How Do Replacement Theologians Argue Their Case?
- To be a son of Abraham is to have faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Galatians 3:29 shows that sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: “And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins us Gentile Christians to what God had already started with Israel.
- The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a “starter.” The real Promised Land is the whole world. They use Romans 4:13 to claim it will be the Church that inherits the world, not Israel. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural progeny, the Jews? It simply says that through the law, they would not inherit the world, but this would be acquired through faith. This is also true of the Church.
- The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): “For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.”
Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be “a light to the nations,” so that God’s Word has gone around the world. It does not suggest God’s dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.
- Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people (Matt. 21:43): “Therefore I am saying to you, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.'”
Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel. See Teaching Letter #770008, “Did God Break His Covenant With the Jews?”
- A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is racially Gentile or Jewish (Rom. 2:28-29): “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], and it certainly qualifies the spiritual qualifications for Jews or anyone who professes to be a follower of the God of Israel.
- Paul shows that the Church is really the same “olive tree” as was Israel, and the Church is now the tree. Therefore, to distinguish between Israel and the Church is, strictly speaking, false. Indeed, people of Jewish origin need to be grafted back into the Church (Rom 11:17-23).
Rebuttal: This claim is the most outrageous because this passage clearly shows that we Gentiles are the “wild olive branches,” who get our life from being grafted into the olive tree. The tree represents the covenants, promises and hopes of Israel (Eph. 2:12), rooted in the Messiah and fed by the sap, which represents the Holy Spirit, giving life to the Jews (the “natural branches”) and Gentile alike. We Gentiles are told to remember that the olive tree holds us up and NOT to be arrogant or boast against the “natural branches” because they can be grafted in again. The olive tree is NOT the Church. We are simply grafted into God’s plan that preceded us for over 2,000 years.
- All the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament, unless they were historically fulfilled before the coming of Jesus Christ, are now the property of the Christian Church. These promises should not be interpreted literally or carnally, but spiritually and symbolically, so that references to Israel, Jerusalem, Zion and the Temple, when they are prophetic, really refer to the Church (II Cor. 1:20). “For all the promises of God in Him (Jesus) are Yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Therefore, they teach that the New Testament needs to be taught figuratively, not literally.
Rebuttal: Later, in this Teaching Letter, we will look at the fact that the New Testament references to Israel clearly pertain to Israel, not the Church. Therefore, no promise to Israel and the Jewish people in the Bible is figurative, nor can they be relegated to the Church alone. The promises and covenants are literal, many of them are everlasting, and we Christians can participate in them as part of our rebirth, not in that we took them over to the exclusion of Israel. The New Testament speaks of the Church’s relationship to Israel and her covenants as being “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17), “brought near” (Eph. 2:13), “Abraham’s offspring (by faith)” (Rom. 4:16), and “partakers” (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29).