Six Reasons why the Church and Israel are Distinct by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum has listed about six reasons supporting the argument that the church is a distinct work in God's household from His people Israel:

1) "The first evidence is the fact that the church was born at Pentecost, whereas Israel had existed for many centuries" (116). This is supported by "the use of the future tense in Matthew 16:18 shows that it did not exist in gospel history" (116). Since the church born at Pentecost is called the "Body of Christ" (Col. 1:18), and entrance into the body is through "Spirit baptism" (1 Cor. 12:13), in which Jew and Gentile are united through the church. It is evident that the church began on the Day of Pentecost since Acts 1:5 views Spirit baptism as future, while Acts 10 links it to the past, specifically to Pentecost.

2) "The second evidence is that certain events in the ministry of the Messiah were essential to the establishment of the church-the church does not come into being until certain events have taken place" (117). These events include the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to become head of the church (Eph. 1:20-23). "The church, with believers as the body and Christ as the head, did not exist until after Christ ascended to become its head. And it could not become a functioning entity until after the Holy Spirit provided the necessary spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:7-11)" (117).

3) "The third evidence is the mystery character of the church (117)." A mystery in the Bible is a hidden truth not revealed until the New Testament (Eph. 3:3-5, 9; Col. 1:26-27). Fruchtenbaum lists "four defining characteristics of the church [that] are described as a mystery. (1) The body concept of Jewish and Gentile believers united into one body is designated as a mystery in Ephesians 3:1-12. (2) The doctrine of Christ indwelling every believer, the Christ-in-you concept, is called a mystery in Colossians 1:24-27 (cf. Col. 2:10-19; 3:4). (3) The church as the Bride of Christ is called a mystery in Ephesians 5:22-32. (4) The Rapture is called a mystery in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. These four mysteries describe qualities that distinguish the church from Israel" (117-18).

4) "The fourth evidence that the church is distinct from Israel is the unique relationship between Jews and the Gentiles, called one new man in Ephesians 2:15" (118). During the current church age God is saving a remnant from the two previous entities (Israel and Gentiles) and combining them into a third new object-the church. This unity of Jews and Gentiles into one new man covers only the church age, from Pentecost until the rapture, after which time God will restore Israel and complete her destiny (Acts 15:14-18). 1 Corinthians 10:32 reflects just such a division when it says, "Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God."

5) "The fifth evidence for the distinction between Israel and the church is found in Galatians 6:16" (118). "It appears logical to view 'the Israel of God' (Gal. 6:16) as believing Jews in contrast to unbelieving Jews called 'Israel after the flesh' (1 Cor. 10:18)" (124).2 This passage does not support the false claim of replacement theologians who claim that Israel is supplanted by the Church. Instead, the Bible teaches that a remnant of Israel is combined with elect Gentiles during this age to make up a whole new entity the New Testament calls the church (Eph. 2).

Replacement theology tries to teach that because Gentiles believers are described as the "seed of Abraham" (Gal. 3:29) that this is equivalent to saying that they are Israel. This is clearly not the case. Paul's description of Gentile believers in Galatians 3:29 simply means that they participate in the spiritual (i.e., salvation) blessings that come through Israel (Rom. 15:27; 1 Cor. 9:11, 14). "Those who are the spiritual seed are partakers of Jewish spiritual blessings but are never said to become partakers of the physical, material, or national promises" (126). Therefore, Israel's national promises are left in tact awaiting a yet future fulfillment.

6) "In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct" (118). Thus, the replacement theologian has no actual biblical basis upon which he bases his theological claim that Israel and the church have become one.

*Fruchtenbaum, "Israel and the Church" in Wesley Willis, John Master, and Charles Ryrie, ed., Issues in Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 129.

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