Question: Is the church the "spiritual Israel"? |

TBC Staff

Question: I have heard several ministries and Bible teachers call the church the “spiritual Israel.” What do they mean by this? Is the real Israel somehow supposed to disappear?

Response: It is true that you could call the church “spiritual Israel,” since we have been grafted in to become the children of Abraham in a spiritual sense. But that has not done away with Israel after the flesh. Although unbelieving Jews are not the spiritual children of Abraham (because they don’t share his faith), yet they are the physical seed of Abraham. That is not true of any Gentile, even though born again and in the church.

It would therefore never be appropriate for a non-Jew to call himself a Jew. The issue is not that of being a partaker in the faith of Abraham, but that of being a Jew. A person who isn’t a Jew wouldn’t pose as one ethnically but would only claim to be one if he thought there was an end of Israel and a new class of persons who were entitled to call themselves Jews. That is the issue in Revelation 2 and 3 and that is the same issue today: trying to apply to the church the covenants that are for Israel.

That the promises pertaining to the land of Israel are for physical Israel is very clear. Jews were scattered around the world not for their faith but for their unfaithfulness; not for their belief but for their unbelief. So, they are certainly not the spiritual children of Abraham!

Yet just as Israel entered her land mainly in unbelief under Joshua, and continued to sin and depart from God under the judges and the kings, and was eventually scattered, so she will be brought back in unbelief and will not come to faith in Christ until He appears (Zechariah 12) in power and glory to rescue her from her enemies.

Paul said that God has not cast away His people (Romans:11:1). Clearly, he refers to physical Israel. He said, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved” (Romans:10:1). He can’t mean Christians, the spiritual seed of Abraham, for they’re already saved: and it is not being saved from some tribulation of the soul that is at issue in the context.