One People of God, or Two?
By Thomas Williamson
One of the cornerstones of dispensationalist theology is the distinction between the Church and Israel. Dispensationalists believe that the Church does not fulfill any of the promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament, and that the Church Age is a mere parenthesis or intercalation in God's program of working through Israel, which will resume after the Rapture.
Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary is a representative of dispensational teaching on the so-called "Israel/Church dichotomy," saying, "The divine purpose: Israel - the earthly promises in the covenants; Church - the heavenly promises in the gospel. . . . There is a distinction between the true church and true or spiritual Israel."
Based on this belief, dispensationalists tend to place great emphasis on the re-establishment of national Israel in 1948 as indicating the resumption of God's purpose in working through Jews after the flesh, as opposed to working through the Church.
This belief is contrary to what the Bible teaches. The New Testament clearly teaches that the Church and Israel are one and the same. God's true spiritual Israel for this age is composed of all Jewish and Gentile born-again believers, and God has just one program for all His people. In John 10:16 Jesus told His Jewish disciples that He had other sheep (the Gentiles) and that He would bring them together as one fold under one shepherd. That means just one people of God, not 2 peoples.
In John 8:39 and Revelation 2:9 and 3:9, Jesus taught that true Jewishness was no longer a matter of ethnic pedigree. (See also Matthew 3:9). That which was once exclusively Jewish is now fully appropriated by Christians, including Gentiles. The menorah, once a Jewish symbol, now represents the Christian churches, Revelation 1:12, 20. Christians are now the pillars of the true Temple, Revelation 3:12, and that true Temple of God is in heaven, Revelation 11:19. Born-again Christians are the priests of that true Temple, Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 7:15.
In Romans 2:28-29, 9:6-7, Galatians 3:7, 26-29, 6:15-16, we are taught that the true Israel is composed of all true believers, including Gentiles, but not including unsaved Jews.
Romans 11:13-25 teaches that Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree representing Israel. There are not 2 trees, just one tree, one true people of God including both Jews and Gentiles.
Ephesians 2:11-16 teaches that God has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, reconciling both of them unto God in one body.
Ephesians 2:19-20 teaches that Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners - they are now part of the household of God, built on the foundation of the prophets. Notice that there is only one household of God, not 2 households.
Peter said in Acts 15:9 that God has put no difference between Jewish and Gentile believers. In Acts 15:13-18, James taught that the Gentile Christians were the fulfillment of the promises of restoration of Israel in Amos 9:11-15.
Paul in Romans 10:12 tells us that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. He tells us in Romans 9:24-26 that the Gentiles, who were not God's people, have now become His people, in fulfillment of Hosea 1:10, 2:23.
The New Testament does not teach that unsaved Jews are "God's Chosen People." In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul condemns those unsaved Jews who opposed the gospel, saying that wrath is coming upon them to the uttermost. God's Chosen People today are the elect, born-again Christians whether Jewish or Gentile, 1 Peter 1:2, 2:9.
According to Hebrews 9:15, all Christians - "they which are called" - now fulfill the covenant of Jeremiah 31 that God made with the houses of Israel and Judah. See also Hebrews 10:14-18, 29.
Peter, in his First Epistle, addresses the predominantly Gentile believers of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, using Jewish terminology to emphasize their acceptance into God's spiritual Israel. They are now God's chosen people (1 Peter 1:2, 2:9), just as much so as the Jews were in Old Testament times. They too have a land grant, not in Canaan but in heaven, 1:4. They fulfill the promises of the Old Testament prophets, 1:10-12.
They fulfill the Levitical requirements for holiness, 1:16. The Passover Lamb has been slain for them, 1:19. They are the new Temple, made of "living stones," 2:5. They are priests, 2:5, 9. They are the cornerstone of Zion, 2:6. Like the Jews of old, they are a separate people, 2:9. They once were not God's people, but now they are, 2:10. (Obviously, Peter is not addressing a Jewish Christian audience here, because the Jews had always been God's people. He is talking to Gentiles).
In Galatians 4:25-26 and Hebrews 12:22-24 we read that God's people still approach Him at Jerusalem, but not the literal Jerusalem in Israel - all Jewish and Gentile Christians, as one united people, now approach God in His heavenly Jerusalem.
Paul, in Acts 17:26, made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles - he taught that God has made all nations of men of one blood.
As we have seen, the doctrine of the two peoples of God, or the Israel/Church dichotomy, is contrary to the Word of God. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock, in their book "Progressive Dispensationalism" published in 1993, state that progressive dispensationalists have abandoned the two-peoples doctrine.
The doctrine of 2 distinct peoples of God, and 2 different purposes of God, should be abandoned by all of us. There is just one People of God/Family of God/Household of God, including Jews and Gentiles together. There is just one purpose or program of God for His people - the Great Commission.
I realize that this teaching is contrary to what many of us have been taught in Bible school. So don't take my word for it - look up all the Bible verses that I have cited in this article, and see for yourself that born-again Jews and Gentiles are now one people, God's true spiritual Israel.
This reality of just one people of God does not in any way take away, from any Jewish believer, any privilege that he is entitled to before God. It is not "Replacement Theology" - it is "Grafted-In Theology." It admits Gentile believers to the same position of privilege as the Jews, thus provoking unsaved Jews to take an interest in the spiritual blessings that are equally and richly available to them, Romans 11:12-15, 25-26.