Dr. Robert L. Saucy on The Distinction of Israel and the Church




Much discussion has centered around the relationship of the church and Israel. Some biblical interpreters, emphasizing their similarity, view them essentially as one people of God (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 571; cf. also the Roman Catholic position stated in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, ed., The Documents of Vatican II, pp. 24-37). The term Israel represents not a national people but the spiritual people of God. Therefore, the members of the church are considered to be New Israel. Spiritual Israel was related to national Israel in the Old Testament but it has now been enlarged to become a universal spiritual work in the church. The Israel of the Old Testament is thus superseded by the church, and the prophecies concerning the nation of Israel are, for the most part, no longer literally applied to the nation but rather to the church now and in the future.

A preferable position sees Israel and the church as distinct phases of God’s program; not so distinct as to preclude relationship in the historical plan and purpose of God, but having a distinction which recognizes the calling and election of Israel as a nation among nations (cf. Deu 7:6-8; 10:15-17; Num 23:9) to be “without repentance” (cf. Ro 11:27-29). This does not deny the spiritual qualifications necessary for Israel to enter into the fulfillment of her promises. Physical descent alone is not sufficient to reap God’s blessings. This was already true of Israel in the Old Testament. There has always been a true Israel within national Israel, but this true Israel is a part of the nation (Compare the concept of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah, where in many places the Servant is identified merely with Israel [e.g., 41:8; 43:10; 44:21], but in other instances it is clear that only the true Israel is involved [51:1,7]). This interpretation allows for the natural understanding of the Old Testament prophecies portraying a future for Israel as a nation. It is also consistent with the New Testament teaching of the church as distinct from Israel and yet sharing in God’s salvation program.


The New Testament never confuses Israel and the church. As opposed to the church, which is a religious body composed of individuals from all nations, the term Israel retains its reference to that people which came physically from the loins of Abraham. After the beginning of the church, Israel is still addressed as a national entity. When on the day of Pentecost Peter addresses his audience as “you men of Israel” (Ac 2:22), he is obviously referring to those of the physical nation and not the church. Similar uses of the term “Israel” are found throughout Acts, demonstrating the fact that the church had not taken this term for itself (Ac 3:12; 4:10; 5:21, 31, 35; 21:28). Paul’s prayer for “Israel” (Ro 10:1; cf. 11:1) and his references to Israel throughout the discussion of God’s program in Romans 9—11 concern his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:3). If “Israel” were a reference to the church, the reference to Israel’s “blindness in part … until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in” (11:25) would be meaningless.

Two references are often used against this consistent use of Israel for the nation in an attempt to substantiate that the church is New Israel. One is Paul’s statement: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” [Ro 9:6] (Louis Berkhof, The Kingdom of God, p. 161; Arndt and Gingrich also define Israel in this passage as “a figurative sense of the Christians as the true nation of Israel” – W.F. Arndt and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 382). An examination of the context reveals, however, that Paul is speaking only of a division within Israel. He has introduced the subject concerning his “brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” who are identified as “Israelites” (vv. 3-4). The subsequent discussion concerns God’s elective purpose within the physical seed of Israel as illustrated in the choice of Isaac over Ishmael and the other children of Abraham and Jacob over Esau (vv. 7-13). Verse 6 then also has reference to Israel. “Those ‘of Israel’ are the physical seed, the natural descendants of the patriarchs” while in the other expression ‘they are not all Israel,” obviously the denotation is much more limited and the thought is that there is an ‘Israel’ within ethnic Israel” (John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, 2:9). Gutbrod, linking this pasage with Romans 2:28-29, where a similar Jewish context is often overlooked, states forthrightly, “We are not told here that gentile Christians are the true Israel. The distinction at Romans 9:6, does not go beyond what is presupposed at John 1:47, and it corresponds to the distinction between Ioudaios en to krupto [a Jew inwardly] and loudaios en to phanero [a Jew outwardly] at Romans 2:28f., which does not imply that Paul is calling Gentiles true Jews” (Walter Gutbrod, “Israel” in TDNT, 3:387).

