Part 5 – Replacement Theology: Further False Teachings and Confusion Given By the Adversary To Keep Men and Women From the Heart of God and Yeshua
by Ken Pullen
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
In earlier installments in this series I began some of them by writing, “I am not a Jew. I am a Gentile, but I am an Israelite.”
Some might misinterpret this and think I am in line with the error of their belief, their indoctrination of grave false teaching that the Christian church has replaced Israel in the sight and heart of God, and that I have taken the errant path to destruction that what is clearly stated in Scripture, and easily interpreted, and gone the way of literally tens of millions in misinterpretation — convinced everything is allegorical, or symbolism, and nothing is literal to them.
Well, it is literal that God our Father does not lie.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Numbers 23:19 – King James Version
“God is not a human who lies or a mortal who changes his mind. When he says something, he will do it; when he makes a promise, he will fulfill it.”
Numbers 23:19 – Complete Jewish Bible
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
Titus 1:1-3 – King James Version
From: Sha’ul, God’s slave and an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, sent to promote among God’s chosen people the trust and knowledge of truth which lead to godliness and which are based on the certain hope of eternal life. God, who does not lie, promised that life before the beginning of time but made public this word of his in its own season through a proclamation with which I have been entrusted by order of God, our Deliverer.
Titus 1:1-3 – Complete Jewish Bible
It is literal God our Father is immutable and He does not change His mind, that He is not human, thankfully, and that He remains the same as He was, as He is, and as He will be always.
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
Hebrews 6:13-19 – King James Version
For when God made his promise to Avraham, he swore an oath to do what he had promised; and since there was no one greater than himself for him to swear by, he swore by himself[b] and said, “I will certainly bless you,
and I will certainly give you many descendants”;[c] and so, after waiting patiently, Avraham saw the promise fulfilled. Now people swear oaths by someone greater than themselves, and confirmation by an oath puts an end to all dispute. Therefore, when God wanted to demonstrate still more convincingly the unchangeable character of his intentions to those who were to receive what he had promised, he added an oath to the promise; so that through two unchangeable things, in neither of which God could lie, we, who have fled to take a firm hold on the hope set before us, would be strongly encouraged. We have this hope as a sure and safe anchor for ourselves, a hope that goes right on through to what is inside the parokhet, where a forerunner has entered on our behalf, namely, Yeshua, who has become a cohen gadol forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.[d]
b. Hebrews 6:13 Genesis 22:16
c. Hebrews 6:14 Genesis 22:17
d. Hebrews 6:20 Psalm 110:4
Avraham – Abraham
parokhet – curtain, specifically the one dividing the Especially Holy Place from the rest of the temple, or tabernacle (see Exodus 26:21-37; 36:35-38)
Yeshua – Jesus of Nazareth, God-man on earth in the form of our Lord, Messiah, and Saviour
cohen gadol – the high priest
Hebrews 6:13-20 – Complete Jewish Bible
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
Hebrews 13:7-9 – King James Version
Remember your leaders, those who spoke God’s message to you. Reflect on the results of their way of life, and imitate their trust — Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do not be carried away by various strange teachings; for what is good is for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods. People who have made these the focus of their lives have not benefited thereby.
Hebrews 13:7-9 – Complete Jewish Bible
The same source who has created this false teaching pertaining to Israel, Jews, Gentiles, and the Church is the very same source which causes all confusion and false teaching pertaining to Jesus was not really born of a virgin — as 6 out of every 10 graduates from seminaries and theology schools believe upon graduating, and that the literal resurrection did not take place, and that other faiths without Yeshua, Jesus the Lord, the Son of God can achieve eternal life with the One True Living God — and while few want to speak the truth that source is Satan. No other. All the false teachings, all the false teachers, all the unsound doctrine emanates from one source and only one — Satan. The Adversary. He is the one tickling the itching ears filling hearts and minds with fables and lies, and garnering tens of millions of followers to his lies, rather than those following him abiding in and retaining the truth of Scripture in the word of God!
