Replacement Or Fulfillment? Re-Applying Old Testament Designations Of Israel To The Church -- By: Robin Routledge
STR 4:2 (Winter 2013) p. 137
Replacement Or Fulfillment?
Re-Applying Old Testament Designations Of Israel
To The Church
Mattersey Hall, United Kingdom
The acceptance of the OT as part of the canon of Christian scripture acknowledges that the OT is not merely an historical document relating to the faith of an ancient people but that it has relevance and authority for the Church. How that is worked out in practice is not always clear, and this article will not seek to answer that general question. However I do want to look at one aspect of it, namely: theological issues relating to the re-application to the Church of OT texts that were addressed, originally, to the people of God in the OT.
One question here is whether such a thing is legitimate at all. And there is serious theological opinion that it is not. OT texts that relate to Israel continue to relate to Israel, and where those texts refer to things to come, they will be fulfilled, literally, in the future national life of Israel. This is, for example, the view of classical or normative dispensationalism.1 Others take an opposite
STR 4:2 (Winter 2013) p. 138
position: the Church is the spiritual heir to the blessings of God promised in the OT, and these things are no longer applicable to Israel as a nation.
Discussion of these issues is important and relevant, if sometimes rather heated. In this article I will argue that while the issue is a complex one, there is some justification for the view that OT texts may be re-applied to the Church, which is viewed as continuous with the OT people of God. This raises two further issues that cannot be dealt with here: the need for an appropriate hermeneutic to ensure that such re-application is legitimate, and the issue, that Paul appears to address in Romans 9-11, of whether national Israel continues to have a role in the future purposes of God.
There are a number of NT passages where OT texts that appear, in their original context, to relate exclusively to Israel are redirected, and related directly to the church. One key passage is 1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.2
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