Does the Church Replace Israel? (Part 3)

In the gospels the theme that Israel is not the real people of God is continued. In Matthew 8:5-13 Jesus heals the servant of the Roman centurion. The centurion only requests of Jesus to say the word and his servant would be healed. In response to such faith Jesus says,

I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus was stating that in the kingdom of heaven the Israelites, who are the picture of the people of God, will be thrown out of the kingdom. The Jews of Israel, who are repeatedly called the people of God in the Old Testament, are not the real people of God. That is why they will be thrown out of the kingdom. Their claim is that they are in the kingdom. They are not losing their salvation. They are giving evidence that they never had it. In saying this it must be understood that there has always existed a remnant of true believers in Israel. But throughout the Bible Israel is repeatedly described as an unbelieving people. The fact that a remnant of believers has always existed seems not to be relevant to the evaluation of the biblical writers. We will examine many of these passages in a future blog.

Another passage in the gospels addresses the faith of Israel is Matthew 21:33-46, which is the parable of the Tenants. Here Jesus gives a story about the owner of a vineyard. The owner plants a vineyard and then puts it into the hands of his servants. At harvest time he sends his servants to collect his portion of the harvest. The servants abuse and kill those he sent. Finally he sends his son and they kill him. Jesus then gives the point of the parable.

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

The parable was giving the history of Israel and the stubborn rebelliousness of the nation of Israel. Jesus then says that the kingdom will be given to another people who “will produce its fruit.” This new people of God is the church of Jesus Christ, the real people of God. Hebrews 8:7-13 teach that the work of Jesus on the cross to purchase a people is being realized during the New Covenant era. The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 is being fulfilled right now. This passage will be discussed in great detail in an upcoming blog in this series.

Another parable that follows the parable of the tenants is the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). Here Jesus describes a scene in Jewish life where a wedding banquet is prepared by the king for his son. He then sends out his servants to invite all of his guests. But when his guests were invited they paid no attention and refused to come. They not only refused to come but they also abused some of the king’s servants. The king, then great enraged, sent out his army and destroyed his former guests and destroyed their city. The king then instructed his servants to go out into the streets and invite just anybody and so that the wedding banquet would be filled.  Text of this parable is about the hostility of the chief priests and Pharisees to Jesus Christ. One further point that is mentioned in the parable is about a man attending the wedding banquet is not dressed appropriately. He is thrown out of the banquet where it says in the parable that he is to be cast into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then you come to the punch line of the parable the final verse which is verse 14 that says quote many are invited, but few are chosen.” Just as in the parable of the tenants so also in the parable of the wedding banquet we see the history of Israel being portrayed before our eyes. Israel is described as always being in rebellion, always unbelieving. As we see in Romans 11:5 in the new covenant era only a remnant of ethnic Jews will be saved. The church, the spiritual Israel, will be made up of mostly Gentiles with a small number of Jews. The key phrase in the parable is found in the very last first, verse 14, where Jesus says, “for many are invited but few are chosen.”  The gospel in one form or another came first to Israel but they rejected it. Now the invitation goes out to all, but the far majority of those who will respond will be Gentiles, And this is according to the plan of God.

4 thoughts on “Does the Church Replace Israel? (Part 3)

  1. From what I have read so far (much to read yet) it seems that you subscribe to replacement theology (Church has replaced Israel – no future for Israel in God’s plans).

    What do you make of Romans ch.9 – 11 (Especially 11: 25 – 27)?

    What does v25 mean? “…that blindness (unbelief?) in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. V26 And so all Israel shall be saved…the Deliverer…shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob”.
    Is the covenant in V27 the same covenant of Jer. 31:31 – 40 (Heb.8:8-12) and all the other mentions of the NC in the NT?
    Thanks.

  2. John ~

    Please read the Scripture verses which comprise most of my comment to Part 2 (Geoff’s previous “post”); as revealed thereby and as advocated by Geoff, ethnic, national Israel was the “picture” people — the temporal people of God. Every promise made by YHVH to ethnic, national Israel has been fulfilled; other than physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are “grafted in again” (Romans 11:23) [by being made to be jealous (Romans 10:19) and — indespensably — hearing the RHEMA (Romans 10:17)], nothing remains for ethnic, national Israel to inherit. Indeed, as of A.D. 70, nothing remains of ethnic, national Israel — understood as collective physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    As Paul declared (Romans 9:7), “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.” Paul’s declaration (Romans 11:26) that “in this way all Israel will be saved” must not be twisted in ignorance of the Truth that “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.

    The words (mis)translated “until” @ Romans 11:25, according to their usage elsewhere in Scripture (see, e.g., Hebrews 4:12) should not be understood as connoting a temporal indicator. As wrt Galatians 6:16 [choice to translate KAI as “and”, rather than “even”, “indeed”, or (best) ” — “], the (mis)translation is system-driven theology-produced.

    “Replacement theology” may describe the understanding of Covenant Theology (CT); CT understands ethnic, national Israel as the OT “church” and reckons the two as identical. Via Ephesians 2:15, Paul shared the mystery revealed to him that “one new man from the two” (ethnic, national Israel / nations) is the (collective) new creation / eschatological Israel / Israel of God.

  3. Geoff,

    I appreciate your attempt to describe the relationship between the Church and Israel. However, you have made several comments that lean to an uninformed position of the purpose of Israel as revealed in the pages of Scripture. You said in one post that Israel is ALWAYS described as unbelieving, yet you did not support that point with Scriptural proof (the fallacy committed here is an over generalization). In Romans 9, Paul makes a statement, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.” Paul is quoting the OT here but not in a way to say that all Israel is unbelieving, for Jacob is Israel. But here in Romans more specifically Jacob and Esau are seen as representative heads for people, both groups descended from Abraham, therefore implying that some of Israel was loved by God and some of Israel was not loved by God. Rom 9-11 is not to prove Israel as an unbelieving nation but to prove the purposes of election into one body under one head, Christ Jesus! This includes both Jew and Gentile. Don’t forget that Paul opened up this letter with a statement that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for those who believe, first for the Jew and then for the Gentile (Rom. 1: 16). It also seems that you have misunderstood the position of Israel in its relationship to God. In Exodus God reveals that position to Moses, “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel,” (Ex. 19: 6). John, in Rev. 5 alludes to this passage, not voiding Israel as the people of God but more poignantly revealing the continuity between the two people, or better said, John is showing that there is one people of God! The church would not exist apart from Israel, this is what the NT writers (Paul in the book of Romans and Galatians; John in Revelation; and the writer of Hebrews) are doing. They do not disregard the fact that Israel was a chosen nation, a nation in which God chose to pour out his love. It’s the law that set Israel apart, but never saved Israel (This is revealed in John 8 and Heb. 11 more specifically). Israel as the recipient of the law was given a liturgy in order to relate to Go in a manner worthy of God! It’s this that set the foundation for Israel serving its divine role as a vehicle of revelation and restoration of man back to God! It’s in this context in which the Messiah is born and apart from this we cannot understand Jesus as the Christ! What you have done is instituted an unnecessary and unnatural polarization between the Church and Israel, and instead Scripture informs us that we should see that relationship as more contiguous rather than antithetical.

  4. Craig, my point was not that there were no believers in Israel but that the description of Israel is given in such a way that describes Israel as unbelieving. Check out again Romans 9:30-32 and Romans 10:1-5. Romans 9-11 describes God’s plan for ethnic Israel and how one becomes a part of the real people of God. Israel is a chosen nation, but that must not be confused with the idea that Israel is a believing nation. Israel functions as an unbelieving picture of the people of God. I would encourage you to look at Ephesians 2:11-18. In this section of Scripture Paul is stating that both Gentiles and Jews need to come to faith. The Gentiles were far away and the Jews were near but neither of them were believers. Once again, one must not lose track of the truth that there has always been a remnant of true believers in Israel. Regarding the giving of the Law to Israel Romans 5:20 states that it was given to increase the sin of the Israelites. The history of Israel is a 1,500 year illustration of the futility of trying to be accepted by the God of heaven and earth by works. Bye for now, Geoff

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