In this installment of a series titled “Course Correction” I am going to include many articles written by other people pertaining to replacement theology — what it is, why it is really a false teaching and is not Scriptural. Even though literally millions upon millions of professed Christians adhere to it, believe it, and never question or think about it — because their pastors, their preachers, their denominations have taken precedence to them over the complete, inerrant Word of God.
No where in the Bible does it say — even by broad misinterpretation if one understands the language, context, place, and doctrine — that Gentiles and the Christian church has or will replace the land of Israel and the covenants made by God to the tribes of Israel, the Jews.
Part 5 of “Course Correction” will only touch on this subject, yet provide enough information and resources anyone who might have been confused, anyone who had been following the false doctrine of replacement theology will be able to learn the truth and shed the false teachings they have been indoctrinated with.
Let us please return to a purity of worship and faith as given to us in the truth of the entire Holy Bible, the God-breathed inerrant Word of God given to men by His Spirit for our instruction, our reproof, our rebuking, our chastisement, our salvation and life. Let us please set aside and put away all errant false, unsound doctrine and denominational corruptions of the pure and easy to understand words of God given to us for our instruction.
I will add some comments and thoughts in this installment, but it will primarily be filled with the words of other writers on this subject, and include numerous Scriptural references. I pray and trust all reading this will turn to God in earnest prayer and with a pure heart containing no iniquity ask the Holy Spirit to instruct them, guide them, and reveal the Truth to them in this, and all matters — going to God our Father in all things.
Different articles and comments will be divided by photographs or illustrations delineating going from one writer to another.
Is God immutable? What is the significance of the
immutability of God?
Something that is immutable is unchangeable. One dictionary definition states that immutability is the quality of not being subject to or susceptible to change. God cannot change, nor can He be changed. Malachi 3:6a says, “For I the LORD do not change.” James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The Bible reveals the unchangeable nature of God (see also Numbers 23:19 and Isaiah 46:9-11).
Logically, we know that God cannot change. He is eternally existent. Isaiah 57:15 says that God “inhabits eternity.” He created time and is therefore outside of time (read about God’s relationship to time in this article). Change is measured over time. Something used to be one way and is now another. Because God is outside of time, He cannot change or be changed.
Change also constitutes something qualitative or quantitative. A thing gets better, gets worse, has more, or has less. God is perfect (1 Peter 1:15). He is complete. There are no attributes for Him to gain. Were He to lose any of His attributes, He would cease to be God.
Information is often what prompts change. God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything (Job 21:22; Isaiah 40:13-14; Romans 11:33; Hebrews 4:13). There is no new knowledge that would prompt God to change. However, there are Scriptures stating that God relents or “changes” His mind. Such Scriptures do not imply that God Himself changes or even that God alters His mind. God will sometimes work in one direction and then seemingly change directions based on our actions. He knows that the change is coming, but our action is still required to make the change. God’s relenting or changing His mind can therefore be seen as a change in situation, or His outward dealings with man, in that moment. Because of our limited view of time, we understand Him to have relented or changed His mind, but He knew the final outcome all along.
The unchanging nature of God can give us peace. God’s character will not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8; Exodus 3:14). We can trust Him to be who He says He is. God is not going to suddenly stop loving us or suddenly stop being just. In a world where the only constant is change, God remains unchanged. We can rely on Him to be our solid foundation.
Note from Ken:
Readers, please remember this truth — God, Yeshua, Jesus the Lord, and the Holy Spirit did not dictate, create, or command that man separate Their Word into an “Old” testament, and a “New” testament. That was done by the whim and ways of man. Not God. There has not been any interruption, no intermission in history or the continual pace of this world since our Father created everything we know of this earth. No part of the Godhead changes. Or ceases. Or had a beginning. Or and end. They are immutable — unchanging. Always. They are the same as They were, as They are, as They will be. There is no “Old” testament version God and “New” testament version God. God the Father did not disappear while Jesus the Lord was on earth as God-man.
