Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow: Part (2)

Dispensationalism: Israel and the Church

The consistent dispensationalist is a theologian in the grip of an idea — the idea that there is a strong dichotomy between Israel and the church. This idea is a relatively modern theory in the history of doctrine that was initially developed and popularized by J. N. Darby (1800-1882), the father of dispensational thought. During a period of convalescence in 1827, Darby meditated on the fact that the true Christian through the baptizing work of the Spirit is in union with Christ and therefore is seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:4-7). With this on his mind, Darby read in Isaiah 32:15-20 about a prophesied outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel that would bring earthly blessings upon the people of God. Darby took this Scriptural data and concluded it to imply a strong contrast between earthly blessings prophesied for Israel and heavenly blessings promised to the Christian in the New Testament.

From this Darby developed his theory that God has two peoples, an earthly people and a heavenly people. [1]

In 1840, Darby gave the following summary of his new ideas on prophecy:

Prophecy applies itself properly to the earth; its object is not heaven. It was about things that were to happen on the earth; and the not seeing this has misled the Church. We have thought that we ourselves had within us the accomplishments of these earthly blessings, whereas we are called to heavenly blessings. The privilege of the Church is to have its portion in the heavenly places; and later blessings will be shed forth upon the earthly people. The Church is something altogether apart — a kind of heavenly economy, during the rejection of the earthly people, who are put aside on account of their sins, and driven out among the nations, out of the midst of which nations God chooses a people for the enjoyment of heavenly glory with Jesus Himself. The Lord, having been rejected by the Jewish people, is become wholly a heavenly person. This is the doctrine which we find peculiarly in the apostle Paul. It is no longer the Messiah for the Jews, but a Christ exalted, glorified; and it is for want of taking hold of this exhilarating truth, that the Church has become so weak. [2]

This summary statement demonstrates that Darby had come to interpret Scripture in terms of the dispensational dichotomy and parenthesis theories. He had come to view the Jews as the earthly people of God with an earthly purpose, destiny and hope, the Christians as the heavenly people of God with a heavenly purpose, destiny and hope, and the church age as the heavenly parenthesis in the earthly program.

Reformed theology, of course, strongly disagrees with this radical dichotomy between Israel and the church. Reformed theologians do recognize Biblical distinctions between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church but not a strong dichotomy. The Biblical distinctions between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church involve an organic progression analogous to the development of a child into an adult (Galatians 4:3-4). The organic development brought about during the time of the New Testament includes the unprecedentedly clear revelation through the Incarnate Word and His apostles, the historical accomplishment of the prophesied Messianic atonement, the outpouring of the Spirit in unprecedented fullness, the cessation of the burdensome Mosaic ceremonial laws, and the universalization of the kingdom previously limited to the Jewish nation.

In the midst of these developmental changes, there was also a strong continuity with the Old Testament program. Although God often dealt with Old Testament Israel in terms of earthly institutions and promises, these were pictures of the same heavenly realities later spoken of in the New Testament and there was a genuine spiritual dimension in the lives of the Old Testament saints. And although the New Testament often speaks in terms of heavenly and spiritual realities, the Christian is still in the world and has been given the earthly task of being the light of the world, the salt of the earth and the discipler of the nations.

Here are two antithetically opposed systems in regard to the relationship between Israel and the church. To determine which system is correct, we must go to Scripture. A New Testament passage that speaks to this issue is Ephesians 2:12-21, a passage in which the Apostle Paul contrasts the covenant status of Gentiles in general under the old covenant with that of Gentile Christians under the new covenant. In this passage, Paul first reminds the Ephesian Christians of their former spiritual poverty before their coming to faith in Christ in the new covenant age.

As “Gentiles in the flesh,” they were uncircumcised and were therefore without what had been in former times the sign and seal of God’s covenant (verse 11). Paul then in verse 12 summarizes what had once been these Ephesian Gentiles’ covenant status:

… at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

As the uncircumcised, they had been “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” (verse 12). Outward membership in God’s covenant community does not guarantee inward membership and salvation, but it is important. Outward membership in Old Testament Israel had not been without its advantages, to say the least:

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there in circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:1-2

… Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:4-5

... salvation is of the Jews. John 4:22

The “Gentiles in the flesh” under the old covenant had been without these advantages due to their alienation from Israel. The word here translated “being aliens” is a strong term used at times to speak of estrangement from God due to moral abominations (Ezekiel 14:5,7-8 LXX; Hosea 9:10 LXX). After the formation of the nations at the tower of Babel, God had chosen one man, Abraham, to father the one nation, Israel, through which He would exclusively administer His covenants until the universalism of the new covenant age when His people would be from every tribe, nation and tongue. During that period of Jewish particularism, God had “suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16), allowing them to remain in their bondage to demonic paganism and therefore in a state of alienation from God and His people.

