55 Comments
  1. The “true people of God” is identified, I think, in the Pauline phrase: “the Israel of God” [Gal 6.16]

    That is, in contrast to the children of the “present Jerusalem” (4:25), the true people of God are the believing children of Abraham (3:7, 29), who belong to “Jerusalem above” (4:26–27).ESV Study Bible

    As to whether we should pray for this “present Jerusalem” or not, the NT urges us that…

    First of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1Tim 2

    NOTE: salvation is dependent on coming to a knowledge of the truth of the Gospel message of the coming Kingdom of God and the things pertaining to Jesus Christ [Acts 8.12]!

  2. Chuck,

    The “Israel of God” in Gal 6:16 surely means Jewish believers in the Messiah as opposed to the Church as a whole, but without a doubt, our primary prayer for Jewish people today is that they come to faith in Yeshua.

  3. Dr Brown

    The “Israel of God” in Gal 6:16 surely means Jewish believers in the Messiah as opposed to the Church as a whole…

    Why can’t it mean both? Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ [“the Church as a whole”]? According to Paul’s continued theology of the [new spiritually grafted] olive tree in Rom 11.

    Makes more sense in light of the context of the whole of Galatians as well, since it warns against the “Judaizers, those of the circumcision group” [Gal 1.6-9], who were pushing for Torah observance.

    As an example, Paul even seems to distance himself [as opposed to renouncing] his “former life in Judaism” [Gal 1.13-14].

  4. Chuck,

    Nowhere in the NT does Paul address Gentile believers as “Jews” or “Israel,” plus the simple use of kai is best here (“and” vs. “even”). Also, it would undermine Paul’s whole point in Galatians to turn around and refer to Gentiles as “Israel.” For more on this, see my treatment of the verse in Our Hands Are Stained with Blood.

  5. Dr Brown

    …it would undermine Paul’s whole point in Galatians to turn around and refer to Gentiles as “Israel.”

    I cannot escape the fact that Paul has both Jews and the [grafted in] Gentiles in his mind when he coins this phrase. Not just Gentiles. Since it is safe to suppose the Pauline letters had both audiences in mind.

    So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3.26-29

    Why would Paul give separate greetings/blessings at 6.16 [kai as “and”], as if he is singling out the Jews only in the church when he has just gone to great lengths to say that both Jews and Gentiles alike are all “one in Christ”?

    Aren’t the 2 Pauline terms “Israel of God” and “Israel according to the flesh” [1Cor 10.18] opposites?

    The whole of the NT is that the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God is open to all races, first the Jews [in Christ] of course to whom belong the promises. Supposedly there will be no distinctions when it comes to God’s people, as opposed to the Old Covenant.

  6. Chuck,

    I’ve written on this elsewhere and would encourage you to read the material. I’d love to interact more, as you know, and I appreciate your questions, but time simply doesn’t permit.

    In short, Paul wanted to be sure that his warnings to the Gentile Galatians were not taken to be judgmental against believing Jews, hence his blessing. Many top commentators, not to mention most translations, get this right. In other words, he does NOT want readers to come to the conclusions you came to, as if God was not continuing to deal with Jews as Jews.

  7. Dr Brown

    In other words, he does NOT want readers to come to the conclusions you came to, as if God was not continuing to deal with Jews as Jews.

    Somehow separately as if Jews are more special than Gentiles? I fail to see this correlation in this particular book of Galatians let alone throughout the NT. As I said, I believe the thrust of NT theology is to teach how all of humankind can be as one in Messiah Jesus. Isn’t this what the gospel message is all about?

    He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit…For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love…what counts is the new creation…since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith…For we were all baptized in one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Gal 3:14, 18; 5:6; 6:15; Rom 3:30; 1 Cor 12:13

    God is not dealing with Jews as Jews nor Gentiles as Gentiles but as “new creations in Messiah Jesus” where there is neither Jew nor Gentile! We are all able to accomplish this because Jesus broke down the dividing wall of enmity by his death on the cross.

    Am I missing something else here?!

  8. Chuck, Yes and no as to “missing something”. This is a matter of some confusion until we read all passages on the subject of Israel and the Gentiles found in the NT, written by Paul’s pen. In Romans 11 he speaks of the natural branches, Israel, and of those grafted in, Gentile believers, as another distinct group. Into what are they grafted, an “olive tree” (signifying the family tree lineage if faith in and of God). How does that tree support the new believers in Jesus by “the root”? And not support those broken off by disbelief, if the thought is of Israel?

    It would be in the sense of all scripturally recorded covenant people kept of record by the Hebrew Bible (Tenach) of historical interaction with the revelations of God, and obedience to God as God defines Himself to be who form the root; this would especially be so definitive prior to the coming of the greater revelation of the Messiah’s New and Living Way and New Covenant (see Heb. 8 & 10), where those of the complex appointed religious system of Israel, as it had been, helped form the family tree in relationship to the Father.

    In other words, in so far as faith was then understood, as to covenant requirements, it would be those so associated with the God of the Bible over time. The olive tree illustration as an easily grasped concept was presented as the graphically available immediate reference pictured as a family tree. It would include Adam and Eve prior to the Fall, Noah and Company, Abraham’s family and descendants, those of the Exodus who carried the possiblity of coming into the promised Land to the next generation, Moses, the Priests and tribes, etc.

    The Olive Tree, of association with the true and living God, is the illustration of the family tree of God. It is an illustration of a living concept which also lent itself to the grower’s art of grafting in, cutting off, breaking off, budding new shoots, regrafting, etc. One can see God the Father as the careful interactive grower.