Nor could God come to earth in any other form to allow His plan and each person’s free will to unfurl.
He could not have come any other way than how He was prophesized as coming. He was not one way 3,000, 4,000, 6,000 years ago and then changed as of 2,000 years ago to our present day.
QUESTION: “What is replacement theology /
Reprinted from a website called – Got Questions.org
Answer: Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).
Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?
The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God’s program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.
After the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God’s plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ’s kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God’s plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).
What is replacement theology? #2
Reprinted from a website called – Compelling Truth
Author – Unknown
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus with the sound of a violent, rushing wind and the appearance of tongues of fire. In the ensuing years, the alteration of the worship of God was no less dynamic for the Jews who had chosen to follow Jesus as their Messiah. Christ caused an upheaval in their worldview. The Jewish believers no longer relied on the daily sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins, and they learned to think of God as Someone whom they could speak to directly, bypassing the system of priesthood. They also had to deal with the steady influx of Gentiles into the church, which challenged their Jewish sensibilities. The Jews, who had always been God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 14:2), now faced the fact that God was choosing people from all nations, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.
The crucial first-century transition from Judaism to Christianity was so significant that we are still debating its ramifications. Specifically, if God is now relating to the world through the church instead of through the nation of Israel, what does that mean for Israel? Is this a temporary condition, as the dispensationalists believe, or is God really and completely done with the Jews as a nation?
The latter belief is called “replacement theology.” It teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plans, prophecies, and blessings. The roles of Israel and the church are foundational to the events of the end times; what one believes about replacement theology largely determines what one believes about the rapture, the tribulation, and the millennial kingdom, not to mention the role of the church in modern society.
A couple of practical matters led to the formation of replacement theology. One was that, for 2,400 years, from their exile to Babylon to the formation of Israel in modern times, Jews did not have a sovereign nation. And, after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, Jews were largely spread throughout the world. Another matter was the increasing wealth, advancement, and global reach of Christian sects and “Christian” nations. All this seemed to indicate God’s abandonment of Israel and His focus on the church. Anti-Semitism also played a role. As the church emphasized the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, some Gentile believers adopted the common pagan belief that Jews are religiously backward and socially unapproachable.
Replacement theology is not based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. As the Bible uses metaphor (no one really expects God to send all the goats of the world to hell, as Matthew 25:31-33 allegorizes), some theologians concluded that much unfulfilled prophecy must have also been intended as metaphor—the promises made to Israel were really meant for the church. Once this simple “explanation” was made, large portions of the Bible became open to personal interpretation.
The Bible is filled with prophecies promising peace and wealth to Israel, and a great many are still unfulfilled, including a promise detailing specific borders (Genesis 15:18-20; Numbers 34:1-12), a promise of a King from the line of David (2 Samuel 7), and a promise that Israel would one day be wholly devoted to God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Given the continued non-existence of a Jewish state and the success of Christian-led endeavors, it was difficult to see how such prophecies would ever be fulfilled. Some assumed they would be more easily and completely fulfilled through the church than through the Jewish people, and replacement theology was born.
In order to shift prophecy to the church, several specific promises must be “spiritualized” or “allegorized,” that is, reinterpreted non-literally. Abraham’s descendants beyond counting (Genesis 22:17) become all Christ-followers, not literal biological descendents. The literal 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-6) becomes symbolic, either referencing the saints in heaven or the reign of Jesus in believers’ hearts.
Allegorizing such a foundational concept as the subject of prophecy opens up many more issues. If the millennial kingdom is for the church, when will the rapture occur? If the prophecies of peace are for the church (Isaiah 32:18), should the church enforce peace in international affairs? If God’s plan is for the church to lead (Isaiah 2:2), should the church take over politics? Replacement theology has several consequent beliefs:
– Amillennialism: The belief that the millennial kingdom is not literal, that it began at Christ’s resurrection and is manifest either in the hearts of saints in heaven or saints on earth.