As “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” the “Gentiles in the flesh” had been, most significantly, “without Christ.” Under the old covenant, the Jews, of course, had not known the historically manifested Jesus of Nazareth, but they had known the Messiah yet to come through the “covenants of promise” (verse 12). Paul in a sermon addressed to physical Jews stated that;

… the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; … Acts 13:32b-33

The uncircumcised Gentile’s relationship to these promises had been that of the “stranger,” a general term for the foreigner or alien who was without the rights associated with citizenship in the covenant community.

Paul then contrasts this former position of spiritual poverty with the covenant status in this age of Gentiles who believe in Christ. Contrary to their former status, they are now “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (verse 19). Each major word in this statement is worthy of close examination. According to verse 12, the “Gentiles in the flesh” had been “strangers from the covenants of promise,” but now the Gentiles in Christ are “no more strangers or foreigners” (verse 19). The Greek word here translated foreigners is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to the resident aliens who lived in Israel and had certain legal rights but who were not citizens in Israel and could not partake of the Passover (Exodus 12:45 LXX). This word literally means “the one beside the house,” and Paul states that to be no longer a foreigner is to be “of the household of God,” a symbolic expression for membership in God’s people under both the old and the new covenants (Numbers 12:7; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:5-6). The Gentiles in Christ are also now “fellow-citizens with the saints.” In the Greek, the word translated fellow- citizen in verse 19 is closely related to the word in verse 12 translated commonwealth in the King James Version. In the New International Version, this word from verse 12 is translated citizenship, a translation which better shows the close affinity of this word with the one translated fellow-citizen. The Gentile in the flesh had been alienated “from the commonwealth of Israel,” but the Gentile Christian is now a “fellow-citizen with the saints.” The “saints” are God’s holy people, the people of the covenant. The Christian is a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Philippians 3:20; Revelation 3:12) and therefore a fellow-citizen with with the saints of all ages (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Verses 13 and 17 also relate to our discussion. In verse 13, the Gentile Christians at Ephesus are referred to as “ye who sometimes were far off.” Then in verse 17, the apostle says,

And (Christ) came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

As we have seen from verse 13, those who are referred to as “afar off” are the pagan Gentiles who had lived as “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” Who then are those referred to as “them that were nigh.” Many believe that this term has reference here to the Jews at Ephesus who had heard the Gospel message. [3] Peter used some similar terminology in his Pentecost sermon to the Jews at Jerusalem:

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

The Jew as a member of God’s covenant people was already provisionally near to the Gospel since the Gospel was the fulfillment of the covenants of promise that had been made with Old Testament Israel. Of course, if the Jew persisted in rejecting the Messiah, he was cut off from the true covenant people, but the Gospel was offered to the Jew first and then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). In verse 13 of Ephesians 2, Paul says,

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Let us assume that the terms “near” and “far” do refer to the respective relationships of the Jew and the pagan Gentile to the Old Testament covenants of promise at the time of the transition between the old and new covenants when the new covenant Gospel was first being offered. Then Paul in verse 13 is teaching that the pagan Gentile who believed in Christ had been made an heir in new covenant fullness of those Old Testament covenants of promise which formerly had exclusively belonged to Old Testament Israel.

This passage is not teaching that the Gentile Christian has become a member of Old Testament Israel. Ephesians two teaches that the Gentile believer has become a member of the church of Messianic fullness, which Paul calls “the new man” (verse 15) and which Paul speaks of as a building built upon the foundation of the New Testament apostles and prophets (verse 20). The importance of this passage is that it stresses both the newness of the church and the continuity of the church with God’s previous covenant program. The answer to Gentile alienation from Israel and her covenants is membership in the new man, which makes one a fellow-citizen with God’s covenant people and a member of God’s house. These terms have roots in the Old Testament, and this passage fits in well with the Reformed teaching that the New Testament church is Old Testament Israel come to new covenant maturity. The dispensational interpretation of this Ephesians passage puts all its emphasis on the teaching in this passage that the New Testament church is a “new man.” [4] True, there is a significant newness to the New Testament church, but that fact does not nullify the equally valid teaching in Ephesians 2 that the New Testament church has a strong relationship of organic continuity with Old Testament Israel.

