| Is the Church Israel?|
Obviously the name Israel is found all through the bible, almost on every page of the Old testament after Genesis 32. As everyone should know, the OT always refers to Israel as the people who are descended from Jacob (Israel), the nation or land belonging to that nation. So let us consider the New Testament usage of the term ‘Israel’ to see if that changed in any way to refer to the ‘Church’.
The word ‘Israel’ is used 73 times in the New Testament as follows:
Matthew – 12 times.
Mark – 2 times.
Luke – 12 times .
John – 4 times.
In all 4 gospels ‘Israel’ is always used of the nation, land or of Christ as King of Israel. There is nothing here to indicate any other use or change of use to mean ‘the church’. Jesus never once called His church ‘Israel. In fact He always used ‘Israel’ to mean His national, ethnic people.
Acts – 21 times. Always used to mean the people and nation of ethnic Israel.
Interestingly Peter preaches to the ‘men of Israel’ that they were part of the group that conspired to kill Jesus and that they needed to repent. Does not sound like Israel is used to mean the church yet!
Romans 9:6 – “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”. Ah, so is this where we find a statement that the church is Israel? Don’t be so fast to say that! Look at it carefully. They are not ALL Israel that are OF Israel. It does NOT say, as some would read it ‘ they are not Israel, who are Israel’. BUT IT DOES say NOT ALL, WHO ARE OF ISRAEL. So Paul is clearly saying not all Israelites are ‘true Israelites’, but only those Israelites who are born of the promise (i.e. believe). There is no indication here that Israel means the church in a general sense. Instead Paul is explaining what makes a Jew a true Jew. This is made clear as we follow Paul’s argument down to verse 27.
Romans 9:27 “Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved”.
A remnant of who? It can only mean national Israel. If Israel here meant the ‘church’, it would mean only a small number of the true ‘church’ would be saved!
Romans 10:1;19 &21 – All these verses talk about the disobedience of national Israel (not the church).
Romans 11 - Paul continues with his argument from chapters 9 and 10 in explaining how ethnic Israel has not be cast away, but God has still has His remnant that He can graft back in.
Romans 11:25-26 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:”
A BLINDNESS IN PART TO ISRAEL? Can Israel here be the church? No! It is ethnic Israel and ethnic Gentiles making up the church. Then ALL Israel will be saved when the Lord turns ungodliness away from JACOB. Paul makes it very clear when he deliberately uses the name ‘Jacob’ here for Israel. There can be NO mistake who he means. ‘All Israel’ here means the same as in Romans 9:6. All those true Israelites that are OF ethnic Israel.
So far ALL the references to Israel we have looked at in the NT mean Israel the nation, people or land. This is also true of all the remaining verses in the NT. However let us consider two specific verses that are often quoted to support a replacement theology view to see if that is true.
Galatians 6:16 “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”
Paul as we know is writing to the Galatians about not being brought under the bondage of the Law by Judaizers (i.e Jews who taught justification by works of the law). He says in the preceding verse “neither circumcision or uncircumcision mean anything, but only a new creation.” Circumcision or uncircumcision means Jew or Gentile. So note he distinguishes these two peoples here in verse 16, “peace be upon them (the Gentile Galatians who walk as a new creation) AND upon the Israel of God. The ‘Israel of God’ is a consistent thought that Paul used as we saw in Romans to mean true believing Israelites. There is nothing here to suggest he is introducing this term to now refer to the church.
Ephesians 2:11-12 “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
So us Gentiles who were aliens from the common wealth of Israel and strangers from the promise, have now be brought into the promise by the blood of Christ. It does not say that there is ‘no natural Israel’ It says that we have been brought into the promise given to Israel.
Eph 2:14-15 “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”
So yes all who are ‘in Christ’ are now one new man, praise God! BUT there is nothing here saying that Israel as a nation has been replaced by the church. It is actually talking about the separation caused by the law between Jew and Gentile. Like Galatians it is to do with the Law. It has nothing to do with promises given to Israel as a nation. God’s plan for Israel was always based on faith and the New Covenant promise of writing His laws on their heart. A covenant He has promised to complete in them in the last days, when the remnant, All Israel will be saved.
I trust that it can be seen that there is no justification from the scriptures for stating that Israel means ‘the church’. It is a false premise and a false teaching.
| 2015/11/24 13:00||Profile|
| Re: Is the Church Israel?|
This topic has been bouncing around for weeks now, and I'm not sure if further discussion would change anyone's mind. However, here's my take:
1. The meaning of Israel throughout the Bible depends on the context, and can possibly take on multiple meanings in the same verse (one good example of multiple meanings would be Matt 2:15 - "Out of Egypt, I called My Son").
2. On Romans 9:6-8 - "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed."
Paul is effectively saying, "They are not all of true spiritual Israel, who are of ethnic physical Israel"; "Nor are they all true children of Abraham, because they are the physical descendants of Abraham."
So the context of Romans 9:6-8 makes it clear that the church - the body of all believers - can be referred to as Israel.
| 2015/11/24 13:56||Profile|
| Re: |
That is right, Yuehan.
