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Supersessionism – Replacement Theology

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Messianic Jews seemingly can not enter into apologetics with Christians without being confronted by replacement theology, or supersessionism.

The doctrine of supersessionism holds that the New Testament church permanently replaces or supersedes national Israel as the people of God.

Got Questions.org has a classic description of what replacement theology teaches here:
Replacement Theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?
Messianic Jews are the antithesis of supersessionists, we are restorationists.  We believe in the restoration of Israel as promised in both the old and new testaments.

The following 4 points display the inconsistencies with supersessionism.

  • Has Israel been rejected?  Does Matthew 21:43 indicate the kingdom of God was taken from the nation Israel and given to the New Testament church? And does this indicate a change in the people of God from national Israel to the church?

Matt 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

No!  The New Testament reaffirms a future restoration of national Israel. This is what Yeshua taught in Matthew 19:28 and what the apostles clearly believed in Acts 1:6-7. Paul also explicitly taught a national salvation and restoration of Israel in Rom 11:25-27.

Matt 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

Romans 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob“; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Yeshua taught that when he is sitting on the throne in the new world, all twelves tribes of Israel would be present to be judged.  And the apostles clearly believed the restoration of national Israel was inextricably tied to the coming of Messiah.  But, Yeshua did not negate the restoration with his response.  He in fact confirms it, when he said; “It’s not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed…”  He didn’t teach them that national Israel was about to be removed from the earth forever.  He taught them that the Father has a fixed time and season for the restoration of Israel.  And Paul said it was a mystery, that a partial hardening has come upon Israel, UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  Paul teaches Yeshua, The Deliverer will come from Zion and take away the sin and ungodliness from Israel.  He says after rejecting the Messiah Israel would be healed, cleaned, and glorified.

In these ways, the New Testament reaffirms the future restoration of national Israel.

  • Is the Church the new Israel? Does Galatians 6:15-16 identify the church as Israel?  Do texts such as Rom 2:28–29 and 1 Pet 2:9–10 apply Israel’s imagery to the church? Identifying the church as the new Israel?

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.

Romans 2:28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

1 Peter 2:9 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.

The Church and Israel are distinct entities  Of the 73 references to “Israel” in the NT, not one identify the church as Israel. The “Israel of God” reference in Gal 6:15-16 is referring to Jewish believers. The rule was equity in God, not being superseded by the church.  In Romans 2, Paul does not teach no one is a Jew any longer.  He says no one is a Jew -who is mearely one outwardly-  This does not imply that Jews are no longer, but that being one is not merely an outward show of obedience to Torah.  Notice he then states, “But a Jew is  – one inwardly.  He’s not saying anyone can be Jewish by the indwelling of the Spirit.  Nor is he teaching that no one is a Jew any longer.  He’s saying everyone must experience God within the heart.  Both Gentiles AND Jews.  Other passages like 1 Pet 2:9-10 show similarities between Israel and the church, but similarity does not mean he was teaching Israel was replaced by the church.

  • Does our equality rule out any restoration of Israel? — Since Jews and Gentiles are now united, do Jews lose their identity? Do texts like Eph 2:11–22 and Rom 11:17–24 teach there is no special identity or role for national Israel?

Ephesians 2:11 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.

Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

No!  Our equality does not negate Israel’s identity nor rule out Israel’s restoration.  When it comes to salvation believing Jews and Gentiles are equal. This unity and equality, however, does not rule out historical and functional distinctions between the groups. Nor does it mean that there cannot be a distinct role for national Israel in the future. Both have never been taught by Yeshua nor his disciples.  The texts of Eph 2:11-22 and Rom 11:17-24 are not examples of Israel being superseded by the church.  They are indicating our unity and our equity in regards to God’s blessings, love and promises of salvation.  But, our equality in Messiah does not remove Israel’s identity, any more than it would make Gentiles Jewish.  It’s Jew AND Gentile, not Jews THEN Gentiles!!  Israel will be grafted back into their own tree!  Of which Gentiles have been grafted into.  He didn’t make a new tree, he restored the existing one.