Is the newness of the new covenant church the newness of maturity that occurs in a context of organic continuity with the past? Or is the newness of the new covenant church best explained by the rigid dispensational dichotomy and parenthesis theories? For the dispensationalist to assume automatically and dogmatically that the “new man” has no organic continuity with the Old Testament covenant people is to commit the logical fallacy of begging the question.

Under the Mosaic covenant, only practicing Jews were members of God’s covenant people. In this age of the new covenant, however, believing Jews and Gentiles are together full members of God’s holy people (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14) and unbelieving individual Jews and Gentiles are together outside the camp of covenant blessings.

There are two ways this equalization of spiritual status between Jew and Gentile could have been effected. In line with the dispensational dichotomy and parenthesis theories, the Old Testament covenants could have parenthetically become inoperative.

According to Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, “… the Jew has been removed from the place of special privilege which was his in the past age and leveled to the same standing as the Gentile …” [5]

According to Dr. John F. Walvoord, “In the present age, Israel has been set aside, her promises held in abeyance, with no progress in the fulfillment of her program.” [6]

And the new and distinct privileges of the church could have been introduced for believing Jews and Gentiles alike. Or, in line with the Reformed teaching that the church age is an exalted continuation of the Old Testament covenant program, believing Gentiles could have been elevated to the privileged position of spiritual Israel by being made full heirs of the Old Testament covenants in new covenant fullness. Believing Jews would have remained in spiritual Israel during the transition between the old and new covenants, and unbelieving Jews would have been cut off from the covenant people in judgment (Romans 11:20). To be cut off from the church in judgment was to be reduced in the eyes of the covenant people to the religious status of a pagan (Matthew 18:17).

Ephesians 2 supports this second suggestion through its teaching that believing Gentiles today participate in the covenants of promise that formerly had been limited to the commonwealth of Israel.

Another relevant passage is Romans 11, in which Paul discusses the status of Jews in the church age. The olive tree of Romans 11 stands for the privileged position of blessing that belonged to Old Testament Israel (compare Jeremiah 11:16; Hosea 14:6). It is an olive tree whose roots are firmly established in the Old Testament covenants made with the Jewish patriarchs.

Before looking at Paul’s use of the figure, let us examine how we should expect Paul to use the figure if he really were a dispensationalist.

Since, according to dispensationalism, all the Jews in this parenthetical age are cut off from their Old Testament privileges, we should expect Paul to teach that all the branches on the olive tree of Israel were broken off at the beginning of the church age. Like the clock of the Jewish prophetic program that supposedly stopped ticking at the beginning of the church age, the old Jewish olive tree would have to stand dormant during the church age until that future tribulation period and millennium when God again resumes the Jewish prophetic program. It would be like the Jewish train that is waiting on the side track until the church train passes by on the track of history, to use another illustration popular with dispensationalists.

Also, since according to dispensationalism, God’s program for the church is totally distinct from God’s program for Israel, we should expect Paul to teach that at the beginning of the church age a new olive tree representing the church was divinely planted. And all the believing Jews who were broken off from the olive tree of dormant Israel and all the believing Gentiles who were formerly in the wild olive tree of paganism are in this age grafted into the olive tree of church blessings. But this, of course, is not what Paul teaches. Paul instead teaches that only unbelieving Jews were broken off from the olive tree of Israel. Jews who accepted Christ remained where they always had been — in the olive tree of Israel. And believing Gentiles were grafted into the olive tree of Israel. This Romans 11 explanation of the status of Jews in the church age strongly implies that the church is spiritual Israel in this new covenant age.

Another passage which shows the strong continuity between Israel and the church is Hebrews 3:5-6. This passage refers to both Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church as God’s house, which demonstrates their unity as the one people of God. This passage builds upon Numbers 12:7, where the term God’s house definitely does refer to Israel. [7] This passage also demonstrates the organic progression between the testaments with its message that the Christ of the new covenant era, who is a Son over God’s house, is superior to Moses of the old covenant era, who was a servant in God’s house.

