Replacement Theology Versus Fulfillment Theology- #22
In our last installment, we examined Paul’s compact but incredibly important statement that the remnant of Israel was, when he wrote, in the process of receiving the “hope of Israel” – that for which Israel sought and hoped. It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this declaration coming from the apostle who said that his gospel was nothing but the hope of Israel found in “Moses, the law and the prophets.” Paul was proclaiming fulfillment theology– not some kind of replacement theology!
It is also important to note that Paul, citing Isaiah 10 as supportive, prophetic background, said that the salvation of the remnant that was on-going when he wrote, would not be a long, drawn out, protracted process. Rather: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.” So, if Romans 11:25-27, is the consummation of the salvation of the remnant, we have here an emphatic delimitation for the time of fulfillment. YHVH said that when He would begin the work of the salvation of the remnant, He would not drag on that last days work for a long time. He would “cut it short” and “make a short work on the earth.”.
If the hope of Israel was found in Torah – and it was – and if the hope of Israel was the kingdom, the resurrection, the restoration of Israel, the Messianic Temple, salvation, etc. – and it was – then for Paul to say that the remnant was entering into Israel’s hope is absolutely astounding! And fatal to Dispensationalism.
But, Paul is not alone in declaring that Israel’s Old Covenant promises were being fulfilled in Christ in the first century. Just a quick march through the book of Acts is powerful proof of this. Before we do that, let me share first a series of hermeneutical facts that are set forth in the NT. This “outline” of hermeneutic, is a resounding refutation of the woodenly literalistic view of scriptures espoused by the Dispensational world. I will be brief here, but, check out my YouTube series on Principles for Interpreting the Bible for an expanded discussion. Here are a few bullet points:
☛ All NT writers were Jews (with one possible exception).
☛ All NT writers tell us that their eschatological hope was nothing but the hope of Israel found in “Moses, the Law and the Prophets.” We have sufficiently documented this above. Jesus himself said he came to full the Law (Matthew 5:1ff), and Paul said the same of Jesus’ ministry (Romans 15:8).
☛ The NT writers tell us that the OT prophets did not understand what they were predicting, either as to time or nature. (Even the OT prophets said this! See Daniel 12:9-11). Peter is emphatic about this (1 Peter 1:9-12).
☛ The NT writers tell us that through the Holy Spirit, they were giving the final, definitive interpretation of the Old Covenant prophecies (See 1 Peter 1:10-12). This is an incredibly important point. In 2015, I had a formal YouTube video debate with noted Christian apologist Dr. Michael Brown. When I made and emphasized this point, Dr. Brown simply had not answer. You can watch that debate here.
☛ The NT writers tell us that they were living in the time foretold by the OT prophets; they believed in the fulfillment of those Old Covenant promises! As we will see in our next installment, the NT writers say this over and over again. So, if Jesus and the NT writers said they were living in the time anticipated by the OT prophets, in their prediction of the last days and the restoration of the kingdom, if the promises were not fulfilled, then the NT writers were wrong.
☛ The NT writers tell us that Israel’s hope – found in those OT prophecies – was being fulfilled in Christ and the church! As we have seen, Peter’s application of the prophecies of Hosea is emphatic, definitive and undeniable. Peter most assuredly did not believe in some failed “Replacement Theology.” He believed in “Fulfillment Theology!”
Now, if / since these hermeneutical principles are stated, by the NT writers, it is clearly specious to ignore their interpretation of the OT promises to Israel about the last days and extrapolate the fulfillment of those prophecies millennia beyond the days that the NT writers said were the days of fulfillment – the first century. With this brief outline of hermeneutic before us, in our next installment we will take a brief run through Acts to see how Luke records Peter and Paul affirming that Israel’s eschatological hope was being fulfilled in their day. This survey will prove beyond doubt that the charge of “ Replacement Theology” is specious. It will demonstrate the reality of Fulfillment Theology.