Two New Testament Passages which Identify the Church with Israel
The following quote is from the introduction of From Adam and Israel to the Church by Benjamin L Gladd
...to give God's people confidence that they are part of the restored people of God--true Israel. This may seem like an academic inquiry, but such is not the case.
In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, for example, the apostle Paul has in mind a number of prominent Old Testament passages as he warns the gentile Christians:
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Paul audaciously quotes and alludes to a host of Old Testament texts here -- Leviticus 26, Ezekiel 37, Isaiah 52, Ezekiel 20, and 2 Samuel 7, to name a few. What's remarkable is that many of these Old Testament texts refer to Israel. Indeed, the passage from 2 Samuel 7 is a reference to King David!. Why would Paul cite texts that appear to be confined to Israel (and David) and apply them to a group of Gentiles at Corinth? His words in the next verse (2 Corinthians 7:1) are even more pointed when he claims that "we have these promises." The Corinthian congregation, a church filled primarily with Gentile Christians, is aligned with Israel, so much so that Paul includes the Corinthians in the lineage of Israel when he tells them the first generation of Israelites are "our ancestors" (1 Corinthians 10:1). Though the Corinthians are not ethnically part of Israel, they enjoy complete identification with Israel through their position in Christ, the embodiment of true Israel. The Corinthians must embrace their identity as true Israel and the true temple of God by not morally compromising. Christian living flows naturally from our identification as Israel.
The following quote is from the introduction an article written by John Hendryx
An Observation about the Church & Israel in Ephesians 2:11-21 & 3:5, 6
The following passage really makes up the heart of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. Here he reveals a great mystery which was hidden in previous ages:
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ ... So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord...3:6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (emphasis mine)
Notice in this passage that Paul speaks to Gentiles as having been previously separate and alienated from Israel and the covenants of promise, but in Christ, Gentiles have also become citizens of Israel. The phrase "brought near" was their modern day parlance for Jewish proselytes. According to this passage we Gentiles now partake of the "same promise" and are no longer strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, but citizens of it. Notice the clear reference to Jesus Christ as the true Israel, and this includes are all who are joined to His body. Let’s have a closer look: Verse 12 "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel" Paul now joins Gentiles to (vr. 19) "you are no longer strangers and aliens". No longer aliens to what? No longer aliens to the commonwealth of Israel. That means that Gentiles who are in Christ are now "citizens" (v. 19) of Israel built as a house with Christ as the chief cornerstone. In other words, Jesus Christ is the True Israel of God (its fulfillment and foundation) as are all who are joined in union to Him. To say it another way, both OT and NT saints who are in union with Christ are now citizens of Israel. Likewise According to Ephesians 3: 4-6, God made known a mystery to Paul "...the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
Partakers of what promise? The promises given to Israel to Abraham of course. Did not God promise to Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed? And since the Paul elsewhere asserts that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand (Gal 3:8). and "that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham." (Gal 3:7), the OT and NT saints were both saved by the same grace in Christ and are members of the same body .... partakers of the same covenant promises. The difference is simply (if you think about it organically) that one was a mere seedling or immature branch and the other a fully mature fruit-bearing tree, but both are part of the same tree. Some natural but others ingrafted (Rom. 11:17) The OT saints saw Christ from a distance in promises and shadows, yet in God's economy those regenerate were, even then, united to Christ, part of the same body and saved by the same blood ... the blood which the signposts of the temple sacrifices pointed to.
“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11: 39, 40)
Just as we can never separate the law from the lawgiver, we likewise cannot separate the benefits from the benefactor. Many in modern day evangelicalism have wrongly divided the people of God, even while Paul here was at pains to show them both in union with Christ. Since Paul stressed the importance of this lets look afresh at the Scripture beyond our traditions and errors regarding this issue. The Text of Scripture is not Israelocentric but Christocentric. Jesus himself bore witness to this: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me." (John 5:39)