Ecclesiology 017Galatians 6:16 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 25, 2018 • Ecclesiology
3-25-18 Lesson 17 Galatians 6:16
Let me open us in a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for this morning, grateful for Your people that have gathered and grateful for Your word and Your truth. We’re grateful for the illuminating ministry of the Spirt that comes alongside and assists us and we ask for that illuminating ministry this morning, both in Sunday School and the worship service that follows, that we can have free unhindered access to you as we pause and momentarily confess our sins to restore broken fellowship and also that we can be taught freely from Your Word. So we’ll pause just for a minute. We’re thankful for the promise of 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins You’re faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we ask that You’ll be with us this morning as we open up Your Word. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said Amen.
As usual if you need a handout put your hand up and let’s open our Bible if we could to the Book of Galatians, chapter 6, verse 16. Just go to 2 Corinthians and then go to God’s Electric Power Company, or Go Eat Pop Corn—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.
And we are going to focus today on a real problem verse in this area of the church, the doctrine of the Church. And just to help us remember where we left off last time, we were talking about the church as an intercalation. Anybody remember that at all? Okay. There’s Lewis Sperry Chafer in this quote, and the quote goes over into the next slide, talking about the church really as an intercalation which basically, as we have talked about, the church is an interruption in God’s past and future program with Israel. We believe that that’s where the church is, it’s in between the past sixty-nine weeks of Daniel, which incidentally were literally fulfilled. On which Sunday, anybody recall? Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday we’re celebrating today. Amen. So Jesus arrived on schedule, showed up, and He fulfilled the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel’s prophecy to a T. And tragically the nation of Israel turned down His offer.
So God turns lemons into what? Lemonade, and He used Israel’s rejection of their own Messiah to pay the sin debt (through Christ’s crucifixion) of the whole world and consequently He ushered in the church age, beginning in Acts 2, which is where we are today. And yet there’s a seventieth week of Daniel, isn’t there, yet future? So that’s where we are, we’re this intercalation or this hiatus or this interruption in between the last sixty-nine weeks, historical, sixty-nine weeks and the future seventieth week. So we’ve covered a little bit of that already, haven’t we. Someone say yes [several say yes], if nothing more than just to give me my little security blanket up here. [laughter]
And what I just articulated is one of the key differences between dispensational theology and sometimes called Reformed or Replacement theology. So we believe in postponement theology; Israel’s program has not been cancelled but has been postponed as God is doing a different work through a different people, the church. But in competition with that view is what is called replacement theology which is this idea that the church has permanently replaced Israel in the plan and program of God. So Israel’s promises have been spiritually transferred to the church.
I’ve used this quote before, where R. C. Sproul says, “We deny that the church is God’s plan B. We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis.” And then he says at the bottom there, “There we are altogether the Israel of God,” so replacement theology holds to the idea that we are called the Israel of God or the New Israel, having permanently eclipsed Old Testament Israel, replacement theology. Very different than the intercalation model I’ve been teaching.
And of course I shared this quote last time, but Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, “It’s a good thing they were not declaring this on the streets of Berlin, Germany around 1941!’” I thought that was a pretty good comeback. But what you’ll discover is this is kind of the new trend. Everybody today is calling the church the new Israel. Even at my alma mater, Dallas Seminary, there’s the advent now of progressive dispensationalism, where they’re getting real fuzzy on this particular issue.
So progressive dispensationalist, David Turner, days this in an academic article: “It is clear that all the above” he’s talking there about the 144,000 Jews and the twelve tribes, “are connected with the number twelve (cf. Rev. 7:5-8; 12:1, 12). This number is perhaps the most familiar number of the Bible, most frequently associated with the sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve apostles of the ‘new Israel,’ the church.” [“The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:1-22:5; Consummation of a Biblical Continuum,” Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church, ed., Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 288.]
See that. That’s Dallas Seminary letting in a mindset that says the church is the new Israel. Now when you raise this issue they say well, we haven’t gone all the way over the edge yet, we still believe in some kind of role for Israel yet future. But you can see tremendous slippage just in the language that’s used there. They’re not trending at all in the right direction.
And this prompted my professor, who I loved dearly, he’s with the Lord now, Stanley Toussaint, a traditional dispensationalist responded to Turner’s comment by saying this: “Of this designation, normative dispensationalist Stanley Toussaint appropriately comments, ‘This is precariously close to replacement theology.”’ [Stanley D. Toussaint, “Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist,” in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, ed. Herbert W. Bateman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 259.]
