Monday, July 30, 2007

#Israel Is Not The #Church

Romans 11 clearly shows God will restore Israel when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. This entire chapter makes a stark contrast between the fullness of Israel, and the fulness of the Gentiles. That the Israel which will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, is not the church seems evident from the following considerations:

1) At every point throughout Romans 11, the term "Israel" is not only not a description of the church, or of Gentiles, but is being contrasted to the Gentiles, and the church.

2) The "Israel" which will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, is the one that is an enemy of the gospel (11:28). This is not referring to a group of people who are getting saved during the time of the fullness of the Gentiles, but who are "enemies" concerning the gospel. When you're an enemy of the gospel, you're not getting saved, and this is the condition of this "Israel" that "shall be saved" (future), during the time of the fullness of the Gentiles.

3) It is for "your sakes" (Gentiles), that this "Israel", is an enemy of the gospel (11:28b). If "Israel", here, were a reference to all the church of both Jews and Gentiles who were getting saved, not only would they not be the "enemies" of the gospel, but they would not continue to be contrasted with the "your sakes" who are being saved, in the very explanation of why they are enemies of the gospel.

4) There is nothing in the context of this chapter, or anywhere else in the Bible, which indicates "Israel" must be understood as a spiritual reference to the "church", or the time of the "fullness of the Gentiles" with which it is constantly contrasted throughout Romans. Galatians 6:16 shows that, although Paul condemned Jewish legalizers, he wished peace on those of national Israel ("Israel of God") who were truly believers (cf. Rom. 9:6) as well as (kai = "and") as many others who walk according to the principle that circumcision avails nothing.  

5) The Israel which will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, is the elect Israel which God made irrevocable covenants, gifts and promises to, and this is national Israel (Isa. 11:11-16; 45:17; 54:6-10; Jer 3:17-23; 30:17-22' 31:31-37; Jer 32:37-41; 33:24-26; Eze. 34:22-31; 37:21-28; 39:25-29; Eze. 40:1-48:35; Ho. 3:5; Joel 3:16-21; Am. 9:14,15; Mic. 7:15-20; Zep. 3:12-20; Zec. 10:6-12; Rom. 11:26; Rev. 7:4). This salvation will be fulfilled, when the deliverer comes out of Zion (Rom. 11:26; Ps. 14:7; Isa. 59:20), which will not occur till the fulness of the Gentiles "be come in" (past).

6) The contention there can't still be Jews, Gentiles, or a national Israel, since Christ made the church, ignores the plain, obvious statement of Scripture: "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God". --1 Corinthians 10:32. While it is true there is neither Jew nor Gentile within the church, because all have been made one in Christ, this does not change the status of people who are not members of the church. Jews, Gentiles, and
the Church, are still three distinct groups of people. 

7) There are 24 elders (not 12), and two sets of inscriptions in New Jerusalem, one for the tribes of Israel (Israel), and one for the apostles (representative of the church): 

Re 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 
Re 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

That both national Israel and the church are part of the same vine of faith (Romans 11), doesn't do away with the fact there remain two branches on the one vine. 

Some preterists argue that the phrase "And so", in Romans 11:26, should be translated "thus", or "in this manner", and therefore means the fulness of the Gentiles coming in, is the manner in which "Israel" (which they claim means the Gentiles, or the Church), shall be saved.  But neither the interpretation "And so", nor "in this manner" presents a problem to the interpretation this is "Israel", not the church.  The context shows the deliverer shall come out of Zion, to save Israel, 1) when the fullness of the Gentiles "be come in" (past), and 2) "as it is written", not "in the manner of the fullness of the Gentiles coming in".

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