WE BELIEVE:

CONCERNING ISRAEL

Part 3: CONTRARY CLAIMS, part 1

by Norman Manzon

1. I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. . . . 28. From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29. for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. - Romans 11:1,27-29

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I. INTRODUCTION

The burden of these studies is to provide scriptural support for the claims in our doctrinal statement and to respond to contrary claims.

We have seen in Part 1 that literal Israel and the literal church are not one and the same, that the church has not been joined to Israel, and that neither Jews nor Gentiles ever forfeit or lose their national identities for any reason. We have also seen that the Bible-based definition of "Jew" is one who is a bloodline descendant of the Israeli patriarchs, and have noted that that is the meaning of "Jew" that we will retain in this series. In Part 2 we have seen that, among the nations of the Earth, God has chosen Israel for divinely ordained purposes and privileges, and that her chosenness remains until the end of time. The materials contained in Part 1 and Part 2 constitute an essential foundation for consideration of the material in our present study, and it is respectfully urged that they be studied or reviewed before proceeding.

Part 3, which we are now engaged in, is of an apologetic nature: It is a defense against contrary claims. The chief arbiter will be the Word of God and, when called for, documented extrabiblical facts.

II. RELEVANT SECTIONS OF THE AMC STATEMENT ON ISRAEL

We believe Israel is God's special people, distinct from the body of Messiah, chosen by Him to be a holy nation and a Kingdom of priests. The election of Israel is irrevocable. . . . We believe the Abrahamic Covenant is an irrevocable, unconditional covenant God made with Jewish people. This covenant provides title to the land of Israel for the Jewish people and promises a descendant (the Messiah) who would come to redeem Israel and bless the entire world. The spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant overflow to all the nations. God will ultimately fulfill every aspect of the covenant in the Messianic Kingdom, both physical and spiritual. . . .

III. CONTRARY CLAIMS

We will be addressing two classes of claims. The first is found perhaps exclusively in non-messianic Christian circles and has to do with Israel's being replaced by the church, or the church being Israel in some sense, and comes under the heading of Replacement Theology or Supersessionism, the latter of which means that the church has superseded Israel. The second is found perhaps exclusively in messianic circles and has to do with the claim that all believers are actually descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whether they know it or not, and comes under the heading of the Two-House or Ephraimite doctrine.

The biblical identity of a Jew has been examined in Part 1, and the fact that God has not rejected Israel as His covenant nation has been addressed in Part 2; yet, the claims of Replacement Theology and Two-House need to be responded to directly, and we will make a beginning of it here.

A. SUPERSESSIONISM OR REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

The meaning of this doctrine is that the church superseded or replaced Israel as God's covenant people. The three claims presented under this heading are:
1. God has rejected Israel,
2. the church has replaced Israel as God's covenant people, and
3. the church is therefore spiritual Israel.

If God has rejected Israel, then that clears the way for a replacement people; and if that people is the church, then the church may be considered spiritual Israel.

It is also conceivable that some who believe that Israel is still God's covenant people would consider the church spiritual Israel because it is composed of people whose spirits have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

We will now hold the light of Scripture to these claims and possibilities.

1. GOD HAS REJECTED ISRAEL

The meaning of this claim is that God rejected Israel as His covenant people when they rejected Yeshua as their Messiah and delivered Him up to Pilate to be crucified.

a. "May It Never Be!"
Has God rejected Israel? Paul responded to this question four times by declaring emphatically, May it never be! Did he mean, "I hope that it will never happen!"? If he did, then that would mean that Israel had not been rejected when he said it. But what exactly did he mean?

The first two times are in Romans 3:4,6:

1. Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2. Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4. May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED." 5. But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6. May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?

The point that Paul was making was that, despite the fact that some Jews didn't believe in God, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God in the matter of keeping the promises He made with Israel that are contained in the unconditional covenants that He made with them. The unbelief of some Israelites will not nullify the faithfulness of God. May it never be! In plain English, "Absolutely not!" God is not unrighteous so as to break His word, is He? May it never be! Absolutely not!

The next two times it was used are in Romans 11:1,11:
Romans 11:1: I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!
Romans 11:11: I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be!
These two verses will be examined more closely; but for now, note that in all four instances Paul worded his question in such a way as to call for a negative response.

Paul used the expression in other contexts that show exactly what he meant. Some examples:
Romans 6:15: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Absolutely not!
Romans 7:7: What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! [Absolutely not!] On the contrary. . . .
Romans 9:14: What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! Absolutely not!
Galatians 2:17: Is Messiah then a minister of sin? May it never be! Absolutely not!

In these examples, also, Paul's question is rhetorical and calls for a negative answer; but just in case his readers would have any doubt, he supplies the answer: May it never be! Absolutely not!

Paul follows his May it never be! in Romans 11:1 with, for I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. . . . What is his point? His answer is in  verses 2-5, which begins, God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. God did not reject Israel as His covenant people even during the terrible time of Israel's idolatry in the days of Elijah, which God knew about ahead of time; and the proof of it is the fact that God saved seven thousand Israelites who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Similarly, even after Israel's rejection of Messiah, which God also foreknew, God did not reject Israel as His covenant people, and the proof of it is the fact that God had reserved a faithful remnant unto Himself in Paul's day, of which Paul presents himself as an example.

To sum up, we have noticed two proofs that God has not rejected Israel as His covenant people:
1. By the very meaning of May it never be! in the way that Paul used it in different contexts.
2. By the fact that Paul was a saved Israelite.

Nevertheless, we'll address several passages that need clarification.

b. Romans 11:1-5

1. I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3. "Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE." 4. But what is the divine response to him? "I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL." 5. In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice.

Paul is comparing the situation of his day with that of Elijah's. Just as God had reserved seven thousand men to be faithful to Him in Elijah's day, so He reserved for Himself a remnant, a minority of Israelites in Paul's day, of which Paul identifies himself as a member. Paul's logic is thus: If Israel was not rejected in Elijah's day though believers among them were in the minority, so she is not rejected in Paul's day though believers among them were in the minority. Paul's conclusion applies today, as well, for both Paul and we are in the same Church Age.

c. Romans 11:11-15

11. I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13. But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14. if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

If Israel has not been rejected, then what is meant by Israel's stumbling in verse 11, fall in verse 11, and their rejection in verse 15?

Just preceding this passage, it is recorded, David says, "LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM (verse 9), and the nature of the stumbling block can be determined from 9:31-33:

31. but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.32. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33. just as it is written, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

The stumbling block that was laid in Zion, that is, Israel, was Yeshua. Israelites generally attempted to attain righteousness through the works of the Law and, on a national level, stumbled over the message that what was required for righteousness was faith in Yeshua. They stumbled over the message of faith in Him, but they did not fall: They did not become rejected by God.

But what of their rejection in verse 15? They were rejected from seeing the Messianic Kingdom established in their day. This cleared the way for the Church Age during which God is taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14). As Paul said of Israel in 11:12, their transgression is riches for the world.

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

What will their fulfillment be based on? Their acceptance by God: 15. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Their acceptance by God will be based on their national reception of Yeshua as their Messiah, as Yeshua Himself said, For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matthew 23:39). Israel will receive Him as their Messiah, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26), and He will then return and establish the Kingdom.

To restate it in sequence, Israel stumbled over the fact that faith in Messiah was required for righteousness, not the works of the Law. Her rejection of Messiah led to their rejection from seeing the Kingdom established at that time, not to their being rejected as God's covenant people. This cleared the way for the Church Age after which they will receive Messiah and be accepted by God. On the basis of their salvation Messiah will return and establish His Kingdom on Earth.

They did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! Absolutely not! This is further developed just ten verses later: 25. For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26. and so all Israel will be saved.

The fact that God has not rejected Israel cuts the legs out from under the claim that the church has replaced Israel. Replacement Theology, then, really does not have a leg to stand on.

2. THE CHURCH HAS REPLACED ISRAEL AS GOD'S COVENANT PEOPLE

Supersessionism or Replacement Theology holds that God rejected Israel because of their rejection of Messiah and then received the church as His covenant people in place of Israel because of its reception of Messiah. As God's sole covenant people, the church is now the sole possessor of the covenant promises that God transferred over to it from Israel.

This matter has been dealt with at length in Part 2, and will be dealt with only summarily here:
1.
God has not rejected His people [Israel] (Romans 3:4,6; 11:1,11)
2.
to whom - still - belong - present tense - the covenants (Romans 9:4)
3. which are unconditional,
4. which
renders
a. the covenants non-transferable, and also renders
b.
the gifts and the calling of God on Israel irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

Because of these things, the church could not possibly have replaced Israel as God's covenant people.

The church is a people of God, but it has not replaced Israel, which is also a people of God. Since the Day of Pentecost God has been orchestrating an interplay between the two for the benefit of both, the outworking of His divine purposes, and the glorification of His Name. All of this is explained in Part 2.

