1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Meaning of the word "Israel"
A. Hebrew word yisra-el
B. Derived from two root words
- uncertain meaning
Contextual - "to strive, struggle" - Gen. 32:28
Etymological - most likely meaning - "to rule"
Jacob surrendered to God in order to be ruled by God
God rules - El is usually the subject in compounds
- means "god" or "God"
II. Biblical usage of the word "Israel"
A. Old Testament
name given to Jacob - Gen. 32:24-32; 35:10
Name used as a collective politico-religious designation
Israel - Exod. 34:27; Deut. 27:9; Josh. 7:8
people of Israel - Exod. 18:1; Deut. 21:8; 26:15
descendants of Israel - II Kings 17:20
children of Israel - Deut. 1:3
sons of Israel - Gen. 36:31; Exod. 1:13
Name used in connection with things identified with descendants
king of Israel - I Sam. 23:17
land of Israel - I Chron. 22:2; Ezek. 7:2
Ten northern tribes retained designation as "Israel"
Two southern tribes used designation of "Judah"
Again used to refer to entire nation - Ezra 2:2; Neh. 12:47
Used of the "remnant of Israel" - Isa. 46:3; Jere.
reference to Messiah - personified Israel
Holy One of Israel - Isa. 54:5
Servant of Israel - Isa. 49:3
Ruler in Israel - Micah 5:2
King of Israel - Isa. 9:6,7; Zech. 9:9; Zeph. 3:15
Shepherd of Israel - Ezek. 34:15,16; Zech. 13:7
6. By inter-testamental
period the name "Israel" was used as ethnic, racial,
national and religious
designation of the Hebrew peoples.
B. New Testament
name of Jacob - ? Rom. 9:6
of Jacob - Matt. 8:10; 10:6; Lk. 1:16; 2:32
location where descendants of Jacob lived - Matt. 10:23; Lk.
Christ, the fulfillment of the promises to Israel
King of Israel - Matt. 27:42; Mk. 15:32; Jn. 1:49; 12:13
Hope of Israel - Acts 28:20
designation of Christians - Rom. 9:6; 11:26; Gal. 6:16
III. Typological fulfillment of "Israel" in Christians
A. Old covenant people of Israel served
as prefiguring, type, shadow, illustration, "picture-people"
that the Jewish peoples are abandoned by God - Rom. 11:1
Christian peoples are fulfillment of the people of Israel
Continuity with Israel of God - preliminary/reality
Discontinuity with external, physical Jewish nation
B. Designations of old covenant Israel
applied to new covenant Christians
of God - Jn 1:12; Rom. 8:14; Phil. 2:15; I Jn. 3:1
of Abraham - Rom. 4:11,16; Gal. 3:7,29
of God; People of Inheritance - Gal. 3:29; James 2:5
of God - Eph. 2:12,19; Heb. 3:6; 10:21; I Pet. 4:17
of God - Col. 1:13; 4:11; Rev. 1:6
of God - Rom. 9:25; Eph. 5:3; Titus 2:14
of God - I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10
of God - II Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31,32
People - Col. 3:12; I Pet. 2:9
- Rom. 2:28,29; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11
11. People of
Zion, Jerusalem - Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:10
12. Remnant -
13. Israel -
Rom. 9:6; Gal.6:16
14. Jews - Rom.
C. Christians become such only because
Jesus Christ became the personified fulfillment of the promises
of God to Israel
of Israel's expectation
"hope of Israel" - Acts 28:20
D. The Christian's identification as
Israel must be viewed Christocentricly
1. We serve
as Israel only as we are dynamically and spiritually united with
Jesus Christ; only as
we are "in Him" and He is "in us"
2. We serve
as Israel only as the ontological Being of Christ is functioning
3. We serve
as Israel only as Jesus, as God, rules and reigns in us as Lord!
The meaning of Israel is "God Rules! "
"Israel" is not a static title, designation or title
that we lay claim to.
The designation must be spiritual, relational, dynamic, active,
living, systemic, organic.
4. We serve
as Israel conditioned by our receptivity of His activity in Faith.
IV. Usage of the term "Israel" in reference to
the modern nation called "Israel"
A. There is no Biblical basis to assert
that the modern nation of Israel has anything to do with Biblical
1. It is
a twentieth century geo-political organization.
name of "Israel" was selected with deliberate intention
of conveying connection with legacy
of ancient Israel.
Israel is not the Biblical Israel and has no claim to any promises
or rights of Biblical
Israel cannot be considered a chosen nation of divine destiny
any more than any other
B. The demise of the modern nation of
Israel would not impinge upon Biblical prophecy.
character and faithfulness do not depend upon the changable circumstances
of human politics
come and go, but God remains the same.
the spiritual nation of Israel is eternal - I Peter. 2:9