“Children of Promise”: Paternity and Patriarch Typology in Galatians and Romans -- By: Günther H. Juncker

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 17:1 (NA 2007)
Article: “Children of Promise”: Paternity and Patriarch Typology in Galatians and Romans
Author: Günther H. Juncker

“Children of Promise”: Paternity and Patriarch Typology in Galatians and Romans

Günther H. Juncker

Toccoa Falls College

This article begins by asking whether Paul’s second reference to “Israel” in Rom 9:6b refers to the faithful Jewish remnant alone or to the eschatological people of God comprising believing Jews and Gentiles together and suggests that a satisfactory answer can be obtained if this verse is viewed in the larger context of Paul’s discourse in which the patriarchs repeatedly play a determinative and predominantly typological role in marking out the boundaries of God’s eschatological people. The remainder of the article closely examines Gal 3 and 4:21-31 as well as Rom 4 and 9:7-13 in order to demonstrate that there is an underlying hermeneutical consistency to Paul’s typological use of the patriarchs and that this consistency is supportive of the view that “Israel” in Rom 9:6b refers to spiritual Israel—that is, the church.

Key Words: children of promise, typology, eschatology, church, people of God, Israel, spiritual Israel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Esau, Gal 4:21-31, Rom 9:6-13

According to Paul, the crowning proof that Israel’s rejection of gospel and Messiah has not rendered the promises of God null and void is the fact that “not all Israel is Israel” (Rom 9:6b). But immediately a problem arises: Who and what is Israel? Is Paul’s second reference to Israel to be understood restrictively as denoting the faithful Jewish remnant, or is it to be understood expansively as denoting the church made up of believing Jews and Gentiles together? Surely Paul’s crowning proof cannot hold good both ways: that would be a remarkable proof indeed! Paul undoubtedly believed in the existence of a Jewish remnant and in the existence of a church that is in salvation-historical continuity with God’s covenant people Israel.1 But does the balance of probability favor one understanding of the term Israel over the other in Rom 9:6b? It should be added that

the question is not whether Paul could change the meaning or referent of the term Israel within so short a span, for it is quite evident that he has done so; the question is only how radically he has cha...

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