3. DANGERS OF SUPERSESSIONISM
OR REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

1. It misrepresents God as one who breaks His promises. If God breaks His promises, then how is one to know his salvation is secure (which is the whole point of Romans 9-11)? How may the church know that God will not find a people to replace it for the great sins it has committed?

2. Interpretation of Scripture based on bias. Notwithstanding those who honestly misunderstand passages of Scripture, huge portions of Scripture have been consciously misinterpreted by some who cannot countenance the thought of the Jews still being God's chosen people among the nations.

3. From at least as early as the second century, anti-Semitic statement have been made by church leaders, and virulent anti-Semitic policies and campaigns have been launched on the basis of the claim that God had rejected Israel because of her rejection of Yeshua. Even today, major denominations that hold to this belief promote economic divestiture from Israel and find fault with her every move despite the fact that she is surrounded by implacable and voracious wolves.

4. Instead of provoking Israel to jealousy for the Messiah that the church is meant to do (cf. Romans 11:11), the anti-Semitism that has resulted from Replacement Theology has provoked Israel to revulsion at the thought of Yeshua being their Messiah.

5. The very small proportion of Jews who have joined the church through the centuries because of the anti-Semitism that this doctrine has engendered has resulted in a lack of understanding or misunderstanding of much of Scripture because Jews, who are generally more familiar with the Hebrew language, Mosaic and rabbinic law and Jewish culture than are Gentiles, were not present to explain.

6. Two Covenant theology was formulated by Franz Rosenzweig after World War I, but Replacement Theology prepared the way for its broad adoption after World War II:

[Two Covenant theology] was put forward by "Christian" theologians, Protestant and Catholic, in place of and as a critique of the traditional supersessionism in the post-Holocaust era. In their view, supersessionist thinking contributed to the Holocaust and two covenant theology was a necessary adjustment. . . . [T]hey adopted the concept and promoted it in the post Holocaust era.1

The key feature is the belief that Jews and Christians are related to God separately by distinct covenants. Christianity offers a covenant relationship to God for Gentiles through Jesus The Messiah. Judaism offers a covenant relationship to God for Jewish people through Torah. . . . Quite consistent with this, those who take this dual-covenant view of Judaism and Christianity have repudiated Christian evangelism and mission to Jewish people not just as an affront, but as a theological violation of God's covenant with Israel.2

Here is a classic case of error begetting error with the offspring being more insidious than the parent. Contrary to Replacement Theology, Two Covenant holds that Israel is in a favored relationship with God and therefore repudiates the evangelism of Jews!3

B. CONCEPTS AND SCRIPTURES IN QUESTION

There are perhaps a dozen key passages that are used to support the various claims of Replacement Theology. We will examine them one at a time in the sequence in which they appear in Scripture, and then draw conclusions. The nature of the issues at hand compel me as a Jew to declare to you that I continually appeal to God to empower me in such a way that my analysis of Scripture will never be driven by an outcome that would be favorable to Jews, but on the basis of fair and reasonable analysis applied in an objective manner. I humbly appeal to my readers - Jew and Gentile alike - to take the same approach.

1. "SPIRITUAL ISRAEL," "SPIRITUAL JEW"

Following on the heels of believing that the church has replaced Israel as God's covenant people are the beliefs that the church is spiritual Israel and its members are spiritual Jews. The reasoning is thus: Since Israel is a people by natural generation, then the church, which is a people by regeneration of human spirits by the Holy Spirit, it may validly be referred to as spiritual Israel, the true Israel, the New Israel, the Israel of God, or some similar title, and its members as inward Jews, spiritual Jews, Israelites of God, or some similar title.

Since, according to Paul, the church has absolutely not replaced Israel, then none of these designations are valid. Nevertheless, scriptures that are used to support this contrary claim must be examined.

As a preliminary concern, let us see whether or not Scripture uses the word "spiritual" in reference to a believing Gentile being a spiritual Jew.

We will examine all the phrases in the entire Bible in which "spiritual" is used, and then draw some observations: spiritual gift or spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 14:1,12; 1 Timothy 4:14); the Law is spiritual (Romans 7:14); spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1); spiritual things (Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 19:11); spiritual thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:13); spiritual words (1 Corinthians 2:13); he who is spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:15); spiritual men (1 Corinthians 3:1); spiritual food (1 Corinthians 10:3); spiritual rock, spiritual drink (1 Corinthians 10:4); if anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual (1 Corinthians 14:37); spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44); the spiritual [body] is not first (1 Corinthians 15:46); you who are spiritual (Galatians 6:1); every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3); spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)); spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12); spiritual wisdom (Colossians 1:9); spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5).

OBSERVATIONS:
1. "Spiritual" is never used in conjunction with one's race.
2. "Spiritual" is never used in reference to a believing Gentile being a spiritual Jew.
3. In reference to people, "spiritual" is used only of one who has a mature walk in the Lord irregardless of whether he or she is a Jew or Gentile: he who is spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:15); spiritual men (1 Corinthians 3:1); if anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual (1 Corinthians 14:37); you who are spiritual (Galatians 6:1).

According to scriptural usage, even a believing Jew whose walk is not mature should be not called a spiritual Jew. How then can the church be called spiritual Israel and all of its members spiritual Jews?

We are dealing with terms here, but the concepts underlying the terms will be examined further.

2. ROMANS 2:23-29

23. You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24. For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written. 25. For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27. And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

29. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly. Does the passage indicate that a believing Gentile is an inward Jew?

There are three keys to understanding verses 23-29:
1. The passage is a continuation of a major theme in the chapter, that blessings and cursing from God fall upon people irregardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile, but are contingent upon the state of their hearts before God.

2.
Verses 23-25 show that Paul is addressing Jews who did not believe.
3. According to Pharisaic Judaism, the dominant Judaism of the day, all Jews who were circumcised would enter the prophesied Messianic Kingdom, and those who were not would not.

Verses 25-27 is a refutation of that Pharisaic belief. What Paul is saying is that Jews and Gentiles who conform to God's requirements will enter the Kingdom, and Jews as well as Gentiles who do not conform to God's requirements will not, because it is inner circumcision, the circumcision of the heart, that determines entry, not outward.

What he is saying in verses 28 and 29 is, "Jews were called out by God to be a people circumcised in heart; but though you are Jews by birth, you are not Jews who are true to your calling because you are not circumcised in heart. To be a true Jew, you must be one inwardly."

Verses 23-29 may be summed up as follows:
1. It is the inward circumcision that counts, not the outward, for entry into God's Kingdom.
2. Neither Jew nor Gentile whose heart is not circumcised will enter God's Kingdom.
3. Both Jews and Gentiles whose hearts are circumcised will enter God's Kingdom.
4. To be a Jew who is true to his calling as a Jew he must be circumcised inwardly.

There is no reference in the passage to Gentile believers being inward Jews. The circumcision of the heart renders one inwardly righteous, not inwardly Jewish. This is consistent with what we've already seen in Part 1: Nicolas, who was a proselyte to Judaism and was outwardly circumcised, and had come to believe and was inwardly circumcised, was still not called a Jew in any sense, but a proselyte (Acts 6:5).

3. ROMANS 4:11-17

11. and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12. and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15. for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 16. For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17. (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

As has been shown, it was the covenant that God made with Abraham that laid the foundation for the New Covenant, which is applicable today and by which all who have faith in Messiah are counted righteous before God: So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham (Galatians 3:9). In this sense Abraham is the father of all Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Messiah; but verse 12 says that Abraham was the father of circumcision to both Jews and Gentiles who follow in the steps of Abraham's faith, and also contains the phrase our father Abraham. This again raises the question: Does a Gentile's faith make him an inward Jew?

The passage is addressing the matter of Abraham's being the father of all who have faith, an inward matter, and is summed up by the quote, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU." Now, if Paul was concerned about a matter of the heart, why did he refer to MANY NATIONS if he was trying to convey that all who are of faith are inward Jews: one nation? The only way his reference could make sense is if he meant that Abraham was the father of faithful Jews, Arabs, Chinese, etc. He was not even thinking of a believing Gentile being an inward Jew.

Paul explained that Abraham's outward circumcision was a sign and a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised. He didn't say that it changed Abraham's race inwardly or outwardly. To be the father of circumcision, then, means to be the fountainhead of those who bear the sign and seal of the righteousness of. . . faith, which is the circumcision of the heart, which Paul didn't say changes one's race inwardly or outwardly. Americans say, "George Washington is the father of our country," but I'm an American and my name is not Washington. As Americans are recipients of the heritage of which Washington is considered the fountainhead, so all those who are of the faith of Abraham are recipients of the heritage of the faith of which Abraham, humanly speaking, is considered the fountainhead. This is the sense in which the passage uses father, and it is still a commonly used expression in the Hebrew language today. There is therefore no basis in the passage for referring to a believing Gentile as an inward Jew.

Again we'll draw a parallel from the natural realm: Abraham was the father of eight sons (Genesis 16:1-16; 21:1-3; 25:1-2), but only one, Isaac, was in the covenant line. Furthermore, Isaac fathered two sons, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19-26), but only one was in the covenant line: Jacob, whose name became Israel; and none of the sons of Abraham's other seven sons were in the covenant line. It's plain to see, then, that not all whom Abraham fathered physically are Israelites or Jews. In a parallel manner, not all whom Abraham fathered by virtue of the faith of Abraham are inward Jews. Paul makes just this kind of comparison in Romans 9:7, as we'll see right now.

4. ROMANS 9:1-8

1. I am telling the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2. that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4. who are Israelites. . . . 6. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7. nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED." 8. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

Such translations as For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel (New American Standard) and For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel (American Standard Version) seem to say that those who are of the nation of Israel do not constitute the entire nation, but that there are those who are not of the nation who are also part of the nation. But consider these literal translations: all the [ones] of Israel, these [are] not Israel (Analytical-Literal Translation); not all those of Israel are Israel (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible); not all who are of Israel are these Israel (Young's Literal Translation). They start out with the entire nation then eliminate some. They speak of subtraction, not of addition or replacement. Well, is Paul saying that Israel is added to, or subtracted from? If one needed to judge on the basis of translations, he should lean toward literal ones; yet, this is not conclusive. Another thing that needs to be considered is this: Is the statement speaking of people being added or subtracted physically or inwardly?

Paul's dissertation begins with verse 1, and verses 1-5 show that Paul's focus is on the salvation of literal Israelites. His dissertation continues on through the end of the chapter where he reiterates the same concern, and then carries it over to chapter 10. Paul's overriding concern in 9:1-8 is the salvation of Israelites.

In verse 7, Paul tells us that not all of Abraham's physical descendants will be in the covenant line, and uses that as a parallel to the situation within Israel, that not all Israelites are children of God by means of salvation (verse 8). The point is strengthened by verse 31-33:

31. but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33. just as it is written, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

In verse 31, Paul is speaking of literal Israel, which Mt. Zion in Jerusalem represents. HE in Israel WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED, and he in Israel who does not believe in Him will be disappointed. Again, he is distinguishing between Jews who believe and Jews who do not. They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel means that not all who are physical Israelites are true to the nation's call to have faith in God.

The unbroken focus since verse 1 has been on Israelites, and it continues unbroken through verse 13. Gentiles who are saved are not brought into the picture until verse 23. They are called MY PEOPLE in verse 25, but no mention is made of their being Israelites in any sense. We know that the church is a people of God: for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua (Galatians 3:28). They are MY PEOPLE as members of the church, not as members of Israel.

There is no support in the passage for thinking that believing Gentiles are inward Jews or that the church is the new Israel.

5. ROMANS 11:15-29

We've covered the relevant points of Romans 11:1-5 and 11-15, and we'll begin with verse 15 here so we can see the flow of Paul's thoughts in an unbroken manner:

15. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16. If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18. do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20. Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21. for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? 25. For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26. and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." 27. "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." 28. From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29. for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Many hold that believing Gentiles, being the wild olive branches, are grafted into Israel, being the olive tree. Based on that premise, they also hold that believing Gentiles are joined to Israel on the basis of their faith and are therefore inward Jews; and extrapolated to the church, the church is Israel inwardly, the New Israel, etc. Can these claims validly be derived from the passage?

The key question we need to answer is, Is the tree Israel?

Let us consider:
1. Paul is speaking to Gentiles: But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles (verse 13).
2. He is speaking
about literal Israel (verses 15, 25-27).
3. He identifies his Gentile audience as being cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and [being] grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree (verse 24).
4. Israel is the owner of the cultivated olive tree. Verse 24: their own olive tree.
5. Believing Jews (verse 17) and believing Gentiles (verse 20) are presently attached to the cultivated olive tree. (Per verse 17, some Jewish branches were broken off, not all.)
6. Gentile believers are partaker with believing Jews of the rich root of the olive tree (verse 17).
7. The tree is a place of blessing, providing nourishment to those who are attached (verse 17).

Is the tree Israel?

It cannot be for the simple reason that Israel owns the tree, and Israel is not owned by itself in any sense.
a. If Israel is taken to be physical Israel as the passage calls for it to be taken, Israel does not own physical Israel; God owns physical Israel:
My people and My inheritance, Israel (Joel 3:2).
b. If Israel is taken to represent believers as some take it, Israel does not own believers; God owns believers: 1 Peter 1:18-19. 18. knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19. but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,
the blood of Messiah. (Also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:22-23.)

