“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 9)

Read the series.

This is the final post in this series, the purpose of which has been to ask whether “replacement theology” and “supercessionism” correctly describe what some theologies, covenant theology especially, do with the nation of Israel and its OT promises in teaching fulfillment through “transformation” into Christ and the church. I am not saying that every CT (or NCT) will want to see themselves undercover of these names, only that the names fairly describe this aspect of the way these good people interpret the NT’s use of the OT.

We have seen that replacement theology exists. I have shown that some CT’s actually use the term “replace” (or “supercessionism”) to describe their approach in their own works, and that they recommend books that unashamedly use it. More anecdotally, I have encountered this opinion many times in conversations.

Of course, replacement theology is not confined to orthodox Reformed covenantalism, but they are the ones whose books and lectures I know best. In this tradition, it is common to view the history of Israel as primarily a structural learning device; a tool for teaching the Christian church through narrative and type; a “means to an end” as R. Scott Clark put it.

A Third Kind of Replacementism

What is engendered by this is an elevation of the NT above the OT, even though the NT relies on the OT in large part for its validation. A dual-level understanding of revelation is created in the mind (often as not it goes unnoticed), wherein the voice of the OT is always recirculated through the voice of the NT. This fosters a third variety of replacementism, this time involving the original voice of the OT in its context. That voice is stifled and re-transmitted through a particular understanding of the NT and its function. What results is what OT scholar John Sailhamer called a “devaluation of the Old Testament.” He reminds us that,

We must remember that those who first saw Jesus did not have a NT version of Jesus to compare with the OT. They had only the version of Jesus they knew, or knew about, to compare with the OT. Their comparison was later enshrined textually as the NT against the background of the OT. It was the end result of much reflection on the meaning of the OT Scriptures not the NT. (John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch, 555)

Additionally, the dissemination of the writings of the NT has often not been given much thought by those whose theological picture is informed by a hermeneutical determinism (i.e. the OT is interpreted through the NT) which was quite impossible for first century Christians. Put bluntly, these saints did not have a NT to interpret the OT with! What the most fortunate of them did have was a Gospel or two and several letters. But this was comparatively rare.

Another by-product of this is what R. Kendall Soulen has labelled “Israel-forgetfulness.” In his own words,

To recall, the model’s foreground is the sequence of episodes that constitute the standard model’s overarching plot: God’s creation of Adam and Eve for the purpose of consummation, the fall, redemption in Christ through the church, the final judgment and final consummation. Although the model’s foreground is by definition not identical with the model as a whole, it does depict how God’s consummating and redemptive purposes engage humankind in universal and enduring ways. The foreground can therefore be said to encapsulate what the standard model depicts as theologically decisive for a Christian reading of the Bible. The difficulty, of course, is that the foreground wholly omits the Hebrew Scriptures with the exception of Genesis 1-3. (R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 49)

Put more simply, by only requiring a minimal grounding in the soil of the OT because of the perceived superiority of the NT, the “standard model” (i.e. supercessionism) forgets about God’s enduring commitments to Israel in the OT, and by the adoption of typological understandings of that relation, feels no need to find its roots in those commitments. The resultant theology will be actual, conceptual or “original voice” replacementism. That original voice is a covenantally supported voice, and formal covenants of the kind God made with Noah, Abraham, Phinehas and David are not subject to change, “expansion”, “transformation”, and certainly not “transferal.” Once set down and sealed by a solemn oath, they are hermeneutically fixed forever. It is this very fixity which, I hold, provides the basis for biblical interpretation. Since these covenants are in the OT, the NT cannot (and I argue does not) reimagine them in any way.

I should add here that Dispensationalists normally would never follow me here, and I would never follow them in their advancing of “stewardships” above covenants. This is a big reason why I call myself a Biblical Covenantalist.

Matthew 21:43

Several times we have seen that Matthew 21:43 is used by CT’s to teach that God has done with Israel as a nation, and now the “kingdom” is given to the church. Within such an interpretation there is no wiggle-room for saying the church expands Israel or grows out of it. The “kingdom” is given to another “nation.” There is no organic identity between the one nation and the one that replaces it. G.K. Beale, for instance, in his interpretation of Matthew 21:41, employs Matthew 21:43 to mean that,

Jesus … interprets this to mean that ‘the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [Israel] and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. (A New Testament Biblical Theology, 673. The insertion of “Israel” is by Beale.)