    This was just one analogy too of inclusion and exclusion of people groups of known reference in the common mind in association with faith used by Paul. In early Ephesians Paul talks about “One New Man” forming from both Biblically dichotomized people groups coming into an adoptive relationship with Father God by faith in Yeshua, the sent Son. Both Jewish and Gentile believers who became united in faith in the Messiah form this man.

    They are both mentioned in the passage in early Ephesians too being or becoming of the “Commonwalth of Israel,” i.e. under the dominion of the Kingdom of God which came to folks by the Message of the Gospel through Israel’s promised Davidic Messiah’s lineage. But, even so, each group stays who their people group of origin has been always literally, while becoming in unity under the Commonwealth of the King spiritually. This Commonwealth, unlike any earthly Kingdom, offers an eternal relationship with its Kingdom and King. Think of it this way, when Great Britain became the united Kingdom, it included Englishmen, some Irish, and some others–all still identified people groups.

    Other inclusion analogies Paul develops of the notion of inclusion and exclusion are: a building analogy with Jesus as Cornerstone (with those of various groups forming building blocks and being built into a new structure together); a CE ideated joint and band bonding anatomy to form the on earth spritual and functioning “body of Christ; the Bride of the Messiah, taken directly from the Lord’s own teachings; one’s own body being the “temple of the Holy Spirit”, etc. These are largely cementing ideas or illustrations of mystical union with the Messiah, now seated at the right hand of the Father, and of His Kingdom come, and to come (when he will restore all things spoken of by the prophets of old).

    Paul is making these easily grasped illustrations for advancing a concept about inclusion by faith in Jesus Christ, for every believing person, and exclusion where any people or group rejects Jesus(see Paul’s comments on Mars Hill about how God himself set up distinctions of people groups in various locations, in various timeframes). When we consider the division of the earth’s land into continents, it is obvious too that distinctions of appointments as Paul mentions are so to this day.

    Because we think literally, and often legalistically or myopically according to our own understanding and experience, we need time to adapt to Paul’s ways of making and advancing argumentation in our day of extreme relativity. In Ephesians, for example, one may misinterpret the One New Man as both groups fusing and beoming Israel, but that is not the point, nor the literal illustration. The point is that both groups are included in the King’s Dominion Commonwealth of Israel, just as people groups could be captured en mass by this empire or that one, and be included in its dominion and jurisdiction over time.

    We can also put this in perspective by seeing how Rome organized various ethnic, political, and territorially based groups, even appointing local rulers with titles the Roman conquered local groups could relate to.

    Paul is talking of a spiritual reality of the now revealed mystery of Christ forming our spiritual counion, where he waxes historical and alludes to this or that reference which his audience or readership could understand at the time and place of hearing these ideas. He also has sound grounding in the Tenach, and in Jerusalem’s Torah practices to be an observant Jew, which he practices for the sake of acclimating to, for example, the Temple culture prior to 70 AD while taking on the new anointed and appointed tasks of being the Apostle to the Gentiles (not to supposed Gentiles who become Israel or Jews). He attempts becoming “all things to all people”, and as to foming one outlook in Christ. (See Ephesians 3:6, where after mentioning the One New Man and Commonwealth of Israel inclusions of Jews and Gentiles early in that letter, he then states: …”the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body [of Christ], and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus throught the gospel”. This continues the way of illustration by argumentation he promotes. This is why reading Paul’s other such arguments illumines all such arguments.

    This is to say that these are inclusive and community building, not that Gentiles replace the Jews, become historical Israel, or any other people group by believing in the Jewish Messiah. It was a radical notion to those of the Pharisees in Jerusalem that Gentiles could be of the household of God without adhering to the Circuncision, or law of Moses. This came to be worked out by the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, which settled that matter for all time.

    The Apostles were sent from the chosen Nation to the ends of the earth for the sake of an ever widening inclusion of people of faith in the Message anywhere into the enlarging domain of the Kingdom of the Commonwealth of Israel (i.e. the Kingdom of God and His Christ). This is a spiritual bond extended to all mentioned in Acts and in the letters and prophets–Jew and Gentile–through Christ Jesus. His appointed work then broke down known barriers, and formed our “acceptance in the beloved”, per the King James English phrase that was so understood as a bond of inclusion among English speaking peoples for centuries. Paul’s analogies give literal references for illustrative purposes to the wider concept of dominion and its inclusions and exclusions. I hope this is helpful, for, it took me some time to come to this understanding of the writings of Paul, Pharisee, and Apostle of Christ and the Way to the Nations.

  9. Jabez H.

    How does that tree support the new believers in Jesus by “the root”? And not support those broken off by disbelief, if the thought is of Israel?

    I suppose “the root” could be a reference to either Abraham [the father of faith] or Jesus as the “shoot of David”. Both shared the same faith of inheriting the land, the coming Kingdom of God.

    It would include Adam and Eve prior to the Fall, Noah and Company…

    Promise/Covenant was made in reference to Abraham and his descendants wasn’t it?

  10. I give praise to our almighty God, and his son, Yeshua Ha Mesheach for being able to wrap a mind given me around the above information. Praise Him.

  11. Chuck, I have written what I have written, but, the root is clearly faith in the promises given over time to each and every historically referenced person or people to Father God. The YHVH and Messianic Hope of Israel, carried by prophetic promises of old and New regard.

