The Coming Kingdom
12-6-17 Galatians 6:16 Lesson 29
Let’s open our Bibles to the Book of Galatians, chapter 6 and verse 16. I just got back from the Pre-trib conference in Dallas, I just got in like an hour or two ago so I’m sort of running on fumes here. But as you all know we’ve been doing this study on the kingdom; we’re in Lesson 28 on the kingdom and really just to kind of sum the whole thing up what we’ve covered is the kingdom, as it’s developed in the Old Testament, was offered to first century Israel on a silver platter and what did they do with that offer? Rejected it! And what chapter did that happen in? Matthew 12. So once you get outside of Matthew 12 what starts to happen is we learn of a period of time that we are in now which concerns us where the kingdom has not been cancelled but postponed.
And we know and really when we reconvene in January, because I think tonight is the last Wednesday night Bible study of 2017; next week is Gingerbread houses so you don’t want to miss that and then the following two or three weeks after there isn’t anything going on on Wednesday. So I think we reconvene January 10th. I think I said the 3rd last time but it’s actually the 10th. I guess that’s a good thing, in a way, it gives folks a little rest, Yours Truly included.
We’ve been talking about what is God doing while the kingdom is not here, is what we’ve been getting at. So we’ve been talking about the Matthew 13 parables and we’ve also been talking about the doctrine of the church. The church represents a period of time where God is clearly at work but it’s not the kingdom. And when we reconvene in January we’re going to be finished with this interim time period. And we’re going to get right back to God’s program for the kingdom and I’m going to be showing you exactly how God is going to bring the kingdom to the earth after the age of the church is over.
But we’ve been spending a lot of time on this interim time period, that’s chapter 11 in my book, and it’s a very important period of time because that concerns us directly. One of the things that we’ve been studying very aggressively is not only the church, not the kingdom but the church is not Israel. Does that ring a bell at all? Israel and the church represent different programs of God. And I almost was not going to give you this Bible study because it’s a little bit more of an advanced study but I figured you guys could hack it? What do you think? Do you think you guys can hack it? I think you can.
We’re going to deal tonight with one of the thorniest issues on this whole subject and it’s in Galatians 6 and verse 16. What you have to understand, and if you’re new to theology you may not know this, but it’s a big deal; there is a theological war that has been taking place, probably since the 4th century A.D. between two camps. Our camp, and you’ll find this reflected in our doctrinal statement, is what you call dispensationalism. What is that? What does that mean? What it means is God has made promises to Israel which have never been fulfilled. Those promises have been placed on hold, not cancelled but placed on hold. And today God is dealing with a new man called the church; the church is not a replacement for Israel but is, if I could put it this way, an interruption in God’s program for Israel.
We like to refer to the church sometimes as a parenthesis, breaking up God’s past work and future work with Israel. Sometimes it’s called an intercalation which means an interruption. And that’s basically our model of what the church is. And our view, when you study it in church history, is actually a minority view. Actually most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation do not embrace the model that we teach here. They embrace something called covenant theology, sometimes it’s called Reformed theology, probably the most popular name for it is replacement theology. Have you heard of replacement theology? Anybody here heard of replacement theology. Okay, good, most everybody, that’s unusual.
Replacement theology is the idea that the church has permanently replaced God’s program with Israel. Israel’s cord has been cut because of her unbelief in the first century (that we’ve studied), her rejection of her Messiah and so all of God’s promises to Israel that we think have never been fulfilled, interpreted literally, have now been allegorically or spiritually transferred to the church. So the best thing that could happen to a Hebrew, a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. is they could get saved, and that’s a wonderful thing if a Hebrew gets saved and many do, but other than that there is no future for the nation of Israel. God is finished with the nation of Israel; God is through with the Jew. All of those promises you read in the Old Testament that haven’t been fulfilled yet, people tell us we take them too literally, and they’ve all been transferred to the church. Now the curses they never transfer to the church in this system; they just transfer the blessings. They leave the curses behind for the Jewish people and take all of Israel’s blessings. And this is what is called replacement theology.
So if you come from a Roman Catholic background likely this is what you’ve been taught. If you come from a Reformed theology background, like Presbyterianism for example, different forms of Lutheranism, basically you’ve been taught this in one way or the other. If you haven’t been taught it the people in charge, believe this, they just haven’t been honest with you to disclose this belief.