Another passage that speaks to the issue of the Biblical relationship between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church is Revelation 21. Revelation 21 reveals that the New Jerusalem is symbolic for the saints of all the ages. The city’s twelve foundation stones, having the names of the twelve apostles written upon them, represent the New Testament saints. And the city’s twelve gates, having the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them, represent the Old Testament saints (Revelation 21:12,14). The New Jerusalem, a city whose citizenship includes the saints of all the ages, is in this passage called the Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2,9-10). The Bride of Christ is elsewhere defined as the church universal, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). This means that both Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church are together in the Body of Christ.

The conclusion that Old Testament saints are included in the New Jerusalem is further confirmed by Hebrews 11 and 12. Hebrews 11 sets forth examples of faith in the lives of Old Testament saints and ends with the following comment on the salvific status of the Old Testament saints:

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Following this, in Hebrews 12:22-24, the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem are described as follows:

But you have come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

A comparison of the above verses can leave little doubt that both Old Testament and New Testament saints are citizens of the heavenly city. Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches that “the spirits of just men made perfect,” are included among the New Jerusalem inhabitants, and Hebrews 11:39-40 gives evidence that this designation is inclusive of the Old Testament saints.

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost attempts to explain away the implications of the above reference to the New Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ by arguing that though the New Jerusalem does contain all the saints of all the ages, the city takes its “chief characterization” from the New Testament church, which alone is the Bride of Christ. [8]

Dr. C.I. Scofield has a different explanation:

The “Lamb’s wife” here [Revelation 19:7] is the “bride” (Rev. 21.9), the Church, identified with the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12.22,23), and to be distinguished from Israel, the adulterous and repudiated “wife” of Jehovah, yet to be restored (Isa. 54.1-10; Hos. 2.1-17), who is identified with the earth (Hos. 2.23). A forgiven and restored wife could not be called either a virgin (2 Cor. 11.2,3), or a bride. [9]
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer suggests the following:

It is named for the Bride of Christ and probably because she has some superior right to it; yet other peoples and beings enter her gates. [10]

And Dr. John F. Walvoord says the following:

The New Jerusalem is given detailed revelation and is described in general “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). The figure of marriage is used for the church, for Israel, and here for the city in which the saints of all ages will dwell. The fact that the marriage figure is used for more than one entity in Scripture should not be considered confusing, nor should the city be identified specifically with the church. It is rather that the New Jerusalem has all the beauty and freshness of a bride adorned for her husband. [11]

Another significant passage that speaks directly to this issue is Matthew 21:43, a statement which Christ made to the Jewish leaders near the end of His earthly ministry: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof.”

The question that this statement raises is, What is this nation that was given the kingdom of God?

The obvious answer is the church, which is elsewhere designated a nation (1 Peter 2:9). If the church was given the kingdom program that God had first administered through Old Testament Israel and had previously rooted in the Old Testament covenants, then there is a strong continuity between Israel and the church. If the church assumes the Old Testament kingdom program begun with Old Testament Israel, then the church truly is the Israel of the new covenant.

A common dispensational answer to the above question is that the kingdom will be given “to the nation Israel when she shall turn to the Lord and be saved before entering the millennial kingdom.” [12]

This means that the whole church age must intervene between the first clause of the verse in which the kingdom is taken away from physical Israel and the second clause in which the kingdom is given to another nation!

Some dispensationalists do admit that this verse is teaching that the kingdom in some sense has been transferred in this age from Old Testament Israel to the New Testament church or to the believing Gentiles of this age. [13] Those who make this admission must define away through qualifications the significance and meaning of this transfer if they are to maintain their dichotomy between Israel and the church with their two separate and distinct programs. Whenever dispensationalists admit that the kingdom is related to the church, they usually interpret it as either the kingdom in mystery form of Matthew 13 or as God’s non-theocratic rule of providence.

Additional insight into the transition of the kingdom from Old Testament Israel to the New Testament church can be found in the Biblical teaching on the Messianic Good Shepherd. The Messianic Good Shepherd was both to dispossess the “bad shepherd” leaders of Israel and to judge between members of the flock of Israel (Ezekiel 34:7-31). Jesus Christ took the kingdom away from the leaders of Israel who had opposed Him and gave the kingdom to the “poor of the flock” (Zechariah 11:7,11), the righteous remnant within the nation who were His disciples. In Luke 12:32, Jesus said to His disciples: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” His disciples were the true sheep in Israel, for the true sheep within the flock of Israel were those who recognized the Messianic Shepherd, listened to His teachings, and obediently followed Him (John 10:14,27). Those Jews who rejected Christ did not believe because they were not true sheep (John 10:26).