So it’s not just me up here running my mouth off, I’m quoting actual people that have been at Dallas Seminary for years and years and years, taught there, given their whole lives to the institution, sounding the alarm that look, this progressive dispensationalism sounds a lot more like replacement theology when you look at some of the language these people actually use.
Now here is a quote from a book called The Church, the author is Edmund Clowney, and this is a book that I had to read when I was there and I’ve talked to students that are there or have been there subsequently and they’ve affirmed this, and they’re still using this book and this is what this particular book says: “The story of the church begins with Israel,” whoops!!! I thought Jesus said “I will build My church” and the church is what, it starts with “m” and ends with “stery,” mystery, so that statement right there at the beginning, the church did not begin with Israel; Israel began with Israel. “The story of the church begins with Israel, the Old Testament people of God; the identity of the church is necessary for the mission of the church.” I totally agree with that second sentence. You can’t understand your identity unless you understand who we are. “Only as a holy nation,” whoops, are we in a nation? “called out of the darkness into the light of God‘s presence, can the church discharge it’s mission…Peter affirms that the church’s right to the titles of Israel, then describes the church’s witness of praise (1st Peter 2:9–10)” Now I think they’re completely mis-reading 1 Peter because Peter, as a Jew, was writing to Hebrew Christians. When Paul begins every letter by saying “To the church of Philippi,” “To the church of Ephesus” you don’t find that in Peter’s writing. He’s writing to… he uses the specific word “the diaspora,” the scattered. 1 Peter 1:1-2. [1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”]
So Peter is not addressing the church as a whole; he’s addressing Hebrew Christians. 1 Peter is one of… I would say about six books in the New Testament that are written to Hebrew Christians. And I didn’t plan on getting into all that but you can see what they’re doing here, they’re taking a statement that Peter makes to Hebrew Christians and applying it to the whole church. But that’s not even the worst part of this; it says there in that last sentence that I have quoted, “…This understanding of the church as the new and true” what? “Israel of Christ must inspire our mission in the contemporary world.” So you see what they’re doing here is they’re connecting the church with Israel and in a roundabout way arguing for replacement theology. Anytime someone calls the church Israel or the new Israel or the true Israel that immediately should send up warning signals to you because you’re dealing with someone that doesn’t really understand the nature of the church as an intercalation, which we’ve tried to carefully explain.
So probably the greatest passage in the whole Bible that’s right in the middle of this battle between the intercalation model on one end of the stick and replacement theology on the other end of the stick is Galatians 6:16. [Galatians 6:16, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”] Anytime you get into a discussion with somebody about this subject, at some point someone will raise Galatians 6:16. So that’s where we’re going to spend our time this morning, dealing with the Galatians 6:16 issue.
If you were to read this in the NIV, some of you might be NIV positive, do we all understand the NIV is a paraphrase? I’m not necessarily against paraphrases but the NIV never claims to be a word for word translation from the original Greek, like you have in the New King James Version or the New American Standard Version, New American Standard Bible. So it’s kind of okay to read the NIV to get kind of the warm fuzzy for the day if that’s what you need to do as you’re bolting out of the house to get to work but doing the sort of in-depth study that we’re doing here the NIV is not going to work because it never claims to be an accurate word for word translation from the original New Testament Koine Greek.
So here’s how the NIV translates Galatians 6:16 and this is why people are very confused on this subject because their Bible translations are saying different things. “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule even to the Israel of God. Now the word I have underlined there is the Greek conjunction kai, k-a-i, and you notice what the NIV translators have done; they have translated the kai not as “and” but as “even.” See that? And so the NIV would give you the impression that the church is the Israel of God. The NIV gives you this impression. And what these replacement theologians do is they come along and they build a whole house on this one verse. And I’m not kidding when I say this.