Speaking of the same text on page 680 he writes of Jesus, “rejecting ethnic national Israel as God’s true people.” Furthermore, he interprets the stone cut out without hands, which smashes the image in Daniel 2 as smashing, “the ungodly nations, which also includes Israel” (682). In Part Two I cited Greg Durand using Matthew 21:43 this way. In Part Four Hans LaRondelle was shown using it the same way.

In Part Five I illustrated a confusion that can occur as a result of a too soon avoidance of supercession language by contrasting Sam Storms’s denial of the teaching that, “All the promises given to the former [Israel]have been transferred to the latter [the church]”; a teaching that is expressly taught by many covenant theologians.

In Part Six I concentrated on the common CT misinterpretation of the Olive Tree metaphor in Romans 11 and then compared it with Gary Burge’s replacement theology in Part Seven (N.B. Burge’s book on the land of Israel is often recommended by CT’s). Then in Part Eight I looked at how Jeremiah 31 and 33 are handled by CT’s in order to show how this approach to OT Israel ignores the force of what God promised to the nation. This lessening of the force of God’s commitment to Israel as a nation is essential to replacement theology of all stripes.

So – Is It Wrong to Use the Term?

Since many CT’s themselves use this terminology, and many non-dispensational writers also put their finger on it, I see no good reason not to call it what it appears to me it is. I have spoken of three forms of replacementism. Michael Vlach, in his fine book on the subject (Has the Church Replaced Israel?), follows Soulen in locating four varieties. My three forms are “Actual” replacementism where the church is said to actually replace the nation of Israel in God’s plans (though not, let it be said, as an afterthought). Then I gave examples of “Conceptual” supercessionism where the concepts and ideas related to the nation of Israel are applied to the church as fulfillments of the OT promises. Finally here I noted what I call “Original Voice” replacementism. In this incarnation it is the original voice of the OT text in context that is superceded by the more authoritative voice of the NT.

In all three cases I think we are justified in speaking about replacement theology, although not pejoratively. Moreover, it is important not to charge a brother with teaching actual replacementism when he or she is careful not to do so.

I do feel that sometimes it might be better to avoid the term. I think it depends on what is being discussed. But then I also think that just because one person doesn’t care for a label does not mean that they are unfairly identified. The purpose of these nine posts is to supply grounds for such an identification. Those grounds ought to be understood before using the words “Replacement theology.”

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There are 27 Comments

Paul Henebury's picture

I rather thought I might get CT's trying to argue that they are not supercessionists (see the recent piece by Green Baggins).  I'm a bit disappointed that no one took up the challenge of these posts.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Perhaps the CT's are simply weary of the repetitious CT bashing.  Although not a full-fledged CT myself, I bailed out of this series some time ago.  It's seems useless to appeal for any other perspective than the one presented,  which seems to require Biblical blinders to maintain.

G. N. Barkman

Paul Henebury's picture

This is not about CT bashing at all.  It is about whether "replacement theology" and "supercessionism" are accurate descriptors of CT (and certain other) positions on Israel and the Church.  I seem to recall that you claimed that replacement theology was in the eye of the beholder.  Well, my point is that many of those who DO teach it say they don't even when it has been shown that their theological mentors and peers SAY they actually do.  Again, my goal was narrow; to show that replacement theology was a real thing and to show where it could be found.  Other matters, such as the hermeneutical priority of the Testaments, was subsidiary.  Appealing to "the Apostle's hermeneutic" etc, just bypasses the subject of these posts.  

Do you still think "replacement theology" is an inappropriate term?  If so, how have I not proven my thesis?  How have I been unfair?      

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

J. Baillet's picture

I agreed to wait until the end of the series in order to make a fair assessment. I must confess that I grew a little weary and bailed out at some point. I do appreciate that Brother Henebury has clarified and defined his thesis. I will attempt to review the entire series and hopefully make some beneficial observations in the next few days.

JSB

Paul Henebury's picture

Yes, I truly understand how one might say "enough already".  I was a tad surprised that SI wanted to run it.  The reason I took my time was so that I could set out the discussion (which recall was on one topic) in such a way as my conclusions were clearly anchored in sufficient material.

Anyway, looking forward to any observations you may have.

Paul H. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Dr. Henebury,

Methinks you are beating a dead horse.  How many articles does it take to say essentially the same thing, namely that CT teaches replacement theology regardless of what certain representatives of CT say?  Yes, I still believe this boils down to the eye of the beholder.  CT will always look like Replacement Theology to you because of your unwavering commitment to DT.  I used to hold the same perspective, however CT now looks more like Fulfillment Theology to me, as my understanding of Scripture has changed.  There seems little purpose in trying to challenge your perspective because you will never see things differently unless you change your basic orientation.  That's why hermeneutics is not subsidiary but fundamental to this issue. (I am tempted to address why I believe your hermeneutic is flawed, but that would take more time than I presently enjoy, and would also take us into an area that you have already stated to be subsidiary, not essential.)