Perhaps the words most often cited for the identity of the church as Israel are those of the apostle to the Galatians: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). The meaning of “Israel of God” in this verse rests upon its relationship to the previous expression, “as many as walk according to this rule,” and this relationship depends upon one’s understanding of the “and” (Greek, kai) which connects them. Three different interpretations have been suggested. Lenski, expressing the view which sees the church as the Israel of God, understands kai in the explicative sense of “even.” “As many as will keep in line with the rule,’ constitute ‘the Israel of God'” (R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, p. 321; cf. J.B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, pp. 224-25). A second view clearly separating the two phrases as distinct groups is that of Walvoord, who states, “God’s blessing is declared on those who walk according to this rule (among the Galatians who were Gentiles), and also ‘upon the Israel of God'” (John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, p. 170). According to this interpretation the kai (“and”) is used as simple copula joining two separate entities.

The third interpretation, which seems preferable, understands the use of the kai (“and”) as adding a specially important part of the whole in the sense of “and especially” (For this use of kai, see Arndt and Gingrich, p. 392). Ellicott interprets the passage according to this use as well as refuting the position of identity when he says,

Still, as it is doubtful whether kai is ever used by St. Paul in so marked explicative force as must be assigned…and as it seems still more doubtful whether Christians generally could be called “the Israel of God”…the simple copulative meaning seems most probable…St. Paul includes all in his blessing, of whatever stock and kindred; and then with his thought turning [as it ever did] to his own brethren after the flesh [Romans ix. 3], he pauses to specify those who were once Israelites according to the flesh [1 Cor. x. 18], but now are the Israel of God…true spiritual children of Abraham (Charles J. Ellicott, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, p. 139; Eadie comments, “The simple copulative meaning is not to be departed from, save on very strong grounds; and there is not ground for such departure here, so that the Israel of God are a party included in, and yet distinct from the hosoi [as many as]” – John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, p. 470).

The truth of Burton’s statement that “there is, in fact, no instance of his [Paul’s] using Israel except of the Jewish nation or a part thereof” (Ernest DeWitt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 358), renders the possibility of that use in this verse highly doubtful (Although the term Israel is used 38 times and Israelite occurs 8 times in Acts-Revelation, the absence of a clear reference to the church in any of these instances makes one suspect the validity of this popular theological equation. The statement of R.T. Stamm almost incredibly admits to theological deduction unrelated to the evidence: “But although he {Paul] did believe that Christians constituted the true Israel, he never called the church the Israel of God, but used the word ‘Israel’ to designate the Jewish nation” [The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. Geirge A. Buttrick. New York: Abingdon, 1953, 10:590-91]. If the New Testament writers actually do make the theological equation of the terms church and Israel, it is difficult to explain their reticence to make such an equation verbally).

The context of Galatians supports the inclusion of the Israel of God among those that “walk according to this rule.” The apostle wrote to ward off the threat of those Judaizers who insisted upon mingling law with the grace of the gospel, demanding that Christians be circumcised as well as have faith in Christ. It would seem logical to pronounce peace and mercy not only upon the Gentiles who rcognize that “neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15), but also upon those Jewish Christians who likewise recognize this rule of grace. The special mention of Jewish believers who rejected the error of the Judaizers is logical, as it would be these among the Galatians who would be most likely to succumb.

A further motive might be also suggested for their special mention. Paul’s attack upon the Judaizers might incite antagonism on the part of the Gentile believers against all Jews. Perhaps the special mention of the Israel of God was also designed to quell any such animostiy. Additional evidence for this interpretation is found in the similarity of this statement with the conclusion of Jewish prayers: “Shew mercy and peace upon us, and Thy people Israel” (Gutbrod, p. 388, n. 135; F.F. Bruce suggests that it is “perhaps an echo of Psalm 125:5, ‘Peace be upon Israel'” [The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase, p. 39]).