Kenneth Gentry whose writings I’ve been tracking for a long time, I wrote both my Doctoral dissertation and my Master’s thesis against the views of Ken Gentry. Ken Gentry says, “That is, we believe in the unfolding plan of God in history, the Christian Church is the very fruition of the redemptive purpose of God. As such, the multi-racial, international Church of Jesus Christ supersedes” now that word “supersedes” should raise some red flags because what he is arguing here is what is called supersessionism. Supersessionism is another name for replacement theology. What Gentry believes is that the church has permanently superseded Israel. “As such, the multi-racial, international Church of Jesus Christ supersedes racial, national Israel as the focus of the kingdom of God.” So he thinks we’re in the kingdom. “Indeed, we believe that the church becomes ‘the Israel of God’ Gal. 6:16” and what verse is he quoting here? Galatians 6:16, the NIV understanding of it. [“The Iceman Cometh! Mormonism Reigneth!,” Dispensationalism in Transition, Vol 6, No.1; Jan. 1993 p. 1. Italics mine’]
Here’s another replacement theologian, this gentleman says, ““Paul’s benediction in Galatians 6:16 becomes, then, the” what witness? “the chief witness in the New Testament declaring that the universal church is the Israel of God, the seed of Abraham, the heir to Israel’s covenant promise [Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University U., 1983), pp. 110-11. Italics mine
In other words, in their thinking Galatians 6:16 is exhibit A. Fortunately there is another interpretation of Galatians 6:16. If you move away from the NIV and you go back to the NASB, which is a more, I believe, less of a periphrastic English translation, the verse reads as follows: “And to those” that would be the church’s that Paul has planted there in Southern Galatia on missionary journey one, “to those who walk by this rule” what rule? Faith alone in Christ alone, “to those who walk by this rule peace and mercy be upon them” watch this, “and upon the Israel of God.” That is the exact same conjunction or connective kai, which the NIV translated as “even” and the NASV translates it as “and.” Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it? That creates misunderstanding, that the Israel of God is a group within the church. See the difference?
In other words, if you were to read the NASB you would understand that “the Israel of God” is a group within the church; if you were to read the NIV you would have the understanding that “the Israel of God” equals the church. So I put together this chart which helps you see the battle line here, the Galatians 6:16 kai controversy. One group wants that verse, that kai translated “even.” The other group wants it translated as “and.” The first group, if you want a technical name for this, treats the kai as an appositional kai; the second group translates the kai as a continuative kai. The NIV follows the first approach; the NASB follows the second approach. If the first approach is right then “the Israel of God” equals the church. If the second group is right then Hebrew Christians within the church are “the Israel of God.” Under the first approach Israel and the church are equated. Under the second approach “the Israel of God” is a subset within the church. The first approach favors replacement theology; the latter approach favors what we’re promoting here, dispensational theology, the intercalation model. Do you see the battleground there?
Do you see why people are confused on this? Because their Bible versions are saying two different things. So who’s right? Well, as you probably guessed I think the NASB has it right; I think our understanding of “the Israel of God” not as a synonym for the whole church but Jewish believers within the church is the correct interpretation. And I have ten reasons for that which I want to share with you. Can I do that? It’s a matter of not just believing something is true; I don’t want to just answer the what question. I want to answer the why question; why would we reject replacement theologians interpretation of Galatians 6:16, so here we go!
Number one, the continuative kai, that’s translating the kai as “and,” as a continuative, not as “even,” not as an apposition, is the most common New Testament use of the word. That’s reason number one. Reason number two, the appositional kai, translating it not as “and” but as “even,” which would favor replacement theology, is the rarest New Testament form. Now I want to draw your attention to the very Best, with a capital “B” article that’s ever been written on this subject. It’s an article by longtime Greek professor at Dallas Seminary, who’s now with the Lord. He dealt with this a long time ago, named S. Lewis Johnson. I never had the chance to study under S. Lewis Johnson but everybody that I’ve talked to that studied under him said this guy was like the quintessential scholar. In fact, Dr. Toussaint, who I quoted earlier, was mentored in Greek by S. Lewis Johnson.
And S. Lewis Johnson, in what is called the Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, sometimes called a festschrift, I think festschrift is German. It’s basically when you get old and you’ve been there for a long time, a bunch of teachers get together and they put together a book for you that they’ve all contributed to, called a festschrift. And there’s a festschrift out there and you can find this on Amazon, it’s called Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, and S. Lewis Johnson contributed a chapter in that book on the controversy of Galatians 6:16.
- Lewis Johnson says in that article, “It is necessary to begin this part of the discussion with a basic but often neglected hermeneutic principle. It is this: in the absence of compelling exegetical and theological consideration we should avoid the rare grammatical usages when the common ones make good sense.” Johnson goes on, of replacement theology and he says, “An extremely rare use has been made to replace the common usage, even in spite of the fact that the common and frequent usage makes perfectly good sense in Galatians 6:16.” [Paul and the ‘Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, ed. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 187.] And what he’s saying is this: the replacement theologians have built their whole theological system on an interpretation of kai, translating it as even, appositionally, which is very, very, very, very, very rare. Sometimes kai is used that way but not very frequently, where as we have put our interpretation of Scripture on the most common use of the word kai, translating it as and, as a continuative.