– Postmillennialism: The belief that the church is responsible for arranging the “golden age” of Christ’s rule in people’s hearts, resulting in godly overtones in politics, entertainment, family, and social life.
– Dominionism: Similar to postmillennialism but more extreme; the belief that the church is responsible for reinstating the Old Testament laws in all of the world’s governments and societies.
As witnesses to the re-establishment of a Jewish state in 1948, we have an advantage over those earlier theologians; we’ve seen God’s power in action to set the stage for a more literal interpretation of prophecy. This event, combined with a careful study of biblical prophecy, shows that the church was never designed to take the place of Israel.
First of all, the church is not a punishment on Israel for their failure to spread the gospel. It is God’s work to draw Jews to Him (Romans 11:11). Daniel 9:20-27 is clear that God’s plan for Israel is to last seventy “weeks” or 490 years, starting at the time of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Verses 25 and 26 suggest a significant event at the sixty-nine “week” mark—the point of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It also allows for a break before the arrival of the seventieth week—this space of time has been manifested as the church age. As this prophecy is for Daniel’s people (vs. 24), the church era is not mentioned. Instead, the prophecy skips ahead to the last “week”—the tribulation. Before the tribulation is the rapture, which marks the removal of the church—and the re-establishing of God’s work with Israel.
Paul, in a letter written primarily to Gentiles, explicitly states that God is not finished with Israel. Romans 11:12 says that if Israel’s rejection of Jesus is a blessing for the Gentiles, the restoration of Israel will be more so. Romans 11:25-26 goes on to say, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob'” (cf. Daniel 9:24). As the previous verses clearly delineate Jews and Gentiles, there is no way that this prophecy can be applied to the church.
The more literal interpretation of God’s plan for humanity is called “dispensationalism.” Instead of the church replacing Israel, dispensationalism teaches that the Bible shows God working in very specific dispensations throughout history. The previous dispensation focused on Israel and the law. The current one on the church and grace. In “the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:10), the next dispensation will begin. The church will be removed (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), Israel will be sanctified (Daniel 9:24), and the prophecies made to both Israel (Genesis 15:18-20; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Isaiah 11:6-9) and the church (Revelation 20:1-5) will be fulfilled in Jesus’ literal millennial kingdom.
The problem with replacement theology is that it relies on the judgment and effort of man instead of the Word and power of God. Two hundred years ago, the idea of a restored Jewish state was incredible. Today, the Jewish state is a fact. Having such gracious proof of God’s sovereignty, we should be greatly exhorted to read the Bible as literally as it was written. God has given the church specific blessings and responsibilities. We should concentrate on these and reject the allegorical interpretations of replacement theology.
What is replacement theology? #3
by Matt Slick
Replacement theology is the teaching that the Christian church has replaced national Israel regarding the plan, purpose, and promises of God.
Therefore, many of the promises that God made to Israel must be spiritualized. For example, when it speaks of Israel being restored to the land, this really means that the Christian church will be blessed. Also, covenants made with Israel are fulfilled in the Christian church so, for example,
- The Jewish people are no longer God’s chosen people. Instead, the Christian church now makes up God’s chosen people.
- In the New Testament after Pentecost, the term “Israel” refers to the church.
- The Mosaic covenant (Exodus 20) is replaced by the new covenant (Luke 22:20).
- Actual circumcision is replaced by a circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:29).
So, in replacement theology the church has replaced Israel as the primary means by which the world is blessed by God’s work. Though it is true that the church does replace Israel in some areas such as properly representing God on earth, acknowledging the promise of the Messiah, etc., it is not biblical to say that God is completely done with Israel and that the Christian church is its complete replacement.
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you 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 thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’” (Rom. 11:25-26).