So, let me stipulate that you have proved your point about Replacement Theology.  You have the right to call it what you please.  I, and many others, will maintain the right to call it Fulfillment Theology instead.  It will always look like Replacement Theology to you and will always look like Fulfillment Theology to us.  I think this much was well established by the end of two or three articles.  Are you really surprised many found the lengthy series a bit tedious?

Warm regards,

Greg Barkman

​P. S.  I really do respect your scholarship and appreciate your gracious spirit.  Let's just agree to disagree on this one.

G. N. Barkman

Paul Henebury's picture

I appreciate your remarks about the length of the series.  It was not written for SI, and in it I was working through the different types of replacementism as well as giving examples - none of which were from DT's.  The main thrust was that CT's and non-DT's do speak of what you call fulfillment theology (which I would say is a question-begging name) with the terms replacement theology and supercessionism, and I provided evidence from CT's of that very thing.  That was my purpose.  

So I think it a tad unfair for you still to use the eye of the beholder thing, since none of the "eyes" I cited were dispensationalists.  Viz, it is not only DT's who use these descriptors, ergo, your objection loses much of its force.

Anyway, thanks for your interaction and God bless!

 

PH 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

My simple understanding of the term Replacement Theology is that the Church has replaced Israel in regard to the OT promises of God relating to Israel's future.  To DT's, this seems absurd.  How can the church inherit promises made to Israel?  The promises are obviously made to Israel in its physical and national existence.  The promises, therefore, must be fulfilled in the same manner.

CT's, on the other hand, find much NT encouragement to believe that the church fulfills many (some would say most, even all) of these promises.  Without the NT, such fulfillment would indeed seem highly speculative at best, and truly absurd.  However, there are so many NT texts that point in this direction, that to ignore this inspired interpretative revelation looks absurd to CT's.  In the light of the NT, the OT promises must be revisited and re-examined.  The result is far more nuanced and complex than the simple idea of replacement.  It is not replacement, but rather fulfillment.  It is not replacement because true spiritual Israel is the church.  Regenerated members of ethnic Israel are part of the church.  Regenerated Gentiles are also part of the church.  Abraham's true seed is identified by faith in Christ, which includes believing Jews and Gentiles.  In Christ, there is no longer Jews and Gentiles, but one body, which is Christ.  Like the OT sacrifices and priesthood, many other elements of God's dealings with OT Israel pointed to Christ.  Most Jews did not understand that at the time, but we are enabled to see that now.  Much more needs to be said, but I must stop for now.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman,
If what you are saying is true, then why would CTs themselves use replacement and supercession terminology? If there's one thing that Paul has demonstrated in this series, it's that a considerable number of prominent CTs are comfortable with that kind of language, in spite of your protests to the contrary.

Paul

G. N. Barkman's picture

I don't know.  I can only speak for myself and what I have come to understand and believe.  I think "replacement" is a poor choice to describe the fulfillment of OT statements regarding the spiritual seed of Abraham, which is Christ and all those who are joined to Christ by faith.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Davis's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

My simple understanding of the term Replacement Theology is that the Church has replaced Israel in regard to the OT promises of God relating to Israel's future.  To DT's, this seems absurd.  How can the church inherit promises made to Israel?  The promises are obviously made to Israel in its physical and national existence.  The promises, therefore, must be fulfilled in the same manner.

CT's, on the other hand, find much NT encouragement to believe that the church fulfills many (some would say most, even all) of these promises.  Without the NT, such fulfillment would indeed seem highly speculative at best, and truly absurd.  However, there are so many NT texts that point in this direction, that to ignore this inspired interpretative revelation looks absurd to CT's.  In the light of the NT, the OT promises must be revisited and re-examined.  The result is far more nuanced and complex than the simple idea of replacement.  It is not replacement, but rather fulfillment.  It is not replacement because true spiritual Israel is the church.  Regenerated members of ethnic Israel are part of the church.  Regenerated Gentiles are also part of the church.  Abraham's true seed is identified by faith in Christ, which includes believing Jews and Gentiles.  In Christ, there is no longer Jews and Gentiles, but one body, which is Christ.  Like the OT sacrifices and priesthood, many other elements of God's dealings with OT Israel pointed to Christ.  Most Jews did not understand that at the time, but we are enabled to see that now.  Much more needs to be said, but I must stop for now.

