Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Israel of God

There has always been an Israel within Israel. That is to say, a true Israel within an Israel in name only. So argues the apostle Paul, for example, in Rom. 9:6, and elsewhere (e.g., Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:3; see esp. the Greek of these texts, and note the various versions, esp. Gal. 6:16, NIV).

But this is clear from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Paul himself points this out in Rom. 9:6ff. Another text that makes this clear, it seems to me, is Ps. 73:1, though I don't believe this is often pointed out.

There we read:

          "Truly God is good to Israel,
          to those who are pure in heart."

I put the text like this so you can see the parallelism of the two lines in this verse. "Israel" is parallel to "those who are pure in heart." And so "those who are pure in heart" defines who Israel is, who the true Israelites are. Those Israelites with impure hearts are not Israel. At least in one vital sense.

So unless you're going to try to argue that all of ethnic Israel was pure in heart at the time the psalmist composed this poem (which seems to strain credulity, given Israel's checkered history), we have a plain statement in Psalm 73 that "they are not all Israel who are from Israel" (Rom. 9:6, NASB).

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