  12. Chuck, Yes and no because all those listed (and I could add Joshua, and David prior to my etc.) are of covenants of faith, in this instance forming the root of the family tree of God by each of their own noteable inclusions into it–it being achieved historically by connection through God given promises of covenants, related special revelation, and related faith to the requirements of each covenant. None are excluded from the family tree, except those outright rejecting Yeshua as Messiah. All the earlier covenants are of the tree, but none justifies a believer without the coming of the Promised Messiah. He is not going to go back in time and cut off Joshua, or David, etc. simply because they had little direct knowledge of Jesus; he will only cut off those who, having seen and heard the Son, then reject him. It is still by their own forward looking faith that they will be included in the outcomes of the promises given them through whatever covenant they were related to in history. Abraham was considered “the father of faith” as to how he obeyed the sense of calling he had, as certainly Joshua, David, etc. also had certain connection to faith’s promises. Imagine though most of the chosen Nation in the fulness of chosen time of the Messiah’s visitation outright rejecting Him. That certainly will not gain them justification before the Father. The tree is the Father’s tree growing from the soil Jesus spoke of parabolically. The scriptures are unbroken and not contradictory in upholding the root, the branches, and the processing of these for inclusion and exclusion by the Father. We have the promises in Romans and elsewhere of the future salvation of Israel as a result of the foundation laid by Jesus in His chosen Nation, at the appointed time. Reading Daniel and Zechariah, as well as other prophets, it is clear that there is much going on around the person and work of Jesus: past, present, and future.

  13. Chuck, Yes and no because all those listed (and I could add Joshua, and David prior to my etc.) are of covenants of faith, in this instance forming the root of the family tree of God by each of their own noteable inclusions into it–it being achieved historically by connection through God given promises of covenants, related special revelation, and related faith to the requirements of each covenant. None are excluded from the family tree, except those outright rejecting Yeshua as Messiah. All the earlier covenants are of the tree, but none justifies a believer without the coming of the Promised Messiah. He is not going to go back in time and cut off Joshua, or David, etc. simply because they had little direct knowledge of Jesus; he will only cut off those who, having seen and heard the Son, then reject him. It is still by their own forward looking faith that they will be included in the outcomes of the promises given them through whatever covenant they were related to in history. Abraham was considered “the father of faith” as to how he obeyed the sense of calling he had, as certainly Joshua, David, etc. also had certain connection to faith’s promises. Imagine though most of the chosen Nation in the fulness of chosen time of the Messiah’s visitation outright rejecting Him. That certainly will not gain them justification before the Father. The tree is the Father’s tree growing from the soil Jesus spoke of parabolically. The scriptures are unbroken and not contradictory in upholding the root, the branches, and the processing of these for inclusion and exclusion by the Father. We have the promises in Romans and elsewhere of the future salvation of Israel as a result of the foundation laid by Jesus in His chosen Nation, at the appointed time. Reading Daniel and Zechariah, as well as other prophets, it is clear that there is much going on around the person and work of Jesus: past, present, and future.

  14. Chuck, Yes and no because all those listed (and I could add Joshua, and David prior to my etc.) are of covenants of faith, in this instance forming the root of the family tree of God by each of their own noteable inclusions into it–it being achieved historically by connection through God given promises of covenants, related special revelation, and related faith to the requirements of each covenant. None are excluded from the family tree, except those outright rejecting Yeshua as Messiah. All the earlier covenants are of the tree, but none justifies a believer without the coming of the Promised Messiah. He is not going to go back in time and cut off Joshua, or David, etc. simply because they had little direct knowledge of Jesus; he will only cut off those who, having seen and heard the Son, then reject him. It is still by their own forward looking faith that they will be included in the outcomes of the promises given them through whatever covenant they were related to in history. Abraham was considered “the father of faith” as to how he obeyed the sense of calling he had, as certainly Joshua, David, etc. also had certain connection to faith’s promises. Imagine though most of the chosen Nation in the fulness of chosen time of the Messiah’s visitation outright rejecting Him. That certainly will not gain them justification before the Father. The tree is the Father’s tree growing from the soil Jesus spoke of parabolically. The scriptures are unbroken and not contradictory in upholding the root, the branches, and the processing of these for inclusion and exclusion by the Father. We have the promises in Romans and elsewhere of the future salvation of Israel as a result of the foundation laid by Jesus in His chosen Nation, at the appointed time. Reading Daniel and Zechariah, as well as other prophets, it is clear that there is much going on around the person and work of Jesus: past, present, and future.

  15. I have no idea how the last post posted thrice. Once for the Father, once for the Son, and once for the Holy Spirit?

  16. The Lord revealed to me a while ago about this topic…”Praying for the peace of Jerusalem”.

    The Lord spoke to me and revealed to me that everytime you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you are praying for Jesus to return. That is the only time that there will ever be peace in Jerusalem. When the Messiah rules and reins on earth.

    So keep praying for Jerusalem folks. Come Lord Jesus Come.

  17. One more note…I’m not talking about the “false peace” that the Anti-Christ will bring to Jerusalem for 3 1/2 yrs. I’m talking about the true Christ bringing peace… yeshua ha mashiyach.

    Can not wait umtil that day comes 🙂

  18. Dr. Brown,
    How can I know for certain that the “Israel of God” mentioned in Galatians 6:16, is speaking of
    some Jewish people only as opposed to the church?
    (post 2)

    I say this because Paul made mention of those who
    walked according to a rule, and that rule seems to be that in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor circumcision, but a new creature. (Galatians 6:15)

    I am wondering if there were some Jews, perhaps many, who at that time walked according to that rule and were those of whom Paul made mention of in verse 16 (those that walked according to that rule) then blessed them with a spoken blessing of peace and mercy, then also added the same blessing that was to all the seed of Abraham according to his gospel (see Romans 9:7,8,24) which includes all who are in the spirit of God (Romans 8:9) that is the whole church, (the Israel of God) according to his gospel in Romans.

    Either way, it seems the same blessing is unto all who believe according to his gospel of God.