So this is basically what’s called replacement theology. What they basically believe is that the church is the new Israel; the church is the reigning kingdom of God on the earth and any blueprint for a future for Israel as a nation and a Jewish kingdom (which is what we believe here at Sugar Land Bible Church) is coming, they don’t believe that. And probably one the biggest verses in the Bible that is a battleground text between these two different views is Galatians 6:16. In fact, if you get into a discussion with anybody that has any knowledge about these things and they’re presenting the replacement theology view at some point they’re going to bring up Galatians 6:16.
And one of the things that’s very interesting is, I’m picking up on this more and more as I’ve been on different websites and listening to what people are saying, is Muslims have picked up on the Galatians 6:16 argument because Muslims don’t like our belief either, that there’s a future for Israel. They look at Israel as an occupier, an illegal occupier. So if you follow the news you know Donald Trump today, or yesterday, made Jerusalem, or indicated that the United States was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And as Bible believers we’re saying of course that’s true, David did that 3,000 years ago. But if you’re a Muslim and you believe that that territory belongs to Allah, you hate our view of a future for Israel, sometimes called Zionism. And even Muslims that are astute are trying to neutralize our view and they have bought into replacement theology. They promote replacement theology. And I’ve been in conversations with knowledgeable Muslims and they’ve pulled out of their hat Galatians 6:16 on me. And you’re kind of shocked that they know that passage is there. Most Christians don’t know it’s there, but the opponents of our belief within Christendom and outside of Christendom know it’s there.
In my book I don’t really have a lot of treatment on Galatians 6:16 other than a quick footnote showing you where to research this and so what I wanted to do tonight, before we left the subject of the church, we’ve been explaining why the church is not Israel, is I wanted to give you a running start on the whole Galatians 6:16 issue. So that’s sort of the direction I wanted to go this evening.
Now notice what the NIV says. You all know that the NIV is a paraphrase? The NIV… I’m not necessarily against the NIV in terms of devotional reading and things like that, like I read every night with my daughter the Bible, we read the NIV because she’s eleven years old and I’m just trying to get across to her basic biblical concepts. But the thing you have to understand about the NIV is it’s not a word for word translation; it’s a paraphrase. So the translators are sort of putting into their own lingo periphrastically what the Greek text says. To do the type of detailed study that is a word for word translation you don’t use the NIV; you use either the New American Standard Bible, NASB, or you can also use the version I use, (I left my Bible in Dallas so I don’t have my usual Bible today) so I’m using here today the NKJB. So when you want to do word for word deeper studies that are consistent word for word with the original Greek in terms of an English translation you would for the NKJV, or the NASB. You don’t use a paraphrase. If you’re looking more for a devotional kind of thought for the day the NIV is sufficient. Of if you’re reading to small children who are just learning language the NIV is sufficient.
So what I want you to understand is the replacement theology crowd has built their whole theology on the NIV’s reading of Galatians 6:16 and that automatically should set off some alarm bells because you know that the NIV is not word for word. So here’s what the NIV says in the Book of Galatians, chapter 6 and verse 16. It says, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—“ now let me pause there, the Apostle Paul has gone on missionary journey one, lots of Gentiles got saved on missionary one; you can read all about it in Acts 13 and 14. And then Paul goes back to Antioch, which is at the northern tip of Israel, it’s what we today call… it’s very near Syria, and he writes within six months to a year to the church he just evangelized in southern Galatia on missionary journey number one and he’s warning them against legalism.
So when he says, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule” he’s talking about salvation by faith alone in Christ alone which he anchored them down in when he evangelized them and planted the churches on missionary journey one, speaking to the Gentile churches, non-Jewish churches, because when he goes on missionary journey number one he’s going outside the borders of Israel. So the NIV reads as follows. “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule even to the Israel of God.” Now the whole debate here is on that underlined word “even.” It is a translation of the Greek conjunction kai, k-a-i, and you’ll notice that the NIV translates the kai as even. And that seems to indicate that all who follow this rule, the Gentile churches, are the what? “the Israel of God.” So replacement theologians love this verse because at first glance, when you read it in the NIV it looks like oh my goodness, replacement theology must be right, the church is Israel, meaning the church has replaced Israel.
So the model that you find in replacement theology concerning the Israel of God is that the church is the Israel of God. Well, if the church is “the Israel of God” then the church has taken over Israel’s place. Do you see that? And so the NIV reading translating the kai as “even” supports replacement theology. And I want to just give you a couple of quotes because I want to show you how replacement theologians have built their whole house on this verse.
