called his bosom (Heb 11:8-16; 12:22-24). Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, and Joseph (Gen 49:29-33; 50:12-14).


For Further Study:

  1. The web document, “Who Is the Seed of Abraham?
  2. Galatians 3.
  3. Galatians 4.
  4. Eternal Justification, by John Brine.
  5. Justification By Christ Alone, by Samuel Richardson.