    One person may see this mention of “the Israel of God” one way and another may see it another. I’ve noticed that sometimes scripture applies in several ways, and I don’t always see that a particular scripture can mean only one thing or be interpreted one way only. It’s times like that that I want to be flexible. Lots of times I don’t know how to interpret what Paul is talking about.
    Sometimes I see vaguely what he’s talking about.

    At any rate, it seems that men can get in on the same blessing no matter which group they are in if they are willing to walk according to the rule of the apostle Paul. Right now that seems to me to be more important than how we interpret the verse in question.

  19. Argument for “the Israel of God” as referring to the Christian church [Jews/Gentiles etc.] from the Word Biblical Commentary on Galatians by Longenecker:

    In fact, in the context of the total argument of Galatians, where the issues focus on the question who really are the children of Abraham, to conclude with the declaration that the Gentile converts are rightfully the Israel of God would be highly significant and telling.

    All the views that take the Israel of God to refer to Jews and not Gentiles…fail to take seriously enough the context of the Galatian letter itself. For in a letter where Paul is concerned to treat as indifferent the distinctions that separate Jewish and Gentile Christians, and to argue for the equality of Gentile believers with Jewish believers, it is difficult to see him at the very end of that letter pronouncing a benediction that would serve to separate groups within his churches!

  20. Chuck,

    I’m fully aware of the minority opinion, as represented by Longenecker’s quote, but for the sake of fruitful interaction, please do check out the resource I recommended and look through the other works I cite there, along with the related discussion, rather than simply point me to things I’ve reviewed and rejected long ago. If you can quote a good source like Longenecker, surely you can look up other, good sources too.

  21. It seems to me that Paul may have written the Galatian epistle to read “the Israel of God” in
    Galatians 6:16 to mean those Jewish people in the faith of Christ, though it also may have meaning in the inclusion of the whole church of God.

    When David wrote some of the Psalms about his sufferings they also included the sufferings of Jesus, and so in writing by the spirit of God, there seems to me to be inclusions that are not limited to the particular use of words as they were origionaly given.

    I think this is one reason why we need to be flexible when reading the scriptures.

    Those who hold to one view, and one view only about any particular passage might be seeing only in part.

    Sometimes I wonder what the motive is in a person who holds to one particular view and so defends it as they do.

  22. Dr Brown

    I’m fully aware of the minority opinion…

    Really? By the looks of it [like many other points of biblical doctrine] it looks divided to me. Then again, first time I come upon the view you adhere to.

  23. Nowhere in the NT does Paul address Gentile believers as “Jews” or “Israel,”

    Ephesians 2:12-13 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    What is interesting is that those who try to hold to the church/Israel distinction will say that verse 13 cancels out everything in verse 12 [separation from Christ, strangers to the covenant of promise, not having hope, and being without God], *except* gentiles being excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. If gentiles are not excluded from the citizenship of Israel, then gentile believers are citizens of Israel, and Paul has called Ephesian gentiles Israelites.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  24. Adam,

    The NT in many places makes a distinction between the Church and Israel, identifying the former as the believing members of Israel and the nations. For this reason, almost all top Romans scholars reject the idea that “Israel” in Rom 11:26 means “the Church.” And note carefully in Romans 11 that Paul specifically addresses Gentile believers as “Gentiles.” How interesting!

    As for Ephesians 2:12-13, it says a lot, but it does NOT call Gentiles “Israel.” Nothing is cancelled out, as you allege, and I do hope that you recognize the passage can be read in such a way that nothing is cancelled out.

    Have you read my book Our Hands Are Stained with Blood? It would be a good place for you to start.

  25. Dr. Brown,

    Actually, although I haven’t read your book specifically, I have studied under one of the top dispensationalist scholars in the world, Dr. John Feinberg, and hence, I am well aware of the kinds of arguments you present in your post, as I had to read them in the required reading. [Except, what you said about Ephesians 2:12-13 sorta reminds me of those ninja movies where the fighter has a secret weapon that he has ready to pull out, and the other guy has no clue what it is until he actually pulls it out].

    First of all, no one is arguing that the NT never makes a distinction between ethnic groups. Jews and gentiles are not the same ethnic group, and so you would expect to see distinctions in ethnic contexts. The issue is where the NT ever makes an ethnic distinction, and then somehow applies the promises given to the patriarchs to one in contradistinction to the other. In Romans 11, the same salvation that is given to ethnic Israel is also given to the gentiles, because they are all grafted into *one* tree [v.17]. This is very consistent with what I believe as a postmillenialist, since I believe that all nations and ethnic groups will eventually be brought under the salvation of Christ [including the Jews].

    Also, I didn’t quite understand your comment about nothing being cancelled out in verse 13. Since you say nothing is cancelled out, are you trying to say that Gentiles are separated from Christ, strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope, and without God in the world? If verse 13 cancels out these things in verse 12, then why does it not also cancel out the gentile exclusion from the citizenship of Israel?

    Also, I am well aware of the fact that there are people who hold to the church/Israel distinction who have tried to get around Ephesians 2:12-13. There are also many Jehovah’s Witnesses who have tried to get around John 20:28. The fact that someone has tried to get around the clear teaching of a text [although, I know you disagree that it is the clear teaching of the text] does not mean that the text does not say what it says. I will just have to be honest and say I have found the explanations to be completely unconvincing, and anytime someone says that nowhere is the church ever called Israel, I always point to this text, and just let people make up their own mind.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  26. Adam

    I would add that “the issue is where the NT ever makes an ethnic distinction” regarding the newly built Church of Christ! I would think not.