In fact, one person who I was reading says, his name is Ellicott, “It is doubtful Paul ever used kai as an apposition. And so you always avoid the rare usages when the common ones make good sense.” [Paul and the ‘Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, ed. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 187.]
That’s what we’ve done in our intercalation model; the other side hasn’t done that at all. I mean, not only did they get this from the NIV, which is one problem, but another problem is they build their whole house on a use of kai which is extremely rare.
That takes me to number 3, if Paul wanted to make the point that the church equals the Israel of God, you know what Paul could have done? He could have just dropped the kai out completely, couldn’t he? The NIV translates the kai as “even.” The NASB translates the kai as “and.” If Paul wanted to say the church is now Israel you know how the verse could have been read? Just drop the kai out. Then it would be unambiguous, right. It would read as follows: And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, upon the Israel of God.” There it is, sealed deal, the church is Israel. The problem is Paul included the kai and based on our doctrine of verbal inspiration we believe, as Christ says here, every word is put there by divine design. It’s not just the words that are put there by divine design, it’s the smallest letter or strokes of the pen are put there in the original by divine design.
The fact of the matter is kai is there. So whatever your theology is you’ve got to wrestle with every single word and yet Paul could have made this completely unambiguous, he could have dropped the kai as the Spirit led him to write the Book of Galatians. That way it would be a sealed deal; the church is now Israel.
Which takes me to reason number four in this Galatians 6:16 passage which makes this expression, “Israel of God” and here’s the point I’m making here on number four. Guess what the word “Israel” means every other place it’s used? Israel! Israel means Israel. I mean, you spent all that money on tuition to learn that? I guess I had to! Israel is a technical word. What does that mean? It’s a word that always means the same thing everywhere you see it. No exceptions! Now most words aren’t that way but Israel is. Whenever you see the word “Israel” in the Bible it will always, 100% of the time, refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It will NEVER mean the Gentiles. It will never even mean a mixed group between Jews and Gentiles. It always means Israel!
Now sometimes it’s Israel in faith and sometimes it’s Israel in unbelief, but you can take this to the bank, every time you see the word Israel in the Bible it always means Israel. Paul uses the word fifteen times in his writings, and it always means Israel. The word “Israel” is used a total of 73 times in the New Testament and guess what it means 72 other times? Israel! The word “Israel” is used 1800 times in the Old Testament and guess what it always means in the Old Testament? Israel!
Now let’s just kind of up the ante a little bit. Sometimes the word Israelite is used. So if you toss into the mix the word “Israelite” to the word “Israel” you’ve got 2500 usages of the term either Israel or Israelite; it will always mean Israel, it will never mean the church, it will never mean the Gentiles, it will never mean a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles. And your replacement theologian is saying this; well, that may be true but that’s not what it means here in Galatians 6:16. That’s their argument. That’s why this whole replacement theology doctrine is such a house of cards and it’s shocking to me how many Christians have bought into it. And largely they bought into it because they hear persuasive voices arguing for it and in some of their Bible translations it kind of reads that way as well, particularly the NIV.
If you ever doubt that Israel and the church are different entities never to be confused, all you have to do is read the Book of Acts because the church is going to start in Acts 2 and Israel is continuing to function in the Book of Acts in unbelief, right up until A. D. 70. In fact, the book closes before A.D. 70 even happened. So if there ever was a book that would tell you that Israel was now the church or the church is now Israel, it would be the Book of Acts. And you go right through the Book of Acts and what do you see? They’re always separate.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct.” [Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “Israel and the Church,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 118.] And your replacement theologian says well, that may be true but that’s not what it means here in Galatians 6:16, there it refers to the Gentiles. You see how untenable their position is.