Some replacement theologians would teach that any mention of “Israel” after Acts chapter 2 (Pentecost) would be referring to the Christian church, but the above Scripture cannot be used to support that idea. In fact, it plainly contradicts it. Obviously, God is not done with Israel. The text tells us that God has hardened Israel, but it also tells that disheartening is temporary.
Replacement theology is also known as supersessionism which means that the Christian church has superceded Israel in God’s plan.
The following link, written by John J. Parsons, is written from a Jewish perspective and offers multiple insights and information to consider regarding, among a few matters, replacement theology:
The Error of Replacement Theology
by Clarence H. Wagner, Jr.
Perhaps you have heard of the term Replacement Theology. However, if you look it up in a dictionary of Church history, you will not find it listed as a systematic study. Rather, it is a doctrinal teaching that originated in the early Church. It became the fertile soil from which Christian anti-Semitism grew and has infected the Church for nearly 1,900 years.
What Is Replacement Theology?
Replacement Theology was introduced to the Church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from Jewish leadership. What are its premises?
0. Israel (the Jewish people and the land) has been replaced by the Christian Church in the purposes of God, or, more precisely, the Church is the historic continuation of Israel to the exclusion of the former.
1. The Jewish people are now no longer a “chosen people.” In fact, they are no different from any other group, such as the English, Spanish, or Africans.
2. Apart from repentance, the new birth, and incorporation into the Church, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. The same is true for every other nation and group.
3. Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term “Israel,” as found in the Bible, now refers to the Church.
4. The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ.
How Do Replacement Theologians Argue Their Case? They Say:
(Note: I have added my rebuttal to each point.)
0. To be a son of Abraham is to have faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Galatians 3:29 shows that sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: “And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins us Gentile Christians to what God had already started with Israel.
1. The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a “starter.” The real Promised Land is the whole world. They use Romans 4:13 to claim it will be the Church that inherits the world, not Israel. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural prodigy, the Jews? It simply says that through the law, they would not inherit the world, but this would be acquired through faith. This is also true of the Church.
2. The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): “For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.”
Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be “a light to the nations,” so that God’s Word has gone around the world. It does not suggest God’s dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.
3. Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people (Matt. 21:43): “Therefore I am saying to you, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.'”
Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel. See Teaching Letter #770008, “Did God Break His Covenant With the Jews?”
4. A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is racially Gentile or Jewish (Rom. 2:28-29): “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that 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 and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], and it certainly qualifies the spiritual qualifications for Jews or anyone who professes to be a follower of the God of Israel.
5. Paul shows that the Church is really the same “olive tree” as was Israel, and the Church is now the tree. Therefore, to distinguish between Israel and the Church is, strictly speaking, false. Indeed, people of Jewish origin need to be grafted back into the Church (Rom 11:17-23).
Rebuttal:This claim is the most outrageous because this passage clearly shows that we Gentiles are the “wild olive branches,” who get our life from being grafted into the olive tree. The tree represents the covenants, promises and hopes of Israel (Eph. 2:12), rooted in the Messiah and fed by the sap, which represents the Holy Spirit, giving life to the Jews (the “natural branches”) and Gentile alike. We Gentiles are told to remember that the olive tree holds us up and NOT to be arrogant or boast against the “natural branches” because they can be grafted in again. The olive tree is NOT the Church. We are simply grafted into God’s plan that preceded us for over 2,000 years.
6. All the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament, unless they were historically fulfilled before the coming of Jesus Christ, are now the property of the Christian Church. These promises should not be interpreted literally or carnally, but spiritually and symbolically, so that references to Israel, Jerusalem, Zion and the Temple, when they are prophetic, really refer to the Church (II Cor. 1:20). “For all the promises of God in Him (Jesus) are Yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Therefore, they teach that the New Testament needs to be taught figuratively, not literally.