    Before we get into “I’ll show you mine you show me yours” attitude prevalent in this forum whenever we quotes scholars, my point for doing so is to focus on what they say, as opposed to who they might be:

    Judaism nearly always took “Abraham’s seed” as Israel, which Paul would agree is usually what it means (Rom 9:7, 29; 11:1). But his argument in Galatians 3:6–9 permits him to apply this expression to Gentile Christians who are in Christ, hence in Abraham…

    Some Greco-Roman cults claimed to ignore social divisions like those Paul mentions here, although they rarely erased them (most cults were expensive enough to exclude all but the well-to-do). But the early Christians were especially distinctive in surmounting such divisions. They formed the only bridge between Jews and Gentiles and had few allies in challenging class (slave versus free) and gender prejudices.

    The Jewish people were called “Abraham’s seed” (KJV, NIV) or “offspring” (NASB, NRSV; see comment on 3:16), heirs of the promise; Paul’s argument in this chapter has transferred this position to Gentile Christians. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament. 1993, Gal 3:16, 28-29.

  27. Adam,

    I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear in my post, but I can refer you to plenty of solid literature that opens up the subject if you’re interested. Unfortunately, you actually disqualify yourself from serious interaction the moment you accuse someone who loves the Word and seeks to live by the Word of trying to “get around” a passage in the Bible. What an unfortunate statement on your part, and to be candid, aside from my limited time to post here (plus, this forum is primarily for others, not me, as well), I think it’s a far better investment of my time to interact with those genuinely wanting to find the truth as opposed to those who will accuse those who differ with them of trying to “get around” passages in the Bible, just as JW’s try to get around John 20:28. Once again, Adam, I do hope you’ll listen and learn, regardless of your doctrinal conclusions. It would serve you well.

  28. Dr. Brown

    You mean this?

    Some Old Testament prophets had predicted God’s witness spreading among the Gentiles; because the final repentance of Israel would usher in the end, God had delayed Israel’s final repentance until the fullness of the Gentile remnant could be gathered in (cf. Mt 24:14; 28:19–20; 2 Pet 3:9).

    The future salvation of Israel is repeated throughout the Old Testament prophets, although this is one of the few New Testament passages that had occasion to address it. Jewish teachers commonly said that “all Israel will be saved,” but then went on to list which Israelites would not be saved: the phrase thus means “Israel as a whole (but not necessarily including every individual) will be saved.” In other words, the great majority of the surviving Jewish remnant will turn to faith in Christ. Paul proves this point from Isaiah 59:20–21: the remnant of Jacob who turn from sin will be saved by the coming of the new redeemer, when he puts his Spirit on them (Paul paraphrases, as was common in ancient citations).

  29. Chuck,

    Yes, precisely, since Keener rightly understands “all Israel” to mean national Israel, as opposed to the Church, distinguishing “all Israel” and “Israel” from the Gentile believers as two distinct components, with Jewish and Gentile believers becoming the one family of God (without Gentiles becoming Jews or Jews becoming Gentiles). Keener’s comments throughout this section are quite relevant to the larger discussion at hand. Thanks!

  30. I just listened to the 40 minutes or so of this and it’s helped me consider some things about Bible prophecy concerning Jerusalem and the nation of Israel as it exists in the Middle East.

    I also found an importance as to the symbolic meaning of Jerusalem, the spiritual Jerusalem, the city of the living God, which I believe to be the church, the body of Christ.

    Since Jerusalem is connected with the name of God being the place God decided to place his name, (looked for the scripture ref but didn’t find it)
    we should expect it to be hated by those of this world.

    But we being born from above by the word of God through the gospel of Christ seek our citizenship which is of God, stored up of God in Christ Jesus our Lord and saviour.

    As I was listening I was brought to the realization that the things I read about Jerusalem I should consider as to how it may apply to the church, the body of Christ.

    This is opening up to me a greater awareness of the kingdom and how the scriptures may be speaking.

  31. Dr Brown

    Yes, in this quote by Keener the “Israel” in view is the present-national Israel. But when Paul qualifies “Israel” in Gal 6.16 with “of God”, surely he refers back to the spiritual-grafted olive tree of his Romans conclusion? Furthermore, shouldn’t the theology of Galatians take priority before the theology of the overall Pauline corpus? Which again is one of no ethnic/sex/social/political etc. barriers [Gal 3.28].

  32. Chuck,

    Great questions, but no time, so VERY quick answers:

    Romans lays the foundations for Paul’s theology, and, in particular, Rom 9-11 is Paul’s great statement on Israel. In short, Gentiles and Jews in Jesus are total spiritual equals — children of God, joint heirs with Jesus, equally loved and blessed, part of the same family — but Jews don’t become Gentiles and Gentiles don’t become Jews, and the Church is not synonymous with Israel.

    Again, please do get hold of Our Hands Are Stained with Blood, where I treat this subject along with other, related subjects. Getting this subject wrong has had serious consequences in Church history.

    And once more, my apologies to you and others for not having more time to interact. Your questions are important and your points well taken.

  33. Dr Brown

    Yes, I agree. But let me qualify one of your lines: Yes, Jews don’t become Gentiles and Yes, Gentiles don’t become Jews, but they do become one in Christ’s Church, the “Israel OF God” [i.e. believers] and they are not synonymous with the present-national [unconverted] Israel.

    The point of difference here is that the phrase “of God” dictates which “Israel” Paul may have in view.

    PS: Appreciate you advertising your books and the effort you might have put into them but, I am currently unemployed and short on cash. But I understand your a busy man. So, thank you for the time you do put into this forum.

  34. Chuck — please send us your mailing address and we’ll gladly send you the book as a gift. Our joy to do so! Just write to the “Contact” link on the main AskDrBrown website. Thanks for sharing the need.