The consistent witness of Scripture is to the distinctiveness of Israel and the church. Israel is an elect nation called to witness to the glory of God as a nation among nations and serve a distinct phase in the kingdom program. The prophecies declare that she will yet fulfill this calling. The church, on the other hand, is a people called out from every nation as “a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). She also bears witness to the glory of God and serves His kingdom program along with the nation of Israel.

Having noted this distinction, it is necessary to guard against a dichotomy which fails to see the place of the church as an integral part of God’s program along with Israel and thus a coheir of the promises (Gal. 3:29). This close relationship of Israel and the church is seen in the concepts of the seed of Abraham and the new covenant.


In the call of Abraham and the covenant promises made to him, God laid the basis of His program of redemption and the ultimate establishment of His rule on earth. It was in fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises that Christ came bringing salvation and will ultimately reign as King over the earth (Lk. 1:69-79′ Gal. 3:14; Acts 3:25-26). The believers in the church as the seed of Abraham share in this promise with Israel.

The biblical use and meaning of “seed of Abraham.” The expression “seed of Abraham” has three applications in Scripture. it is used first for the natural descendants of Abraham through Jacob. “But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend” (Is. 41:8; cf. 2 Ch. 20:7; Ps. 105:6; Rom. 11:1). Jesus likewise made reference to literal descendants when He said, “I know that you are Abraham’s seed” (John 8:37; cf. Luke 13:16; 19:9). He quickly denies, however, that physical lineage is the decisive factor when He says to the same individuals, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39b). As there is a true Israel within ethnic Israel, so there is a genuine seed within the physical seed. The true seed are those “not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of…father Abraham” (Romans 4:12). However, the fact that the true seed includes spiritual characteristics does not negate the reality of the physical relationship in this use of the concept. It is hardly conceivable that Abraham understood it otherwise when God made reference to “your seed after you in their generations” (Gen. 17:7) and to his son Isaac “and…his seed after him” (v. 19b; cf. 28:13-14). A second use of this terminology is for Christ Himself. “Now to Abraham and his seed were promises made and to his offspring. It does not say ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). The true posterity of Abraham is ultimately embodied in Christ. He is its summation and Head, for the promise was received through Him. All who inherit the promises inherit them through Christ.

The third application follows logically upon the second. All those in Christ are also Abraham’s seed. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). This includes all, whether Jew and Gentile, who are in Christ, and therefore in His body, the church. According to its usage, “seed of Abraham” thus has two basic significations in Scripture. It refers to a spiritual seed which is justified through Christ’s work by faith after the pattern of Abraham. It also denotes Abraham’s physical posterity through Isaac and Jacob which formed the nation of Israel. While all Israelites can be called Abraham’s seed, only those of faith are Abraham’s true seed who will inherit the promises. The primary significance is thus spiritual, and this spiritual seed is made up of true Israel as well as those outside Israel.

Both the church and Israel are therefore Abraham’s seed and heirs of the promise. But this does not therefore equate the church and Israel. Rather, Abraham is the father of both. Writing to the Romans, Paul states that Abraham is “the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised…And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11-12). Thus, as Godet explains, “There was a time in Abraham’s life when by his uncircumcision he represented the Gentiles, as later after his circumcision he became the representative of Israel” (F. Godet, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, p. 295). Children of Abraham may belong to one category or another, but “”children of Abraham’ are not necessarily ‘children of Israel’, for Israel is not the the only seed of Abraham” (D.W.B. Robinson, “The Salvation of Israel in Romans 9-11,” The Reformed Theological Review 26 [Sept-Dec. 1967]: 89). The members of the church are also Abraham’s seed as individuals out of all the families of the earth, while Israel is his seed as the great nation among nations “through whom the promise would eventually be held out to the rest of the nations” (Ibid).