Jesus also taught that He also had sheep outside of the fold of His Jewish disciples (John 10:16). Jesus was here speaking of the Gentiles who would later believe and be incorporated into His church. Though these had not yet believed, Christ spoke of them as those chosen and predestined to be His from before the foundation of the world. This statement parallels the Lord’s later visionary commandment that instructed Paul to continue preaching in Corinth because “I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10).

In John 10:16, Christ said that these Gentile sheep were at that time outside of His present fold of disciples and that He would lead them into His one flock. [14] The word translated fold in John 10:16 literally refers to a walled court (compare John 10:1) and brings to mind a picture of Israel walled off from the Gentile nations by her ceremonial laws. Jesus was to lead these Gentile sheep into His one flock, “for He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14).

The new covenant people of God are one flock with no distinction between Jew and Gentile.

The use of the flock metaphor in John 10 demonstrates the relationship of continuity between old covenant Israel and the new covenant church. Both old covenant Israel and the new covenant church are spoken of as God’s flock. [15] Christ’s sheep are those for whom He savingly died (John 10:11) and to whom He has given eternal life (John 10:28). Since salvation is found in Christ alone, God’s true sheep are the saints of all ages.

Taken together, this data on the Good Shepherd teaches that Jesus took the kingdom away from the leaders and members of old covenant Israel who rejected Him, gave this kingdom to the righteous remnant within the nation who received Him in faith, and then added to this one flock the believing Gentiles.

This message given under the figure of the one flock is similar to the message that Paul teaches in Romans 11 under the figure of the one olive tree. Both John 10 and Romans 11 teach the essential unity of the people of God through the ages as one flock and one olive tree and illustrate the organic progression and the developmental continuity in the transition between the old and new covenants.

Another group of passages that are relevant to our discussion of the continuity question consists of passages which give the church a Jewish name. The most commonly discussed of these is Galatians 6:16, where Paul refers to the church as the Israel of God.

Dispensationalists argue that Paul here was referring exclusively to the Jews in the early church and not to the church as a whole. [16]

But one must remember that one of Paul’s main themes in Galatians is the teaching that the Jews have no special privileges over the Gentiles in this age (Galatians 3:28). Christ has broken down the religious dividing wall between Jew and Gentile in the Christian church (Ephesians 2:14). If Paul then gives the Jews in the church a special status or recognition by referring to them exclusively as the Israel of God, then Paul would have destroyed his own argument. He would have played into the hands of the Judaizers by giving them a valid reason for arguing that Gentile Christians could improve their covenant status by becoming Jewish proselytes as well as Christians.

According to dispensationalists, believing Jews and Gentiles in the church are together heirs of spiritual promises, but Jews, believing and unbelieving, are exclusive heirs of national promises. [17]

Since Paul taught that there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ (Galatians 3:28), he must have been referring to the whole church when he spoke of the Israel of God in Galatians 6:16.

If this interpretation is correct, then this verse would be best translated “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God” as in the New International Version, and the true Israel of God in this age would be defined as all those who walk by the rule of not boasting except in the cross of Christ.

Elsewhere the church is called the diaspora, a technical term for Jews living in Gentile nations (1 Peter 1:1; James 1:1); the twelve tribes (James 1:1; Revelation 7:4; Luke 22:30); a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 1:6; Titus 2:14; compare Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6); Jews who are Jews inwardly (Romans 2:28-29); the circumcision (Philippians 3:3; compare Colossians 2:11, Romans 2:29); comers unto Mount Zion (Hebrews 12:22); citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26); children of promise like Isaac (Galatians 4:28); Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).

Typically, dispensationalists argue that these Jewish names given to the church refer only to believing Jews in the church.

There are some cases where the New Testament does make a limited reference to believing Jews, as in Romans 9:6: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” That verse is contrasting believing Jews and unbelieving Jews.There, however, are many other cases where Paul is clearly referring to the whole church when he uses a Jewish title. For example, Paul defined the circumcision as those “which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). The circumcision is a title for Israel (Ephesians 2:11), and this description of the true circumcision in this age is inclusive of all true believers, both Jew and Gentile. All Christians are spiritually circumcised (Colossians 2:11-12), and “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:29).