  35. Also, as with Dr. Brown’s response, above, Galations was written quickly, and, as with its other topics examinatioed, in a less developed manner than Romans (Dr. Brown mentioning his limits; consider Galations limits accordingly). As Galations was written before Romans, it actually should appear first in the order of the letters, long prior to Romans, and early in Paul’s theological formation. Romans then would offer the more developed outlook and theology of Paul.

    The phrase “the Israel of God”, in Galations 6:16, refers back before vv. 12 and 13 and before the stark contrast to this group of vv. 14’s and 15’s adherents. The former refers to the Judaizers, the later to the alike identification of Paul as crucified with Christ (2:20), this included crucifixion of the flesh with all its passions (5:24), and the relationship with the world and all its desires. What really matters is being a new creation in Christ. Therefore, the contest of these two groups is left at the foot of the cross by faith and is raised up with Him by New Creation as recepients of the Holy Spirit.

    We get then to the “Israel of God” as an additional summary inclusion of Abraham’s spiritual descendants (3:6-9,29; Rom. 9:6-8), by the past association of he of the root of Israel believing in God by a covenant extended as dependent on God’s grace rather than Abraham’s sole establishments. This then is not a reference to the New Creation’s inclusion in the phrase of question, as such, but to the additional consideration of God’s blessing upon whom it is promised it will also apply, by past promised grace.

  36. Though we do not find the church to be synonymous
    with Israel generally speaking when we read the Bible, it could be used to refer to Christ, the beloved Son of God, and could include the church it seems to me.

    I don’t always know how to interpret what the apostle Paul is saying. I suppose I should say that I usually don’t know exactly how to interpret what he is saying, but many times I do get something of what he is saying.

  37. Paul is, to say the least, long winded in most expressions, which gives me hope for my own. Interpreting Paul includes the perspective of his years of training in Religious schools, in cosmopolitan culture centers in pace with the times in which he lived, being personally a life interrupted by the Lord, and then shifting to his literal trials over giving witness of the truth of the life of the Messiah in his engagements over time (which eventually shifted to only speaking of “Christ Crucified”, and “Christ in us, the hope of glory” and not confusing that divine plan’s conveyance with other agenda): to the Jew first, then the Gentiles.

    The New Testament contributor comes into perspective when interacting with religious Jews rigorously trained today in argumentation. Such can generate endless discussion, without arriving at conclusions, or, literally recite what certain Rabbinical commentators say as learned to the letter of exclusion of any other possible outlook on this matter or that one. Paul’s creative interpretations of the past GodWord is pivotal to carrying the Message from Jerusalem’s guarded life into the freedom we can know in the Messiah.

    Finding such a healthy middle balance between real life and faith in God seems no longer a Jewish trait which Paul revealed, for the Biblical God seems to be held in less esteem than the individual’s knowledge, training burdens, and predetermined agendas.

    The beauty of Paul’s expressions is that they are seated both in life and in esteemed scriptural reference–with continuity prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He was present for the events surrounding Jesus and the Gospel coming to Jerusalem from two opposing views–both personally fully embraced. This offers a rich understanding of something that did not go forward with Jewish Rabbinical tradition after the destruction of Jerusalem in carrying forth the manner of Paul’s creative expression of the facts of life. Paul’s expression forms a deep respect of presenting an accurate outlook on redemption, covenants, related history, faith, the Nations, observance,knowledge of at least three languages, the international world of his time, Prophetic unveiling, and freedom and the eternal nature of Jesus the Christ. When he writes of “grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and the Lord, Jesus Christ” you know he knows what he is saying to be so to the core of his being and bearing.

    Perhaps Michael Brown, Ph.D. can list some essential books or reads on understanding Paul, as he did in the past on original language lexicons and dictionaries? Ray and Jabez and many others would appreciate it.

    ____________________________________________

    Ray, Can you be more descriptive on church or Israel being “Christ”, or whatever you were saying in your first sentence of #40, I confess I do not follow the idea.

  38. Dr. Brown,

    We are dealing with systematics, not the doctrine of scripture. The reason someone would try to “get around” a passage is because they are convinced of a faulty exegesis of another passage, and this one just doesn’t seem to fit. However, being convinced of their exegesis of the other passages, they will try to make it fit, as any good evangelical should since we don’t believe that scripture contradicts itself. The Bible is not a systematic theology textbook. We are going to make mistakes in our systematization of various texts, and even the best of us do. This does not mean that somehow we are not seeking to live according to scripture. The very fact that we are trying to get around a text in order to make it fit in proves otherwise!

    In this same vein, Dispensationalism is not what it once was. For example, an important work was written by Robert Gundry in which he argued that the pretribulation rapture was not necessary for dispensationalism. He used the analogy of the fall of the temple in A.D.70. You have the New Covenant initiated in A.D.30 at the death of Christ, but the temple is not destroyed right away, and exists for another forty years. If you allow for overlaps in God’s dealing with people, you can still be a dispensationalist and not believe in the Pre-trib rapture.

    Also, the whole notion of complete postponement is something that many dispensationalists are giving up [especially the progressive dispensationalist writers of Dallas Seminary such as Darrel Bock]. They will allow for some elements of the kingdom of God to be fulfilled/initiated at the coming of Christ, but they say that the kingdom of God is being progressively instituted in this world [hence, “Progressive” dispensationalism], and will culminate at the second coming of Christ.

    However, the one thing they *have* maintained is the church/Israel distinction, and that is exactly what Ryrie, my professor, and virtually every dispensationalist I have ever read has defined Dispensationalism as. Because of the current state of affairs, it is not difficult to see why I classified you as a dispensationalist, thinking you were of the progressive type.

