Is Anything Actually Being Replaced? It just sounds like more family at the dinner table to me…
As usual, I’m catching up to the great theological debates of our times, a few decades late. Some of the dispensationalists make up their own version of the historic, reformed interpretation of “the Israel of God” and call it replacement theology, as though anyone were trying to diminish the role of God’s chosen people. In truth, the dispensationalists seem to be a little angry about God adopting new kids into the tribe, and adding to the chosen family.
The desire to prove beyond doubt our love for the elder children by back-bussing the younger children can get pretty vicious. A Facebook friend of mine called a Bible teacher I respect “antisemitic” for not taking the Hal Lindsey line on the rapture.
I find the history of the Christian church on this issue (Galatians 6:16) fascinating. It’s one big family, folks — Jew and Gentile. We’re all “Israel” in Christ:
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD): “We, who have been brought to God by this crucified Christ, are the true spiritual Israel, and the seed of Judah, and of Jacob, and of Isaac, and of Abraham, whose faith was attested, and who has blessed by God, and called the father of many nations, while he was in circumcision.” Source
Eusebius of Caesarea (260 – 339) “And this remnant which is left of His people “shall lift up” he says “a standard to the Gentiles.” Through them clearly the Lord will shew His sign among all the Gentiles, and through them will gather together the lost of Israel and the scattered abroad of Judah from the four corners of the earth to the Christ of God, who take refuge in Him through the preaching of His apostles, saying that those gathered together come from them who of old were exiled and cut off from the figurative Israel and Judah. The ideals of such souls shew them to be the true Israel of God..” Source
Athanasius 296-373 I beheld, under the emblem of the New Jerusalem, not the literal, the Jewish city of that name, rebuilt and new adorned; but that Israel of God by which the Prophets were wont to express the true Church and worshipers of God, under Christ the Messiah. Source
John Chrysostom (347-407) Tell me not then, he says of circumcision, which now availeth nothing..but seek the new things of grace. For they who pursue these things shall enjoy peace and amity, and may properly be called by the name of “Israel.” Source
Augustine (354-430) “Give ye glory to God, above Israel is the magnificence of Him.” Of whom saith the apostle, “Upon the Israel of God.” For “not all that are out of Israel, are Israelites” for there is also an Israel after the flesh. Whence he saith, “See ye Israel after the flesh.” “For not they that are sons of the flesh, are sons of God, but sons of promise are counted for a seed.” Source
John Calvin 1509-1564 “I extend the name of Israel unto all the people of God, to this sense, when the Gentiles shall be come in the Jews also shall turn from their defection unto the obedience of faith; and so the salvation of the whole Israel of God shall be fulfilled..” Source
John Robinson, (1576 – 1625) Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers “God doth not now-a-days select and sever from others as his peculiar, any whole nation or people, as sometimes he did the people of Israel, both ecclesiastically and civilly, (Exodus 19:6, Leviticus 20:25) “but in every nation they who fear God, and work righteousness are accepted of him.” Acts 10:35. These, in what nation soever combining together in holy covenant, and worshiping God after the prescript of his Holy Word are that holy nation, the commonwealth of Israel, The Israel of God, the temple and the tabernacle of the living God, in which he hath promised to dwell..” Source
Roger Willliams (1603-1683) Only the spiritual Israel and seed of God, the new born, are but one. Christ is the seed, (Galatians 3:16) and they only that are Christs’s are only Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Source
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) No such person as you, a wicked hater of God and Christ, and one that is under the power of a spirit of enmity against all that is good, shall ever enter there [heaven]. Such as you are, never belong to the faithful Israel of God.. Source
Thomas Ice (1951 – ) …there is not a single instance in the entire Bible where Israel refers to anything other than the Jewish people. Source