Rebuttal: Later, in this Teaching Letter, we will look at the fact that the New Testament references to Israel clearly pertain to Israel, not the Church. Therefore, no promise to Israel and the Jewish people in the Bible is figurative, nor can they be relegated to the Church alone. The promises and covenants are literal, many of them are everlasting, and we Christians can participate in them as part of our rebirth, not in that we took them over to the exclusion of Israel. The New Testament speaks of the Church’s relationship to Israel and her covenants as being “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17), “brought near” (Eph. 2:13), “Abraham’s offspring (by faith)” (Rom. 4:16), and “partakers” (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29).
How Did The Position Of The Early Church Fathers Affect The Church?
Let us look at a brief history of the first four centuries of Christianity, which established a “legacy of hatred” towards the Jewish people, which was against the clear teaching of the New Testament.
(For a complete history of Christian anti-Semitism, send the equivalent of US$1 to your nearest BFP National Office and ask for a copy of the Israel Teaching Letter (#779806), “Where Was Love and Mercy,” or download a copy from our Bridges for Peace website, found under the Israel Teaching Letters button at www.bridgesforpeace.com This teaching is also a chapter of my book, Lessons From the Land of the Bible with 13 other great teachings including “Lessons from the Olive Tree,” which can be ordered from your nearest BFP national office.)
In the first century AD, the church was well-connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17-18 He states: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, A Legacy of Hatred, there were several contributing factors:
1) the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity;
2) the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem’s relinquishing her position as a center of Christian faith in the Roman world; and,
3) the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul’s missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots.
Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem’s influence. Could it be He was showing us that Temple worship was no longer necessary as His Holy Spirit now resides in us (I Cor. 6:19), not in the Holy of Holies?
After the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 133-135) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centers of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots.
As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was illegal. As Christianity grew, the Romans tried to suppress it. In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution.
The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD 160) in speaking to a Jew said: “The Scriptures are not yours, but ours.” Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: “Jews are disinherited from the grace of God.” Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, “Against the Jews,” announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians.
In the early 4th century, Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. The young Church declared itself to be the true Israel, or “Israel according to the Spirit,” heir to the divine promises. They found it essential to discredit the “Israel according to the flesh” to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians.
At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church, which placed “the Church Triumphant” over “Vanquished Israel.” In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians. However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire to the exclusion of all other religions. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at the Church Council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favor to Christianity, while outlawing synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
* The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn.
* Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed.
* Proselytism to Judaism was prohibited and made punishable by death.
* Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next 1,000 years.
In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on “the honored day of the sun.” By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split. This Jewish Shabbat/Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that.
Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes.
After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone “outside of the flock,” in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation. During this period, we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by church leaders:
* Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote: “Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever.”
* Gregory of Nyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia: “the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness…”
* St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as “… serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys.”
At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom (Golden Tongued), the great orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, “the true faith,” the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon series. To quote him, “the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God… Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig. They kill and maim one another…”
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent faith of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure. Chrysostom further sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse, “I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish rites… it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle… Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible.”
Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content. Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism was to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ.
In the fifth century, the burning question was: If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, then how can you explain their existence?
Augustine tackled this issue in his “Sermon Against the Jews.” He asserted that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue. They were to be a “Witness people” – slaves and servants who should be humbled.
The monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings. They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise – usury, or money-lending. The loaning of money was necessary to a growing economy. However, usury was considered to endanger the eternal salvation of the Christian, and was thus forbidden. So, the church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to their reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob. From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early period, the virulent judeo- phobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
The result of these anti-Jewish teachings continued onwards throughout Church history, manifesting itself in such events and actions as the Crusades, the accusation of communion host desecration and blood libel by the Jews, the forced wearing of distinguishing marks to ostracize them, the Inquisition, the displacement of whole Jewish communities by exile or separate ghettoes, the destruction of synagogues and Jewish books, physical persecution and execution, the Pogroms. Ultimately, the seeds of destruction grew to epic proportions, culminating in the Holocaust, which occurred in “Christian” Europe.