    Also, Dr. Brown, I am not saying that you couldn’t have anything new to say, but when I have read men like John and Paul Feinberg, Charles Ryrie, Dr. Kenneth Barker, Dr. Bruce Waltke, Dr. Willem VanGemeren and other heavy hitters on this issue, I believe I should not be dismissed because I have not read one other book [which I would have difficulty finding time to read right now because our school, our library does not have, and I simply cannot afford] especially since I have heard many of these issues discussed before.

    For example, the whole “Our Hands are Covered in Blood” view of Church History is something I have not found in any conservative church history textbook. When I have asked about it, the reason is very simple. For every shocking quote you give with regards to the Jews, I can give you just as shocking a quote spoken with regards to the Arians, Gnostics, and Anabaptists. The issue is not “Anti-Semitism;” it is an issue of the state church. When church and state were merged, *any* heretic [Jews, Arians, and Anabaptists included] was treated in just the same way that the Jews were. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it anti-semitism? No.

    Also, would it be right to discuss the atrocities that the Jews have committed against the Christians, especially early on in the book of Acts, and the few centuries following, and then try to use that historically to say that it somehow means something? For example, you like to use Martin Luther. Would it be right for me to point out that the Jews treated Luther terribly, even insulting him, and calling the virgin Mary a prostitute, and make something of that? Of course not. While what Luther said was certainly wrong, *both* sides were to blame for the incedent. James Swan, who has done a lot of work in dealing with Luther, I believe gives a fair and balanced view of Luther’s view of the Jews here:

    http://mp3.sharpens.org/ISI/20081029ISI.mp3

    The reality is that *both* sides throughout church history have done terrible things to one another, and *both* sides are to blame. Why? Because hatred of someone simply because of what they believe or because of their race is a *human* issue, not a Jewish or Christian issue.

    Also, I would just quote what you said to Chuck, which is the reason why I believe this position is so strongly in error:

    “but Jews don’t become Gentiles and Gentiles don’t become Jews,”

    Again, in an ethnic sense: no. You cannot magically turn non-Jewish DNA into Jewish DNA or vice versa. However, what Chuck and I are saying is that the promises given in the Hebrew Bible were not meant to be ethnic; rather, they apply to all who believe. God can look at ethnic Jews in Hosea 1:8, and say “you are not my people.” Yet, he can unite Rahab and Ruth to the people of Israel, and, in fact, put them in the very line of the Messiah! The issue is not ethnicity; the issue is the keeping of the covenant [Exodus 19:5-6] which includes the circumcision of the heart [Deuteronomy 10:16]. It is only if the Jewish people keep the covenant [including the circumcision of the heart] that they are God’s special possession [Exodus 19:5-6]. Also, apparently, according to the rest of the Hebrew Bible, a gentile becomes a part of the covenant people Israel by faith.

    The point is that the promises of God were never on the basis of ethnicity. No one has any special promises from God on the basis of who their father is, or what DNA they have. In fact, I would say that the whole point of the Hebrew Bible is that ethnicity will fail to deliver any promises from God. The Jews died in the wilderness, were taken over multiple times in the book of Judges, taken into exile in Assyria and Babylon, and finally had their city destroyed in A.D.70. This is, I believe, to show that basing the promises of God on ethnicity is greatly mistaken, since it kept on failing. It is only in Jesus Christ who came and kept the covenant perfectly that either Jew or gentile will have any promises from God, and all who have any promises from God are the Israel of God.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  39. Adam,

    Thanks for your lengthy post and for clarifying your remarks. A few quick comments:

    1) You mentioned dispensationalists in your original post, and since I am not one, I needed to correct and clarify that. I do not divide the Church and Israel the same way a dispensationalist does. If you mention all these other scholars now, with quite a diverse number of views between them, then that blurs the point you wanted to make. In any case, I was only responding to what you wrote. I can’t respond to something you didn’t write.

    2) With regard to Church history — and I say this without any disrespect intended — you surely can’t be denying the horrific legacy of “Christian” anti-Semitism by comparing it to inner-Christian conflicts or other faith-related conflicts in Church history. There are scores of major works by respected academics — both Christian and Jewish — documenting this bloody history, and if you don’t find this documented in the books you have reviewed, then you simply prove what Edward Flannery wrote years ago, namely, that the pages of history memorized by Jews have been torn out of Christian history books. What a shame! Do you own Kittel’s TDNT? Don’t forget he was a Nazi. Do you appreciate Luther? Don’t forget that he has rightly been called the “John the Baptist of Adolph Hitler.” Do you know evangelists who conduct “crusades”? Well, remember that the crusaders in 1099 burned Jews alive in the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem while singing “Christ we adore thee” as they marched around the flames. It was with good cause that Raul Hilberg, one of the world’s foremost Holocaust historians, documented how the Nazis simply implemented and built on the actions of the professing Church in history, simply taking things one fatal step further. If you are truly unaware of this history, then you owe it to yourself to learn it, regardless of your theological conclusions in terms of the biblical text itself. Here’s a short reading list to get you started (many more works can be cited once you finish these, if needed): James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, a History (repr., Mariner, 2001); Jules Isaac, The Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism (Eng. trans., New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964); idem, Jesus and Israel (Eng. trans., New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971); Malcolm Hay, The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism (New York: Liberty Press, 1981; also published under the titles The Foot of Pride and Europe and the Jews); Frank E. Manuel, The Broken Staff: Judaism Through Christian Eyes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1992); William Nichols, Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate (Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1993); Frederick Gladstone Bratton, The Crime of Christendom: The Theological Sources of Anti-Semitism (Santa Barbara: Fithian Press, 1994); see further Peter Richardson and David Granskou, eds., Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity, Vol. 1 (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1986); Stephen G. Wilson, ed., Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity, Vol. 2 (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1986); Clark M. Williamson and Ronald J. Allen, Interpreting Difficult Texts: Anti-Judaism and Christian Preaching (Philadelphia: Trinity, 1989); note also James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of Antisemitism (repr., New York: Atheneum, 1985); and Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism (New York/Mahwah: Paulist, 1985). As for the theology of many of the Church Fathers, Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew, rightly observed that, “No wonder Rabbi Cohn-Sherbok could claim that, “For Chrysostom and other writers of this period the Jews were not human beings – they were demons incarnate, an apostate and immoral nation who have been cast off by God into utter darkness.”