Since the tree is not Israel in any sense, the passage does not state or imply that believing Gentiles are grafted into Israel in any sense, and it cannot be said on the basis of the passage that they have been added to Israel in any sense, or that they are physical or inward Jews, or that the church is Israel physically or inwardly, or the New Israel, or some similar entity, or that it has replaced Israel.

Not only can the tree not be Israel, it cannot be Messiah, the Gospel, or the church either, because Israel does not own any of them either. What, then, is the cultivated olive tree?

It is something that Israel owns that can bring great blessing to Jews and Gentiles alike. Now, Israel owns the unconditional covenants that God has made with them: to whom belongs. . . the covenants (Romans 9:4); yet, it cannot be the covenants per se because Israelites cannot be broken off from the covenants as the covenants are unconditional. God's covenants with Israel as a nation are still in effect though blessings are presently withheld from the nation as a whole until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and. . . all Israel will be saved (verses 25-26). What can be derived from the passage without contradicting any Bible fact is that the cultivated olive tree is the place of spiritual blessing of which both Jewish and Gentile believers are partaker on the basis of their faith (Ephesians 3:6), and which is rooted in the unconditional covenants that God has made with Israel.

Another element in the passage also refutes the idea that the church has replaced Israel. Consider verse 26, All Israel will be saved. If Israel is taken literally as context calls for it to be taken, then God has not rejected Israel and the church could not have replaced her; but if Israel is taken as the church, then the statement could read, "All the church will be saved," which would be an absurdity because the church is composed solely of people who are already saved, and Paul had gotten writer's cramp over a three chapter span to climax with an absurdity.

C. SUMMARY

In none of the passages that we have thus far examined is there any justification for believing that God has rejected Israel as His covenant nation, or that the church has replaced or been added to Israel in any sense. The church cannot, on the basis of these passages, be called inward Israel, spiritual Israel, New Israel or any such entity, nor can its members be considered inward Jews or some similar entity. Nor can any of its members be called a spiritual Jew unless that member is a physical Jew who has a mature walk in the Lord.

We have examined what seems to be all the key passages in Romans that are used to support claims contrary to these biblical truths. We will continue in our next edition with other such passages as well as the matter of the Ephraimite or Two-House doctrine.

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FOOTNOTES AND RECOMMENDED READING

1. Quoted from an email of August 19, 2010 to the author by Dr. Blaising.

2. From "The Future of Israel as a Theological Question," Craig A. Blaising, Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Presented to The National Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 19, 2000, Nashville, Tennessee.

3. For a plain and simple refutation of this doctrine from Hell, see the author's study, Messianic Issues in Jewish Salvation.

OTHER RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chafer, Dr. Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, (Kregel Publications, 1976). Sections on Israel and/or the church in volumes I, III, IV, V, VI, VII.

Materials by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum *

Book Length
1. The Footsteps of the Messiah.
2. Genesis.
3. Hebrew Christianity: Its Theology, History and Philosophy
4. Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology
5. Jesus Was a Jew.
6. The Messianic Epistles: Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude

Booklet Length, Small to Large:
Messianic Bible Studies
1. 005: How to Destroy the Jews
2. 006: The Law of Moses and the Law of Messiah
3. 007: Jews, Gentiles, Christians

4. 018: Israel in the Messianic Kingdom
5. 021: The Eight Covenants of the Bible
6. 041: The Dispensations of God
7. 080: The Theology of Israel: A Study of Romans 9-11
8. 087: The Books of Romans and the Jews
9. 097: The Universal Church

10. 115:
The Wife of Jehovah and the Bride of Christ
11. 160: The Day of Pentecost and the Birth of the Church
12. 179: The Church and the Jews
13. 189: The Modern State of Israel and Bible Prophecy
14. 191: The Remnant of Israel: Past, Present and Future

* Dr. Fruchtenbaum's materials are available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various formats. Some of
his Messianic Bible Studies (mbs) are also available for free online reading at Ariel's Come and See.
Other select materials and resources are available at Ariel, as well.

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For a continuous exegesis of every doctrinal point in our Statement
covered thus far, see the
"We Believe" compendium
*

Norman Manzon, 2010.

Norman Manzon is a Bible teacher in Hawaii
and may be reached at BibleStudyProject@hawaiiantel.net.

More of Norm's studies may be accessed at www.BibleStudyProject.org.

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