I thought this article was thought provoking and funny too. Check it out-God Bless
By Lionel Woods
Let me first start off by saying, I don’t believe the Church replaces Israel. I don’t know how anyone comes to that conclusion. The first question that should come to mind is replaces Israel how? Or replaces Israel with whom? So I don’t believe that at all. However I do believe something radically different than my Dispensational brethren and thus the premise of this post. What is that belief? I believe that two people became one people at Pentecost! I will explain why I think that in a brief second. What I mean is that at Pentecost Christ took believing Jews and believing Gentiles (which I believe are the elect of God predestined and foreknew by the Father before the foundation of the world expressed clearly back in Ephesians 1) and them one people and named them the Church. This church is the mystery Paul talks about in Ephesians 2 which was hidden in the past but now revealed. Peter also uses the same language in 1 Peter 2.
What does that say of ethnic Israel today? Well for one, they are in the same category as other nonbelievers. The covenant that they possessed (the one that made them a nation in Exodus 20) has been eradicated and a new and gracious covenant has been put in its place and it is not based on ethnicity but on faith (Hebrews 7-10 clearly states this, not to mention Galatians 3). So what Israel received by ethnicity God now offers by faith. The Sinaic covenant has been replaced and the covenant ratified by Jesus Christ is now the only way to God. Let me explain why I think there are only one people of God.
Ephesians 2:11-22 (emphasis mine)
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated 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 once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
So here are my thoughts on this subject. Once again this is not a harmful jab at my brethren but it is a jab none the less. One thing that my Dispensational brethren are very fond of saying is that “we interpret the Bible literally”. So I want to apply that “literal” hermeneutic to this epistle. Once again, the Ephesians upon reading this letter has no clue what dispensationalism is, but neither did anyone else to a about hundred and something years ago. So lets take a time capsule back into the 1st century after attending seminary and hold a conversation with some of the elders in Ephesus.
Dispensational:Hey I am from the 21st century and have found this time capsule that allows me to go back in time. I can only stay 1 hour due to limitations. How are you?
Ephesian Elder: I am doing great, wow Christianity has made all over the world? That is amazing, we never knew it would get so big! Praise God what Paul said we now know to be true. We are even more encouraged.
Dispensational: Yeah Israel has become a Nation again we can see God ushering in His Kingdom. God promises to His special people are unfolding before our eyes!!!!!
Ephesian Elder: ????? I am puzzled what do you mean special people?
Dispensational: You know, we are just a parenthesis in God’s plan but His promise to bring Israel, back in the land and give them all the past promises and “save them all” is unfolding.
Ephesian Elder: Where did you hear that from? Paul just wrote us a letter and he says we now partake int the commonwealth and the ALLLLL of the promises because of what Christ did on the cross. There is no more dividing wall, no more hostility, and we are no longer two people but one and Christ is the head. We are being built up into one holy temple of God.
Dispensational: No, no, no! God is going to rapture the Church and then do something special with His chosen people. You must be greatly mistaken or you are taking Paul’s letter out of context. Haven’t you read the Old Testament.
Ephesian Elder: Oh yes I have read it and all of the promises are found in Christ. He is the “true Israel” of God, He succeeds where they fail. He is the true seed of Abraham and faith in Him makes us all one people my dear friend.
Dispensational:Well…, I have to go, but I think you are greatly mistaken. My system says that we are in the Dispensation of the Church age and the Kingdom Age is soon to come.
Ephesian Elder: ???? What does that mean?
Above is a short hypothetical conversation that I think would occur if my brethren were to take a time capsule back into the first century. I don’t see how from the plain reading of Ephesians we get two distinct people when Paul constantly uses the word “one”. Let me show you.
v. 14 - For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one
v. 15 - that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two
v. 16 - and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility
v. 18 - For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father
Now unless one means two in this epistle I have a really hard time agreeing that there are still two distinct people in God’s plan. God in Christ has made one people and they are His elect and gave them one name and that is The Church! This organism now is how Christ will make Himself known to the world (John 17). There is no more us vs them and Gentiles are no longer aliens but sons and heirs of God through faith as He promised Abraham back in Genesis. This great mystery has been made evident to all of the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Peter puts it this way:
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You see we are longer dogs as Jesus called the Samaritan woman. No, my friend we are children (John 1:13) of God and heirs to the promises of God. We are now as Peter says “a holy nation” (ethnic Israel was under the Old Covenant), “a royal priesthood” (the Levites were under the Old Covenant) “a chosen race” (ethic Israel was the race through the physical seed of Abraham under the Old Covenant). Why? “That we may proclaim His excellencies” (which if you read the Torah was the very reason God chose Israel). The church isn’t a mishap in God’s plan but as Paul writes in Chapter 1 of Ephesus this was “before the foundation of the world”!
In closing. This is my take as I use the plain literal meaning to interpret the scriptures. God’s plan was to redeem the world through Christ. Israel was given the privilege under the Old Covenant, but we are given the obligation under the New, to proclaim God’s excellencies. No longer are there two people but one people, and Christ is the head. No more hostility, no more gentile vs Jew but one people under one Covenant ratified in Acts 2. I am thankful that I am no longer a “dog” (LOL) but a child and heir to all of the promises of God found in Christ Jesus. Amen that God has allowed us to be witnesses of His long veiled mystery!