Which takes me to reason number four, Israel was never equated with the church by any church father of which we have any knowledge of until the writings of Justin Martyr, A. D. 160. A.D. 160 Justin Martyr is the first guy that we know of that called the church Israel. And I’ve got that whole quote for you there, you can find this easily, it’s his dialogue with Trypho. And he makes the statement, “we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race.” [“Dialogue with Trypho” 123, 135]
Before this statement you have nobody ever hinting that the church is now Israel. And keep in mind when Justin Martyr said that, A.D. 160… when is the Book of Galatians written exactly? A. D. 49 . How do we know that? Because it’s on the screen. Most people today believe that Galatians was the earliest letter Paul wrote of thirteen. He went into Southern Galatia on missionary journey one, and he came back to Syrian Antioch and he addressed the churches he had planted who were succumbing to legalism. He even wrote this before the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
So here is my point—isn’t it kind of strange that if Paul was going to say the church is the new Israel, if that’s what he’s saying in Galatians 6:16, not a single church father ever picked up on Paul’s point until a full century had passed. I mean, a hundred years is a long time to be in the dark. And I think if Paul had said the church is the new Israel somebody would have picked up on it long before Justin Martyr. You wouldn’t have a full hundred years, a full century.
Which takes me to number six, if Paul is trying to say that the church is the new Israel, if he’s going to say something that radical in Galatians 6:16, why in the world would he wait until the conclusion of a letter to make the point? I mean, this is basically what we’re expected to believe about this replacement theology. Paul was writing, he writes this beautiful treatment, spans six chapters, he signs off at the end and then he says oh, by the way, the church is the new Israel, see you later, have a nice day. I mean, it’s crazy that people would base their whole theological system on something he says off the cuff at the conclusion of a letter. It’s sort of like what you get from the prosperity gospel movement, where they go to the introductory verse of 1 John, where John basically makes this statement that I hope you all are well and in good health. And people gravitate towards that verse and they say there it is, God wants us to all be rich and healthy. And they quote the verse over and over again and they repeat it over and over again and people think it’s true because it’s in the Bible after all, when in reality what is John saying? He’s saying the same thing that you would say in a letter to someone you loved… hey, hope you’re doing well, things are going great! And they take a little salutation that John gives and they turn it into a doctrine at the introduction of the letter. I mean, it’s crazy. And yet that’s what this replacement theology crowd is doing with Galatians 6:16.
The Book of Galatians has three parts to it. You have the autobiographical section where Paul is defending his apostleship, Paul, not one of the original twelve would have to defend that he’s really an apostle to get people to listen to him so he does that in chapters 1 and 2. Then comes the meat of the letter, the doctrinal section where he lays out doctrine. And then, as Paul does, he says the word “therefore,” right? Galatians 5:1. So we always ask, what is the there there for what? Therefore, it’s to swing the audience away from doctrine into application.
So my point is pretty simple. I mean if Paul wanted to make this radical, if he wanted to reverse the word Israel that had been used 2,500 time and infuse it with a new meaning and teach a doctrine that God has chopped off Israel and has replaced Israel with the church I don’t think he would have made the point at a conclusion of a letter as he’s signing off and saying have a nice day. If he wanted to make the point it would have been made very boldly in the middle section of the book.
And by the way, this is how Paul uses all of his letters, this same format, maybe not all of them but many of them, the main ones where we get doctrine from, like Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, and so forth. Of course we get doctrine from all of Paul’s letters, I’m talking about the ones where he’s really stressing doctrine.
And in Ephesians 1-3 how many commands are there for us to follow? Anybody know off the top of their head? Be bold. Zero! Not one command. So Paul obviously hadn’t graduated from a very good seminary because the doctrine of homiletics or preaching says every sermon should have an point and an application, right? Why would Paul apply truth to people’s lives if they didn’t know what the truth is. What do you get in chapters 1-3? Truth, truth, truth, truth, truth, truth! The point of it is you’re rich spiritually. Then you have the word “therefore,” chapter 4, verse 1. Then he moves from doctrine to practice, chapters 4-6 and in chapters 4-6 how many commands do you have? Thirty-eight! The same kind of thing with Romans. Romans 1-11, doctrine; then you see the famous word “Therefore,” Romans 12:1, “Therefore” Paul says, in light of these mercies….” What mercies? The mercies I just got finished talking to you about for eleven chapters, those mercies. In light of these mercies present your body as an acceptable sacrifice to Jesus Christ. [Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Practice or application doesn’t begin in Paul’s thinking until doctrine is established. So Romans and Ephesians would be devastating books to read if you didn’t understand the power that you have to live out those applications which are spelled out in Romans 1-11 and then Ephesians 1-3. In our preaching methodology today it’s completely foreign anything that Paul would do. Paul didn’t gather a bunch of people together, get them saved and say okay, here’s all the applications to your lives. He was trying to get them to understand who they are in Christ. In fact, there’s two prayers in the Book of Ephesians where he prays that their eyes might be opened and they might see the height, the width, the depth, of the love of God for the saints.
