George Sidney Hurd
As we have seen, Replacement Theology is the belief that the Church has replaced national Israel. All the promises which had been given to Israel concerning a future kingdom in their land are spiritualized by Replacement theologians in an attempt to make them apply exclusively to the Church in this age.
What makes Replacement Theology particularly deceptive is that it is partially true. It is true that by virtue of our union with Christ – Abraham’s seed, we Gentiles are now also Abraham’s seed in Him and heirs according to the promise. We Gentiles, although we were wild olive branches have now been grafted in among the true branches while most of the natural branches (those of natural Israel) were broken off that we might be grafted in (Gal 3:14-16,29; Rom 11:17). As part of the new creation in Christ we are of the Jerusalem from above and are called the Israel of God as opposed to natural Israel or Israel after the flesh (Gal 4:26; Gal 6:16; 1Cor 10:18). The Jew/Gentile Body of Christ is the Church of the firstborn ones who are registered in heaven (Heb 12:23).
It is true that Israel has been temporarily set aside for judgment, but as we shall see, they have not been replaced. It is also true that the Church and not national Israel is presently benefitting from the New Covenant which was promised both to Israel and to Judah (Jer 31:31; 2Cor 3:6; Heb 8:6,13). However, Paul makes it clear that the covenant still pertains to them. He said of the Jews:
“I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (Rom 9:3-5, cf. 15:8-9)
Notice Paul’s use of the present tense throughout. Even though they are under partial temporal blindness, they are still Israelites and the covenants and promises still pertain to them. In the following verses he anticipates that some may ask why, if the covenants and the promises still pertain to them, so few Israelites are benefitting from them. He explains:
“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (Rom 9:6-8)
Some would argue from this passage that the Church has replaced Israel since the true Israel of God consists only of those who are of the promise, and in Christ we all, whether Jew or Gentile, are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. However, in the context Paul is speaking of his “countrymen” the “Israelites” (9:3-4). It is best to understand his reference here to those that are the true Israel to be referring to the elect remnant of national Israel. Later in the context he shows how the unbelief of his countrymen Israel led to God showing mercy towards the Gentiles. If “Israel” in verse 8 includes the Gentile believers it would be the exception since Israel is mentioned nine more times in Romans and in every instance it is obvious that Paul is referring to Israel his countrymen, and not the Church (9:4; 9:27; 9:31; 10:19; 10:21; 11:2; 11:7; 11:25; 11:26).
In chapter nine Paul demonstrates that God is sovereign and just in hardening Israel because of their unbelief and showing mercy upon the Gentiles. From 9:30 through 11:10 he explains how the gospel of Jesus Christ is “at the present time” a stumbling-block to all Israel except for a remnant of grace because they seek after a righteousness which is by the works of the Law.(Rom 10:3-4; 11:5) God has turned to the Gentiles – a people who didn’t even seek Him in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (10:19-20). “At the present time” there is a remnant according to grace, but the rest of Israel have been blinded (11:5-8). Beginning in 11:11 through the end of the chapter Paul speaks of Israel’s future salvation and restoration.
The argument made by Replacement Theologians that the Church permanently replaced Israel falls to the ground in 11:11 through the end of the chapter. Here Paul very emphatically states that Israel’s present condition is only temporal. He then reveals the glorious future which awaits his brethren the Israelites. This passage speaks for itself and is so important for the issue at hand that I will begin by quoting it here in full:
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more THEIR FULLNESS!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will THEIR ACCEPTANCE be but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins (the New Covenant).’ 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:11-36) 
Paul begins with the question: “Have the Israelites stumbled that they should fall?” For the Replacement doctrine to be true Paul would have needed to answer in the affirmative, but instead he responds emphatically in the negative: “Certainly not!” Paul then explains that through their transgression God brought salvation to the Gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy.
Some English translations here present an apparent contradiction, using the same word “fall” both times in the verse. However, whereas the first word refers to a complete fall, the second word for fall is paraptomati which means “a slip or a transgression.” It was through their transgression that salvation came to the Gentiles. The third occurrence of the word “fall” in verse 12 is paraptoma and likewise simply means “transgression.” However, in spite of the gravity of their failure or transgression, God did not reject them as a nation but rather turned to the Gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy.
To me, verse 12 presents a glorious truth which is overlooked by many. He speaks of even greater riches for the Gentiles than that which we are presently experiencing when Israel is finally restored. He said: “Now if their fall (transgression) is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more THEIR FULLNESS!” The reference to “their fullness” is definitely speaking of the full restoration of Israel at Christ’s Second Coming. The English Standard Version reads “their full inclusion.” In other words, when “all Israel will be saved” (v. 26).
What many have failed to see is that the Church, made up of a remnant of elect Jews and Gentiles of this age, is only the chosen firstfruits of God’s new creation (Jas 1:18; Heb 12:23; Eph 1:12). In the “times of the restoration of all” (Acts 3:21), when the Deliverer comes out of Zion removing all ungodliness from Jacob, God will begin the process of restoring all of creation unto Himself, resulting in Him being all in all in eternity (1Cor 15:28). I consider the doctrine of the final restoration of all in more detail in my book, “The Triumph of Mercy.”
In verse 15 Paul again emphasizes that Israel’s final restoration will result in the perfection of the restoration of the rest of mankind which commenced in this age. “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will THEIR ACCEPTANCE be but life from the dead?” Both contrasts in verses 12 and 15 emphasize Israel’s future restoration. Their transgression which resulted in their being cast away culminates in their “full inclusion” and “acceptance” when Israel sees the Deliverer come from Zion and they say, “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 13:35).
In verses 16-24 Paul counters the presumption of some that we, the Church, have permanently displaced Israel. In verse 23 we see that, far from Israel having been permanently rejected by God, the Israelites will be grafted in again once the partial judicial blindness is removed and they are given grace to believe (Zec 12:10-11). Then Paul unveils a mystery which Replacement teachers remain blinded to to this very day. He said:
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness FROM JACOB.” (vv. 25-27)
Paul said that the truth he was about to tell them was a mystery. Some Bible scholars define a mystery as a truth previously hidden but now revealed. In a sense that is true, but in another sense a mystery remains hidden. It remains hidden to the carnal or natural mind. Paul said concerning God’s mysteries:
“…we speak wisdom among those who are mature… we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory…no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God… we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God… But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God…nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor 2:6-14)
So we see that, while a mystery is indeed something revealed that was previously hidden, it still remains hidden unless it is revealed to our understanding by the Spirit. It remains hidden to the natural, carnal mind.
What then is the mystery that Paul reveals concerning Israel? The mystery revealed to us is that Israel’s blindness is both temporary and partial, only lasting until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in – until all the elect firstfruits from among the Gentiles have come into the fold. Once the last elect Gentile has come into the fold the Deliverer will come out of Zion and then all Israel will be saved. Zechariah prophecies concerning Israel’s conversion which will take place in a moment when they look upon Him whom they have pierced:
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10)
Many think that those who pierced Him will see Him only to afterwards be destroyed by Him taking vengeance for what they did to Him. However, when they see Him whom they pierced coming in the clouds in glory, instead of destroying them, God pours out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the Jews) the Spirit of grace and supplication! The revelation of Jesus Christ is for Israel’s salvation – not for her destruction. The result will be a deep national repentance. A nation will be reborn in a day, just as Isaiah prophesied:
“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children… ‘Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her… For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” (Isa 66:8,10,12)
Here we see that the nation of Israel will be reborn in one day when the Deliverer comes out of Zion and all those who mourned for her in her affliction will rejoice over her with great joy when the Lord saves and restores Israel. In Isaiah 45:15-17 we see that the nations will be ashamed when they see how the Lord saves Israel with an everlasting salvation. (cf. Isa 54:1-8) Sadly, many within the Church who do not love Jerusalem will also be among those who will be ashamed of ever having hated and rejected God’s chosen people Israel.
In Isaiah 66, just before Israel’s deliverance, when they go from being a persecuted people to becoming a nation in a day, we find mention of some of Israel’s brethren who had shown hatred towards them and had rejected them in their affliction. Isaiah says:
“Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word: Your brethren who hated you, who cast you out for My name's sake, said, ‘let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” (Isa 66:5)
The “brethren” here probably has reference to Israel’s brethren the Ishmaelites who have hated and persecuted the Israelites to this very day. But certainly it would also include those within Christendom who have hated the Jews and cast them out, thinking they were doing it in the Lord’s name and for His glory, assuming that the Lord was pleased by their ill-treatment of the Jews. When the Deliverer comes out of Zion, saving all Israel, all those who have hated Israel will be greatly ashamed. Needless to say, very few who hold to Replacement theology love Israel and would wish themselves accursed from Christ for their sake as Paul did. (Rom 9:3) Those who harbor hatred in their hearts towards the Jews need to ask themselves whether such hatred has God as its source or Satan who has always hated God’s chosen people.