Thank you GNB for your succinct summary. I don't find the term "replacement" helpful and agree that "fulfillment" better captures the NT perspective on the relation of the Church to Israel. The term used is far less important than the teaching. So some use the term "replacment." Okay, let's move on.

I was taught dispensationalism but looking back do not think it is something that would have been evident from the text. Nor was it evident for centuries to most Christians and I think even DT proponents would admit that it is relatively new. That in itself doesn't make it untrue. I see how they get there even if I can't get there myself. However, anecdotally, in all my international travel, which is considerable, and in all the places I've taught overseas I never met a dispensationalist who came to it from the text. If they came to it they did via American missionaries or books. I'm also puzzled by the insistence of understanding OT prophecy as did the original audience especially in light of the fact that many of the prophets didn't grasp all they were prophesying, nor did the disciples. So there is a hermeneutical gap and presuppositions that will continue to keep CT and DT in disagreement.

Like you I do respect Paul's scholarship. In the end, I don't want to say it doesn't matter if one is DT or CT. It might affect how much they can work together or partner together in ministry. Whether one is DT or CT is not central to the gospel or indicative of unfaithfulness to the gospel. I believe in the pre-regnal return of Jesus. Whether his eternal reign is preceded by 1000 years of earthly reign with return phases, multiple resurrections, restored Israel, rebuilt temple, reinstated sacrifices, etc. - I remain open to be convinced and once held some of those views but am not now convinced of their scriptural clarity and do not make it a test of fellowship or partnership in ministry. 

 

Paul Henebury's picture

I appreciate the above comment a lot.  While obviously disagreeing with some of it, I think it most helpful

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Larry's picture

For all the ink spilled, the difference between "replacement" and "fulfillment" is hard to see. I think Steve is correct that the term used is less important than the teaching. The question is whether promises made to a specific and identifiable group of people will be fulfilled to/with that group or whether that group is/was/going to be replaced by another group, and whether the promise was actually something else than was promised. 

I believe that hermeneutics is the key issue. Some people's hermeneutics allow them to do things with words and sentences that other people's won't allow. I have never been able to satisfy my exegetical conscience that words are as fluid in referent and meaning as other people seem to be able to do. If you tell your son that you are going to take him to the baseball game, and then take your daughter to the shopping mall instead, I doubt he will be satisfied that you call it fulfillment instead of replacement. (If it's a Tiger's game, he may be glad to be replaced). And I doubt telling him you had other plans all along will be much of a consolation. Telling him that "son" really meant "daughter" and that "baseball game" was actually "shopping mall" will be hard to grasp, even with the additional revelation. You are the dad; you can do what you want. But there's going to be an issue. Again, the point is what the words mean. 

If you believe that the church is the true Israel, IMO, you actually have to show that from the text of Scripture. And if you do, you will have demonstrated replacement theology (that an ethnically diverse people of an entirely different nature has replaced an ethnically distinct people). To call that "fulfillment" seems meaningless to me. To me, it seems a whole lot easier just to take it for what it says both in the OT and NT. To try to construct some superstructure of explanation on top of it is neither necessary nor helpful. It seems to me there is an easier explanation.  

JBL's picture

Anyone want to discuss the dispensational / replacement idea from the angle of Revelation 7?

  1. Are the 144,000 part of the church before they are sealed?
  2. Are they part of the church after they are sealed?
  3. Are they the same 144,000 in Revelation 14:1?
  4. Genealogically, are they Jews?
  5. Do you consider this sealing as a special grace to Israel or the church?

My own thoughts:

  1. No
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Yes
  5. Israel

John B. Lee

J. Baillet's picture

Dr. Henebury, you have proven that a number of theologians have used the words “Israel,” “replacement” (or synonyms thereof), and “Church” in the same sentence. You have also provided examples of theologians who, while not employing this combination themselves, have cited with general favor the works of theologians who have. Therefore, you argue all of these theologians hold to Replacement Theology, which you define as “any theology that teaches a switching out of ‘old Israel’ with ‘new,’ ‘true Israel.’”

Therein lieth the rub. Which “Israel” does which theologian mean in which context?  As you recognize, the word “Israel” has various meanings generally and as used in Scripture. The “Church” does too.  “Replacement” can also have various shades of meaning depending upon usage.