The “people of God” in the old covenant were the Israelites who were divinely selected to provide the physical prefiguring of God’s intent in His Son, and the “people of God” in the new covenant are those who are identified with the Son as Christians. Later in the epistle Paul will quote from the prophecy of Jeremiah indicating that in the promised new covenant, when God puts His Spirit and laws into the hearts of those receptive to His Son, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (8:10; Jer. 31:33). The apostle Peter explained to the Christians to whom he wrote, ‘You are a people for God’s own possession...; you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (I Pet. 2:9,10; cf. Ezek. 37:23; Hosea 1:10). Christians are the new covenant “people of God,” the spiritual fulfillment of Israel (Rom. 9:6,7; Gal. 6:16) and the people known as true Jews (Rom. 2:28,29). And a "true Jew" is obviously a member of spiritual Israel.
There remained available to the Christians of Jerusalem the opportunity to participate in the Sabbath rest of God, to cease from all their striving to please God by keeping the Law, to refrain from trying to bring into being what they might have perceived to be God’s plan to reestablish the nation of Israel, and to restfully enjoy God’s grace moment-by-moment of every day. Such a Sabbath rest remains available to the Christian “people of God” in every age.
| 2015/11/24 14:06|
| Re: |
"true" Israel believes Jesus is Messiah and Lord.
The true "Church" is made up of persons who believe Jesus is Messiah and Lord.
Therefore, "true" Israel = the true Church.
I honestly for the life of me cannot figure out what is do offensive about this.
There is no other name under heaven and earth by which men must be saved.
There are obviously references to Israel in the NT particularly in the gospels where the land or ethnic Jews are being referred to. That does not weaken the argument whatsoever.
| 2015/11/24 14:08||Profile|
| Re: |
"I honestly for the life of me cannot figure out what is do offensive about this.
There is no other name under heaven and earth by which men must be saved."
I share the same sentiments too. The amount of rancour and strife that this topic has generated is just bizarre.
Paul wrote, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing" (1 Cor 7:19). So why make a big deal out of the circumcision?
| 2015/11/24 14:11||Profile|
| Re: |
I know why it is offensive, but I don't know why it is offensive to Christians, who are now part of the household of Israel. I even know many Messianic Jews that are not offended by it and in fact know that the Church is spiritual Israel. If the Church, the people of God are not spiritual Israel then who can be? No one else are the children of God except the true circumcision.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
If a Jew gets saved, is he still only a member of national Israel, or is he a member of spiritual Israel, too? Oh, that's right, there is no such thing as spiritual Israel.
So, he is a member of national Israel and the church, just like I am a member of America and the church, I guess.
| 2015/11/24 14:23|
| Re: |
Because of such quick responses, I can guarantee that none of those have posted have taken time to read and consider carefully what was written or read the scriptures through agian to see if these things are true. I guess it shows that truth really isn't important to some. Just their preset opinions.
Todd, you missed it by a countery mile!. It it not just a few references to national Israel, BUT ALL the NT references! That really is the point. There is NOTHING saying the church is Israel.
| 2015/11/24 14:38||Profile|
| Re: |
No Dave, the Church is not national Israel or natural Israel. It is spiritual Israel. Hope that's clear.
| 2015/11/24 14:51|
| Re: |
“I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough of it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this.”
–Charles H. Spurgeon
“To argue that God replaced Israel with the church is to depart from an enormous body of biblical evidence.”
–Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
"Supersessionism is the view that the New Testament Church supersedes, replaces, or fulfills the nation Israel’s place and role in the plan of God. I am convinced that supersessionism / replacement theology is an unbiblical doctrine that violates clear statements in both the Old and New testaments that teach and affirm a national salvation and restoration of Israel. Below are twelve reasons why supersessionism violates the biblical witness:
1. The Old Testament explicitly teaches the restoration of the nation Israel.
2. The Old Testament explicitly promises the perpetuity of the nation Israel (see Jer. 31:35-37).
3. The New Testament reaffirms the Old Testament expectation of a salvation and restoration of Israel.
4. The New Testament explicitly states that the Old Testament promises and covenants to Israel are still the possession of Israel even during this church age and even while the nation is currently in a state of unbelief (see Romans 9:3b-4).
5. The New Testament indicates that God is faithful to Israel because of His promises to the patriarchs of Israel (Romans 11:28).
6. The New Testament indicates that Israel’s election/calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29; see also Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
7. The New Testament never uses the term “Israel” for those who are not ethnic Jews. Thus, the church is never called “Israel.”
8. Supersessionists have failed to show that the New Testament identifies the church as “Israel.”
9. Supersessionists have failed to show that the New Testament reinterprets or alters the original OT prophecies in regard to Israel. The alleged “NT Priority” approach of Supersessionism is really ‘structural supersessionism’—a hermeneutic that does not allow the OT passages to speak to the issues they address.
10. Supersessionists have failed to show that unity between Jews and Gentiles in the church rules out a future restoration of the nation Israel.
11. Israelite language applied to believing Gentiles does not mean the church is Israel.
12. New Testament prophecy refers to Israel, thus indicating that God’s plan for Israel is alive."
| 2015/11/24 15:03|
| Re: |
We will have to agree to disagree without being disagreeable, as we believe the purposes and intentions of God is to restore all men (as many who will answer) to Himself.
This is not an issue of salvation and you are my brothers in Christ.
| 2015/11/24 15:07|