The Elect, the Remnant, and the Israel of God
There is a predominant teaching in Christendom today proclaiming two 'peoples of God', national Israel and the Church.
The popular ‘end times’ theory Dispensationalism is the major force behind this view, insisting God still has a plan for national Israel, which must not be confused with His plan for the Church; the anti-Semitic label is often attached to those who disagree.
In my opinion, God has one chosen people, described in the Scriptures as the elect, the remnant, the Israel of God.
I will attempt to explain why I believe it is important to understand there is only one 'people of God'.
The Elect of God
- Deu 14:2 KJV For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
God’s eternal plan was not restricted to one nation. Old Covenant Israel was the elect of God from amongst the nations and it was through Israel the Gospel of Grace reached out to the Gentiles. Since the passing of Old Covenant Israel, the only means of salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of nationality.
- Col 3:10-12 KJV And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Paul called the Colossians 'the elect of God', but before doing so, he reaffirmed the identity of the elect, those ‘born again’ into the Kingdom of God having put on ‘the new man’.
‘neither Greek nor Jew’ There is no racial discrimination 'in Christ', the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been removed, and all are of equal standing before God regardless of birthright.
- 1Pe 2:9 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Israel was a type and foreshadow of the ‘holy nation’, which is now established in Christ…Exodus 19:5-6.
- Rev 7:9 KJV After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
John beheld in his vision a multitude from all nations worshipping God.
The Remnant of God
Noah, the Flood, and the Lord’s Judgement
Throughout the Scriptures, there are references to God’s ‘remnant’. On numerous occasions, the ‘elect’ remained secure during dire times of persecution and judgement, even when dramatically reduced in numbers.
Gen 6:8 KJV But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
‘And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth’... Genesis 6:5. God’s remnant consisted of only eight people at the time of the flood, Noah and his family.
The Ten Tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, the Assyrian Captivity, and the Lord’s Judgement
- 2Ch 30:6 KJV So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
The remnant of God from the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel migrated south to the Kingdom of Judah and escaped the Assyrian invasion …2 Chronicles 34:9.
The Kingdom of Judah, the Babylonian Captivity, and the Lord’s Judgement
- Jer 31:7 KJV For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Jeremiah prophesied God’s elect would return to the land at the end of the Babylonian captivity. This remnant rebuilt the walls, the temple, and Jerusalem, and thereby set the stage and backdrop for the advent of the Messiah.
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem AD 70
The Israel of God
Jesus Is the ‘Israel of God'
- Mat 2:15 KJV And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Matthew alluded to the prophecy in Hosea 11:1. The Lord guided Jacob (Israel) and his family into the safety of Egypt prior to famine, and later delivered them at His appointed time. Jesus, taken by Joseph and Mary into Egypt to escape Herod’s 'slaughter of the innocents', was called out of Egypt in due course.
- Hos 11:1 KJV When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Israel, a type and foreshadow of God’s Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
Hosea 11:1 ‘Was a child - In the infancy of Israel. I loved him - Manifested my tender and paternal affection to him. Called my son - Adopted him to be my son, and as my son, provided for him, and brought him out of servitude. Out of Egypt - But Israel, the first adopted son was a type of Christ the first - born. And the history of Israel's coming out was a type of Christ's future coming out of Egypt.’
- Isa 49:3 KJV And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
Isaiah 49:3 ‘O Israel - As the name of David is sometimes given to his successors, so here the name of Israel may not unfitly be given to Christ, not only because he descended from his loins; but also because he was the true and the great Israel, who, in a more eminent manner, prevailed with God, as that name signifies, of whom Jacob, who was first called Israel, was but a type.’
Believers ‘in Christ Jesus’ Are Called the Israel of God.
- Gal 6:15-16 KJV For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is 'the Israel of God' and all ‘in Christ Jesus’ are members of His Body and thereby share the title ‘the Israel of God’.
- Gal 3:8 KJV And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Galatians 3:8 'The Scripture, foreseeing - See the notes on Rom_4:3-16(note). As God intended to justify the heathen through faith, he preached the Gospel that contains the grand display of the doctrine of salvation by faith, before, to Abraham, while he was in his heathen state; and thus he is called the father of believers: therefore it must refer to them who shall believe the same Gospel among the Gentiles; and, as the door of faith was open to all the Gentiles, consequently the promise was fulfilled: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.'
- Joh 8:56 KJV Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
The Gospel is actually older than Old Covenant Israel, Abraham believed in Christ. Dispensationalism is uncomfortable with this, vainly imagining that God saved people in a different way and by a different gospel in previous dispensations.
- Gal 3:16 KJV Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Believers enjoy the promises, no longer being 'in Adam' but 'in Christ'.
- Gal 3:29 NKJV And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Everything we are and have is by virtue of our union with Christ.
- Gal 3:28 KJV There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Spiritual Israel is God's people by faith; all who put their trust in Christ are ‘the Israel of God’.
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Rom 9:6-8 KJV Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Paul clearly taught Israel after the flesh was not true Israel. He revealed the existence of national Israel and spiritual Israel. The former ‘the children of the flesh’ and the latter ‘the children of the promise’. National Israel represented the Israelites by blood alone, while 'spiritual Israel' is of Abraham’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ.
National Israel believed all born of Jewish blood were saved by birthright, they felt secure because they were the children of Abraham and therefore in the covenant of promise. However, only spiritual Israel is the elect, the remnant, the Israel of God.
Rom11:17-20 KJV And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Romans 11:17 'And if some of the branches, etc. - If the present nation of the Jews, because of their unbelief, are cut off from the blessings of the Church of God, and the high honor and dignity of being his peculiar people; and thou, being a wild olive - ye Gentiles, being without the knowledge of the true God, and consequently bringing forth no fruits of righteousness, wert grafted in among them - are now inserted in the original stock, having been made partakers of the faith of Abraham, and consequently of his blessings; and enjoy, as the people did who sprang from him, the fatness of the olive tree - the promises made to the patriarchs, and the spiritual privileges of the Jewish Church: -' Romans 11:18 ‘Boast not against the branches - While you are ready to acknowledge that you were included in the covenant made with Abraham, and are now partakers of the same blessings with him, do not exult over, much less insult, the branches, his present descendants, whose place you now fill up, according to the election of grace: for remember, ye are not the root, nor do ye bear the root, but the root bears you. You have not been the means of deriving any blessing on the Jewish people; but through that very people, which you may be tempted to despise, all the blessing and excellencies which you enjoy have been communicated to you.’
In my opinion, the Day of Pentecost was not the birth but the empowerment of the Church. All believers from the ages before the Cross, who by faith looked for the Messiah, and all since the Cross, who have come to faith in Christ, constitute the Israel of God...Hebrews 11. The Church did not replace Israel. Gentiles were 'graffed' into the Israel of God.
Does God really have two separate 'peoples'? God has only one people, 'the Israel of God'.
What do you think?
© 2012 Alexander Gibb
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