Future For Israel and Covenant Theology

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The Great Commission tells us to go to ALL the nations (panta ta ethne). This means that for the Great Commission to be successful (and it WILL be) then all nations...all the ethne (even the Jewish ethnic group) will be reached.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Context is King. It doesn't matter what makes more sense to a sinful mind. It matters what God says, and context determines the meaning and what God is saying.

And God said "all Israel". You are bringing an interpretative framework to this verse which requires you to define "all" as "not all". It is you who is not reading the verse plainly. It has already been shown above how a change in focus (from ethnic Israel to elect Israel) is consistent with the flow of the passage. I'm not necessarily saying there aren't interpretative difficulties with the passage however one interprets it, but the fact that interpreting "all" to mean "not all" is considered the smallest difficulty- or that it isn't even a difficulty but "obvious"- illustrates that there is more than a little eisegesis going on. After all, as we were told earlier, interpreting "all" to mean "not all" is par for the course for Calvinists. Yet I'm still waiting for other uses in Scripture where "all" means "not all".
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
I always liked the way Dr. Kennedy once put it: "All can often be used in a sense that doesn't denote every - in fact we use it that way all the time."
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I always liked the way Dr. Kennedy once put it: "All can often be used in a sense that doesn't denote every - in fact we use it that way all the time."

Yes there are figures of speech and there is hyperbole. But how does it make sense to use the word "all" in this context as either of those? To use it as such requires the word to mean "not all".
 
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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
And God said "all Israel". You are bringing an interpretative framework to this verse which requires you to define "all" as "not all". It is you who is not reading the verse plainly. It has already been shown above how a change in focus (from ethnic Israel to elect Israel) is consistent with the flow of the passage. I'm not necessarily saying there aren't interpretative difficulties with the passage however one interprets it, but the fact that interpreting "all" to mean "not all" is considered the smallest difficulty- or that it isn't even a difficulty but "obvious"- illustrates that there is more than a little eisegesis going on. After all, as we were told earlier, interpreting "all" to mean "not all" is par for the course for Calvinists. Yet I'm still waiting for other uses in Scripture where "all" means "not all".

The context determines the interpretive framework. I.e. Scripture interprets Scripture. The context tells us what "all Israel" means. Do you come 2 Cor. 5:14-15 and see all and automatically must think it means "All" as in every single person? No. The context determines the meaning. This as reformed people we all know because of the doctrine of limited atonement. You can't come to Romans 11 and read "All Israel" and automatically think it means literally 'all'. You have to go to the context to determine the meaning. And the context is absolutely clear as to the meaning.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The context determines the interpretive framework. I.e. Scripture interprets Scripture. The context tells us what "all Israel" means. Do you come 2 Cor. 5:14-15 and see all and automatically must think it means "All" as in every single person? No. The context determines the meaning. This as reformed people we all know because of the doctrine of limited atonement. You can't come to Romans 11 and read "All Israel" and automatically think it means literally 'all'. You have to go to the context to determine the meaning. And the context is absolutely clear as to the meaning.

I would argue that in the passage you quote the verse itself qualifies all to mean "all that are in Christ" for those who live, for whom Christ died, live in Christ.

I don't see such a qualification here. When Paul is talking about ethnic Jews he is talking about how they (as the vessel in which the Gospel was deposited for a time) have been cut off, but in order to reassure them he says that all those who are of true Israel (a concept he has already spoken about) will be saved. He is reassuring the ethnic Jews that the promises of God still stand to those who meet the requirement: faith in the Messiah. For a period those promises and the administration of them were restricted to the nation of Israel. They have now been expanded to the Gentiles. Many of the Jews must have worried that they had, indeed, been replaced and God would not honour His promises to them (as individuals). Paul is saying this is not so: if you were of the elect before you are still of the elect because "all Israel (the elect, the church) shall be saved". Salvation is still by faith in the Messiah. There has been no replacement because the true Israel is the church, encompassing all believers throughout history. National Israel has been cut off, but the true Israel continues and shall be saved.

If we take Israel to mean ethnic Jews then it is a fact they will not all be saved but nowhere in the passage is the necessary qualification given for us to understand the word in that way.
 
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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
2Co 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
2Co 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

I'm not seeing "all that are in Christ" in those verses...

But I would say the context shows the meaning.

In Romans 11, we know the meaning as in every time Israel is mentioned or the theys, thems, theirs, His people, etc. are ethnic Jews.

Context: v12 "Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!"

Further, define v28 "they are enemies". Who is that? Because such is the same people as "all Israel".

This has been good thread, but I don't want to get more distracted. So I'll be done now. :)
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I would argue that in the passage you quote the verse itself qualifies all to mean "all that are in Christ" for those who live, for whom Christ died, live in Christ.

I don't see such a qualification here. When Paul is talking about ethnic Jews he is talking about how they (as the vessel in which the Gospel was deposited for a time) have been cut off, but in order to reassure them he says that all those who are of true Israel (a concept he has already spoken about) will be saved. He is reassuring the ethnic Jews that the promises of God still stand to those who meet the requirement: faith in the Messiah. For a period those promises and the administration of them were restricted to the nation of Israel. They have now been expanded to the Gentiles. Many of the Jews must have worried that they had, indeed, been replaced and God would not honour His promises to them (as individuals). Paul is saying this is not so: if you were of the elect before you are still of the elect because "all Israel (the elect, the church) shall be saved". Salvation is still by faith in the Messiah. There has been no replacement because the true Israel is the church, encompassing all believers throughout history. National Israel has been cut off, but the true Israel continues and shall be saved.