Kenneth Gentry, he’s someone I know really well, not personally but his writings, I did both my Master’s thesis and my doctoral dissertation interacting with the writings of Kenneth Gentry. Kenneth Gentry is Reformed to the core; he is a replacement theologian, his what’s called a preterist, he believes that the Book of Revelation already happened in A.D. 70. Can you believe that? And if you’re familiar with Lordship salvation, we did teachings on that, haven’t we? Has anybody heard of Lordship salvation. Okay. He is the brainchild behind Lordship salvation. I mean, John MacArthur did not invent Lordship salvation, Kenneth Gentry is the one that really developed it academically. People like John MacArthur just sort of popularized it. But we’re not here to talk about Lordship salvation, I’m just giving you the background on who Kenneth Gentry is because you might have no awareness of him. He’s sort of an unknown figure but he’s had a huge influence on evangelical Christianity.
And he writes this: “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 sometimes replacement theology is called supersessionism. Why is it called supersessionism? Because they believe that the church super-cedes Israel’s place permanently. So Gentry says, “As such, the multi-racial international church of Jesus Christ supersedes racial, national Israel as the focus of the kingdom of God.” See that. Israel is not the kingdom, we’re the kingdom, we’ve taken Israel’s place. And then look what he says, “Indeed, we believe that the church becomes ‘the Israel of God’” and look at the verse he’s quoting to support his view, Galatians 6:16. And if you read that in the NIV it sure looks a lot like replacement theology. [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)
Here’s another replacement theologian and he writes, “Paul’s benediction in Galatians 6:16 becomes, then, the” what witness, “chief 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 promises.” And you’ll notice that he calls Galatians 6:16 exhibit a, “chief witness.”
So you read that in the NIV and it sure reads that way, doesn’t it? So some people are like what I like to call NIV positive, they read the NIV all the time and they don’t really know enough to know it’s a paraphrase and as I explained before I’m not totally down on the NIV, I just want you to understand that when you deal with these kind of subjects that we’re dealing with you don’t go to the NIV; you go to either NKJV or NASB.
But you’ll notice underneath the NIV I’ve got the NASB translation and tell me if you think it’s a little different. The NASB says, ““And to those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them,” now how is the “kai” translated, not with “even” but with what” “and upon the Israel of God.” Well, my goodness, that changes things a little bit doesn’t it? If the NASB is right then “the Israel of God” (now who is “the Israel of God”? Jewish converts) the Jewish converts are Hebrew Christians and they are not equated with the church but they are a subset of the church. They are a category within the church. See that? And if that is true then the church cannot be ever called “the Israel of God.” The only people that are “the Israel of God” are Jewish converts within the mostly Gentile church.
So I tried to put together this little chart here, maybe this will help you, maybe it won’t, but we’re dealing here with the translation of kai. When you transliterate if into English it reads like k-a-i. It’s a Greek conjunction. And you’ll notice that some people translate it as “even,” some people translate it as “and.” Now if you want a fancy name for this the translation of the kai as “even” is called the appositional use of kai. The translation of the kai as “and” is called the continuative use of kai. The Bible version that translates it as “even” is the NIV. The Bible version that translates it as “and” is either the NASB or the NKJV.
You say well so what? Who cares. It relates to this concept of the Israel of God. If the NIV is right then the church is the Israel of God. See that? If the NASB is right then the church is not the Israel of God, the “Israel of God” is who? A smaller group within the church. You see that? What difference does it make related to Israel and the church? If the NIV is right then the church is equated with Israel. If you equate the church with Israel then who wins the day? Replacement theology. But if the NASB is right then the “Israel of God” is a subset within the church which doesn’t favor replacement theology but favors dispensational theology, postponement theology.
So even before we get into this I want you to see why, what’s at stake here, why there the battleground lines have been drawn on this verse. And don’t get intimidated by this because I have ten reasons, I think I can do these fairly fast. We might even get out early (if you guys stay in prayer over that). [Laughter] But I want to give you ten reasons why I think it’s very convincing at the end of the day that the NIV is completely wrong here. And the NASB has it right, and if that’s true then we’re not dealing with Paul saying the church is the Israel of God; he’s saying the Israel of God is a Hebrew group within the church, which would favor postponement theology, dispensational theology. So let’s go through these fairly fast. I think when you put all ten together you have a pretty convincing case.
