The Israel of God

My post titled Gentiles can participate in the New Covenant with Israel was actually something that I posted on a message board to someone.  I pointed out that Galatians refers to the church as the Israel of God.  There was a response back that I was mistaken; that "The Israel of God" is really about Jews who are following the rules of the law wanting to make Gentiles follow those rules.  While I understand the want to distinguish between Israel and the Church, the passage which speaks of "The Israel of God" must be talking about the church.
 
While I am a PreMillennialist through and through, I have been influenced by AMillennialist theology without buying into Covenant Theology.  I followed with great interest Sam Waldron’s critique of MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto.  John MacArthur gave a very poor defense of PreMillennialism trying to prove the election of Israel as a nation by using Calvinistic principles.  It was pretty lame in my view and therefore great cannon fodder to AMillennialists.  I found myself agreeing with Sam Waldron’s point of view much more than John MacArthur’s point of view which is Dispensationalism.  I read with great interest the post titled The Israel of God and came to some of the same conclusions that Sam Waldron did.  But I still maintain a future for ethnic Israel along with my PreMillennialist views.  So without further ado, here is MY response to the rebuttal that Galatians 6:16 is not referring to the church.
 
This is not speaking of Jews still
observing the law. The epistle is to Gentiles (Galatians) who were
being seduced by Judaizers to keep the law. The main point they were
trying to make was for Gentiles to become circumcized in order to
obey the law. Paul has stated that if they become circumcized, then
Christ would profit them nothing, Galatians 5:2.

The entire epistle is filled with the superiority of the faith as
opposed to observation of the law. Mount Sinai has been supplanted
by heavenly Jerusalem. Hagar is upstaged by Sarah. Ishmael is the
work of the flesh while Isaac is the work of the promise of God. So
to say here at the end that Paul is encouraging Jews who are obeying
the law is to shift the focus of the entire letter in a direction
which simply is not there.

Instead, the focus is contained in the verse just previous to that.
In Messiah Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision will avail
anything. But what will give us power in Messiah? A new creation.
A NEW CREATION. That is the focus here. As many as walk according
to this rule, that is, the rule of the new creation, peace upon them,
and upon the Israel of God. The statement is echoing the individual
and corporate aspects of the blessings of God which come from being a
new creation in Messiah. The individual aspect is "blessing upon as
many as", the corporate aspect is "the Israel of God".

Paul has already proven that all who are in Messiah are a part of
heavenly Jerusalem, whether Jew or Gentile, circumcision or
uncircumcision. So all are a part of the New Jerusalem which is the
bride of Messiah. Paul is not writing to those who are still under
the bondwoman, but he is writing to those who are free, and
encouraging them not to become entangled in the law all over again.

The Israel of God is the entity which Paul has carefully defined in
his epistle. It is all who are a new creation, Jew and Gentile,
having been freed from the law through faith in Christ. All who are
Abraham’s children are the Israel of God.

I think it is interesting that Paul does NOT address the entity
as "Israel", but as "the Israel of God". This would clear confusion
as to the identity of ethnic Israel in relation to the church. The
church is the Israel of God, the true Israel. One day, all [ethnic]
Israel will be saved, but for now, God is working through elect
Israel (is that a better term?) with believing Gentiles grafted in.
That’s the Israel of God.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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2 Responses to The Israel of God

  1. pjmiller says:

    So you too followed Sam Waldron\’s posts on the topic of MacArthurs Millennial Manifesto. I read it all also.. It was the hot topic there for awhile on a lot of the blogs, but believe i first came upon it linked at  Monergism.comLike you, i also found myself agreeing with Waldron on a lot of his points, in fact i learned some things: but also like you, still  believe the bible supports a premillennial view of end times.. ——-The Israel of God is the entity which Paul has carefully defined
    inHis epistle. It is all who are a new creation, Jew and Gentile,Having
    been freed from the law through faith in Christ. All who areAbraham\’s
    children are the Israel of God.——-Yes i agree. My reasoning was to make it mean anything but, would not be keeping in context with what the primary focus of the letter to the Galatians was about.God bless..pj  

  2. Darrin says:

    Hey PJ-
     
    I read the whole series with great interest.  Here was an Amillennialist who was conceding a possible future for ethnic Israel yet holding to Covenant Theology.  That disarmed a lot of my preconceived notions about Amillennialists.  I know many of them do NOT believe God has any plans for ethnic Israel in the future, but it certainly was an eye opener not to put all Amills in the same category.
     
    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
     
    (Actually, I don\’t know why I\’m encouraging you to stay busy, you are quite the blogger!)
     
    -The Orange Mailman

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