At the Alliance, one of our purposes is to “promote a theology that gives Israel a proper place in the story of the Bible.” This theology opposes supersessionism, or “replacement theology,” which says that the church is now spiritual Israel and God no longer has a specific purpose for the Jewish people. Instead, Jesus is true Israel. Because the church is Jesus’ body, the church is now spiritual Israel, and God’s promises to national Israel are fulfilled in the church. We refute these claims, as stated in our second denial:
“We deny that God has replaced Israel with the church in His plan for the ages. To the contrary, the God of the Bible is both a promise-maker and a promise-keeper (Romans 11:29; Revelation 21:10–14).”
We wholeheartedly affirm that God will fulfill the promises He made to the Jewish people. In this article, we will show that Jesus has not replaced ethnic Israel, the church is not spiritual Israel, and national Israel has a future in God’s plan.
Jesus has not replaced ethnic Israel.
Replacement theology holds that, since Jesus identifies with Israel, and the New Testament writers link Israel’s experiences with Jesus’, He, as “true Israel,” has replaced ethnic Israel. For example, some supersessionists cite Matthew’s quoting of Hosea’s account of the Jewish people’s exodus out of Egypt in relation to Jesus’ departure from Egypt as evidence of this view. One theologian, Robert Strimple, puts it this way: “Christ is the true Israel of God, the one in whom Israel’s history is recapitulated and God’s purposes for Israel come to fulfillment.”
But just because Israel’s Messiah identifies with His people Israel and is the ultimate Israelite does not mean that He replaces them or brings their role in God’s plan to an end. In the same way, the fact that Jesus identifies with humanity and is the ultimate Man does not mean He replaces humanity. God still has a plan for humanity, and He still has a plan for national Israel. Theologian Michael Vlach explains,
Jesus does not call himself “true Israel” and neither do the other NT writers. This does not mean the concept has no validity, but the reader should understand that this is not the language of the NT. Another potential problem is that in calling Jesus “true Israel,” the impression could be given that the nation Israel is not truly Israel anymore. But such thinking should be rejected. This is not a case of “true Israel” vs. “false Israel” or “non-Israel.” To make a comparison, most theologians would agree that Jesus is “true” or “ultimate” Man (see Rom 5:12–21), but this does not mean that the rest of us are “false man” or “not really man.” A proper understanding of Jesus as “true Israel” (if we use that title) should be in the context of understanding Jesus as the corporate Head of Israel. He embodies perfectly everything God intended for Israel to be. In this sense we can say Jesus is “true Israel” because He embodies Israel perfectly.
Jesus, as the ultimate man, still has a plan for humanity; and Jesus, as the Messiah and ultimate Israelite, still has a plan for the Jewish people. Nowhere does Scripture say He has replaced Israel.
The church is not Israel.
According to replacement theology, the church—made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles—is now spiritual Israel and has replaced ethnic Israel in the plan of God. Some who hold this position argue that since Jesus is “Israel,” all who believe in Him are Israel as well. Strimple argues, “Since Christ is the true Israel, the true seed of Abraham, we who are in Christ by faith and the working of his Spirit are the true Israel, the Israel of faith, not of mere natural descent.” Similarly, Dr. Munther Isaac of Bethlehem Bible College, commenting on Galatians 3:16, said in a recent debate on the topic, “There is only one offspring, and that is Jesus. There is no physical offspring—Israel—and spiritual offspring—the church. . . . So, in Jesus, He becomes Israel. And . . . through our unity in Jesus, we join biblical Israel.”
But in Galatians 3:16, Paul was saying that salvation has come to the entire world through one seed—the Messiah—“in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (v. 14). Therefore, those of faith are children of Abraham and receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (vv. 7, 29), but nowhere does Scripture say that Gentiles of faith become children of Jacob (Israel) and assume the specific promises God made to them as a people.
Scripture consistently means national Israel. The New Testament references Israel seventy-three times. Of those, there are only a few passages in which supersessionists debate the use of the word Israel. One of which is Romans 11:25b–26. Here, Paul wrote, “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’”
Some supersessionists claim that Israel in “all Israel will be saved” refers to the church. But how can this be if a “partial hardening” also exists upon Israel, blinding her from the gospel until all the Gentiles whom God has called come to faith in Jesus? Paul clearly meant ethnic Israel, as he did in all other references to Israel in the context of Romans 9–11 (and in his letters at large). As theologian John Murray notes, “It is exegetically impossible to give ‘Israel’ in this verse any other denotation than that which belongs to the term throughout this chapter. . . . It is of ethnic Israel Paul is speaking and Israel could not possibly include Gentiles.”
In conclusion, though believing Jews and Gentiles are one in Messiah—equal heirs of salvation and inclusion in the church of God (Galatians 3:28)—nowhere does Scripture say Gentile believers are now spiritual “Israel.” The New Testament teaches the opposite and affirms God’s promises in the Hebrew Scriptures to national Israel.
by Jennifer Miles
 “Our Purpose,” Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, accessed February 25, 2022, https://allianceforthepeaceofjerusalem.com/about/our-purpose/.
 “Our Hope for Peace: A Statement on Israel, the Nations, and the Gospel,” Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, accessed February 25, 2022, https://allianceforthepeaceofjerusalem.com/statement/.
 Michael J. Vlach, “What Does Christ as ‘True Israel’ Mean for the Nation Israel?: A Critique of the Non-Dispensational Understanding,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 23, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 45.
 Robert B. Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Darrell L. Bock, Counterpoints (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2010), 88.
 Vlach, “What Does Christ as ‘True Israel’ Mean for the Nation Israel?: A Critique of the Non-Dispensational Understanding,” 47–48.
 Strimple, “Amillennialism,” 88–89.
 Ibid., 48:22–49:23.
 John Murray, Epistle to the Romans: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997), 96.