Number 1, The continuative kai, that would translate the kai as “and”, the continuative kai is the most common use in the New Testament. That’s how the word is normally used, almost everywhere it’s used, all the way through the Greek New Testament. Number 2, by contrast, the appositional kai, which would translate the kai as even, is the rarest use in the New Testament. So you see what’s happened here? The NIV and replacement theology has built their whole house on the rarest use of the word. And they have ignored the most common use of the word. I mean, that in and of itself should send up some red flags as well.
I have this quote here from S. Lewis Johnson. S. Lewis Johnson, he’s with the Lord now, long-time professor of Greek at Dallas Seminary and he wrote what I think is the best article you can find on this. That’s what’s footnoted in my book; it’s called “Paul and the Israel of God” in a book entitled Essays in favor of J. Dwight Pentecost.
And S. Lewis Johnson writes this, he’s doing a whole study here, a journal article on the Israel of God in Galatians 6:16. He says: “It is necessary to begin this part of the discussion with a basic but often neglected hermeneutical principle.” Now don’t let that word “hermeneutical” scare you; that just means interpretation, that’s all it means. “It is this: in the absence of compelling exegetical and theological considerations,” now exegetical is you’re trying to get to the meaning of the passage, that’s what exegesis is, or exegetical, so these are big words but don’t let them bother you, they have simple definitions, “in the absence of compelling exegetical and theological considerations we should avoid the rare grammatical 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.]
And he continues and he says of the replacement theologians use of Galatians 6:16, “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.” He’s saying simply this: the replacement theological system is built on, not the most common use of the word kai but the rarest use. And that’s not how you build theology. Your theology is only as good as the language it comes from. So when you built theological systems you don’t want to build them on rare usages of words when the common ones fit very nicely, thank you very much! Do you see that?
So those would be the first two problems with what’s happening with Galatians 6:16; the continuative use of kai is the most common use and the appositional use is the rarest use. Our system is built on the continuative use; their system is built on the rarest use. Do you follow?
Which takes us to number 3; if Paul had wanted to say that the church is the Israel of God or the church is the new Israel, or the church has taken Israel’s place permanently, do you know what Paul could have done? He could have taken that kai there and just got rid of it, just dumped it out of the sentence, in which case the sentence would read… well, this is how it reads in the NIV, we’ve seen that: “And to those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” That’s a translation of the word kai, that word “even” underlined.
This is how the NASB reads, “… peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” That’s what we’re disputing here; which of these Bible translations is correct. And you know what Paul could have done? If he wanted to say the church is the new Israel he could have taken that underlined word translated “and” or “even” depending upon what Bible translation you’re reading, and he could have just dropped the word out, in which case the verse would read as follows:
“and as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy upon the Israel of God.” So after the word “mercy” you just get rid of the kai. And if you get rid of the kai there’s nothing to discuss any more, “the church is the Israel of God.”
But the reality of the situation is Paul put the kai in there; he could have taken the kai out. And what I want you to understand about the Bible is words mean things. Jesus, what did He say, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but” on what, “by every word that that proceeds from the mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:4] The fact of the matter is the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to put kai in there. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:18, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
In our understanding of the inspiration of the Scripture the very smallest strokes of the pen were placed there by divine inspiration. And those strokes of the pen make up the letters and those letters make up the words and those words make up the sentences and those sentences make up the paragraphs and those paragraphs make up the chapters, and those chapters make up the books and those books make up your Bible. It’s what we call verbal inspiration. And so since Paul put the kai in there we have to pay attention to it because of what Jesus is saying here.
That takes us to number 4, you see, when replacement theologians, as you read the word “Israel” in Galatians 6:16, they don’t want the word to mean Israel; they want the word to mean the Gentile church. Galatians 6:16, backing up just for a minute, “And to those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the” what? “the Israel of God.” They want you, when you see the word “Israel” to substitute in your mind the word “church” or the word “Gentiles.” That’s what they want.
We have one problem with that; what’s the problem? In the Bible Israel always means Israel! What does that word Israel even mean? Israel means a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If a person is not a physical descendant, not just of Abraham, but also of Isaac and also of Jacob, he is not a Hebrew; he is not Jewish. Now sometimes Israel refers to Israel in the faith, sometimes it refers to Israel in unbelief but the reality of the situation is Israel will always mean Israel, every time you study it in the Bible. It’s what you call a technical word. What’s a technical word? It’s a word that means the same thing everywhere it’s used. That word “Israel” in the Bible never means the Gentiles. It never means First Baptist of Houston. It never means Sugar Land Bible Church. It never even refers to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles. It always refers to Jewish people.
In fact, that word is used 15 times elsewhere in Paul’s writings, and what do you think it means every single time it’s used: Israel! In fact, that word, Israel, is used 72 other times in the New Testament, and guess what it means all 72 other times. Israel! In fact, that word, Israel, is used 1,800 times in the Old Testament, and guess what it means every single time? Israel!
Now let’s throw in the word “Israel” and “Israelite,” just for fun. The word “Israel” or “Israelite” is used 2,500 times in the Old Testament and guess what it means every single time? Israel, without exception. And the replacement theologians want you to believe that Galatians 6:16 is the one exception to the rule. I mean, are you following what tenuous belief this replacement theology is? I mean, why would Israel, in Galatians 6:16, mean something different than it means everywhere else in the Bible, all 2,500 usages. And they want you to believe that Israel means Gentiles there, or church, there in Galatians 6:16. Well, that doesn’t really jibe does it, with the rest of the usages of the word Israel in the Bible.
That takes us to number 5, Israel is not equated with the church until A.D. 160. We have no historical record of any church father ever equating Israel with the church until a guy named Justin Martyr, that we have a record of, had an extended dialogue with a man, it’s called Dialogue With Trypho, you can Google Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, and read the whole thing. He’s an early church father and he is the first man that ever took the term Israel and applied it to the church. No one ever did this before him. And he did not do this until A.D. 160. So let me show you his quote where he does this.
The quote says, I’ve got a few quotes strung together, he says “As therefore from the one man Jacob, who was surnamed Israel, all your nation has been called Jacob and Israel; so we” he’s a Gentile, “from Christ, who begat us unto God, (like Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Joseph, and David,) are called and are the true sons of God, and keep the commandments of Christ”… ‘therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race.” [Dialogue with Trypho” 123, 135]
Now you have absolutely nobody ever saying that until A.D. 160. Now here’s a question for you. When was the Book of Galatians written? The Book of Galatians was Paul’s fist letter, he wrote 13 letters and most people believe he wrote it around A.D. 49, which means after Paul penned this expression, “the Israel of God” nobody ever believed that Paul was referring to the church for a century and ten years. Now if Paul had unambiguously communicated that the church has taken Israel’s place you would see an understanding of this in all the church fathers, very early on. But no church father ever believed this; this view didn’t even breathe in the church for a 110 years; I mean 110 years is a long time; that’s like almost half of America’s existence if you go back to our national… you know, the Declaration of Independence, 1776. So I just think it’s really, really odd that if Paul was so clear that the church has become Israel why didn’t anybody pick up on what Paul said for 110 years. I mean, why is Justin Martyr the first one?
Which takes us to number 6, why would you introduce a sweeping theological point in the conclusion of a letter? Isn’t that’s what’s happening here in Galatians 6:16? Isn’t Paul kind of signing off, see you later, have a nice day, oh, by the way, the church has taken Israel’s place. I mean, it just doesn’t… you would never do that in a conclusion. If you wanted to make that point you would make it in the body of the letter, wouldn’t you. So look at how Paul structures the Book of Galatians. We’ve studied the Book of Galatians in this church and some of you were around when we did this so you know that the Book of Galatians has three basic parts to it; chapters 1-2, an autobiographical section; chapters 3-4 a doctrinal section, chapters 5 and 6 the application or practical section.
Now if Paul wanted to say the church is the new Israel he wouldn’t have made that point in the practical section; he wouldn’t have made it in the conclusion of the letter. Where would he have made that point? Right there in chapters 3 and 4. And you see, this is how Paul structures all his books; he gives orthodoxy (correct belief), you know, like you go to your orthodontist and get your mouth corrected, “ortho” means correct, “doxy” means belief; orthodoxy—correct belief.
And then in Paul’s writings you’ll find the word “therefore” where you have what is the “therefore” there for. And typically it’s to swing the reader away from orthodoxy to orthopraxy. Here’s how the theology you just learned applies to daily life. So before the “therefore” he’s giving orthodoxy, after the “therefor” he’s giving orthopraxy. So right there in chapter 5, verse 1 you’ll see the bit “Therefore.” So 1-4—orthodoxy; 5-6—orthopraxy. If Paul wanted to say the church is the new Israel he would have said in chapters 1-4. That’s my point, not in chapters 5 and 6. He certainly wouldn’t have said it in the conclusion.
Ephesians is the same way; Ephesians 1-3, orthodoxy, then you’re going to find the big “therefore” in Ephesians 4:1, and then Ephesians 4-6 is orthopraxy. The Book of Romans the same way, 1-11 orthodoxy, you’ll get to chapter 12, verse 1, you’ll see the word “therefore” and then he begins to apply what he’s taught in the orthopraxy section, 12-16. Paul would have never made such a radical statement in the orthopraxy section of a book; he certainly wouldn’t have done it in the conclusion. And the whole replacement theology house is built on Paul’s expression in a conclusion. And you have to watch people very carefully because theologians will do this constantly to you if you’re not aware of it. One of the things that people are terrified of today is they don’t think they’re Christians, they have no assurance of salvation; they’re trusted in Christ and yet someone has convinced them that maybe they haven’t trusted in Christ. And what is pulled out as a Billy club on people constantly is 2 Corinthians 13:5 which says examine yourselves to see if you’re in the faith; prove yourselves, do you now know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed you are disqualified.
And when I was teaching on the doctrine of eternal security I went over that passage and gave you the correct understanding of that. It’s a test there, not to determine whether you’re saved; it’s a test to determine if you as a saved person are walking in fellowship with Christ. But people will pull that clear out of the blue and they’ll hold it over you, maybe you’re not saved. And what I want you to see is that expression (that I just read) is in chapter 13. Where is chapter 13 in 2 Corinthians, the beginning of the book or the end of the book. In fact, let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 14… oh, there is no 1 Corinthians 14. So you’re telling me you’re building this whole doctrine you have, maybe you’re saved, maybe you’re not in a conclusion of a letter? And this is the kind of games people play. And this is exactly what’s going on in Galatians 6:16. [Galatians 6:16, “And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, upon the Israel of God.”]
There’s a verse in 3 John where John at the beginning of the book, since I’m tired I’m just going to go over and read it because I don’t think I could do it from 3 John verse 2, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
I put: There’s a verse in 3 John, verse2, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Now when you turn on so-called Christian television what they’re going to teach you from that verse is God wants you to be rich and healthy and if you’re not rich and healthy you’ve missed God’s will. And yet what is this here? It’s the introduction of a book. What he’s saying is hey, how’s it going, hope things are going well. That’s all he’s saying here. And they construct a whole doctrine of prosperity theology from an obscure verse in an introduction. See that. I mean, this is what happens all the time with people that don’t handle the Word of God correctly. That’s what’s going on in 2 Corinthians 13:5, that’s what’s going on in Galatians 6:16.
So number 6, why would you introduce a sweeping point of replacement theology at the conclusion of a letter? It’s nonsensical.
This takes us to number 7, there is a twofold repetition of the preposition “upon.” Look again at Galatians 6:16, in the NASV, which is a word for word translation, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be” now how many “upons” do you see here? “peace and mercy be upon them.” “Upon” is a translation of the Greek preposition epi, “peace and mercy be upon them,” Gentiles, “and” what’s the second word here? “upon the Israel of God.” How many upon’s or epi’s do you see here? One or two? [No one answers] Be bold you guys, you can do it. Two. Right. Why would there be two upons if Paul is making the church and Israel the same group? There’s two upons here because he’s addressing two groups. He’s addressing the church and then he addresses a group within the church.
I mean, if Paul was equating the church with Israel there wouldn’t be two… you would not have a double epi there. So that takes us to number 8, Paul designates two groups elsewhere. That’s what I’m trying to say here with this “Israel of God.” “Israel of God” is a second group he’s addressing within the church that consists of Jews. You say well you don’t believe Paul addresses two different groups do you? Yeah, that’s what I believe. Well, does he do that elsewhere? I’m glad you asked. Look at the verse right before verse 16. Do you all agree that verse 15 comes before verse 16? What does he do there, “For neither is circumcision anything,” that’s group one, “nor” what? “uncircumcision,” that’s group two; Paul addresses two groups all the time, I mean, he did that in the prior verse. What’s the big deal about doing it in verse 16. Earlier in the Book of Galatians he says, “But on the contrary,” Galatians 2:7, “seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised,” that’s group one, “just as Peter had been to the circumcised.” That’s group two.
So what I’m trying to say is the “them” is group one and “the Israel of God” is group two within the “them.” That’s what I’m trying to get at; that’s what I think is being said here. No big point here about how the church has taken over Israel’s place.
And you say well why does it matter? If God can revoke His promises to Israel what do you think He can do to your promises? Your promises are not worth the paper they’re written on because God is unfaithful. That’s why this matters. It gets to the character of who God is. Remember the movement, Promise Keepers? We have news for everybody, there’s only one Promise Keeper and that’s God. When we are faithless He is faithful, 2 Timothy 2:13. [“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”] That’s why this subject of replacement theology is a big deal even though you might not think it is, because it relates to God’s character. I mean, is this a God you can trust or not? If He can say one thing to Israel and yank the promises away He can do the same thing to you, He can do the same thing to me.
This takes us to number 9, Paul singles out believing Jews elsewhere. What I’m trying to say here with Galatians 6:16, when he makes this statement is he’s singling out believing Jews within the church. You say well does Paul do that kind of thing? Is he singling out believing Jews within the church for special recognition. In fact, he does that quite frequently. 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 inwardly….” So he’s looking at Jews and he’s saying God is pleased not just with Jews but believing Jews. See that? That’s what Paul is doing in Galatians 6:16, he’s targeting believing Jews.
In Romans 9:6 he does the same thing, he says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” what he’s saying is what pleases God is not just Israel but Israel in faith. There’s just a lot of Jews that think they’re right with God because they’re Jews. Just like a lot of Baptists think they’re right with God because they’re Baptists. And a lot of Bible church people think they’re right with God because they’re Bible church people. The fact of the matter is nobody is right with God. The only people that are right with God are people in what? Faith! And it’s the same with Israel. So Paul is pretty skilled at targeting believing Jews and that’s what he’s doing in Galatians 6:16.
And this takes us to number 10. Why is Paul doing this at the end of a book? I mean, why is he getting to the end of the book and saying “peace and mercy to all who follow this rule and upon the Israel of God.” Why would he single out Jews within the Galatians churches for special recognition? Why would he even do that? He doesn’t do it in the body of the letter; he does it in a conclusion because he wants to communicate something. He wants to communicate in love for Jewish Hebrew Christians. Why is that? Because when you read Galatians he sounds (pardon me for saying this) he sounds anti-Semitic. Even though he’s Jewish he sounds like he doesn’t like Jewish people.
Why is that? Because in the Book of Galatians he’s gone on an aggressive war against, not the institutions of Judaism but the abuse of those institutions to teach legalism, because the legalists have come in and they’ve put people under the Mosaic Law. Paul, of course, loves the law of God but he wants people to understand that if you look at the law of God as some kind of stairway to heaven, I’ve got to do X, Y and Z to climb my way to God, that is an abuse of the Law. In fact, God never gave the Law for that reason. God gave the law for the reason of showing us that we are law-breakers. Right? Are you a law breaker? You say well, I don’t commit murder. Jesus said if you’ve got anger in your heard towards your brother then you’re already a what? Murderer. You say will I’ve never committed adultery. Jesus said if you’ve got lust in your heart towards sexually someone you’re not married to you’ve already committed adultery.
Now who hasn’t broken that standard, who’s human? God never gave the Law to help us climb ourselves up to God. He gave us the Law to reveal our sinful condition. See that? But you see, these Judaizers came along and they were using the law as a stairway to heaven, trying to climb up to God through legalistic practices. And so Paul has been very aggressive in his condemnation of that practice. And in the process he’s been so radical in condemning the practice he comes across like he hates Jews and hates the institutions of Judaism, which he does not. He doesn’t hate the institutions of Judaism; he hates their abuse.
So when you read Galatians 1:8-9 he says things like 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” what? “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!” Do you know what the Greek word for “accursed” there is? It’s anathema. You say well what is that? That is a condemnation to hell; that is one of the most severe terms you can ever apply to somebody. In fact, when the Protestant Reformation broke out the Roman Catholic Church had a counter reformation where they pronounced on Protestants multiple anathemas, condemnations to hell.
And Paul is using words like that and think if you’re a Jewish Christian and you’re reading that. You could easily think to yourself, well, Paul doesn’t like Jews. So Paul, at the end of the book, Galatians 6:16, counterbalances what he has just said by affectionately referring to Hebrews Christians within the church as “the Israel of God.” It’s a term of affection; it’s a term of endearment to make clear that he’s not anti-Semitic. See that? So Burton, in his commentary, says: “In view of the apostle’s previous strong anti-Judaistic expressions, he feels impelled by the insertion of ‘and’,” that’s the kai, “to emphasize this expression of his true attitude towards his people” (emphasis mine).” [Galatians, p.358] He’s counterbalancing his aggressiveness against legalism, misunderstood as anti-Semitism earlier in the book. That’s all Paul is doing. He’s not trying to develop a doctrine that the church is now Israel.
So why do I think the NASB is right? The continuative kai is the most common, the appositional kai is the rarest; Paul could have made the point easier by eliminating the kai, Israel always means Israel, never Gentiles. Israel is not equated with Gentiles until 110 years later by anybody in church history. Why would you introduce a sweeping theological point in a conclusion? There’s got to be two people there, two groups, because of his repetition of “upon.” That’s number seven. Paul singles out two groups elsewhere, in fact, in the prior verse he does that. Paul singles out believing Jews elsewhere. And Paul just puts that statement in the end to show he’s not anti-Semitic.
And look at this quote from Robinson in his commentary. He says, ““The glib,” glib means it rolls off the tongue and it sounds good to an audience, “The glib citing of Galatians 6:16 to support the view that ‘the church is the new Israel’ should be vigorously challenged.” And that’s what I just tried to do in the last hour with those ten points. “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 “a limited interpretation”? This is the unlimited interpretation; the unlimited interpretation that the replacement theologians want you to believe is Paul is saying that the church is Israel. That’s unlimited. That’s the limited interpretation, that’s the correct interpretation; Paul is singling out a group of Jews within the church.
And yet the people who use this verse to support replacement theology read like the “who’s who” of Christianity. Chrysostom, called “golden mouth,” or “golden tongue” in church history because of his oratorical skills said this stuff all the time to people. John Calvin, more moderately, Lightfoot, Stott, Guthrie, Martin Luther, Lynskey, Hendricksen, and why did they do it? Why do they keep using this verse over and over again to say that the church has replaced Israel? Because they bought into a theology.
It is a dangerous thing to buy into a theology before you let the facts of the Bible speak. People that are involved in criminal investigative work and forensics, if they’re good at what they do, they will tell you that they try not to develop a theory on who the bad guy is too early. Why is that? Because they’re going to fall in love with their theory and once you fall in love with your theory what’s the temptation? To make the facts fit your theory, which is not how you put people in jail. You want to let the facts inform your theory, not manipulate the facts to support your theory. Do you see that?
And this happens with fallen humans all the time. It happens with Bible readers; we fall in love with some kind of view of something, whether it’s right or not we don’t even know but we think it’s right and we try to make the Bible fit that. And the replacement theology idea was so prevalent people started to say oh, there’s a verse that supports it over here, and they started to quote it, they started to use it, until you actually analyze the verse and you start to see that the verse doesn’t say that at all. So you have to hold onto your ideas real loosely unless you believe they’re supported by the Bible. If you find yourself manipulating the Bible to make it fit your preconceived view (we can all fall prey to this) we’re on dangerous ground.
And I’m going to close with this quote by Cranfield in his commentary on Romans. 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…” And look at this last sentence: “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]
Now the reason that quote is interesting to me is what happens to people once they go into print with something and I see this happen all the time with people, when I pray it doesn’t happen to me or you is you go into print and what you said is wrong, so what do you do? What’s your natural tendency? Well, it’s to kind of dig your heels in and what you find yourself doing is defending what you wrote even though what you wrote has been demonstrated contradicts the Bible. And Cranfield… see, it’s rare when people go into print to reverse what they’ve said because of something called human pride. It’s like getting into an argument with your wife about something and you think you’re right about something and she thinks she’s right about something and lo and behold, the facts come in and she’s right and you’re wrong. So what’s our tendency? Well, we try to manipulate the facts a little bit, don’t we, to win the argument. And it’s difficult to humble yourself and say you know, I had that wrong, I apologize. That’s called pride, that is something that we’re all infected with, pastors and theologians and Christian writers have the same pride because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
And Cranfield here is saying you know what, I had it wrong; I wrote it, I didn’t just write it once, I wrote it on more than one occasion, I was wrong and I’m sorry. And my respect for Cranfield is off the charts because of that, because you never find that today. What you find is people digging in their heels defending what they said. And so he’s admitting his error here with this replacement theology language.
And so we need to… I hope tonight’s study is not just an academic thing, it’s more of a heart thing, where we have to really search our hearts and be humbled before the Lord even when we mess up.
So that kind of concludes the interim phase, the church is not Israel… Amen! So when we get back together January 10th we’re done with the interim phase and we’ll see how the kingdom comes to the earth.