Monday, August 8, 2011

Did the Apostle Paul Consider Unbelieving Jews to Be "God's Chosen People"?

"I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." -Genesis 12:3

This verse , the beginning of God's calling to Abraham, is popular with certain dispensationalist preachers, most notably John

Hagee. He loves to quote it as God's supposed endorsement of the modern state of Israel and American political and military support for her. On his TV program, he has asked Jewish guests to stand, and then had his congregation give them an ovation. He also has the flag of Israel flying outside his church building, alongside the American and Texas flags.

But is that how the biblical writers understood it? By no means!

Consider Galatians 3. In verse 7, Paul tells us, "Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham." Faith, not biological descent, is what makes one a descendant of Abraham. Thus, he says in verse 9, "those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." And in verse 14, "in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham [has] come to the Gentiles." It is Christians, whether of Jewish or Gentile ancestry, who inherit the promise to Abraham. Unbelieving Jews and the modern nation of Israel have no claim to that blessing. As Paul states it in verse 29, "if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise."

This is completely contrary to Hagee's Israelolatry.

I think the crowning text is Galatians 6:16, where Paul refers to the Church as "the Israel of God." This epithet is the logical conclusion of Paul's argument, that it is faith that makes descendants of Abraham. It is Christians who are a blessing to the world, not unbelieving Jews. And it shows that Hagee, in spite of his fundamentalist pretensions, either doesn't know or doesn't understand the Scriptures.

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