Once you get all that taken care of now you can move into application. So some people are wanting so badly to apply the Bible to their lives when they don’t even know what the Bible says. Other people just want truth, truth, truth and no application. There’s always a balance and I think we ought to be getting our ministry philosophy from Paul.
Why go into all of this? Because if Paul wanted to say the church is the new Israel he wouldn’t have said it in the doctrinal section of Galatians. He wouldn’t have made the point in a conclusion. Which takes me to number seven, the two-fold repetition of “upon” which is the Greek preposition epi in Galatians 6:16. Take another fast look back to the passage, Galatians chapter 6 and verse 16. Notice what it says: “And to those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon” that’s the preposition number 1, epi number 1, “peace and mercy be upon them,” who’s the “them”? All these Gentiles that he just won to Christ on missionary journey one, “and” that’s our kai, “upon” epi, now is that the first use of epi there or the second? The second, “and upon” epi, “the Israel of God.”
You don’t have one preposition in Galatians 6:16, you’ve got two. Why do you have two? Because Paul is dealing with two groups. See that? If he was dealing with one group there wouldn’t be a double epi in the passage. So Paul deliberately is shifting the focus to a separate group. Who is the separate group? It’s the believing Jews within the flock, that’s who he’s talking to. And I’ll tell you why he’s addressing them specifically in just a minute.
You say well does Paul really do this a lot? I mean, does he designate two groups like that? Does he make a point to group A and then switch to group B. The fact of the matter is he does it all the time. In fact, isn’t Galatians 6:15 followed by verse what? It’s not a trick question. Verse 16. You all agree with that, verse 15 comes before verse 16; you guys with me? Do we need to bring in some coffee?
And what does he say in the immediate prior verse? “For neither is circumcision” group one, “anything nor uncircumcision” group two, “but a new creation.” I mean Paul is really good at distinguishing groups, isn’t he. Right there in the prior verse he distinguishes between the uncircumcised and the circumcised. Now didn’t he do this in Galatians 2:7-8 concerning the ministries of Paul and Peter? Did Paul and Peter preach the same gospel? I believe they did. Did Paul and Peter have different target audiences? Yes they did. Paul says that in Galatians 2:7-8, “But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised,” that’s the Gentiles, Paul’s target audience was the Gentiles, “just as Peter had been entrusted to the” what? “circumcised” Paul says I’ll tell you what Peter, I’m going to go, I’m going to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, you’re going to go, you’re going to preach this gospel to the Jews. So what did Paul do there? He just distinguished between two groups, didn’t he?
That’s why in 1 Peter 5:13 Peter concludes his letter by saying “She who is in Babylon” greets you. [1 Peter 5:13, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”] And everybody is trying to figure out what Babylon means; in fact, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Babylon, and I wanted to subtitle it Babbling on about Babylon but they wouldn’t let me subtitle it like that.
So people say well what does Babylon mean? Well that means Rome or it means this or it means that. Hold the phone here, folks, where were most of the Jews located? Babylon. In fact, the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, all tell us that you have to return from the exile, some came back into the land and the majority stayed in Babylon. So why is it so hard to believe Peter went to Babylon? It’s not hard to believe that at all because Peter is the apostle to the who? The circumcised, for the Jews Babylon would be a very logical place for him to go to. Right.
So Paul went to the Gentiles, Peter went to the Jews. What is my point? My point is Paul is really good at distinguishing two groups and I’m saying that’s exactly what he’s doing in Galatians 6:16. He talks about the “them,” who are they? Gentile Christians that he’s won to Christ. And then he talks, not about “them” anymore, he talks about a group within them. Who would those be? The tiny group of Jews that are now “in Christ” because the majority of people that get saved in Paul’s missionary journeys, and you can see this over and over again in the Book of Acts, are Gentile Christians. He goes to the synagogue, he gets kicked out of the synagogue. He goes to the Gentiles and bears fruit amongst the Gentiles. And I told my students anytime I ask you on a test what did Paul do on X location just this and you’ve got about a 90% chance of getting the question right. Just say he went to the synagogue and was rejected in the synagogue, then he went to the Gentiles and bore fruit amongst the Gentiles because that’s almost what happens, there’s a few exceptions, Philippi, other places. That’s what happens over and over and over and over again.