Had the Church understood the clear message of being grafted into the Olive Tree from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name.
Is the New Testament anti-Semitic? Was it Intended That the Church Treat the Jewish People with Contempt?
While the New Testament has been used by Gentile anti-Semites, even within the Church, the writers of the New Testament were Jewish, and therefore their arguments, even critical ones, were from the vantage point of being an intra-communal debate, not inter-communal accusation. Even where the criticism is harsh, it is directed towards a particular group or sect of Jews because of their practices, which needed correcting. For example, even though Yeshua spoke harshly to the Pharisees, He nevertheless said of them, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt: 23:2-3). He was distressed that they were “missing the mark” in their self-righteousness, which is something all of us need to be careful of doing.
The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the Church was and is to love and honour the Jewish people. In Ephesians 2:11-18, we are told that “by the blood of Messiah,” we Gentiles are “made near” to the commonwealth of Israel, the covenants, promises and hopes given to Israel. In Romans 11:11-12, 25, we are told that “blindness in part” has come to the Jews so that the message would be forced out into the nations. Nevertheless, we are told that a time would come when “all Israel would be saved” (v. 26), because the gifts and callings of God towards Israel and the Jewish people were given without repentance (v. 29). God’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is everlasting.
We Gentile Christians are told that the Jews are “beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28). They are a chosen people who fulfilled their calling and brought the Gospel to the world. They were chosen to:
1) Be obedient to God’s Word and demonstrate to the world as “a light to the nations.”
2) Hear God’s Word and record it – the Bible.
3) Be the human channel for the Messiah.
The Jewish people have fulfilled their role. The promise to the world through Abraham was that, “in you will all the nations on the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). They were to be a light unto the nations and, while they made mistakes as we all do, they did demonstrate the power of God on earth, they did hear God’s Word and record it so that we have the Bible, and they were the human channel for the Messiah, who was born, ministered, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and will return to Jerusalem, Israel, in a day yet to come.
God made an everlasting covenant between the land of Israel and the Jewish people that must be fulfilled and completed or His Word, the Bible, will be proven a lie, which it is not. God will never forget or annul His ancient people. If God will not fulfil His promises to Israel, what guarantee do we have that He will fulfil His promises to the Church? (See Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Are Jews, Jews, and is Israel, Israel in the New Testament? Do They Still Have a Covenant with God?
ABSOLUTELY. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR ON THIS.
1) The Jews are Israelites, not Gentiles (Rom. 9:4).
2) To Israel still belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises (Rom. 9:4).
3) The gifts and calling of God for Israel are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
4) There are 77 references to Israel in the NT and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, “the Church,” where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly, e.g., Rom. 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” If you put “the Church” where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul’s prayer be for the Church to be saved?
5) Psalm 105 has a seven-fold affirmation of God’s promises of Canaan to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3.
6) Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God’s promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night.
7) The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 37:1-14; Eze. 36; Eze. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23, etc.).
8) The Gospel and Yeshua came “to the Jews first, then the Greek” (Rom. 2:9,10; Matt:10:5-7;15:24). There is a distinction in roles between the two. Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is speaking of everyone’s standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God’s grace and the atoning work on the Cross. Nevertheless, our roles here on earth are definitely distinct; e.g., men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, etc. all have distinct roles to play. Likewise, Jews and Gentiles have distinct roles to play.
What is the Role of the Church?
1) “On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). The Church is built on the testimony and understanding of Peter, who is Jewish. Ephesians 2:11-14 indicates that Israel and the Jews (we) were chosen, but Gentiles (you) were also included. 2) The Church is related to Israel and partakers of the covenants, promises, and hopes, but we have not been called to usurp them. Our relationship is as “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17); “brought near” (Eph 2:13); “Abraham’s offspring” (by faith) (Rom. 4:16); “heirs” to Abraham’s promise as adopted sons (Gal. 3:29) and “partakers” (Rom 15:27).
