'We have Abraham as our father' - idiom?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matt. 3:8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

At first glance it seems the Pharisees and Sadducees are claiming they have God's favor because they are physical descendants of Abraham. Or because of God's covenant with Abraham and they with him as his descendants.

But I'm wondering if this was some sort of idiom as if to say they are Jews. John the Baptist tells them to repent, convert, bear fruit, etc. and their response is "but we're already Jews, what do we have to convert from?"

It would be equivalent to a minister preaching to his congregation to repent, believe in Christ, convert from your old ways and the hearers think "but we're already Christians."

Am I off base here?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
This is plausible, I suppose. But even if it were idiomatic language, there was far more behind that statement than simply, “But we are Jews.”
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is plausible, I suppose. But even if it were idiomatic language, there was far more behind that statement than simply, “But we are Jews.”
Meaning it would be today's "I'm a Christian." Of course there is far more behind that statement for us, too.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Meaning it would be today's "I'm a Christian." Of course there is far more behind that statement for us, too.
In many cases, yes. The Jews Jesus confronted then would have claimed Abraham as their father in self-righteousness: "We have Abraham as our father. We're safe. We have all we need. Who is this man to question our status?" Many professing Christians today say as much. "I go to church! I believe in God! My parents are Christians!" So, therefore, you're good? This is a really bad problem down here in the "Bible Belt" where Christianity is often very cultural and hardly vital. I have family members who sincerely believe they are good because they are Republican Southerners who have a Christian family heritage, even though they themselves are not joined to any local church, they live in sin, and could not care less about daily communion with the Lord.
 
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