So the “them” is the Gentile Christians; that’s the big group. The “Israel of God” is not a synonym for “them” the way replacement theologians want this to read; he’s addressing a subset or a smaller group within the large flock. Hebrew Christian, he doesn’t change the definition of Israel and he affectionately dubs them, or refers to them, as “the Israel of God.” He singles them out for special attention and recognition for reasons I’ll share with you in just a minute.
Number nine, if Paul is singling out Jewish Christians within the larger group then does he do that anywhere else? I mean, if Paul is into singling out believing Hebrew Christians within larger groups does he do that elsewhere? And the fact of the matter is he does this quite frequently. What I’m trying to say is the Israel of God is not a synonym for the church. The Israel of God is a special affectionate address to believing Jews within a primarily dominated Gentile church that is now off the ground and running.
Does Paul do that elsewhere? He does it all the time in fact. Look at what he does in Romans 2:28-29. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one” what? “inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” What is Paul saying here? It’s not Jews as a whole that God is going to fulfill His covenants through; He’s going to do it through the believing Jew. Paul, all the time, singles out the believing Jew. And I think that’s exactly what he’s doing in Galatians 6:16. Over in Romans 9:6, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” yeah, they’re all Israel but I’ll you that the Israel that God has His eye on is the Israel in faith. They become, in the end time, the Israel of God. It’s the events of the tribulation period that awaken them to their new status to believe in Christ and become the Israel of God. And it’s not just through Jews generically that God is going to fulfill His program through, He’s going to fulfill it through believing Jews.
So if this is such a dominant concept in Paul’s thinking and Paul’s writing, as the Spirit of God is leading him, why is it so hard to imagine that in Galatians 6:16 he’s doing the same thing again. He’s singling out believing Jews within the flock for special attention. He’s not saying the church is now Israel; that is not what Paul is saying.
Which takes me to number ten, you might ask why Paul, in a benediction, in the conclusion of the letter, why would he do this? And I think the very simple reason is to demonstrate that Paul is not a Jew hater, because the things that Paul says can be construed as pretty harsh in the Book of Galatians. Would you agree with that? For example, in Galatians 1:8-9 he says this: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Verse 9, “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” The word translated “accursed” twice there that I have underlined is the Greek word anathema, which is a reference to condemnation to hell. Not exactly seeker friendly preaching here!
Who is he condemning to hell? He’s condemning to hell, that’s hell as in h-e- double toothpicks, hell, He’s condemning to hell people who take the institutions of Judaism, like the Mosaic Law, and abuse them. The Mosaic Law, when you study it out, was never given to redeem a people, it was given to a redeemed people. The Mosaic Law was never given as an institute for justification, it was given as an instrument for what? Sanctification. And now here come people into Paul’s new flock, less than a year has passed, and they’re bring back the Mosaic Law and they’re telling people, you know, to really get saved justification and in the church age sanctification faith in Christ is nice but you really need to go back to the Law. And that is called legalism, that is NOT why God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel to begin with anyway, and they have just brought into Paul’s flock works salvation through an abuse of the Law and Paul anathematizes these legalists two times.
Now think, if you’re a brand new Jewish Christian reading that? You would probably think to yourself well, this guy Paul, although He’s Jewish himself, must have some kind of problem with Jews. I mean, this guy, Paul, must hate Jews. Maybe this guy, Paul, is anti-Semitic. I mean, his verbiage is so intense here that would be a natural conclusion that you could draw from his writings, particularly as a new Hebrew Christian.
So to counterbalance alleged antisemitism coming from Paul he concludes the Book of Galatians, chapter 6, verse 16, by referring to the believing Jews within the church with the affectionate titles, “as the Israel of God,” just to demonstrate that yeah, my verbiage has been very rough, it’s been very… we might even say in today’s vernacular it looks somewhat over the top. But don’t get the idea that I’m a Jew-hater just because I have attacked the abuse of the institutions of Judaism, I love the Jewish people, God loves the Jewish people and to demonstrate that I will take a subset of you within this church that are Hebrews and believers in Christ, or what they called Yeshua, and I will affectionately refer to you as “the Israel of God.” That’s why Paul says this. He is not saying guess what, the church is now Israel. That’s the furthest thing from his mind.