In verses 28 and 29 Paul explains that, although they are enemies of the gospel, they are beloved of God, because God’s gifts (referring to the land and other promises made to the fathers) and His election are irrevocable. He said:
“Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are BELOVED for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE.” (Rom 11:28-29)
Some tend to think of God’s election in human terms. We often choose someone based upon our limited knowledge of that person. Then later after coming to know the individual better with all his flaws, we may end up rejecting him and choosing another in his place. However, in contrast to us, God inhabits eternity and elects according to His foreknowledge and omniscience. When He chose the nation of Israel their whole history was before Him, just as is the case with His election of each individual.
When He chose Israel, He chose them, knowing that they would crucify the Lord of glory. It is impossible for God to go back on His election as we often do, saying, “if I had known that they would do that I would have never chosen them in the first place.” God chooses with full knowledge, not limited knowledge and therefore His election is without repentance. From the beginning, before Israel even went in to take possession of the Promised Land, God revealed that He knew the course they would take throughout the entirety of their history. Nearly 1,500 years before Israel rejected their Messiah, Moses said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
“And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you… 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31 (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deut 4:27-31)
So, before even entering into the Promised Land the Lord told them what would take place in their future. Way back then He told them that in judgment He would scatter them among the nations until the latter days. He assured them that He would never forsake them nor destroy them nor forget His covenant which He made with an oath to their fathers. His gifts and election are irrevocable.
Then, just as he did in the first three chapters of Romans, in verses 30 thru 32 Paul again reminds the Gentiles that they were once equally disobedient to God. This is something that those within the Church who condemn the Jews (or any other sinner for that matter), all too easily lose sight of. We all, whether Jew or Gentile, are equally unworthy and in need of mercy. Paul says:
“For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 EVEN SO these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” (Rom 11:30-32)
Paul says here that even though the Gentile believers were formerly disobedient they received mercy through Israel’s transgression when Israel was set aside for judgment. He then says “even so” or “in the same manner” that the Gentiles received mercy through their disobedience, Israel will also obtain mercy in spite of her disobedience. The very nature of mercy requires disobedience. One who has never disobeyed cannot know God’s love in the form of mercy since mercy is God in love not giving us what we deserve. We only know God’s multidimensional love in the form of mercy through the fall and our disobedience.
Verse 32 presents an amazing truth that most have completely overlooked due to the traditional doctrine of eternal torment for all except for the few who repent and receive God’s mercy in this brief lifetime: “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” The limiting qualifier “them” is not in the Greek text but was added in the King James Version, giving the impression that only Israel is being referred to. However, in the context of Romans, it is referring to God shutting up absolutely “all” whether Jew or Gentile under disobedience in order to show Himself merciful to all. It is the same “all” who have sinned and come short of the glory of God – the whole “world” of humanity, including both Jews and Gentiles, who are all alike shown to be guilty before God, only to afterwards receive His mercy and be justified freely by His grace upon repenting and putting faith in Jesus (Rom 3:9,19-20,23-24).
The universal reach of God’s mercy is even more clearly stated in verse 36 where he summarizes the whole matter saying, “For of (ek, “out of”) Him and through (dia) Him and to (eis, “into”) Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” All who came out of God as to source (which includes absolutely all), exist through Him and will finally be restored or brought back into Him who is their source of being. The word “things” does not have an equivalent in Greek. Even when “all” (pas) is in the neuter form it does not necessarily refer to inanimate objects. Where “all” (pas) is clearly referring to persons, as is the emphasis here in verse 36, it is best to simply translate pas as “all.” Paul summarizes by saying that all, whether Jew or Gentile, will finally receive mercy and be reconciled unto God resulting in Him being “all in all” in eternity (1Cor 15:28).
So, while it is true that Israel as a nation was set aside for judgment and the Jew/Gentile Church of the elect firstborn has received mercy under the New Covenant promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer 31:31), the Church has not replaced Israel. Rather, the Gentiles have been grafted into the tree of the Abrahamic blessings in order to provoke Israel to jealousy. Then all Israel will be saved when the Deliverer comes out of Zion and takes away her sins.
Replacement theology is a gross misapprehension of the infinite grace and mercy of God who does not reject forever, nor willingly afflicts the children of men. As Jeremiah says:
“For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” (Lam 3:31-33)
God is a God of love and compassion who only afflicts us when necessary for our correction. The Lord will not reject Israel forever, nor will he cast off any of the “children of men” forever, for that matter. Israel’s blindness will only last until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. After this, the Deliverer will come from Zion to save Israel and reign from Jerusalem over all the nations of the earth. As we shall see in the next blog, there are numerous irrevocable promises to Israel as a nation which have yet to be fulfilled in the end of days.
 The English words “them” and “things” are not in the Greek texts obscure the truth of the final restoration of all, both Jew and Gentile.