According to your position, the Bible does not teach that there is a new, true Israel (the true seed of Abraham) which is a continuation of the old, true Israel (the true seed of Abraham) to which the covenant blessings of God ultimately belong. You may be right. You may be wrong. The question is, “What does the Bible teach?” In fairness, that is question that you and most of the commenters have been addressing, not whether certain theologians employ three words in juxtaposition (which does not in and of itself demonstrate your definition of Replacement Theology).

I must side with another Englishman, who aptly said:

Distinctions have been drawn by certain exceedingly wise men (measured by their own estimate of themselves), between the people of God who lived before the coming of Christ and those who lived afterwards. We have even heard it asserted that those who lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the Church of God! We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement! ... Israel in the Covenant of Grace is not natural Israel, but all believers in all ages.  

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon No. 848, www.spurgeongems.org/vols13-15/chs848.pdf, at p. 5 (boldface added)(italics in original) (6/30/17).

JSB

G. N. Barkman's picture

If you promise to take your son to the baseball game, and then take your daughter to the mall, you have not fulfilled your promise.  I agree.  But what if you promise to take your son to the baseball game, and then take your son and three of his closest friends on a vacation to Tokyo, which includes going to a professional baseball game.  Would that be replacement, or fulfillment?

Another issue.  The promises were "spoken" to all the citizens of national Israel, but were "made" only to those who believed.  "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel...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."  (Romans 9:6-8)  God has, and will fulfill His promises made to the seed of Abraham.  We need to believe Paul when he tells us that this was never meant to include all Abraham's physical seed, nor even all the physical seed of Jacob.  It includes all the physical seed of Abraham who are also Abraham's spiritual seed through faith.  And, surprise, surprise, it includes Gentiles, who are also Abraham's spiritual seed through faith.

G. N. Barkman

Larry's picture

But what if you promise to take your son to the baseball game, and then take your son and three of his closest friends on a vacation to Tokyo, which includes going to a professional baseball game.  Would that be replacement, or fulfillment?

It depends. If you promise your son a Tigers game, or a Braves game, or a Dodgers game and take him to a baseball game in Japan, that's a replacement. But again, no one really argues that, do they? I am not aware of anyone who would argue something similar to this. 

The promises were "spoken" to all the citizens of national Israel, but were "made" only to those who believed.  "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel...but 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.'

The "all Israel" is not someone other than Israel. It is a subset of ethnic Israel. 

We need to believe Paul when he tells us that this was never meant to include all Abraham's physical seed, nor even all the physical seed of Jacob.  It includes all the physical seed of Abraham who are also Abraham's spiritual seed through faith.  And, surprise, surprise, it includes Gentiles, who are also Abraham's spiritual seed through faith.

I am not aware of Paul saying this with reference to the whole Abrahamic covenant. As I recall, Paul says that with respect to only one part of the covenant, that all nations would be blessed through Abraham. This, he says, was a preaching of the gospel beforehand. But the AC was bigger than just that. 

And that highlights what is, in my mind, a major problem. Too often, people don't want to deal with the whole text of Scripture. They pick and choose certain parts that make their point while seeming to ignore or omit other parts. I think we have to deal with all of it. 

Larry's picture

As you recognize, the word “Israel” has various meanings generally and as used in Scripture. The “Church” does too. 

What do you have in mind here in terms of various meanings? I can't recall any time that Israel is used for anything other than ethnic Israel, whether the whole or a part. It isn't used for anyone other than ethnic Israel, is it? And I am not aware of where church is used for something other than the body of Christ. Refresh my memory here. 

We have even heard it asserted that those who lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the Church of God!

And with good reason. In the OT, the church was an unrevealed mystery. In the time of Christ it was still future since it did not begin until Pentecost. So it would be impossible to be a part of something that did not yet exist, right?

G. N. Barkman's picture

What if you told your son that you planned to give him a used Toyota Corolla when he turned eighteen.  Then, on his eighteenth birthday, you surprised him with a brand new BMW.  Is this fulfillment or replacement?  Actually, I think it is both.  It is an elaborate fulfillment which involves an amazingly upgraded replacement.  I doubt that your son would complain that you failed to keep your promise to him.

In similar fashion, God has expanded the fulfillment of promises He made to Israel in the OT, and the fulfillment is so much greater than whatever could have been understood in the original promises that the response can only be wonder, amazement, and eternal adoration.

Furthermore, no one can possibly understand what "land promises" will unfold in the new heaven and new earth.  I will not be surprised if the true Israel of God inherits all the land promised to Israel in the OT, plus a whole lot more.  How's that for replacement fulfillment?