And, you know, I quote people just to show you I’m not up here just making things up. Here is Burton, in his commentary on Galatians and he writes this: “In view of the apostle’s previous strong anti-Judaistic expressions,” like Galatians 1:8-9, “he feels impelled by the insertion of ‘and’,” that’s the kai, “to emphasize this expression of his true attitude towards his people” [Ernest DeWitt Burton, Galatians, Page 358]
Paul is just giving a counterbalancing statement that he is not a Jew-hater. So when you look at these ten arguments the whole verse that’s exhibit A for replacement theology just disintegrates. The continuative kai is the most common; the appositional kai is the rarest. Paul could have gotten rid of the word kai altogether; Israel always means Israel. No church Father ever picked up on this for a century. Why introduce a new theological concept, like replacement theology, in the conclusion of the letter? You’ve got two epi’s there, demonstrating Paul is speaking of two different groups, which he does elsewhere, even in the prior verse. And singles out believing Jews elsewhere. And Paul just throws this little statement in to demonstrate that he’s not anti-Semitic.
So Robinson, D.W.B, Robinson says, “The glib citing of Gal. vi: 16 to support the view that ‘the church is the new Israel’ should be vigorously challenged.” And that’s sort of what I’ve tried to do this morning. “There is weighty support for a limited interpretation.” [The Distinction Between Jewish and Gentile Believers in Galatians,” Australian Biblical Review 13 (1965): 29-48]
What does he mean by “limited interpretation”? It’s not interpreting Galatians 6:16 this way, as I have it on the screen, [on the screen: And to those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”] not as a synonym for the church but as a subset within the church. That’s the limited interpretation that Paul is promoting here.
And yet, the people that use this verse over and over again to promote replacement theology, it reads almost like the Who’s Who of Christianity, for the last two thousand years. Chrysostom, known as “Golden Throat” or mouth because of his oratorical skills, said horrific things against the Jewish people. The book, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood by Michael Brown, will give you all those citations. And yet Chrysostom is looked at as a hero and yet he was anti-Semitic and he used Galatians 6:16 to support his antisemitism. You don’t get much better with John Calvin. More modernly you’ve got Lightfoot, Stott, Guthrie, and in the Protestant Reformation series I demonstrated that even Martin Luther himself said things like this, using Galatians 6:16 that were so off the wall and over the top that even the Lutheran denomination itself, a subset of it, in the 1980’s issued a formal apology.
So a lot of people want to let Luther off the hook. His own denomination wouldn’t let him off the hook and distanced themselves from his comments, Lenski, Hendricksen, and you ask yourself well why do they keep doing it? They do it because of what I have down there at letter B, it’s an amillennial exegetical bias. In other words, they’re looking at the Bible through a prism or a grid that has already been manufactured. See that? Which is not how we do theology! We want to get our theology from the text and not take our theology what? To the text. If I believe the church had replaced Israel I would probably use Galatians 6:16 also. The problem is the passage doesn’t say that. It’s like dealing with a really good criminologist or forensics expert when they try to figure out who the bad guy is at a crime scene. If they’re skilled with their craft and their trade what you’ll notice is they don’t develop a theory on the case too fast because the temptation is to make the facts fit your theory because if something gets in the way called what? Pride, when in reality you want to get your theory of who the bad guy is from the facts, not the other way around. Amen!
And so I’ll close here with this citation from Cranfield, a very reputable Romans commentary, and I love what he says here because you never find anybody saying this. He says: “These 3 chapters (Rom 9-11) emphatically forbid us to speak of the church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish people…But the assumption that the church has simply replaced Israel as the people of God is extremely common…” Look at this last clause. “And I confess with shame to having also myself used in print on more than one occasion this language of the replacement of Israel by the Church.” [C.E.B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans p.448]
And the reason that quote stands out to me is that’s how I want to be. If I mess something up, particularly something bad, and even if I put it in writing I want to have the humility before God and God’s people to just go back and say you know, I was wrong. I mean, think how different this world would be if people would use these three words, think how different marriages would be if you used these three words, “I was wrong!” I mean, the whole world would be different. And the problem is once you go into print on something the human temptation is to defend what you’ve written. Why? Because something gets in the way called pride. And Cranfield, who is one of the best, says you know what, I went down that road myself, I’m sorry, I was wrong. So my respect for Cranfield is off the charts.
So that’s the intercalation information and next week we’ll get into the purposes of the church.