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Paul And Israel    


It's my thinking that as Moses was to Israel, so Paul is to Christians.  Both men were well educated in all aspects of society, religion, and especially the things of God.  Both men set forth God's will for His people.  When it comes to Paul, I've always said, "if he was wrong in what he taught, then we as Christians have a major problem".  Paul, more than any other New Testament personality, including Jesus, systematically set forth the doctrines of Christ.  Paul's letter to the Romans makes that clear.  Therefore, when it comes to the politics of God and the Bible, one must take Paul's writings seriously.

The apostle Paul was well educated in Jewish social and religious tradition.  You could not have asked for a more dedicated man to the cause.  Philippians 3 shows that to be true. Paul paid a high price to follow Jesus.  Although he forsook Jewish tradition, he did not forsake Yahweh and the truths of the Old Testament.  In light of Paul's association with Jesus, I ask, "what did he believe concerning the future of Israel"?  


At the risk of raising more questions, I'll try to make this simple.  For a detailed explanation of Israel in prophetic history, including Paul's teaching, you can read my somewhat lengthy article on the Abrahamic Covenant found on my web site at  http://stevesweetman.com/Abrahamcov/abcov1.htm


If you read every passage in Genesis concerning the promises God spoke to Abraham, which we call the Abrahamic Covenant, you will notice that there are three recipients of these promises.  They are, Abraham, his descendents, and his seed.  This crucial fact is missed by many, resulting in a misunderstanding of Israel 's place in prophetic history. 


With this in mind we turn to Galatians 3:15 to 18, the most debated passage concerning Israel 's future.  Paul made a big deal over the word "seed" that appears in the Abrahamic Covenant.  He said the Abrahamic Covenant was directed to Abraham and to "his seed".  He notes the word "seed" is singular, not plural.  He therefore concludes that this one "seed", or, this one "descendent", is Jesus.  There's no disagreement there. 


Based on Paul's assertion that Jesus is the "seed" of Abraham, a theology called "Replacement Theology" has emerged among many theologians.  They say the promises spoken to Abraham have been completely fulfilled in the one seed, or, the one descendent, Jesus.   Because of this they conclude that all the promises spoken to Abraham, including promises of land and Israeli nationhood, are now spiritualized and given to the church through Jesus.  In short, the church has replaced Israel as God's chosen people, leaving Israel with no future that's been ordained by God.  I see a problem with this thinking.   


Galatians 3 states there are two recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant, Abraham and his seed.  The Genesis account states there are three recipients, Abraham, his descendents, and his seed.  This appears to be a discrepancy, but it's not.  Replacement Theology builds its case on the two recipient scenario.  They ignore the three recipient scenario, or don't realize it exists.  Because of this error, Israel , or Abraham's descendents, loses her place in prophetic history in this theological position.     


Another important thing to note is that the word "seed" is singular, while the word "descendents" is plural.  This is another overlooked point.  Because "seed" is singular and "descendents" is plural, these two recipients can't be synonymous as Replacement Theology suggests.  The seed is Jesus.  The descendents are Israel , and according to the Abrahamic Covenant, Israel has an everlasting  future.         


Paul addresses just one issue in Galatians 3.  He says salvation comes through trusting Jesus, not through the Law of Moses.  That's it.  It was never his intention to address the prophetic and historic significance of Israel in this passage.  The reason why he wrote this letter in the first place was because the Galatians were beginning to replace faith in Jesus with obedience to the Law of Moses.  For this reason, Paul would have had no reason to address the issues of Israel 's prophetic history, land issues, or, nationhood.  He does that in Romans 9 through 11, which is an expanded version of Galatians 3. 


Those holding to Replacement Theology misunderstand Galatians 3, so when they read Romans 9 through 11, they build their theology on this misunderstanding, resulting in even more misunderstanding.  There is no need to interpret Romans 9 through 11.  We should simply accept what Paul says at face value.      


Paul had a deep concern for Israel 's future.  In Romans 9:3 he expressed his compassion by saying he was willing to lose his salvation if that could save Israel . 


Paul points out in Romans 9, as he did in Galatians 3, that it had always been God's will to provide salvation to both Israelis and Gentiles through faith in Jesus.  In Romans 10:4 he goes as far to say that "Christ is the end of the Law".  Jesus has replaced the Law of Moses for the purpose of salvation and righteousness.  I wish more Evangelicals understood the implications of this. 


In Romans 11:1 Paul asked the crucial question.  "Did God reject His people ( Israel )"?  His answer was emphatic.  "By no means".  In verses 7 through 10 he quotes Old Testament passages to show God actually blinded the eyes and understanding of Israel in order for the Gentiles to find faith in Jesus.   Paul then said in verses 25 and 26 that he did not want his readers to be ignorant of the fact that " Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in".  Once the last Gentile finds salvation, then "all Israel will be saved". At this point, Zechariah  12:10 will finally be fulfilled.  God will pour out a spirit of repentance upon Israel , resulting in her salvation.  Clearly, Paul believed Israel has a future.


There are three recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant.  They are Abraham, his seed Jesus, and his descendents Israel .  Each of these three recipients have a part to play in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.  What Paul taught in Galatians 3 does not nullify the Genesis account or what he taught in Romans 9 through 11.      


For a detailed explanation on Romans 9 through 11 you can read my commentary on the book of Romans.


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