3) To the world, the Church is called to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20); to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31).
4) To the Jewish people, we are called to show God’s love “for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28), for without them we would not have had God’s Word or our Saviour who was a Jew from Israel. We are to show God’s mercy (Rom. 11:31). We are to give our material gifts to help them (Rom. 15:27). We are to pray for them and for Israel (Ps. 122:6). We are to be watchman on the walls to protect them (Isa. 62:6,7). We are to help with the aliyah (immigration) to Israel and the building up of Zion (Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 49:22-23).
5) According to Romans 11, we are two distinct groups, both grafted into the same tree, which are the covenants and promises given to Israel; grounded in the same root, the Messiah; drinking of the same sap, God’s Holy Spirit. We do not hold up the tree, but the tree us, and we are forbidden from boasting against or being arrogant to God’s covenant people the Jews (Rom. 11:17-18).
What Happens When the Church Replaces Israel?
1) The Church becomes arrogant and self-centred.
2) It boasts against the Jews and Israel.
3) It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all.
4) These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed.
5) Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today.
6) Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the Church.
7) You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament (NT) Christian or a NT Church as in the Book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early Church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the 4th century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures.
8) You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic contextualization of the New Testament, which teaches us more about Yeshua and how to become better disciples.
9) The Church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God’s plan and prophecy for the Church, Israel and the world today.
What Happens When the Church Relates to Israel?
1) The Church takes its proper role in God’s redemptive plan for the world, appreciating God’s ongoing covenant relationship and love for Israel and the Jewish people.
2) We can see the consistency of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation as an ongoing complementary process, not as disconnected snapshots.
3) We show love and honour for God’s covenant people, not contempt.
4) We value the Old and New Testaments as equally inspired and significant for the Church today.
5) Bible prophecy makes sense for today and offers opportunities for involvement in God’s plan for Israel.
6) We become better disciples of Yeshua as we are able to appreciate the Hebraic/Judaic roots that fill in the definitions, concepts, words and events in the New Testament that are otherwise obscured. Why? Many were not explained by the Jewish writers of the New Testament, because they did not feel the need to fill in all the details that were already explained in the Old Testament.
Had the Church understood this very clear message from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name. Yet, it is not too late to change our ways and rightly relate to the Jewish people and Israel today. Through Bridges for Peace you can read, study and learn more, and also give to demonstrate God’s exhortation to us to bless His Covenant People, whom He still loves. Not only do we need to learn and do for ourselves, but we need to teach others so as to counteract the historical error that has been fostered in the Church for nearly 2,000 years.
Thank God, He is a God of mercy, redemption and second chances.
1) Gerhard Falk, The Jew in Christian Theology, (MacFarland: Jefferson, NC, 1992).
2) Leopold Lucas, The Conflict Between Christianity and Judaism, (Aris & Phillips, Warminster, UK: 1993).
3) The New International Study Bible, (The Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, MI, 1985).
4) The New Scofield Reference Bible, Authorized King James Version, (Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 1967).
5) Keith Parker, Is the Church the “New Israel?, (Prayer for Israel: Golant, UK).
6) James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, (Athenaeum, New York, 1974).
7) David Rausch, The Legacy of Hatred, (Moody Press: Chicago, IL, 1984).
8) Marcel Simon, Verus Israel, (Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 1986).
9) Clarence H. Wagner, Jr., Lessons from the Land of the Bible, (Bridges for Peace: Jerusalem, Israel, 1998).
10) Eds. C. Roth and G. Wigoder, Encyclopaedia Judaica, (Keter Publishing House, Ltd.: Jerusalem, Israel, 1972).
11) A. Lukyn Williams, Adversus Judaeos, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1935).
12) Robert Louis Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews, (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1983)