The Termination of the Israel Only Doctrine

Abstract

 

Israel Only is a preterists doctrine that states the Covenants were only for Israel only, that no person outside of Israel can be included or saved.  Salvation was not intended for anyone else but “The Lost Sheep of Israel”. Salvation ended in AD 70 when “all of Israel was saved”. This paper will prove this doctrine is created from a false narrative of scriptures that begins with changing the meaning of words and poor hermeneutics that contrives a system built on an ill-conceived presupposition. It will be demonstrated that the tenets of the position are built and based in theological error that deviates from normative reading of the Biblical narrative. This paper will outline the salvation narrative of the Bible through specific readings that support the inclusion of salvation to non-descendants of Israel. It will correctly define the terms misappropriated by IO adherents.  And it will demonstrate through history the inclusion of non-Israelite’s into the salvation narrative while undermining the preterist IO Perspective. It is the proposition of this paper to prove that salvation was for all men throughout history.

 

The Biblical narrative of salvation begins in Genesis three with the fall of mankind into sin. Paul clearly states that sin was passed on to all men through Adam[1].

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death[2] through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12 

Paul taught that by one man, Adam, sin came to all men. He then contrasts that with “by one man ALL will be made righteous”.  

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one-man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5 17—19

Paul makes the one to one correlation if all men are made sinners, and all gentiles and Jews are sinners, as they are “all men”, which means Paul does not single out Jews and declares they are the only ones who are sinners since all men came from Adam then all men are sinners, so by the virtue of Christ sacrifice, all men can be made righteous with out exception. There is no IO in Paul’s explanation. To narrowly define “all men” to mean “Israel Only” or the “elect”, is derived from assumption and presupposition based on partial knowledge.

One thing then must be established: All men are descendent from Adam. Paul states in Acts 17:26

And he made of one man (bloodline) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.

In the Greek Paul emphasis “of one” ἐξ ἑνὸς, the implication is of one man every nation came, of the one bloodline, all men evolved from Adam So there is no other men who have lived who did not come from Adam, via Noah and his sons[3].  The IO preterist mistakenly claim, from the same verse, 

Paul declares Abraham is the one man from whom “every nation” came from by quoting Deuteronomy 32:8[4] (Acts 17:26) thus declaring Genesis 17:5 was fulfilled in his day. 

This is proven untrue from Genesis 10. The author here traces the lineage of all the major nations and who’s sons they came from. Noah had three sons and Abraham came from the line of Shem as it details in Genesis 11. In Chapter 10 it states; 

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan[5]…. Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

These nations were created before Abraham existed from the line of Ham, as they did not come from Abraham line. It becomes evident that Abraham is not the father of every nation but that many nations did come from him, but not all, as the IO mistakenly claims. The IO then looks at verse 13 and declares that since there was no law before Moses, no one is a sinner before the law came. Because according to them sin is not counted where there is no law. So therefore, they declare only the Israelite’s are sinners because they were given the law.

 13for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 

            The point Paul is making is that if there was no law then they were not sinners, but he established in Romans 2 that all men are under “a” law. Because men were judged for sin, such as Cain, it demonstrates they were a law unto themselves. Knowing right from wrong. A direct result of the fall in the garden[6]. 

12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

The principle can simply be demonstrated by Sodom and Gomorrah (non-Israelites) who did not have the law were judged by a law and condemned for their perversions. (Jude) Again we point out that because Sodom and Gomorrah was judged without the law of Moses they were then under some type of law since their sin was accounted to them and God held them responsible and judged them.  Where did this law come from? In the garden God said that after eating of the fruit, they now knew “Good and Evil”. “Good and Evil” is a moral law in the hearts of men that tells them something is “wrong, or evil”.

So Paul declares that all men are sinners, every one is guilty both Jew and Gentile.[7] (Romans 3:23) Now Jennifer Fishburne in her observation of the IO debate between Bradley, and Miano she stated erroneously,

So what does that tell us? This tells us that “gentiles” is a presuppositional, made-up word that should be translated as “nations” 100% of the time.

What she fails to understand is that the word “Gentiles” comes from the Latin Vulgate version where nations, is translated from the Greek as “gignere” which in turn the English translation from the Latin is “Gentiles”. The word is specifically used by scholars, instead of the commonly used term “nations” to deliberately make the distinction between nations of Israel, and all other nations that are not descended from “Israel”. Therefore, the phrase “Jew and Gentiles” then becomes inclusive of every nation on the face of the Earth.

It was established in Verse 14 of Romans 5 that Gentiles were not given the law of Moses, therefore gentiles are never counted as descendants of Abraham which is the consensus of scholarship and a point that IO denies[8], even when scriptures demonstrates, they were never given the law.  The law was only given to Israelites. Since all men became sinners through Adam then we must understand the man is a sinner because of Adam, (knowing what is good and evil) not because of the law of Moses comes into existence and validates what sin is. This is the condition of all men. If all men are condemned, then through the one man all will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18) so were all men included in the promise of Salvation?

In Genesis 3:15 God declares judgment and hope at the same time.

15I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

This being a prophecy of Christ in which satan bruises his heel by his death, but Jesus crushes his head and takes away his power and rule, he becomes a defeated foe.  The offspring to come is Jesus. Because all men come from Adam and all men sin, the promise of redemption by the death of Christ is to all men as Paul states. Paul never claims that “all men” is descendants of Abraham only as salvation has come to the Gentiles as well, those without the law of Moses.

Now Jen makes another startling admission,

It does not matter if Naaman, Ruth, Rahab, the Canaanite woman, the Ethiopian eunuch, and a few others were Israelites or not. It does not really matter what role Nineveh played in Israel’s story, because the story of the Bible is the story of Israel interacting with all the nations. There were always a few proselytes. There were always a few who wanted to change citizenship. That is not the point of the story, and the exceptions never make the rule.

The IO emphatically states that only descendants of Abraham can be saved. If salvation comes to w hole group of people of another nation, such as Ethiopia or Samaritans, then it disproves the IO narrative. These are not exceptions to the rule but reveals the true heart of God which proclaimed that Israel was to be a blessing to all the nations, from Israel a savior would come for the whole world. The Ethiopians did not change “citizenship”.

In the New testament we find two genealogies, one in Mathew and the other in Luke. Two women are mentioned. In the Old Testament genealogies, women are never mentioned it goes from Father to first born son so why was Ruth and Rahab included?

Ruth is a Moabite[9] who married a Jewish man, and so became a “kinsmen” by marriage. After the death of her husband she chose to go with Naomi and make Israel her people, and their God her God[10]. Moabites were never descendants of Abraham. They descended from Lot therefore they were not Israelites or “the offspring” of Abraham.

36Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day.

Rahab was a Canaanite from the city of Jericho, from the line of Ham, not Shem. Therefore, she is not a descendant of Abraham. Yet both of these women were not only included in the line of Israelites but becomes descendants of Jesus himself. This proving that non-Israelites can be saved. 

31By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11

In the New Testament, Acts 10 we have the story of Cornelius. 

1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort,[11]

 

In Peter vision he sees a sheet come down with unclean animals. Animals that were forbidden to be eaten by the law of Moses. In Peter’s own words he states,

 28And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation[12], but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 

Cornelius was considered by the Law of Moses as “unclean” because he was of another nation. He was not a descendent of Abraham. There is no law disallowing a Jew to visit another Jew no matter where they lived. He was a gentile one without the law. (Romans 2:14). Cornelius is then converted to Christianity. Peter’s response;

 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

Salvation had come to the gentiles, non-Israelites, non-descendants of Abraham.

In Romans 11 Paul discusses the nature of “Grafting in”;

….Through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous… But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,

Again, Paul is teaching the gentiles have now been grafted in to the main Olive branch, they become part of the Body of Christ. You can not be grafted into the Olive branch if you are already part of the branch. Being the branch means you were a “biological descendant of Abraham, “from the one tree”., which is Israel.

Now concerning the question of the Diaspora Peter mentions in Verse 1 of his letter and James 1:1, the IO argue this is the dispersed tribes among other nations from the time of the Babylonian captivity. Two points need to be made to prove that the “diaspora” is referencing Christian scattered abroad. When Paul travels to these foreign nations, (Galatia, Philippi, Corinth) he first goes to the synagogues in these places to preach the gospel. These synagogues were established by non-Christian Jews from the Babylonian dispersion, faithful Jews.

5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

They were there in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  Five thousand were saved, and it would be a reasonable assumption they returned home spreading the gospel in every nation, as we see Paul finds these Christians.

 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. Acts 18:24, 25

And Pricilla and Aquila. Acts 18:2,

 2And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. 

These are Jews who were scattered after Passover and after the persecution of Jerusalem.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.[13]

 The main point is Peter and James would not be writing to non-Christian Jews of the diaspora, in his letter his focus is to the believers, the church scattered abroad. The contents of their letter are not about converting Jew’s but exhorting the believer. It is also argued that Luke, a physician was a Hellenistic Greek, who lived in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria, so also not a Jew, as neither was Timothy.

Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 16:3

By tradition and Jewish Rabbinic law a Greek son was not a “Jew” even though his mother was believed to be, Timothy was not recognized as Jew.

In conclusion we have demonstrated that Gentiles are those without the law, meaning they are not descendants of Abraham by any means. They are not the lost ten tribes who have rejected the covenant or any other such thing nor of the scattered Jews of the Babylonian diaspora. They are of “other nations” that do not belong to Israel as we have established many nations did not come from Abraham.

Secondly, we have established from the Old Testament as well as the new that God sought to include Gentiles in the salvation message which came from the beginning, from the fall, the hope and promise of a Messiah who would come and save the people from their sins. Many other arguments are presented by IO adherents but since we have established non-Jews were saved, its proven that the gentiles have been grafted in and God has included them into the New Covenant as Israel is not only those who are descendants of Abraham but those who share in the faith of Abraham are true descendants. The tenets of IO are proven unfounded and inconsistent with what scriptures demonstrate.

Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of Israel to preach salvation has come. Jesus sent out his disciples to make “disciples of all nations”.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There is no stipulation to go to Jews only of these nations but to ALL people.

25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaveg nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

By the inclusion of Gentiles into the Promise of Abraham, we have proven salvation came to non-descendants of Israel. IO stated,

The burden of proof is on those who deny this truth to show where the inspired authors of the New Testament record forgiveness of sins was made available for those who were not descendants of Israel and not of the nation of Israel….

Acts 10 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name… 44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.

The burden of proof was met, now will the adherents abandon such a heretical doctrine?

But let’s add one thing..

Jennifer stated, “If salvation was for us today, there should be very clear passages that tell us exactly who is allowed to change citizenship today, what procedures we would need to follow, what laws we would need to obey, what the consequences of disobeying those laws would be, and what the benefits of our citizenship would be. We should find really clear passages that tell us the magic prayer to pray, that we will only be forgiven of our sins if we pray it, that we need to perform certain religious rituals like baptism and communion, how to enter their kingdom, how to get to heaven, how to avoid hell, and what happens when we die.”

Paul made it very clear, first by understanding Gentiles is people of other nations, that all men can be saved. As even Peter declared the same in Acts 10.

1Brothers,a my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved … 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes..  9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It’s simply exegetically impossible to assume “everyone” means only “descendants of Abraham. Paul goes on to argue that those who are not part of the vine, part of Israel has been grafted in by faith. Anyone who has faith in God, faith like Abraham become the child of Abraham.

Stephen Whitsett M.Div.

[1] Since all men are sinners, then all men come from Adam. Paul declares to the Athenians all men come from one bloodline. Acts 17:26

[2] Physical death: God did not threaten Adam with spiritual death but with corporeal death as a punishment. Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Heb 9: 22) – Adam sin required the shedding of blood. Gen 3:  21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

[3] In the Noah story all men who had breath in them died, so that only eight people survived upon the whole face of the earth. I Peter 3:20 tht only eight people survived the flood that covered the face of the earth. (not a local flood)

[4] 8When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

[5] Rahab was a Canaanite, from the line of Ham so it is impossible for her to be an “Israelite” after the flesh as Abraham came from the line of Shem.

[6] Gen 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.

[7] The word Gentile is not found in the Greek text but comes from the Latin vulgate as a term to mean any nations that is not a descendent of Abraham is considered “another nation”. IO denies this definition.

[8] Io also tries to assert the Gentiles are the lost ten tribes, “The fullness of the Gentiles (lost 10 tribes of Israel) was coming into Israel (Great Commission) so ALL Israel would be saved. Which is never once mentioned or established there are lost ten tribes, and these supposedly lost ten tribes were not Lost Christians.

[9] The Bible declares her to be a Moabite, not an Israelite living in Moab, It was Naomi’s husband and two sons who were Israelites living in Moab.

[10] By the nature of the comment Israel is “not her people”.

[11] Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.—The office was a comparatively subordinate one, the centurion commanding the sixth part of a cohort, the sixtieth part of a legion. The Greek implies that he belonged to the cohort, not that he commanded it. The name Cornelius may indicate a connection with the great Cornelian gens which had been made famous by the Gracchi and by Sylla. The bands, or cohorts, stationed at Cæsarea consisted chiefly of auxiliaries levied from the province (Jos. Wars, ii. 13, § 6), who were not always to be relied on in times of popular excitement, and this cohort was accordingly distinguished from the others as Italian, i.e., as being at least commanded by Roman officers. A first Italian legion is repeatedly mentioned by Tacitus (Hist. i. 59, 64; c. 100; iii. 22), but this is said by Dion (lv. 24) to have been first raised by Nero; and the term which St. Luke uses for band (spira) was, strictly speaking, not used of the legions, the latter term being applied exclusively to Roman troops. In Acts 27:1 we meet with another of these cohorts, also at Cæsarea, known as the Augustan.

[12] allophulos: of another race: ἀλλόφυλος, ον;  allophulos; (al-lof’-oo-los);  foreign, of another tribe or race. ἀλλόφυλος, (ἄλλος, and φῦλον race), foreign, (in secular authors from (Aeschylus) Thucydides down); when used in Hellenistic Greek in opposed to a Jew, it signifies a Gentile, (A. V. one of another nation): Acts 10:28. (Philo, Josephus.)

[13] It was fourteen years between Paul’s conversion and the beginning of his ministry.