Church participation in the Abrahamic promises. As seed of Abraham the members of the church participate in the Abraham covenant; they are “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). The original promise to Abraham included this blessing upon those outside of Israel: “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3), and the outworking of this promise is the subject of many of the Old Testament prophecies. The vast majority of these relate to that time when converted Israel will be a channel of blessing to all nations during the kingdom reign of Christ on earth (Is. 2:2-4; 60:1 ff.; 62:2; Zech. 8:22-23). However, with the institution of the mystery phase of the kingdom, the New Testament teaches that this blessing has already come to the Gentiles during the church age. This present blessing does not supersede or cancel the fulfillment of millennial blessings, but is rather part of that program of God which was not clearly revealed in prophecy. There are, in fact, indications of God’s turning from Israel to bring salvation to others even during this time before the restoration of Israel. He promises to provoke Israel to jealousy “with those which are not a people” (Deut. 32:21b). The apostle Paul sees this promise fulfilled in the salvation of the church (Rom. 11:11; 10:19). The participation of the church in the covenant promises made to Abraham rests, as we have seen, on the fact that these promises included blessing for all families of the earth (Gen. 12:3). When the apostle speaks of the blessing of Abraham coming on the church, he makes reference specifically  to this universal promise and not to the the national  promises of Israel. “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:7-9).

The grafting in the Gentiles onto the root of the olive tree in Paul’s figure of Romans 11 represents the fulfillment of this universal promise. The root represents the foundation of God’s redemptive program in His covenant promises to Abraham, or perhaps Abraham himself as the father of all those sharing in the promise (It is possible also to understand the root as Christ, “the seed of Abraham to whom the promise was made” [see Galatians 3:16 ff.], and in whom it is fulfilled. Cf. H.L. Ellison, The Mystery of Israel, pp. 86-87; cf. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, 2, 2, 285 ff.). The natural branches represent Israel, while the wild branches which are grafted in are the Gentile believers. As branches, both partake of “the root and fatness of the olive tree” (v. 17b). In that Israel is the natural branches, the tree can be said to be “their own olive tree” (v. 24). They had received the promises and covenants and growth from the root as God formed the nation of Israel as His people. But now the Gentiles in the church, as wild branches with whom God had made no covenants, are grafted in to partake of the same root. The Gentiles which were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having not hope, and without God in the world…now…are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12-13). They do not now assume Israel’s promises to become a new Israel, but they have become “fellow heirs…and partakers of his [God’s] promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). “The Gentiles have been made partakers of their [Israel’s] spiritual things” (Rom. 15:27b).

As seed of Abraham in Christ, the church “participates in all He does to bring the covenant to completion” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 90). The present blessings of salvation in Christ, as well as the future glory with Him, are all the realization of the promises made to Abraham. Members of the church are “joint-heirs with Christ” of the promise (Rom. 8:17; cf. Gal. 3:29). Although this participation is not in the place of Israel in the fulfillment of her national promises, the church nevertheless participates even in these through her relationship to Christ, the fulfillment of all promises.


The participation of the church in the promises is seen especially in the blessings of the new covenant which are applied to it. Paul as a minister of the gospel of grace which brings the life-giving Spirit describes himself as one whom God has made adequate as a minister of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6). Similarly, the writer of Hebrews cites the new covenant (Heb. 8:8 ff.; 10:15 ff.) in seeking to persuade his hearers of the superiority of Christ over the old covenant. These applications of the new covenant to the church have been variously interpreted. Some see them as evidence that the church is indeed the New Israel fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies addressed to Israel. “For the gospel age in which the living is that day foretold by the prophets when the law of God shall be written in the hearts of men (Jer. 31:33) and when the Spirit of God abiding in their hearts will enable them to keep it (Ez. 11:19, 36:26f). The gospel age is the age of the new covenant” (Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, p. 42).

In an attempt to clearly distinguish the prophecies for Israel from those for the church, the position of two new covenants, one for Israel and another for the church, has been espoused. “There remains to be recognized a heavenly covenant for the heavenly people, which is also styled like the preceding one for Israel a ‘new covenant’…To suppose that these two covenants–one for Israel and one for the Church–are the same is to assume that there is a latitude of common interest between God’s purpose for Israel and His purpose for the Church” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 7:98-99).

The Scriptures, however, do not reveal a separate new covenant. The blessings for the church of the indwelling Spirit and the inward law (2 Cor. 3:3-6) are the same as those promised to Israel (Jer. 31:33-34). Moreover, as has been indicated, Jeremiah’s prophecy is directly applied to believers in the book of Hebrews. The fact of only one new covenant does not, however, necessitate that the church is fulfilling Israel’s prophecy in her place. Rather, both Israel and the church share in this covenant, as in the Abrahamic covenant, for the new covenant is the realization of the salvation of the Abrahamic promise.

The promise of the new covenant. Against the background of the impeding judgment through Babylon because of the failure to keep the Mosaic covenant, God promised to “make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31). The essence of this new covenant was in reality nothing but the renewal of the relationship promised in the old covenant: “I will…be their God, and they shall be my people” (v. 33b; cf. Lev. 26:12; Ex. 29:45). The newness, apart from its futurity, lay in its subjective reality. Whereas the old covenant could only command response, the new covenant contained provisions to effect it. The key provisions were the gracious forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34) and the writing of the law in the heart through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (v. 33). The result of this latter provision would be the universal knowledge of God (v. 34a). Provisions of the new covenant to Ezekiel further elaborate these covenant promises: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ez. 36:25-28; cf. 11:19 ff.; 34:25-29; 37:26 ff.). The new covenant is also the subject of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning Messianic salvation (Is. 59:20-21). As the result of these spiritual provisions, Israel will also enjoy physical blessing.

In the contexts of the new covenant are promises of restoration to the land, which would continue forever, and multiplied prosperity (Jer. 31:36; Ex. 36:28-38). As the Abrahamic covenant looked forward to the same conditions, it is evident that the new covenant is in reality the gracious provisions for the fulfillment of the original promises given to Abraham. To him was promised a seed which would be a great nation inheriting the promised land as an everlasting possession (Gen. 12:2; 17:6-8). This connection is especially seen in the word of God spoken to Abraham concerning Israel: “I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8). As we have seen, this is, in fact, the culmination of the new covenant.

The new covenant is also related to the Davidic promises which are an amplification of the promises to Abraham (cf. Jer. 33:14-16; 20-26; Eze. 37:21-28). This same relationship is evident in the New Testament as well (Leon Morris, The Apostolic preaching of the Cross, pp. 93-94). Christ came as the fulfillment of God’s word “to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant: the oath which he swore to our father Abraham to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high” (Luke 1:72-78). The forgiveness of sins through Christ and the coming of the Spirit are likewise connected to the fulfillment of Abraham’s covenant in the teaching of Peter (Acts 3:25-26) and Paul (Gal. 3:6 ff.). In summary, the new covenant contained the provisions for the realization of the Messianic promises which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham.

Inauguration of the new covenant. The Old Testament prophecy of the new covenant connected the time of the new covenant with a coming Person. This one whom Isaiah saw as Servant of the Lord would be given “for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles” who would open blind eyes and free those who were in prisons of darkness (42:6-7; cf. 49:8). The same one is “the messenger of the covenant” in Malachi 3:1.

Christ clearly revealed Himself as that Person when in the upper room He linked His death with the new covenant. Taking the cup, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you” (Lk. 22:20, ASV; cf. Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; 1 Cor. 11:25). In this statement Christ was telling the disciples that His death would effect the final eschatological promise of the new covenant for the remission of sins [Mt. 26:28] (It is historically inconceivable that the Jewish disciples to whom these words were spoken could have thought of a new covenant other than that of Old Testament prophecy). The writer of Hebrews later expressly stated that with the death of Christ the covenant was in force (Heb. 9:15-18). He is the “mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (8:6).