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

The correct analogy, Bro. Barkman, is to promise your son a Toyota Corolla, then turn around and give it to your nephew instead! That is a broken promise . . . Smile

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Steve Davis's picture

Replacement or fulfillment - or expansion. The ones to whom the original promises were given could only participate by faith - in the future, in the resurrection of the righteous! No believing Israelite will be denied participation in the promises even if expanded to include the world and expanded to include all those who have the faith of Abraham, ethnic whoever. Again, it matters more what it is than what one calls it. The NT speaks of the one people of God, Jew and Gentile together in one new humanity under the authority of the quintessential Israelite in whom and through whom all the promises are fulfilled.  In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile advantage. It is all by grace through faith. There's no going back. Now if the dispensational vision of the future unfolds I will stand to be corrected. 

Per Tyler -  the son still gets the Toyota to be shared with the nephew.  The son received what was promised. He now understands that his nephew is really his brother and they are happy to be together. There's plenty of room - well maybe not in the Toyota. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Tyler,  I don't understand your analogy.  What did God promise to Israel that CTs say was given to Gentiles instead?

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Instead of a Toyota Corolla, then, are you looking at a Dodge Caravan the son and nephew have to share, then!?

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

G. N. Barkman's picture

The reason it is fulfillment, nor replacement, is that the promises God made to Israel are fulfilled in the Church.  They are fulfilled in an even greater way than the original promises seemed to indicate, and they are fulfilled to a larger body than the original promises seemed to indicate.  The church does not replace Israel, but rather expands it.  All of this was by God's eternal design, but was not readily apparent to OT Saints.  If they misunderstood God's intent, it is because they were not listening carefully and thinking expansively enough.  Clues to God's true design are sprinkled throughout the OT, and can been seen more clearly in retrospect with the aid of additional NT revelation. 

As always, God's thoughts are higher than man's, and it take a while for men to fully comprehend what God is doing.  After all, isn't it the glory of kings to conceal a matter?  Don't the richest treasures of God's grace need to be mined from the depths with great effort?  Even so, Lord, for thus it seems good in Your sight.

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

The best way to examine this is to look at NT texts. But, that isn't the purpose of this series. It is a difficult issue. I'm teaching 1 Peter 2:4-10 this coming Sunday, and translated the passage. Quotes from Exodus 19 and Hosea 2, all applied to NC saints in the churches in modern day Turkey. Complicated stuff. Still not convinced Israel is replaced. Romans 11 is foundational to me on this point. I don't think a close exegesis on this will support replacement (or whatever you prefer to call it). Romans 11 is where it's at.

But, I admit this is a tough issue.

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

G. N. Barkman's picture

Tyler, whoever said the accurate interpretation of Scripture is easy?  I agree with your statement, "Still not convinced Israel is replaced."  Neither am I.  I'm convinced that the Church encompasses Israel, adding believing Gentiles as well.  Believing Jews and believing Gentiles are the true seed of Abraham.

G. N. Barkman

J. Baillet's picture

Larry wrote:

As you recognize, the word “Israel” has various meanings generally and as used in Scripture. The “Church” does too. 

What do you have in mind here in terms of various meanings? I can't recall any time that Israel is used for anything other than ethnic Israel, whether the whole or a part. It isn't used for anyone other than ethnic Israel, is it? ... Refresh my memory here. ...

Well, let me see. Israel is not used for anyone other than ethnic Israel. Hmm. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth. Indeed, any Gentiles who sojourned with the people of God were to receive the sign of the covenant and place themselves under the law. (Gen. 17:2-3; Ex. 12:48-49). Doeg, the Edomite; Uriah, the Hittite; Zelek, the Ammonite, and many others were part of Israel. Indeed, when Solomon took the throne of Israel, there were 153,600 Gentiles in Israel pursuant to the latest census. (II Chron. 2:17). According to the prophet Isaiah,

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from his people"; … "And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."

(Isa. 56:3-8). The Lord God instructed Ezekiel,

So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord GOD.

(Eze. 47:21-23).

Anyone who was more than a casual reader (or hearer) of the Old Testament should have realized that the Israel of God is more inclusive than the ethnic offspring of Abraham. And then, there was Ishmael and the children of Keturah by Abraham, and Esau, the natural son of Isaac. Even the casual reader should have realized that the Israel of God was less inclusive that all natural offspring of Abraham. Some Gentiles are engrafted in, and some Jews are pruned out.

JSB

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