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Is the Gospel Replacement Theology?

Replacement Theology is the view that God terminated his program with Israel and replaced it with the church. Dispensationalists believe that God has two separate programs. One is where he fulfills an earthly land promise to Israel, and a second is where the church gets what some might call the "pie in the sky" promise, called the heavenly promise.

Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Bigstock Photo

For this reason, they believe God's covenant with the nation of Israel revealed in the Bible is unconditional. They conclude the church is an accident or side program subservient to Israel that does not alter God's relationship with the covenant nation revealed in the Bible. From this reasoning, and by transference of "wild olives" from Europe in 1948 who were grafted into the natural branches of the land of the Philistines (Palestine), they assert inheritance rights to Palestine based on the ancient covenant nation.

1. What is a Jew or Israelite?

2. Did God cast off Israel in creating the church?

3. Were the Jews in the N.T. able to prove that Paul was guilty of Replacement Theology?

4. Does the church have a different hope than that which Israel had?

What Is A Jew?

Biblically speaking, Jew derived from a geographic term relating to those who were from the land of Judah. They were called Judahites. This is the same as calling one from California, a California. It is not ethnic. They were derived from Jacob's fourth son and were given a designated land in the southern part of Israel for their inheritance. Together with Benjamin they formed a part of the Southern Kingdom after the division which occurred after the reign of King Solomon in the days of his son Rehoboam.

Secondly, the term Jew referred to the religion of the Jews who adopted the covenant of Moses by birth or through proselytism. Thus, Jews were not ethnic but religious. The same was true for the 10 northern tribes of the house of Israel. Abraham had servants in his house who were not of his seed, but who were circumcised and accepted the covenant.

The lineage of Christ included a Moabitess, (Ruth) who married Boaz, the descendant of David. Uriah's wife was a Hittite and the mother of Solomon. A mixed multitude of people who came out of Egypt and others who were proselytized were part of the nation. It would be reasonable to conclude some of them were part of Judah.

The last definition of a Jew as used in the Bible refers to a Christian, one who has obeyed the gospel (Jew or Gentile). "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Rom. 2:28-29) In this manner, Jew is used in a figurative sense to distinguish it from those who were followers of the covenant of Moses.

Question #2: Did God Cast Off Israel In Establishing the Church?

Although it is difficult to understand how anyone can arrive at this conclusion, we hope the following evidence will help some to see that the church is not Replacement Theology.

Jesus referred to Israel, through the prophecy in Hosea 11:1, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I have called my son". Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt to protect Jesus from the slaughter of infants by Herod Agrippa . When it was safe they returned. Matthew applied the prophecy of Hosea to Christ. "Out of Egypt, I have called My Son". This lets us know that Jesus was true Israel. Israel's calling before God was one to obedience (Ex. 19:8). Jesus fulfilled that role earning him the sole right of being true Israel, (Rom. 10:4).

Another example is taken from Hosea 5:13-6:3. The prophet speaks of tearing the people like a lion because of their idolatry and refusal to repent. God said he would hide his face from them until they returned to him.

In returning, he would raise them from the dead (restore them to a covenant relationship) on the third day. This prophecy is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15 where it is applied to Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Next, on the day of Pentecost, when the gospel is first preached, there were Jews from every nation under heaven. They responded to the gospel and 3000 souls were added to the church.

Observe that this was a call to repentance among the Jews for crucifying Christ, (Acts 2:22-23). Those who responded were added to the church. The church therefore consisted only of Jews.

The prophecy Peter quoted to encourage their conversion among others was the prophecy of Joel, who said God was calling a remnant from the nation of Israel back to himself. Joel said God would save those in Mt. Zion and deliver those in Jerusalem who were among the remnant. Therefore, the church fulfills the prophecy of the remnant who responded to the call of God.

Peter, speaking to the church about Jewish promises said the promise was to all whom The Lord would call. That means all who obeyed were called of God and were therefore the remnant of Israel.

For the next 10 years or so, the gospel was preached to none but Jews, Acts 11:19. That means the entire church was made up of Jews. Since God had poured out his Spirit upon those in the church, they were the remnant. Up to this point, i.e. before Cornelius, there were no Gentiles in the church. It was completely Jewish, primarily consisting of Hebrew and Greek speaking Jews. The Greeks were called Hellenist Jews.

Gentiles came into that one body of Jewish Christians starting at the house of Cornelius. Peter, in Acts 15: 9-11, said God would save the Gentiles without placing the "yoke of bondage" upon them referring to Moses' law that had been placed upon the Jews. He then said something very remarkable. Speaking of how the Jews would be saved and to counter the movement in the church who wanted to impose Moses' law and circumcision on the Gentiles, said, God made no difference between Jews and Gentiles purifying their hearts by faith. Then he said, we believe we shall be saved even as they. That meant, the Jews likewise would be saved by faith, apart from the law of Moses.

James quoted Amos 9:15, saying to this the words of the prophets agree, that after the Gentiles had come in, God would build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen down; I will set up its ruins, And I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek The Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says The Lord who does all these things. Acts 15:14-17.

We should observe that the Jerusalem Temple was already in place and refurbished. Yet God would build the tabernacle of David. He is not speaking of the Jerusalem temple. It had not been torn down and would not be so for another 30 years. He was speaking of the kingdom of David that would not and could not be completed until the Gentiles had come in so all Israel would be saved. Remember, Israel are those who obey God. Romans 9:6-8

Some of the unbelieving Jews had become jealous of this Jewish church, especially because the Gentiles were now considered equal with Jews. This by the way destroys the idea of Jewish supremacy or sovereignty in the church.

They asked, "Has God cast away his people whom he foreknew? Paul said, God forbid, For I am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew.

Paul, formerly, Saul, the Zionist who opposed the church of God and sought to destroy it from the earth, (Gal. 1:13, 23) had now become a convert. He, like Christ was the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. His conversion to Christ did not destroy his ethnic connection to Abraham. In others words, he says God has not replaced Israel with the church, but was saving remnant Israel through the church.

Paul reminded Israel of the remnant who God reserved to himself during the time of apostasy in Israel. His unbelieving brethren could make no objection to it. He then says, "Even so at that time God there was a remnant according to the election of grace". The church is the remnant of Israel. According to the election of grace means they were saved by the grace of God, just as Peter said, in Acts 15.

Later, when he was before Felix, the chief priests and elders charged he was teaching "Replacement Theology". They accused Paul of being a plague" and a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes who tried to profane the temple. They wanted to condemn him to death according to Torah. The Jewish people also agreed to the charges made against Paul.

He responded by saying, Paul denied all the charges made against him regarding inciting riots or stirring up dissension in the temple, city or the synagogues. Then he said, "Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things written in the Law and in the prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. (Acts 23:14-15).

Later to Agrippa II, he said he witnesses both to small and great saying no other things than those which Moses and the prophets said should come. that Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:22-23) See also Isa. 2:2-3; Lk. 24:44-47.

Paul said, it could not be proven that he taught Replacement Theology. Paul was a member of the church. Therefore, the church is not replacement theology, but is the fulfillment of all things Moses and the Prophets said would come.

Those who use the charge of Replacement Theology are misapplying the teaching of Scripture in order to uphold their exclusive agenda, and in some cases racism by claiming a sovereign and exclusive people with a separate covenant as Dispensationanlist ZioChristians do.

Does God have Two Hopes One for Israel and One for the Church?

No, God only had one hope of Israel. Paul, speaking of his house arrest, said "for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain". (Acts 28:20) He was a Christian, a former Jewish persecutor of the church who converted to Christianity. Yet, he had the one hope of Israel for which he was bound. There is but one hope, Eph. 4:5. Christ is our hope, 1 Tim. 1:1. Therefore, the church is Israel's hope. It is not a replacement.

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