An Evaluation of N. T. Wright’s View of Israel in Romans 11 -- By: Michael G. Vanlaningham
BSac 170:678 (April-June 2013) p. 179
An Evaluation of N. T. Wright’s View of Israel in Romans 11
Michael G. Vanlaningham is Professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois.
One of the more capable defenders of the view that “Israel” in Romans 11:26 is the church is N. T. Wright.1 He says that there is no distinct future for Israel in God’s program. Any future for the Jewish people is found only in connection with the church as the new people of God, the “new Israel.” The reason for this view, he says, is Paul’s argument throughout Romans 1-10 that Israel can claim no special privilege over the Gentiles in her relationship with God. But in 11:25-27 Paul seems to reverse this, stating that all Israel will be saved. The problem thus becomes one of integrating Romans 11 with what precedes it. Wright responds to this apparent inconsistency by stating that Paul did not envision a future mass conversion of Jews. Instead, they are saved by grace through faith and thus become, along with believing Gentiles, part of the true people of God, the church. This process takes place throughout the church age. The traditional approach to 11:25-27, a
BSac 170:678 (April-June 2013) p. 180
future mass conversion, does not adequately account for Paul’s earlier discussion of the futility of Israel’s claim to special status on the basis of her heritage.2
Did Jesus And The Church Supersede Israel?
Wright presents four arguments to support his interpretation. First, it is essential, he says, to understand that there is no discrete future for Israel “as a whole” because she has been superseded by Jesus Christ, her Messiah. Wright claims that Paul’s theology begins “with the realization that what the creator/covenant god was supposed to do for Israel at the end of history, this god had done for Jesus in the middle of history.”3 God has brought all of His covenant purposes for Israel to fruition in Israel’s representative, the Messiah Jesus.4 In Romans 1-4 Paul argued that the covenant people of God “now consists of a group that is demarcated not by the badges which signify Jewish ethnicity, but by their faith/faithfulness/belief in Jesus, himself the faithful ...
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