  • Does the church inherit the New Covenant? — If Heb 8:8-13 says Gentiles are participating in the New Covenant made with Israel, does this mean the church has become the new Israel since it is experiencing the fulfillment of the covenant.

Hebrews 8:8 For he finds fault with them when he says:”Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

No! Hebrews 8:8-13 has a present fulfillment/application with the church; but, Romans 11:27 states there will also be a future fulfillment of the covenant with national Israel in the future. So when it comes to the New Covenant, the fulfillment is “both/and.” It is for both Israel and the church.  One does not supersede the other.  Both unite as one, respecting the other, in love.

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About Shimshon

Humility is the beginning of ones relationship with God, or the reminder of it's existence...... LOVE ~ Life's Only Valuable Emotion

4 comments on “Supersessionism – Replacement Theology

  1. Charles
    March 26, 2013

    This is one of the most heart breaking doctrines of Christianity. It is false, it denies the scriptures and the words of Messiah and the prophets and it sets up a hostility that keeps Jews from approaching Messiah Yeshua. It is amazing but almost every such doctrine can be traced back to a teaching of dispensationalism. It is the root of antisemitism, replacementism, pretribulation raptures, Gentile dominance and more. Does the Church replace Israel in the New Covenant ? Not in the way the church teaches it. The Church is the early first fruits harvest of all those who will be under the new covenant. And by it’s nature the New covenant requires that you be born again and filled with God’s spirit which happens through faith in Yeshua. But the thing that is always over looked is that the Church from the very beginning was full of Jews who DID accept Yeshua as Messiah. It wasn’t taken from the Jews and given to Gentiles. Those who are living in the New Covenant, saved by Yeshua and filled with the spirit, are in fact the preview of what Israel of Kingdom is. We are the new Israel, both Jews and Gentiles who are grafted in together to create one new creature ! As the Apostles teach us the Israel of God is not because of birth (ethnicity) or tradition (religious practice) but because of the New Birth, that grafts us all in together, both the wild branches and those of the root. All must be grafted into the new life. Dispensation doctrine runs against all of these great truths.

    Charles

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    • David Shimshon
      March 26, 2013

      So, is Christianity inherently supersessionist? I know the RCC seems to be the most indoctrinated into this teaching, but how much of it dominates protestant denoms? I’m beginning to think that all of modern Christianity is supersessional in theology. With only sub-sect and fringe cults entertaining nonsupersessionalism.

      I think this teaching is one of the largest issues Messianic Judaism will have to overcome if it continues to seek to be accepted by the Church.

      Truthfully, I think it’s this very issue that will drive a permenant wedge between the two. So much of the church is supersessional, and Messianic Judaism has a polar opposite view.

      In fact, it’s the restorationalism that keeps me identified as a Messianic Jew. You should know, this has been on my heart for years. Many blogs/posts revolve around the national restoration of Israel when Messiah comes back and establishes the Kingdom of the New World. The others revolve around Torah observant gentiles…..oy. Why must I always be stuck in the middle?!

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  2. David Shimshon
    March 26, 2013

    Well, I suppose it’s better than being stuck in the end!!!

    Like

  3. Charles
    March 26, 2013

    Yes you are correct, it is not just the RCC. There was not all that much of a change with the reformation. It was a step in the right direction but a long long way from returning to the truth and the teachings of the apostles. There are a few evangelical ministries that preach restorationism but it seems to be sort of compartmentalized to the areas they are willing to give a little. I think the Church wants to preserve their imagined status or position and lord over the Jews and that is telling. Because what they need to be doing is looking forward to the Jews stepping in a assuming the positions they were supposed to hold. Gentiles and Christians in general should be praying for this to happen.

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2013 by in Best Blog Posts, Shimshon's Blog and tagged , , , .
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