Friday, July 23, 2010

The Israel of God

Galatians 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

15 οὔτε γὰρ περιτομή τί ἐστιν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις. 16  καὶ ὅσοι τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχήσουσιν, εἰρήνη ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.

This is another one of those passages that seems to blur the distinction between Israel and the church.  In fact, here Paul uses the terms synonymously.  Those who are new creations are part of τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.  Of course, one could also make the argument that the καὶ before this phrase means that there are two distinct groups -- those who walk by this rule and the Israel of God.

But why does Paul have to add the τοῦ θεοῦ if that is the case?  Simply mentioning Israel would be sufficient to make the reader think of the descendants of Abraham.  Back in chapter 3 Paul made the point that the promise was not to the offsprings referring to many, but to the offspring who is Christ.  In other words, it seems to be all about Christ.

What is the point of writing this?  First, this is my blog and I use it to work out things over which I'm wrestling.  I attend a strongly dispensational school, but I have my doubts and here is one place I'm working them out.  Not every day is going to be a wonderful devotional, so I'm sorry about that.

Another is that I do think that this opens up the Old Testament.  It seems to me that if you do not blur the lines between Israel and the church then the Old Testament has practically no relevance for the Christian other than to show God's providence in sending Christ for us.  We can glory in the fulfilled prophecies, but what do we do with Psalms, for example?  Do we read the whole Psalter and say, "That's for Israel, not for us?"  I don't think so.  I don't know any dispensationalist that does so, but it seems like you should if you want to be consistent.

Again, I don't claim to have a deep knowledge of dispensationalism.  By this time next year I will after taking Systematic IV.  Until then, I'm just going to keep musing as I read Scripture.

No comments: