I don’t like Replacement Theology.
Replacement Theology says that the Jews have rejected Jesus as their Messiah and the church has replaced them: the church is the new Israel. I repudiate this most vigorously! Romans 11 makes it clear that many Jews do believe in Jesus and that God has not taken back his promises to them. Romans 11:7 makes it clear that “Israel” is not saved: so “Israel” is clearly not the church, which is indeed saved. “Israel” in the New Testament always refers to those who are descended physically from Abraham, Isaac & Jacob: national, ethnic Israel, to whom God’s promises were given (Romans 9:1-5).
I am not a dispensationalist.
So, when it comes to the land, I can probably be labelled as having Replacement Theology. But when it comes to the peopleI do not have Replacement Theology. I want to keep the Biblical distinction between Jews and Gentiles.
However, recently I realised, after many years, that I was reading one text in the Bible wrongly. I have often been irked when a well meaning Gentile Christian says
that they are Jewish. They base their claim on Romans 2:28-29:
“For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”
I had been taught long ago by fellow Messianic Jews that this is speaking only about Jewish people. That is, it is saying that a Jewish person is a true Jew if they believe in Jesus. It is not saying that a Gentile Christian is a Jew. I can’t remember where I got this idea from any more, but I realise now that I was wrong. Yes, I’m admitting it! I have been reading this passage wrongly, and now I realise it and admit it. (Note the time and date…)
Cranfield in his commentary on Romans repudiates Replacement Theology. He makes it clear that Jewish people who don’t believe in Jesus are still Jewish and still have the Old Testament promises of God (Romans 9-11). However he and Douglas Moo make it clear (at least to me) that these verses are indeed saying that a Gentile who believes in Jesus is a true Jew. They have all the privileges accorded to true Jews, even without circumcision (and ethnic descent).
I was wrong!
So there you go! You were right (if you argued this against me). If you believe in Jesus, whether you were born Jewish or Gentile, you are a true blue Jew!
PS: Some points to keep in mind-
- The church is not the new Israel.
- Paul says this to Jews, not to Gentiles. To Gentiles he says not to be arrogant or boast over the Jews (Romans 11:18, 20). Jewish unbelievers need to hear this, not so much Gentile Christians. Don’t make too much of it! Paul is speaking polemically to unsaved Jews to burst the bubble of their pride. He is not trying to elevate Gentile Christians as such.
- Gentiles are normally referred to as children of Abraham, not spiritual Jews
(Galatians 3:7, 29).
- Gentile Christians are spiritual Jews – you have inherited all the blessings of the Jews – but you are not ethnic Jews. And ethnic Jews who do not believe in their own Messiah are still Jewish (Romans 11).