Thus, from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the new covenant stands open to all who receive it. The finished work of Christ at Calvary once and for all provides the basis for all new covenant blessings. To be sure, Israel as a nation has not entered into the provisions of Jeremiah 31 and therefore the specific national fulfillment of the covenant to the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah” awaits their future conversion. But the “messenger of the covenant” has come, and those who receive Him receive the salvation of the new covenant.

Participation of the church in the new covenant. Although the Old Testament references to the new covenant were for the nation of Israel, the members of the church also share in its provisions. Like the Abrahamic covenant which was ratified with Abraham and his national seed and yet contained blessing for Gentiles, so the new covenant as an amplification of the salvation of the Abrahamic covenant can also be applied to Gentiles.

Old Testament prophecies looked forward to the salvation of the new covenant extending also to the Gentiles. The Servant of God not only restores Israel, but God says, “I will make you as light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Is. 49:b; cf. 42:1, 6; 60:3). This prophecy looked forward to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom at the coming of Christ when salvation would flow through converted Israel to all nations. But this salvation has now come to the church during the time of the mysteries of the kingdom between Christ’s first and second comings as an earnest or guarantee of the final fulfillment. The enlargement of the new covenant to those outside of Israel is indicated in the words of Christ Himself when at the inauguration of the Lord’s supper He gave His disciples the cup, saying, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many” (Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24). In using the word “many” in the Semitic sense of “all,” Christ for “the many” or “all” was already the subject of Isaiah’s prophecy (53:10-12) and was certainly the background for the Lord’s words at the inauguration of the memorial feast of the new covenant (Although in Greek there is a difference in polloi [“many”] and pontes [“all”], the Hebrew and Aramaic have no word for all in the sense of the sum as well as the totality. As a result, the Hebrew ha-rabbim [“the many”] is also used inclusively for “all.” Cr. Joachim Jeremias, “polloi” in TDNT, 6:536, 543-45).

The church thus enjoys the eschatological salvation of the new covenant. Full and final remission of sins is a reality for those in Christ (Eph. 1:7). The life-giving Spirit has come to indwell (2 Cor. 3:3-6) and work out the righteousness of the law in every believer (Rom. 8:2-4). No longer is the knowledge of God connected with the mediation of priests and prophets, but all are taught of the Spirit (1 John 2:27).


This brief study of the church and Israel reveals that the two are distinct, and yet both have a part in the outworking of God’s program. Prior to the launching of the church, God began His kingdom program through the elect nation of Israel. During this time of the mysteries of that kingdom, when Israel has temporarily been set aside and with her the full blessing of the world, God is calling out a people for His name from all the nations, and He is building the church. The church has therefore been grafted into the great promises of blessing which are foundational to God’s total salvation program which had prior to this time been covenanted only to Abraham and Israel. This engrafting is not to replace Israel nor to fulfill her specifically national prophecies. In this regard it is interesting to note that none of the physical blessings attendant upon the realizations of the new covenant for Israel are cited in the New Testament with regard to the church (cf. 2 Cor. 3:6-7; Heb. 8:8-13 with Jer. 31:31-40; Ezek. 36:24-38). Rather, both Israel and the church share in their distinctive phase in God’s program as the people of God through whom He will be glorified.


Robert Saucy

ROBERT LLOYD SAUCY (B.A., Westmont College; Th. D., Th. M., Dallas Theological Seminary) is a distinguished professor of systematic theology at Talbot Theological Seminary. He previously served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society and addresses that group frequently. He is author of numerous books, including The Church in God’s Program, The Bible: Breathed from God and The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, and is the editor of Women and Men in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective. He also wrote the “Open But Cautious View” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views, edited by Dr. Wayne Grudem. His shorter works have appeared in many journals including Bibliotheca Sacra, Grace Theological Journal, andJournal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He also was one of only three scholars who worked both on the original 1971 translation of the New American Standard Bible as well as the 1995 update. Dr. Saucy resides in Anaheim, California.

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Marin Bible Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca., and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 30 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and seven grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship of resources, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

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