    3) As for Ephesians 2, everything hinges on the meaning of the word politeia. Paul could have been saying Gentile believers became citizens in Israel (which would be in contrast to other, explicit statements he makes elsewhere, including calling them Gentiles, in distinction from Israel, in Romans 11); or he could have been saying they became part of the commonwealth or national life of Israel, which would be in harmony with his other statements. As he explained in Eph 3:6, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” One Body; one family; all equal in God’s sight – but Gentiles do not become Jews (or Israel) and Jews do not become Gentiles.

    I’m sorry that I can’t respond to all your points in detail, but the best way to have a more extended discussion is to call in to my show one day (if I’m correct, you’re the same Adam whom, I was told, called into another show to critique something I posted or said, so why not interact directly with me on the air?), but for the moment, I urge you to read up on the very sad story of pervasive anti-Semitism in Church history, without parallel in scope, persistence, or depth of hatred with the treatment or portrayal of any other group for the last 2,000 years. Read it and weep.

  40. Adam,

    I just reread your post, and I must make two more points:

    1) I am mortified (or, stunned, or shocked — pick the word) that you compare Jewish treatment of Christians in history with Christian treatment of Jews. Extraordinary! Not only are you comparing apples with oranges (even comparing Jewish hostility to Christianity in Luther’s day with his violent and potentially murderous counsel against the Jews), but we Christians claim that the Messiah has come and begun His work in the earth in and through the Church. Where is our witness to the Jewish people?

    2) If God makes no promises to an ethnic people — which, of course, can only be received and actualized by faith — then all His explicit promises to a physical people and to physical descendants in the OT are a complete mockery and sham, and the plain words of verses like Jer 31:35-37, to cite just one example, are utterly meaningless. Again, without grace and faith, we are all utterly lost, but your DNA arguments are quite unscriptural, to put it mildly, and they are truly unworthy of such a serious student of the Word as you. Let Paul be your teacher here (as he speaks of an ethnic people, namely, the Jews): “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Rom 11:28-29 NIV) God will keep His Word to this people and bring them to repentance and faith. He judged an ethnic people who violated His covenant, and He will redeem the descendants of those same people as they put their faith in Jesus the Messiah.

    And now, I make a heartfelt appeal to you: My first response to a challenge to my position is to respond to it, sometimes too quickly, without first asking, “Is this person right?” That’s something I’ve sought to correct over the years. May I urge you to study and consider the points I’m making (especially regarding Church history) before attempting to refute what I’ve written? It may just be life transforming.

    Grace to you, Adam, and thanks so much for taking the time to post. Again, the phone lines on the Line of Fire are open.

  41. Dr Brown

    …you surely can’t be denying the horrific legacy of “Christian” anti-Semitism by comparing it to inner-Christian conflicts or other faith-related conflicts in Church history.

    I keep seeing this brought up by some Christians and especially Messianics, as yourself. Maybe these “Christians” were not Christians to begin with?

  42. Chuck,

    For sure, many were not true Christians, which is why I put the word “Christian” in quotes. Absolutely! So, were the Crusaders true Christians? That’s an impossibility to me. But was Chrysostom a true Christian? Was Luther a true Christian? That’s where the issue becomes much more challenging, since in scores of other ways, these men left a wonderful legacy and gave clear evidence of true faith in Jesus.

    What’s your take?

  43. The “Israel of God.” A curious phrase in a sense. When would Israel be of God, and when not so? A read of Paul’s section on the topic in Romans 9-11, seems to offer a further clarification of what he must have meant. It would not be of one interpretation in one passage, and a completely different in another. Perhaps this is why Galations has been called an abridged Romans?

  44. Jabez, I saw your question in 41.

    It seems to me that a man might say, “Jesus is the Israel of God, the beloved Son of his choosing. He’s the one he chose to die for the sins of the world. God chose his very best. He gave him a cup that was most difficult, yet he accepted it according to the will of God. Jesus is the fruit of the promised land. He’s the olive that was crushed and the grape that was trod under the foot of man. He is the place for us to inhabit, the place for us to put down roots there that we might bring forth fruit unto God, that the nations might see that this is the place of God’s choosing, the place to inhabit, the place to live unto God. As the nations come to Jesus they will see and be glad.”

    Because of Israel the nations will come to God, for out of Israel Jesus came. He’s the type or pattern for what Israel should be. Jesus is what God wants in a nation of his making.

  45. Dr Brown

    …was Chrysostom a true Christian? Was Luther a true Christian?

    God will judge the world through His chosen human Son Jesus Dr. Brown. I do not see this as a worthwhile debate. At the same time, scripture is clear that we should test the spirits to see whether they are from God under the light of those very same scriptures.

  46. Chuck, Yes, but we are either gathering with Him, or scattering his intentions. All our energies must go toward completion of the Kingdom, its righteousness, and that yet incomplete on the planent–not so much into dissentions, factions, endless arguments and the like. If He is raised up all men are drawn to Him.

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