Replacement theology promotes the idea that God is finished with Israel as a nation and all the promises He made to Israel in the Old Testament have been given to the Church who is God’s “new true Israel” who inherits all the national promises and blessings that God gave to Israel.
Replacement theology spiritualizes rather than interprets in a literal, plain sense way the prophetic promises given to Israel. It embraces a non-literal, allegorical interpretation of these promises and/or insists that most of the end-time prophecies about Israel have been fulfilled in history.
Replacement theology views the Church as “spiritual Israel” and/or “spiritual Jerusalem.” In the NT the term, Israel, is used nearly 70 times, always referring to the physical people of Israel, never as a substitute term for the Church. The phrases, New Israel and Spiritual Israel, are not in the Bible.
Replacement theology has been taught by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches for the majority of their history. Many Church Fathers—including Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Augustine of Hippo (354-430), John Calvin, Martin Luther and more, espoused this doctrine.
There are 2 main approaches to replacement theology.
- Israel’s role as the people of God was completed. This says that after Jesus came, Israel’s mission was completed. The Church took over as the people of God. In other words, in His redemptive plans, God is no longer working through ethnic Israel.
- Israel’s place as the people of God was forfeited. The Church replaced Israel because of God’s permanent judgment on the nation for its rejection of Jesus.
Literal interpretation: The best Bible teachers in history embrace the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. This interpretative gird seeks to understand each passage according to the original meaning that was intended by the one who wrote it. Literal interpretation seeks to understand the “plain meaning”—what the author intended as conveyed by its grammatical construction and historical context, including the cultural background of the author and its readers.
Replacement theology is one of the most serious errors promoted throughout history by many who are reputed to be trustworthy Bible scholars by many over many centuries. There is serious contradiction in their teaching in that they insist on literal interpretation of Scripture except when it relates to Israel. In my opinion, it seems to be an blatant contradiction that is a serious blemish on their legacy of being honest scholars who are faithful witnesses of the truth.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EMBRACING THE BIBLICAL NARRATIVE OF ISRAEL (ROM. 11)
The Church must not remain ignorant of God’s plan concerning Israel (v. 25). Why? Because ignorance can become arrogance with boasting (v. 18, 20), which can become passive resistance (being silent in refusing to stand for Israel), then active resistance (helping to persecute Israel), which may lead to being cut off by God (v. 22). Paul calls us to continue in God’s goodness (v. 22) in part by embracing God’s purpose for Israel. Paul highlighted the partial spiritual blindness on Israel and partial ignorance unto arrogance and apostasy of Gentile leaders in the body of Christ. 1 I say then, has God cast away His people [Israel]? Certainly not!…11But…to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles… 18Do not boast against the branches [Israel]… 20Do not be haughty, but fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches [Israel], He may not spare you either. 22Consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell [Israel], severity; but toward you [Gentile believers in Rome], goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off…25I do not desire…that you be ignorant of this mystery… that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Rom. 11:1, 11, 18-25)
Spiritual blindness: They are genuinely ignorant and thus walk in partial spiritual blindness related to the biblical narrative of Israel in the way that they emphasize the Jewish people related to the identity of Jesus. The Spirit wants all to see this Israel (Rom. 11:25; Eph. 3:9).
Spiritual arrogance: They grew comfortable contradicting the straightforward way of interpreting Scripture that they insist is essential. Maybe some desire to appear scholarly by agreeing with some of the most well-known scholars in church history like Justin Martyr, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, etc. Some are unwilling to bear the stigma of standing with Israel.
Spiritual apostasy: Paul warned that some can “cross the line” and end up being cut off by the Lord (Rom. 11:22). Paul warned believers of heeding doctrines of demons which I define as any doctrine that results in people resisting the main and plain truths of Scripture in such a persistent way that it constitutes denying or departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1). 1The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…2having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods… (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
Peter was influenced by a demonic idea that he believed was a truth honouring Jesus (Mt. 16:16-23
WHY THE ERROR OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY IS SPIRITUALLY DANGEROUS
We must take a stand against replacement theology because bad theology leads to bad practice! Replacement theology has provided the rationale for much persecution against the Jewish people throughout Christian history. God has sovereignly ordained that Gentile believers provoke Israel to jealousy in the generation the Lord returns, resulting in all Israel being saved (Rom. 11:11, 25-26).