If we take Israel to mean ethnic Jews then it is a fact they will not all be saved but nowhere in the passage is the necessary qualification given for us to understand the word in that way.
"All Israel" being saved at the end of the discourse is set in contrast to the remnant of Israel being saved at the beginning of the discourse (vv1-5). The promise of God is not nullified, first, because God is still saving a remnant of elect Jews, and, second, because he's going to graft the Jews as a body (all Israel) back in at the end.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
"All Israel" being saved at the end of the discourse is set in contrast to the remnant of Israel being saved at the beginning of the discourse (vv1-5). The promise of God is not nullified, first, because God is still saving a remnant of elect Jews, and, second, because he's going to graft the Jews as a body (all Israel) back in at the end.

I just don't see it. I think it's a tortuous use of the language. It requires us to understand terms as meaning, effectively, the opposite of what they usually mean. There is a simpler explanation which fits with a straightforward reading of the passage. I go with that.

Furthermore if Israel here is only ethnic Israel what about the lost ten tribes? Do they no longer count as Israel? The promises were given to them as much as to Judah and Benjamin. Are we really saying "all Israel" is only the small rump of very mixed people living in Judea at the time of Christ? I don't see that as credible.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Are we really saying "all Israel" is only the small rump of very mixed people living in Judea at the time of Christ? I don't see that as credible.

I quoted several prophecies earlier in this thread about God bringing them back (which, incidentally, were after the return from exile). Therefore, we aren't talking about "just those in a small rump" in Judea. Quite the opposite.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I just don't see it. I think it's a tortuous use of the language. It requires us to understand terms as meaning, effectively, the opposite of what they usually mean. There is a simpler explanation which fits with a straightforward reading of the passage. I go with that.
I really understand what I presented to be the most natural reading--Israel refers the Jewish people throughout the passage. Isn't that what we usually mean when we say Israel. In your reading, the term changed from the usual meaning to the figurative or spiritual meaning at the end.

Furthermore if Israel here is only ethnic Israel what about the lost ten tribes? Do they no longer count as Israel? The promises were given to them as much as to Judah and Benjamin. Are we really saying "all Israel" is only the small rump of very mixed people living in Judea at the time of Christ? I don't see that as credible.
As one who believes in the eventual triumph of Christ in all parts of the world, I don't see this as a problem.

Even if I didn't hold to an optimistic eschatology, though, I'd still be confident that God can work these things out. The ingrafting is his work, and he knows who would qualify as a Jew.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I really understand what I presented to be the most natural reading--Israel refers the Jewish people throughout the passage. Isn't that what we usually mean when we say Israel. In your reading, the term changed from the usual meaning to the figurative or spiritual meaning at the end.

Maybe by the time of Paul Israel and the Jews are synonymous but that doesn't occur until very late in the history of Israel. Really it's only the people of the kingdom of Judah who are Jews proper. The Jews are a subgroup of Israel.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Maybe by the time of Paul Israel and the Jews are synonymous but that doesn't occur until very late in the history of Israel. Really it's only the people of the kingdom of Judah who are Jews proper. The Jews are a subgroup of Israel.
I'm using the term "Jews" to refer to ethnic Israel. The term "Israel" maintains this natural meaning throughout the passage.
 

CalvinistBaptist

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

The above does not necessarily reflect the view of the poster but is meant to stir discussion.
Romans 9-11 seem to be teaching that God still has plans for the Jewish people, but that for the time up until the Second Coming of Christ, those promises are intended and made towards the chosen elect in Christ. The hope for national Israel as in the Jewish people overall seem to be tied into the return of Jesus Christ, as I tend to see this as a premil event.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Romans 9-11 seem to be teaching that God still has plans for the Jewish people, but that for the time up until the Second Coming of Christ, those promises are intended and made towards the chosen elect in Christ. The hope for national Israel as in the Jewish people overall seem to be tied into the return of Jesus Christ, as I tend to see this as a premil event.
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Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
This was a hobby horse of sorts of mine for years. Specifically, arguing that even a restoration of Israel to the Promised Land isn't a dispensational distinctive. Covenant premils like JC Ryle, Spurgeon, Horatius Bonar, and M'Cheyne taught it. It is not even a premil distinctive, as some older postmils held to it. (I tend to refer to these as "classic" postmils as opposed to the more contemporary theonomic variety, some of whom are moreso "optimistic amils.") Other postmils such as Charles Hodge rejected it, of course, while still affirming an "end time" large scale conversion of the Jews. Many take the statement "The Jews called" in the Westminster Larger Catechism with regard to the Second Coming to be a reference to this. There was much ferment over this issue around the time of the English Civil War.

Perhaps some have mentioned these things already. I don't have much more time to spend here today and admittedly haven't read the whole thread through. But I wanted to mention that, in addition to Murray's "Puritan Hope," a more recent postmil work from what is basically a Reformed perspective is the late Erroll Hulse's "The Restoration of Israel." It is out of print and sometimes hard to find at a reasonable price, but you can usually check bookfinder.com and find a reasonably priced copy somewhere. He is heavily indebted to one or two books by the 19th Century postmil writer David Brown (of the Jamieson, Fausset & Brown commentary) some of which may be online.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Here is an interesting comment that I have just come across:

At no period, probably, since the Christian era, has the attention of mankind been drawn to the investigation of every thing connected with the Jews so thoroughly and intensely as at present. So much light is breaking in upon us on all sides, with regard to the fulfilment of the prophecies which relate to the future destinies of God's ancient people, that nearly all unprejudiced inquirers are filled with the eager anticipation of soon beholding that darkness dispelled which has so long rested upon them.

William M. Hetherington, ‘The Lost Ten Tribes of Israel’, Christian Miscellany, 1, no. 1 (January 1842), p. 5.
 
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