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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Replacement Theology (Romans 11)

What I love about the book of Romans is that Paul gives us a lot of great doctrinal teaching. In Romans 11, he clearly refutes the error of Replacement Theology, a belief that the church has replaced Israel and will receive the promises God gave to Israel.

Replacement Theology (also known as supersessionism) says that the Christian church has replaced Israel in God's plan. So, the part about the Jews (Israel) being the chosen people of God has apparently changed, according to this teaching. This theology says God no longer has specific future plans for the nation of Israel.

Sadly, this doctrinal error is spreading rapidly throughout our western churches today and no denomination seems to be immune to it, including my own. But it doesn't stop there. There is even a new Bible translation that has omitted 59 references to "Israel" in Scripture. The argument is that this omission made the text more readable. However, there is multiple problems with this.

First, God said "Israel" for a reason. Second, this omission supports the Palestinian efforts to call the land of Israel, "Palestine," (which means "land of the Philistines").

But, the bottom line is Replacement Theology does not match Scripture. Let's look at a few examples:

God made a covenant with Abraham saying his descendants would receive a very specific parcel of land. God then passed that covenant promise, down to Abraham's son, Isaac, and then to the descendants of Isaac's son, Jacob (who He renamed Israel).

  • Genesis 15:18-21 So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, "I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River - [19] the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, [20] Hittites, Perizzites, Rephanites, [21] Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites."

  • Genesis 17:19 Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him."

  • Genesis 26:3-4 God said to Isaac "Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. [4] And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all the lands and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."

  • God passes the Abrahamic covenant to Jacob. Genesis 35:10,12 [10] And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name." [12] The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land."

Notice that God said this covenant in which this land was given to Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob (Israel) and his descendants, was to be an everlasting covenant. That means the covenant was based on God's character and on His great name, not on Israel's obedience.

However, God punished Israel for their disobedience many times in Scripture. He even sent them into exile in foreign lands. But He also promised to bring them back to their land:

Ezekiel 36:24-28 [24] For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. [25] Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. [26] I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. [28] Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

It kind of sounds like God still has a plan for Israel doesn't it?

God promised to bring Israel back into the land He promised to their fathers. Today, we can clearly see that Israel is back into their land. But they don't have all of it yet. Their heart has not turned back to God yet and accepted Jesus as their Messiah. But we know that they will. We also know that at the end of the Tribulation, when Jesus returns, Israel will repent and believe and inherit all the everlasting promises God has given them.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

Romans 11:25-27 [25] For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. [26] And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

So Replacement Theology does not match Scripture, does it? God's plan for Israel, the descendants of Jacob, is everlasting and He will fulfill His promises to them. In the end they will turn to Jesus, believe in Him, and be saved. They will inherit the rest of the land God promised them from the beginning.

Given this, what's the application for us Gentiles who are followers of Jesus?

Paul gives us our application in Romans 11.

First he says don't get cocky that God put a veil over the eyes of Israel to give us Gentiles a chance to hear the gospel and be saved. He says, "be humble!"

Romans 11:18-20 [18] But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. [19] “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” [20] Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself,

Second, Paul says the same thing Ezekiel and Zechariah said, that God's plan is still to save and bless Israel. So this should give us tremendous confidence in all of God's promises.

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We can rely on His promises to the church and we can rely on His promises to Israel. Israel and the church are two different entities with different promises. In the end the Israelites, the Christians, and anyone else who has repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus will be ushered into the Millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ, each with different roles and responsibilities in serving Jesus in His kingdom.

But until then, we each have roles and responsibilities here, today. We are to bless and pray for Israel and we are to pray for the salvation of all people, sharing the gospel with anyone who crosses our path who has eyes to see and ears to hear.

Dear Lord, Thank you that the promises in Your Word are based on your character and your great name rather than on me getting it perfect. Thank you Lord that we can count on your promises. Lord, I pray for Israel. I pray for their hearts to turn to You in repentance and belief so that they can know You and your love for them. Lord, I pray for those around me who are close to me and far from You, that today they would repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their savior and LORD God. Lord, I thank you that although I am just a Gentile, that You love me as your own, and that You have a purpose and a plan for my life too. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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