John described Satan’s desire to exterminate the Jewish people, using a prophetic picture of Israel as a woman being attacked by Satan as a dragon (Rev. 12:1-17). Satan has had a special focus throughout history in seeking to destroy the Jewish people. 1A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman [remnant of Israel]…. 5She bore a male Child [Jesus] who was to rule all nations…13The dragon [Satan]…persecuted the woman…15The serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood…17The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who…have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev. 12:1-17)
The multitudes in the nations will all have to make a decision “for” or “against” Jesus’ leadership over Jerusalem in the end-time conflicts (Joel 3:14). I believe this will be a litmus test of obedience to Jesus’ leadership. We love Him; thus, we want to love what He loves (Zech. 8:2). 2“I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat [Jerusalem]; I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations…12Let the nations…come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat [Jerusalem]; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations…” 14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:1-14)
The battle for Jerusalem is a litmus test for the end-time Church. The battle for Jerusalem is a spiritual, political, and military battle for the control of Jerusalem. It is one of the most significant battlefronts in the spirit today and will only end at Jesus’ second coming. 1The day of the LORD is coming…2 I will gather all…nations to battle against Jerusalem… 3Then the Lord will go forth [second coming] and fight against those nations. (Zech. 14:1-3)
Gentile believers are called to provoke Israel with jealousy to know the God of Israel (Rom. 11:11). In other words, that Israel would desire to have what Gentile believers possess spiritually. This will happen as Gentile believers show them love in the face of unprecedented global anti-Semitism. 11…to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. (Rom. 11:11)
The Church must take a stand to boldly declare and sing with gladness the message of God’s purposes for Israel so that all the nations hear it clearly (Isa. 62:11; Jer. 31:7-10). 11The LORD has proclaimed [mandated] to the end of the world [Gentiles in the nations]: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming…’” (Isa. 62:11) 10“Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’” (Jer. 31:10)
COMMON PASSAGES USED TO SUPPORT REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
Replacement theology has two positions in attempting to explain away the Abrahamic covenant:
Abolitionists—they see God’s covenant with Abraham as abolished. Paul taught that Jesus died so that believers would receive the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant as Abraham’s children according to the promise (Gal. 3:18). Paul did not see the covenant as abolished.
Reconstructionist—they see God’s covenant with Abraham as reconstructed so that God’s promises to give the land to Israel are now spiritualized and not literal. This theory is based totally on human presuppositions that the Scriptures never affirm. They emphasize God’s promise to Abraham as being made not to his “seed” (the plural people of Israel), but to his “seed” (in the singular, meaning only Jesus (Gal. 3:16-18). 16Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17And this I say, that the law, which was…[430 years] later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Gal. 3:16-18)
Reconstructionist emphasize that since the singular “seed” (Jesus) has come, the promise to the plural “seed” of Abraham (the Jewish people) is no longer valid. However, Paul used the term, “Abraham’s seed,” in the plural (Rom. 9:6-7). Thus both uses of “seed” are true!
Abraham’s seed is both singular and plural. God’s promised blessing to Abraham is only in Jesus, but the means by which the “seed” (Jesus) came into the world is through the “seed” plural–the people of Israel. The one truth does not contradict the other but compliments it. 4…Israelites to whom pertain…the glory, the covenants…the promises; 5of whom are the fathers and from whom…Christ came…6But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7nor are they all children because they are the seed [singular] of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed [singular] shall be called.” (Rom. 9:4-7)
Reference: International House of Prayer of Kansas City–MIKE BICKLE
The main theme of these chapters in this list are related to Israel (Deut. 28-33; Isa. 60-66; Jer. 30-33; Ezek. 34-48; Joel 2-3; Zech. 8-14; cf. Ps. 2; 44; 45; 65-68; 72; 79; 80; 83; 85-87; 94; 102; 118; 122; 132; 144-147).
Specific passages that give insight into God’s heart and plans for Israel (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-18; 15:7, 18; 17:1-8, 19; 22:15-18; 26:2-5; 27:29; 28:10-15; 32:24-32; Num. 23:7-10, 18-26; 24:1-19; Deut. 4:27-31; 30:1-10; 33:26-29; Isa. 2:1-4; 4:2-6; 6:9-13; 9:1-7; 11:11-16; 12:1-6; 24:14-16; 19:18-25; 26:1-13; 27:1-6; 28:14-29; 29:17-19; 30:18-30; 32:13-19; 33:2-17; 35:1-10; 40:9-11; 43:1-7; 44:1-8; 45:17-25; 51:3-11; 52:6-10; 54:1-17; 59:19-21; Jer. 3:14-19; Ezek. 11:17-20; 16:60-63; 20:33-44; Dan. 9:4-27; Hos. 2:14-23; 5:15-16; 6:1-3; 14:1-8; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-13; 5:2-15; 7:14-20; Hab. 3:1-20; Zeph. 3:8-20; Hag. 2:6-22; Zech. 1:12-17; 2:1-13; Mal. 3:1-6; 4:1-6).