The Significance Of Israel In Biblical Typology -- By: Mark W. Karlberg

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 31:3 (Sep 1988)
Article: The Significance Of Israel In Biblical Typology
Author: Mark W. Karlberg


The Significance Of Israel In Biblical Typology

Mark W. Karlberg*

Recent critical studies in Biblical typology have generated renewed debate among scholars of various and diverse theological traditions.1 Leading issues pertaining to hermeneutical methodology include the relation between history and revelation on the one hand and the nature of the continuity/discontinuity between the OT and the NT on the other. The present essay focuses on the second of these two issues. The chief point of difference among evangelicals is the question of the relationship between Israel (the old covenant community) and the Church (the new covenant people of God).2 Specifically, does the supplanting of the old covenant by the new (cf. the epistle to the Hebrews) involve the dissolution of the theocratic form of the kingdom of God under Moses?

I. Israel And The Church In Covenant Perspective

Historically, dispensationalism and covenant theology have presented two alternative positions concerning the relationship between Israel and the Church. Though both theological traditions have undergone significant changes in recent years—in some instances radical revision—the subject of Israel’s place in redemptive history continues to be prominent in these discussions.3 Generally speaking, both schools of interpretation recognize the importance of typology in Scripture. It is in the interest of furthering dialogue among dispensational and covenant theologians that the topic of Israel and the Church is pursued here from the standpoint of Biblical typology.

Of paramount importance is the matter of law and gospel (works and grace) as descriptive of the two historical administrations of the covenant of redemption (traditionally called the covenant of grace). When treating Paul’s teaching on the law, a growing number of both dispensationalists and covenant theologians have adopted the so-called misinterpretation view of the

*Mark Karlberg is part-time instructor in theology at Chesapeake Theological Seminary in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Mosaic law. According to this view the Mosaic covenant consists exclusively of a sovereign administration of grace and promise (unconditional). But the Judaizers had misinterpreted the law of Moses to teach justification (i.e. salvation) by works of the law. Hence the apostle Paul’s negative statements concerning the law of Moses (law versus grace) are to be understood in terms of the peculiarly Judaizing point of view. Positively stated, the misinterpreta-tion view holds that the law...

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