Israel and the Church – Roman’s Chapter Eleven
Paul presents the doctrine of salvation in the first eight chapters of Romans. In chapters nine, ten, and eleven, he discussed the role of the Jews. Chapter nine looks at Israel before the church age; chapter ten shows the Jews as members of the Church during the church age. In chapter eleven, he presents the Jews as a remnant during the Church age; many were spiritually blinded, and God will restore them as a nation when the church age is complete.
Beginning with verse seven of chapter eleven, Paul comments on why there are so few Jews in the Church. “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks, but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. ‘Just as it is written: God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear’, to this very day. And David says: ‘let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always’” (Romans 11:7-10, NKJV).
Paul, quoting from Isaiah 29:10,13 and Psalms 69:22-23, shows us that the Jews are rejecting Christ because God has spiritually blinded them. Christ is foolishness to the Gentiles but a stumbling block to the Jews. It seems they were blinded to Old Testament prophecy about the coming of a suffering Messiah. It is challenging for a Jew to become a Christian, but when they do, they are usually very zealous for the Lord.
It seems that the eyes of the Jews were spiritually blinded before they came out of the wilderness into the promised land. “The great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deut. 29:3-4, NKJV).
Perhaps their blindness is partly due to their sins of rejection of God when they built and worshiped the golden calf. God wanted to destroy them when they worshiped the idol, but Moses convinced Him not to do it.
John commented on the spiritual blindness of Israel in the twelfth chapter of his gospel. “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Therefore, they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them’” (John 12:37-40, NKJV).
The apostle Paul tells us that the Jews were blinded so that God could give the kingdom to the Church and provoke the Jews to jealousy. “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. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead” (Romans 11:11-15)?
God used the Church to reach the Gentiles, thus spreading the good news of this love to most of the world. We see God using different methods and dispensations to reach as many people as possible.
Paul tells us in the following verses that the Church is firmly rooted in the covenant with Abraham. “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 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, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in’” (Romans 11:16-19, NKJV).
We can visualize what took place considering the stump of a tree. Israel was the tree rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant, and God cut the tree down, leaving only the stump. He then grafted a new branch to the stump, which is the Church. Therefore, today, we have a new tree, the Church, rooted in God’s covenant with Abraham. God will graft Israel back into the stump later, thus having a tree with two branches – the Church and Israel. The Church has never been a branch of Israel, and Israel will never be a branch of the Church. God deals with them individually. The Gentile Nations will also be grafted into the tree (probably into the branch of Israel).
“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 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. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 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” (Romans 11:21-24, NKJV)?
Paul warns us not to be conceited because the church age will end. “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. 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; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins’. Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the father” (Romans 11:25-28, NKJV).
The church began at Pentecost and will end with the rapture of the Church. Israel will go through the great tribulation and then be judged. “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezek. 20:37). “I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God’” (Zech. 13:9). “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).
Appendix – B
The Rapture of the Church
Church tradition has confused the second coming of Christ with the rapture of The Church. Today, people are beginning to see these as two separate events on God’s calendar. The timing of the rapture is different from the return of the Church. Many people have tried to put The Church in the Olivet Discourse. Jesus is addressing events concerning Iseral in the Olivet Discourse.
The Bible teaches that the Church was concealed in the Old Testament and revealed during the first advent of Christ. It had a definite beginning, often disputed, and will continue to exist throughout eternity; however, its role will change.
The Scriptures tell us that its current role here on earth is to preach the gospel, minister, and edify the body of Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul states that another group will replace the work of the Church on earth.
“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. 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; for this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:25-26, NKJV).
The Greek word “pleroma,” translated as “fullness,” means that the Church is full – no more will be added. It refers to a specific number. At that time, God will give the saints of the Church new glorified bodies and take them into heaven as the bride of Christ. The role of the Church will change as it reigns with Christ as His bride and joint heirs.
The doctrine of the rapture of the Church, also known as the bodily resurrection of the Church saints and their translation into heaven, is confusing to many people.
The early Church believed that the tribulation occurred during the Roman persecution of the Church. Therefore, the doctrine of the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth has been confusing throughout the history of the Church. Over the years, different views were taught about “End Time” events – many refused to study it. They believed that God had rejected the Jews because they refused to accept their Messiah during His first advent. Even today, some believe the Church will go through the Tribulation.
Any discussion of the Rapture must be based upon our view of what the Bible teaches about “End Times” and the earthly return of Christ. It must also be interpreted in light of our view of God’s future plans for Israel. The line is usually drawn in the sand over this view. To those who believe that Israel forfeited God’s promises in the Old Testament when they rejected Christ as their Messiah, the concept of the Rapture, Tribulation, and Millennium is unclear and perhaps irrelevant.
However, for those who believe that God’s promises are unconditional and will eventually be fulfilled, these future events are very relevant and should be studied carefully. Due to a lack of understanding, these two views have many confusing crossover beliefs, resulting in different opinions of the Rapture.
Beginning with the Roman influence on Christian doctrine, the Church believed that most of the visions of Revelation took place within the Church. This view, called the amillennial theory, teaches that much of chapters four through eighteen of Revelation took place at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and during the Roman persecution of the Church. This theory teaches that there will not be a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth, and the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church appears to be irrelevant.
There is another view, the postmillennial theory, which advocates that the teaching and discipline of the Church will eventually overcome evil, resulting in a period of peace and utopia on earth. They see this as an evolutionary process where people get better and better. Finally, everyone will become a member of the Church, and the Church will evolve into the Millennium. However, some people who believe this theory see the millennium as a spiritual kingdom where Christ rules supremely in the people’s hearts.
Those who believe these theories teach that the millennium will occur before the Second Advent of Christ, and the concept of the Rapture of the Church is unclear.
The postmillennial view is very contradictory since the Scriptures teach that the Church will continually go through suffering and tribulation. The Scriptures state repeatedly that evil will become more rampant as we approach the Second Coming of Christ (2 Tim. 3:1-7, 2 Peter 3:3).
The Rapture of the Church must be viewed and discussed in light of the premillennial theory. This view teaches that God has not finished His program with Israel and that, one day, He will return to earth to set up the promised Messianic Kingdom of one thousand years, and many Jews will accept Him as their Messiah.
This theory teaches that the Old Testament prophecy of the future role of Israel will be literally fulfilled and should not be spiritualized as many have done. Paul tells us that we must rightly divide the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15). This means that we must interpret the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, and the Millennium in light of Biblical prophecy.
Part of the confusion comes from not understanding the unique role of the “The Church” or “Bride of Christ” in God’s grand plan for the ages – we don’t know who we are. We are told to “rightly divide the Word,” but often, we do not do that because we do not have the Biblical knowledge to understand it properly.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said this about the future of the Church. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, – but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the written saying: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:51-55a, NKJV).
Paul says this is a mystery. A Biblical mystery has not previously been revealed in the Scriptures. Paul also says that this will happen in the twinkling of the eye. Since the soul does not sleep after death, this refers to a bodily resurrection. We will be given new, glorified bodies like Jesus and be taken into heaven. Spiritual bodies are invisible to people who are still in their natural bodies, but they can see glorified bodies. Glorified bodies are the bodies we will get and need when we return with Christ to reign on earth.
In First Thessalonians, Paul gives us these words. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:13-18, NKJV).
When Christ returns, those who died previously (the dead in Christ) receive their new resurrected bodies, and those who are living will be transformed with the same type of bodies, like the resurrected body of Christ, and they will all return with Him to heaven. We shall always be with the Lord – in heaven and on earth.
We need to contrast this appearance of Christ with the Second Coming of Christ as recorded in Matthew Chapter twenty-four. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt 24:27, 30, NKJV).
In Revelation chapter one, John writes these words. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Rev 1:7).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels appeared unto the disciples. They said: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Act 1:11b, NKJV).
The Second Coming of Christ is not a mystery, and He shall return to the Mount of Olives, and every eye will see him. In contrast, when Christ returns for the Church at the Rapture, He will come in the sky, and only the born-again Christians will see him.
The marriage of the Lamb is presented in the book of Revelation. Christ is the bridegroom, and the Church is the bride. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7, NKJV).
This scene occurs in heaven after the Rapture and before the Second Coming of Christ. It would be impossible for the marriage to take place if the bride was not in heaven.
Jesus must come again for His bride, The Church, before the consummation stage of the marriage begins. The beginning phase of the consummation is the rapture, when the Church will be taken to meet her Groom in the air.
In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we read these words: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8, NKJV).
The prophet Zechariah says the Lord will return and bring all his saints. “Thus, the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You” (Zech. 14:5b, NKJV). The bride will return with Jesus to the earth at the Second Coming of Christ.
Now we come to the question of when the Rapture will take place. There are four views of this: (1) Pretribulation, (2) Posttribulation, (3) Midtribulation and (4) Partial Rapture. The pretribulation theory teaches that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation period begins. The posttribulation view advocates that the Church will go through the Tribulation period and will be raptured at the end of the Tribulation. The midtribulation view assumes that the Church will go through the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation and then be taken to heaven.
During the last century, there have been some people who believe in a partial rapture view. This theory teaches that some of the most faithful will be raptured before the Tribulation, but others will go through it. The partial rapture theory implies that the timing of the Rapture of the saints will be based upon their good works or fruit bearing. Those who adhere to this Partial Rapture view believe that they personally will be raptured.
Appendix – C
The Wrath of God
The wrath of God will be poured out upon the world and mankind during the Great Tribulation. It is a time called the “Day of the Lord.” God’s judgment is upon those who rebel against Him and will not repent. The Church is promised that they will not experience the wrath of God.
Key scripture reference:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
“What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22)?
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).
“And said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand” (Rev. 6:16-17)?
Promise to the Church
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9).
“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9).
Nature of the Church – The Study of Ecclesiology
- The Church Age program is parenthetical to God’s program for Israel (Daniel chapter nine).
- A mystery hidden from the past (Eph. 3:4).
- Begins on the Day of Pentecost (Act 2:1).
- A living organism
- The body of Christ (Col. 1:22).
- Baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
- Temple of the God (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
- Relationship to Christ
- Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2)
- The body of Christ (Col. 1:22)
- Joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17, Titus 3:7).
- We shall also reign with Christ. (2 Tim. 2:12).
- We shall judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
- We will appear with Christ in glory (Col 3:4).
- The Mystery of the fullness of the Gentile (End of Church Age) (Rom. 11:25).
- The Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
- Citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
- Future home in heaven – Christ preparing a home (John 14:1-4, 1 Peter 1:4).
- Judgement of works in heaven (Rom. 14:10, 1 Cor. 3:11-15).
- Marriage of the Lamb in Heaven (Rev. 19:7).
Appendix – E
Major Mysteries of the New Testament
- The mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 13:3-50).
- The mystery of God even Christ (Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists. (1 Cor 2:7-8, Col 2:2,9).
- The mystery of the processes by which godlikeness is restored to man (1 Tim 3:16).
- The mystery of the New Testament Church as one body composed of Jews and Gentiles (Eph 3:1-12, Rom 16:25, Eph 6:19, Col 4:3).
- The mystery of Israel’s blindness during this age (Rom 11:25).
- The mystery of the Church as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:23-32).
- The mystery of the in-living Christ (Col 1:26-27, Gal 2:20).
- The mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:7).
- The mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age (1 Cor 15:51-52, 1 Thess. 4:13-17).
- The mystery of the seven stars (Rev 1:20).
- The mystery of Babylon (Rev 17:5-7).
Appendix – F
Marriage of the Lamb
In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we read these words. “’Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God’” (Rev. 19:7-9, ESV). Maybe it would be helpful to review who the bride is again.
The apostle Paul clarifies that the bride of Christ is The Church. “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2, ESV). “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4, ESV).
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27, ESV).
Paul also writes: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16-17, ESV). He said to Timothy: “if we endure, we will also reign with him…” (2 Tim. 2:12a, ESV).
In the Old Testament, Israel is portrayed as the apostate wife of Jehovah, who is yet to be restored. The entire book of Hosea paints a beautiful picture as Hosea parallels his relationship with his wife, Gomer, and God’s relationship with Israel. Christ is never portrayed as the wife of Israel. However, in the New Testament, Jesus is called the bridegroom. The bride is The Church, and Jesus is her bridegroom.
In the Gospel of John, we read these words as spoken by John the Baptist. “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” (John 3:29, ESV). John the Baptist did not claim to be the bride but the bridegroom’s friend. He was the groomsman and the friend who presented the bride to the bridegroom. He was never part of The Church, but he was an Israelite. His mission was to present the Son of God as the Messiah.
Some believe the marriage in heaven will be based on the steps of the ancient Jewish wedding. For a short period after the wedding, the bride and groom did not enter public places without an escort. We will now look at the cortege as the armies of heaven escort Christ and His bride back to earth.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:11-16, ESV).
The Kings of kings will reign with His bride, His joint heir, with peace and righteousness over the Kingdom of God. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isa. 9:6-7, ESV).
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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