CSB News & Information

Greek Speak: σπέρμα

(This content was originally sent on Father’s Day to our First to Know list)

In the Greek Word Devotional series we will discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. In honor of Father’s Day, we are going to look at a passage that gets at the importance of being children of God, and of having God as our Father. Let’s look at how the word sperma is used in Romans 9:7-8.

“Neither is it the case that all of Abraham’s children are his descendants. On the contrary, your offspring will be traced through Isaac. That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring.”

The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:


Greek pronunciation: SPUHR mah

CSB translation: descendant, offspring

Uses in Romans: 9

Uses in the NT: 43

Focus passage: Romans 9:7-8

The term sperma was often used for the seeds of plants (Mt 13:24-38; Mk 4:31) and sometimes even of animals (referring to reproduction as in humans). It could refer figuratively to origin but refers more often to descendants or offspring. Paul develops the descendant/offspring meaning along three main lines.

  1. Jesus the Messiah came from the promised sperma or family line (Rm 1:4; 2Tm 2:8; see Gl 3:16, 19; cp. Jn 8:33; Ac 13:23).
  2. Those who are sperma or descendants of Abraham by physical descent, that is, the Hebrew race (Rm 9:7, 29 [translated “offspring”]; 11:1).
  3. Those who are the sperma or descendants of Abraham by faith, that is, believers in Christ (Rm 4:13, 16, 18; 9:7-8 [translated “offspring”]; Gl 3:29). Through these various uses of sperma, Paul indicated that actual physical descent from Abraham is neither necessary nor sufficient for salvation; faith in Christ alone brings a person into God’s family.

To me, the most important note here is in the third point: “Actual physical descent from Abraham is neither necessary nor sufficient for salvation; faith in Christ alone brings a person into God’s family.” For so many, that’s a truth that needs to be reinforced again and again, because their physical descent leaves much to be desired.

And for many, Father’s Day specifically can be a taxing day due to their relationship with their own fathers. Maybe they were never around, or were abusive, or were emotionally withholding. But through faith in Christ and his resurrection, all who profess faith have their eternal Father who brings them into his inheritance, allowing them to inherit so much more than genetics and money – they inherit the Kingdom of God.

This Father’s Day, we acknowledge the pain so many feel today due to the Fall, but hope the truth of God the Father and your place in his family can be a balm. And for those with fathers who are present and loving, we rejoice in the example they are of God’s everlasting and overwhelming love.

And again the reminder: neither your family nor your background are indicative of the love you deserve – your Father in Heaven cares for you and loves you in ways inexpressible. You are his offspring. You are his inheritance.