It is also relevant that Jesus in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 called the Jews who were then persecuting the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, those “which say they are Jews, and are not” and “the synagogue of Satan.” These verses clearly show that those ethnic Jews who rejected Christ were no longer considered a part of the true Israel. Paul said in Romans 3:28: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh” (Romans 3:28).

The relationship between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church is not one of strong dichotomy but one of organic, developmental continuity. If the Bible presents any group as being in a dichotomous relationship with spiritual Israel, it is not the New Testament church but New Testament Phariseeism, which developed into what is today called normative Judaism. The New Testament age differs from the Old Testament period in its non-bloody rituals and its greater spiritual fullness, but the saints of both ages constitute the one people of God who are together the Body and Bride of Christ.

End Notes

1 Daniel Payton Fuller, “The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism” (dissertation, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1957), pages 38-41.

2 Ibid., page 45; quoting from J.N. Darby, “The Hopes of the Church of God,” Collected Writings (William Kelly, editor; 35 volumes; second edition; London: G. Morrish, n.d.), 2:571-572.

3 “In Eph. 2:13 Gentile Christians are reminded of God’s gift that those who were once far from God, …, have been brought near to Him by Christ and become His children. In Eph. 2:17, which sets Is. 57:19 in the context of salvation history …, the Gentiles are told that to them, who are far from God …, Christ brought peace and salvation no less than to the Jews, so that the distant and the near, Gentile and Jewish Christians, experience as the great mystery of God through Christ their union into the new people of God.”Gerhard Kittel, editor; Geoffrey W. Bromily, editor and translator, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), 4:374.

See also Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 4:74; John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (reprint: Minneapolis: James and Klock Christian Publishing Co., 1977; original: Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1883), pages 169-170; William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition on Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1967), pages 213-214; T.K. Abbott, The International Critical Commentary: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clerk, 1897), page 60.

4 John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), page 165.

5 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 4:248.”The Gentile was not elevated to the level of Jewish privilege; but the Jew was lowered to the level of the hopeless Gentile, from which position either Jew or Gentile might be saved through grace alone into a heavenly position and glory.”

Ibid., 4:75.

6 John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, page 136. Yet on page 165, Dr. Walvoord argues that “Israel is not reduced to the bankruptcy of Gentiles–to become ‘strangers from the covenants of promise’ …” Dr. Walvoord’s point may be that although unbelieving individual Jews are not heirs of spiritual blessings, all Jews, believing and unbelieving, remain heirs of the national promises, in dispensational theory (page 169). On page 136, he says, “Promises may be delayed in fulfillment but not cancelled.”

7 Compare Exodus 16:31; 2 Samuel 1:12; Jeremiah 31:31; Matthew 10:6; 15:24; Acts 2:36.

8 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), page 576; compare page 227.

9 C.I. Scofield, editor, The Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1909), page 1348 (note on Revelation 19:7).

10 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 5:367.

11 Dr. John F. Walvoord, The Church in Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1964), page 161.

12 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, page 71.

13 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: The New Testament, note on Matthew 21:43; J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, pages 465-466.

14 This distinction between the flock and the fold in John 10:16 is not made clear in the King James Version where both Greek words are translated fold.

15 Israel: Psalm 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Isaiah 40:11; 63:11; Jeremiah 13:17; 23:1; 50:6; Ezekiel 34:31; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 10:3; 13:7; Matthew 10:6; 15:24. Church: Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:2-3.

16 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, pages 139-140. According to Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, there is no spiritual Israel in this age:

“There is a distinction between the true church and true or spiritual Israel. Prior to Pentecost there were saved individuals, but there was no church, and they were a part of spiritual Israel, not the church. After the day of Pentecost and until the rapture we find the church which is His body, but no spiritual Israel. After the rapture we find no church, but a true or spiritual Israel again. These distinctions must be kept clearly in mind.”

J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, page 199.

Dr. Pentecost defines Jewish Christians as those “who would be a part of spiritual Israel” (Ibid, page 89). I assume him to mean by this that Jewish Christians are those Jews who, because of their faith, would be a part of spiritual Israel if this were not the parenthetical church age.

17 John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, page 169.

No comments: