The "Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16.
/ by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.
The Biblical-Christian faith.
What was the significance of the temple veil being torn in two when Jesus died?
For two thousand years the Jews have been a God-less people
– and still are.
Is the Church never called Israel in the Bible?
/ by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.
The denial of the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
/ by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.
The start of Christian persecution.
/ by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.
Gal 6,14 14 But far be it from me to boast,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been
crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 6,15 For neither is circumcision
anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 6,16 And as many as shall walk
by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
(…) In any case, it seems clear that in this verse Paul cannot be
pronouncing a benediction upon persons who are not included in the phrase "as
many as shall walk by this rule" (the rule of boasting only in the cross).
The entire argument of the epistle prevents any idea that here in 6:16 he would give a blessing to those who are not included in this group. The phrase has become controversial because the traditional interpretation conflicts with principles of interpretation associated with Dispensationalism.
Dispensationalists are interested in maintaining a sharp distinction between "Israel" and "the Church" across a whole range of theological matters pertaining to prophecy, ecclesiology, and soteriology.
They are not comfortable with the idea that here Paul is using the phrase "Israel of God" in a sense that includes Gentiles, because this undermines their contention that "the Church" is always carefully distinguished from "Israel" in Scripture.
This is a major tenet of dispensationalist hermeneutics. C.I. Scofield in his tract, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (New York, Loizeaux Brothers, 1888) wrote, "Comparing, then, what is said in Scripture concerning Israel and the Church, [a careful Bible student] finds that in origin, calling, promise, worship, principles of conduct, and future destiny--all is contrast."
Likewise Charles Ryrie in his book Dispensationalism Today (Chicago, 1965) explained that the "basic premise of Dispensationalism is two purposes of God expressed in the formation of two peoples who maintain their distinction throughout eternity." (pp. 44-45).
(Extract from: "The
Israel of God [Galatians 6:16]" by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.)
First of all, many thanks to Ms. Hannelore Weitzel, a
visitor to Immanuel.at, who translated Michael Marlowe�s articles and sent thi
to me. These translations are quoted on the German website of Immanuel.at, while
the English version uses the original English texts by Mr. Marlowe.
In order to clarify the question whether the apostle Paul, with his reference to the �Israel of God� in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 6:15-16), actually meant the people of Israel or the congregation of Christ, the best method – as always with such questions – is a check against Scripture. And here there is a statement by our Lord Jesus Christ which answers this question quite clearly:
And they will become one flock with one shepherd.
Jn 10,14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own
and My own know Me, 10,15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and
I lay down My life for the sheep. 10,16 "I have other sheep, which are
not of this fold; I must bring thi also, and they will hear My voice; and they
will become one flock with one shepherd. Jn 10,14-16;
Here above, in Jn 10,16, the Lord speaks of "other sheep" that
he must bring together. But this implies that there are already sheep – that is,
a flock. And this first flock is of course the Israelites. This means all true
believers in God from the Old Covenant until the incarnation of Christ. This is
the "house of Israel".
The "other sheep" that the Lord still has to bring are therefore the Christians, the people from all nations who have since come to believe in Christ. So if you like to put it that way, the �house of the nations�.
And then the Lord also speaks of a "fold". This fold is obviously something that already exists. And when the Lord says: "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also," it can be assumed that he must likewise bring these other sheep, the Christians, into this same "fold".
The Lord�s last statement ("And they will become one flock with one shepherd") then confirms that these two flocks – the house of Israel and the house of the nations – are to be brought together by our Lord Jesus Christ. And indeed brought together in this "fold" mentioned at the beginning.
But with that it also becomes clearly evident that this "fold" is exactly what Paul calls the "Israel of God" in Gal 6,16. It is the "fold" in which both "flocks" – the circumcised and the uncircumcised – are united. From the last statement made by the Lord in the above text – "and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd" – we can now gain two further important insights.
Starting with the last words of the Lord in this text, both flocks will therefore be under the "one shepherd". And since this obviously cannot be a physical union, it means that these two flocks will be united spiritually and both, Israelites and Christians, will believe in the one shepherd, Jesus Christ.
The concrete statement in the text ("and they will hear my voice") also undoubtedly refers to both flocks, i.e. to the whole "Israel of God", that in view of the following reference: "and they will become one flock". So we see that this "Israel of God" to which Paul refers in his letter to the Galatians 6,16 is neither the Christian community nor the people of Israel individually, but both together and both under "one shepherd", namely Jesus Christ.
But Paul gives us another indication in this text. In the verse
before, in Gal 6,15, he writes: "For neither is circumcision anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creation." The terms "circumcision" and
"uncircumcision" seem at first glance to refer quite clearly to Israel
and the congregation.
However, if we look at these two terms dismissed by Paul in connection with the subsequent revelation ("it is … a new creation"), the suspicion suggests itself that Paul may mean something else here than what one might superficially interpret into it.
If one then takes a closer look at the term "new creation" in the Bible, one realizes – no matter whether it refers to the whole of creation (Rev 21) or to the individual human being (2Cor 5:17) – that this cannot just be an improvement on what currently exists – however excellent it may be – but rather seems to be something completely new, something that is quite different from what has gone before.
So when Paul specifically mentions circumcision and uncircumcision here, and states that neither the one nor the other is anything, but it is a new creation, the question arises whether he is not really thinking here of the background or occasion for the terms found here, rather than of the expressions themselves.
And the occasion for circumcision and uncircumcision is religion. A person documents his affiliation to his religion with a certain act. This is what the Sikhs do with the turban, Hindus by bathing in the Ganges, the Muslims with their five daily prayers, Catholics by crossing themselves and the Jews – among other things – with circumcision.
But real, true biblical Christianity is not a religion! Religion is a human attempt, based on certain actions (rites, prayers, sacrifices, efforts such as the pilgrimage, the Hajj, bathing in the Ganges etc.) to obtain the goodwill of the deity and thereby receive favors from him. In other words, religion is found when man tries to reach God.
In biblical Christianity, man does not seek God, but God comes to man. The biblical Christian God let his Son become man and die on the cross in order to offer man the possibility of salvation by grace. It is no longer a person�s own righteousness, which is scarcely attainable through the absolute observance of the commandments, but faith in God�s Son and his redeeming sacrifice on the cross that is the path to eternal life.
So biblical Christianity is not a religion but a relation. A connection or relationship of each individual believer to his or her God. The key statement of the biblical Christian faith is the statement of the Son of God in Jh 4,24:
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Jn 4,23 "But an hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such
people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 4,24 "God is
spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Jn
And now we can also understand why Paul sees circumcision and
uncircumcision as outdated religious ideas. Christianity is no longer about
impressing people in any way. True faith as well as true worship is no longer
shown in the flesh, but in spirit and in truth.
The godly person is one who has accepted the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God for his or her sins, and prays and talks to God in spirit and in truth. The God we worship is the one and only living God. And unlike the blind and mute idols of religions, this God can see, hear, speak – and act.
This is probably what Paul means by "new creation", as he also writes in his second letter to the Corinthians:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2Cor 5,14 For the love of Christ controls us,
having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 5,15 and He
died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for
Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 5,16 Therefore from now on we
recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ
according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 5,17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed
away; behold, new things have come. 5,18 Now all these things are from
God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of
reconciliation. 5,19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the
world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against thi, and He
has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2Cor 5,14-19;
(See also Discourse 137: "The
Christianity has its origin in the death of our Lord Jesus
Christ. When Christ died on the cross, it was the birth of the Christian faith,
as the following article on the "Gotquestions.org" website explains very well.
Of course, it must also be specified here that " the way to the
most holy of holies for all peoples and at all times" is nothing else than the
forgiveness of sins for all people through this sacrifice on the cross of the
Lamb of God. And unfortunately not in the above article either explained is the
fact that our Lord’s death on the cross was not only the birth of Christianity
but also the death of the Mosaic religion.
IIn contrast to all other idol religions in the world, the basic purpose of the Mosaic religion was to give people the opportunity to establish contact with the one and only living God. This connection is necessary in order to speak to God, i.e. to pray. But God is only accessible to man when man is free from sin.
And here the Mosaic religion had its sin and guilt offerings, with which every Israelite, if he had sinned, could obtain forgiveness from God. And once a year the high priest was allowed to go to the holy of holies of the temple in order to ask God directly for the forgiveness of sins for the whole people and to obtain it.
However, with the death of Jesus on the cross, a paradigm shift took place here. Animal sacrifice is no longer necessary in order to obtain forgiveness of sins from God, since the Son of God made this sacrifice once and for all for all people who want to claim it.
But with that the Mosaic religion has lost its basis of existence. Their main task, to make man sin-free through animal sacrifices, so that he can pray and come into contact with his God (the law), was now transferred to the belief in the ransom sacrifice of the Son of God for all men.
But also the other bases for the practice of the Mosaic faith, namely the temple in Jerusalem and its burnt offering altar, on which the animal sacrifices had to be offered (in no other place!), were destroyed by the Romans in the year 70. In addition to the punishment for breaking the covenant by murdering the Son of God - this was also the consequence of this paradigm shift.
The Law and the Prophets (the Mosaic religion) were proclaimed until John;
Lk 16,16 "The Law and the Prophets
were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the
kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
This statement of Paul in Gal 6,14-16 is obviously to be
understood in a much more fundamental way. Circumcision was a religious
ceremonial for the Israelites, through which the Israelite was confirmed as
belonging to the people of God and to God Himself. Anyone who was uncircumcised
was therefore automatically a godless person, i.e. a goy (Hebrew: goy= people,
goyim= peoples). Paul�s clarification here – "neither is circumcision anything,
nor uncircumcision" – however, quite clearly refutes this Jewish rite.
The religious ceremony of circumcision was valid as long as God dwelt with His people in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem. But after the Jews rejected Jesus of Nazareth, their Messiah, and handed him over to the Romans to be crucified, they broke their covenant with God. At the death of his Son on the cross, God dissolved the covenant and abandoned the Temple and with it the people of Israel (Mt 27:50-51).
For this breach of covenant two thousand years ago, the Jews were severely punished by God. During the First Jewish War (66-74 AD), in the year 70, the Temple and the whole city of Jerusalem were razed to the ground by the Romans under Titus (Josephus, Bell, 6,254-259). Sixty years later, in the 3rd Jewish War (Bar-Kochba Revolt, 132-135), the Romans destroyed the rest of the Jewish settlement in Judea and exiled all of Israel to the Diaspora.
(See also Discourse 140: "The destruction of the Temple.")
he Jews have therefore been a God-less people ever since and have had no
forgiveness of their sins, since the altar of burnt offering and the Temple in
Jerusalem, where the sin offerings had to be offered without exception (Deut
12:13-14), no longer exist; sin offerings are no longer made, and thus for the
last two thousand years there has been no way their sins could be forgiven.
The Son of God actually prophesied this to them before his death:
Unless you believe that I am He (the Messiah), you will die in your sins.
Jn 8,22 So the Jews were saying, "Surely He will
not kill Himself, will He, since He says, �Where I am going, you cannot come�?"
8,23 And He was saying to thi, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of
this world, I am not of this world. 8,24 "Therefore I said to you that
you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He (the
Messiah), you will die in your sins."
After the Jews, for want of forgiveness of sins in the Mosaic
faith, had lost precisely that which makes human beings acceptable before God at
all, namely freedom from sin, the Mosaic faith as such has also become
ineffective. And all Jews who for the past two thousand years have refused to
accept faith in Jesus Christ and forgiveness by grace are Gentiles and will be condemned to
eternal damnation at the Last Judgment by this very same Jesus Christ acting as
Also Jerusalem has been "trampled underfoot by the Gentiles" for the last two thousand years (Lk 21:24). Even those Jews who immigrated to the newly founded land of Israel in 1948 are for the most part not from Palestine – in reality a high percentage are descendants of the Khazars, who converted to Judaism through a mass conversion of the Khazar ipire in the Russian steppes in the 8th century AD.
Those Orthodox Jews who refused to immigrate to Israel in 1948 – and to this day – such as the Orthodox Jewish community from Vienna, led by Chief Rabbi Moishe-Arye Friedmann, have at least seen through the Zionists� deceitful attempt to present this newly founded state as the biblical "Return" of the people of Israel to its land by the hand of God.
The founding of the state in May 1948 was not the gathering promised by God, but an expulsion of the people of the Palestinians from their land, planned by Theodor Herzl�s Zionists and carried out with military force and thousands of deaths. As once on Mount Horeb, Israel has once again made itself a "golden calf" in the form of this Zionist state, and is now dancing around it – with the energetic support of the "friends of Israel" among Christians.
(See also Discourse 143: "Shavuot:
Has Israel broken its covenant with God?")
As a young Christian I attended a church where the
Dispensationalist approach was taught, and I remember how it was frequently
supported by the statement that in Scripture "the Church is never called
Israel." Galatians 6:16 was explained as if the phrase "and upon the
Israel of God" referred to a Jewish subset of those people who "walk
by this rule," that is, the Christians of Jewish ethnic background as
distinguished from those who are of non-Jewish background.
Apparently this unqualified assertion that the Church is never spoken of as "Israel" continues to be important to dispensationalists, because in a recent article a prominent dispensationalist author calls it a "horrendous mistake" when "the Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16 is understood to include Gentiles.[²] There does not seem to be any reason for this interpretation aside from the desire of dispensationalists to exclude all typological interpretations and to defend their contention that "the Church is never called Israel."
(Extract from: "The
Israel of God [Galatians 6:16]" by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.)
2 Mal Couch, "The Rise of Anti-Semitism:
’The Rustling of the Leaves’" Conservative Theological Journal 6 (December 2002), pp. 288-9.
Couch apparently believes that the denial of special privileges for ethnic Jews under
the gospel is "anti-semitic."
As we can see from the continuation of this article by Michael
Marlowe, he criticizes – quite rightly – the view of the Dispensationalists that
the congregation is never called Israel in Scripture. This view of course has
already been clearly refuted earlier on, with the statements of the Lord�s in Jn
Who do the Dispensationalists think these two flocks in Jn 10,16 are supposed to be? If one takes the Scriptures seriously, there is no other possibility here than to interpret the first flock as Israelites and the other flock as Christians. And at the end the Lord then says: "and they will become one flock."
But precisely this one flock is the "Israel of God" that Paul mentions in Gal 6:16. Both Israelites and Christians are together in this one flock. Though one should definitely not write "church" or "congregation" as a synonym for "Christians" here, since the Catholic Church worships idols, the Protestant Church appoints homosexuals as superintendents and the evangelical congregations have increasingly changed sides as "registered associations".
The statement of the Son of God in Jn 10,16 – "and they will become one flock with one shepherd" – thus resolves both issues. Firstly, the question of whether the "Israel of God" in Gal 6,16 means Israelites or Christians, and then that assertion of the Dispensationalists that the Church of God is never addressed as "Israel" in the Bible.
The truth is that for God, since the death of His Son, there is no longer any difference between the nations and Israel. All people are now equal for God. Those who do not believe are the ungodly – no matter what race or nation. Those who believe in this God and his Son – from whatever race or nation – are the presently existing "Israel of God".
What is often unfortunately left unexplained, in the interpretation of these texts, is the actual meaning of the word "Israel". The name Yisra�el, Hebrew ישראל, is the name God gave to the forefather of the Jews, Jacob. This name can be translated as "God fights (for us)", "May God fight (for us)", "God rules" or "May God rule".
But Anthony the Great ("Saint" Anthony, 261-356), in his third letter, translated the name Israel as "understanding that sees God". And so all people who have the understanding to "see God" are subsumed under the name "Israel of God".
Since Israel broke its covenant with God and God dissolved this covenant, the Almighty has no longer offered his grace to a single people, but to all the people of this world. And at the same time, the sacrificial rites of the Mosaic faith – not only in the absence of a Temple and for want of an altar of burnt offering in Jerusalem, but as a result of the dissolution of the covenant – became ineffective.
In contrast to the "Israel of human beings", which, from man�s polarizing point of view, refers exclusively to Israelites, the "Israel of God" in Gal 6,16, refers to God�s point of view and designates that group of people who are endowed with the "understanding that sees God".
This is what Paul also tells us in 1Cor 12,14:
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free.
1Cor 12,12 For even as the body is one and yet has
many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one
body, so also is Christ. 12,13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized
into one body, whether Jews or Greeks (nations),
whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
12,14 For the body is not one member, but many. 1Cor 12,12-14;
Anyone who defends the community of Christ from Christian
Israel, has not understood Christianity. But anyone who wants to protect the
church of Christ from Israel in the Mosaic faith, has not read the Bible,
because the Mosaic faith has been meaningless and ineffective for two thousand
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
Shortly before December 25th, 1997, a huge
frontpage headline appeared in one of the United Kingdom�s quality national
newspapers which read: �It Never Happened�. Above this headline was a
portrait of the �manger scene� at the birth of Christ. The article, written
by the anti-Christian writer A.N. Wilson, set out to disprove the historicity
of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In the wake of this conceit, there was no clamour from
clergymen, no bellow from bishops, not a peep from the proletariat. It was a
blasphemous statement; but it was �politically correct�.
Now imagine what would have occurred if, above that headline,
�It Never Happened�, in the place of the manger scene, there was a portrait
of Mohammed making his hegira to Medina, or of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha
sitting under a Banyan tree in Bihar, or of Arjuna and Krishna conversing
elatedly in their chariot, or Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Sinai,
or of David Ben Gurion being sworn in as first Prime Minister of the state of
Israel in 1948. Imagine the huge chorus of outrage that would have ensued
from the assorted mobs on Twitter � not to mention the outcry from the massed
ranks of mortally offended interdenominational clergymen and their multifaith
In the present climate, it is fashionable to do everything possible to undermine the claims of Christ and overturn the veracity of the Bible. One can utter the foulest blasphemy against Jesus, but one must never cast the slightest aspersion against any of the world�s religious movements. Such is the global agenda of political correctness in the religious field. However, this same gag on exposing false religion has even spread to the heart of evangelicalism which has become protective of the present-day religion of Judaism � even upholding that the modern antichristian state of Israel in the Middle East is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy!
(Extract from: "Abraham our Father – Jerusalem our Mother" by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.)
Here Michael Marlowe addresses a subject which has been pointed
out, in tones of concern, here at Immanuel.at for years. It is a biblical fact
that the Antichrist prophesied in Scripture will appear in Israel of the Last
Days and claim to be the "true" Messiah.
He will claim – as the Jews have done for two thousand years – that Jesus was a deceiver and blasphemer and that he himself is the real "anointed one" of God. The whole background of this attempt by Satan to deceive mankind with a plagiaristic imitation of the death and resurrection of the Son of God can be read on this website in the document "The first and the second Antichrist.".
However, the original assumption of this analysis, that the Antichrist will appear in the ranks of the Orthodox Jews, has now apparently shifted, to focus on the Jewish faith movement of Messianic Jewish believers. And that would be quite logical, since it is these Messianic Jews who have chosen to believe in the (false?) Messiah.
(See also Discourse 142: "The Messianic Jews,
Jewish religion and Christian faith.")
At the same time, their representatives and teachers have so far
always affirmed that they recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah of the Jews and
are waiting for his return. Now, however, it looks – partly in the light of the
statements in the above document by Michael Marlowe – rather as if they would
like to claim that the Jesus story is a New Testament invention, and that now
they are just waiting for the "true" Messiah, i.e. the Antichrist.
Thus the Antichrist would have the Orthodox and the Messianic Jews on his side. The rest of the Israelis, just like the Christian churches of Catholicism and Protestantism, will be easily deceived if they are made to believe that the time has come and that the Antichrist is the "Son of God", since according to Scripture he will pretend to be God himself (2The 2:3-4).
(See also Discourse 140: "The
background to the murder of the Jewish Messiah Jesus of Nazareth.")
This can also be seen from the further remarks of the same
author in his scriptural analysis:
There can be no doubt whatsoever that a modern form of �Judaising�
has gripped many branches of the professing Church and that the spirit of Paul�s
letter to the Galatians needs to be invoked in counteraction of that. It is for
this reason that I believe the present article is called for. It seems that an
unconditional love for the modern earthly nation Israel has virtually become an
�article of faith� among many modern evangelicals. As a consequence, all manner
of strange and unchecked claims are being made by many untaught and often
arrogant people about Judaism and Israel. Here are some of the claims which are
currently being made:
1) That the Jews as an earthly nation are still God�s real chosen people today and that the modern state of Israel is their rightful home.
2) That Gentile converts to Christ are of inferior status to those converted out of Judaism.
3) That the nation-state called Israel in the Middle East is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and a sign of the approaching appearance of the Christ (= the anointed one / Messiah) – either for the Rapture or the Second Coming (i.e. for the Christians or for the first appearance as Antichrist for the Jews / FH), depending on the belief system to which people adhere.
(Extract from: "Abraham our Father – Jerusalem our Mother" by Michael Marlowe, Dec. 2004.)
This is exactly what was to be expected, knowing that the world
is heading towards the appearance of the Antichrist: Gentile Christians have an
"inferior status". Christians become – for the time being – second-class
believers, then when the Antichrist arrives, they will be persecuted and killed
The Antichrist himself is then celebrated as the "anointed one" who has finally appeared (anointed=Greek: Christ, Hebrew: Messiah). Whether for the first or the second time, no one will care.