Part 3 Does the Church Fulfill Israel’s Program? -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 137:547 (Jul 1980)
Article: Part 3 Does the Church Fulfill Israel’s Program?
Author: John F. Walvoord


Part 3
Does the Church Fulfill Israel’s Program?

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President and Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary]

The Argument from Galatians 6:15-16

While amillenarians often use the argument that it is not necessary for Israel to be explicitly identified with the church just as it is not necessary for the doctrine of the Trinity to be supported by the word Trinity in the Bible, many of them point to Galatians 6:15–16 as the one explicit reference. Accordingly it bears careful scrutiny.

Paul in Galatians is attempting to deal with the question of grace versus law, both as a way of salvation and as a way of sanctification. He concludes in Galatians 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” He then says in verse 16, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” The question raised by this passage is whether the expression “the Israel of God” is identical to the “new creation” described earlier in the verse, applying to the entire church.

Appeal is made to the fact that the Greek preposition καί is sometimes used in an explicative sense1 and is equivalent to namely. Or it could be used in an ascensive sense and translated even. But the normal meaning of καί is that of a simple connective as indicated by the translation “and.” Burton has a complete discussion on this matter.

Though Rom 96 1 Cor 1018 show that Paul distinguished between Israel according to the flesh and the Israel according to election or promise, and Rom 229 Phil 33 suggest that he might use

τὸν =Λσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ of all believers in Christ, regardless of nationality, there is, in fact, no instance of his using =Λσραήλ except of the Jewish nation or a part thereof. These facts favour the interpretation of the expression as applying not to the Christian community, but to Jews; yet, in view of τοῦ θεοῦ, not to the whole Jewish nation, but to the pious Israel, the remnant according to the election of grace (Rom 115), including even t...

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