The Fullness of the Gentiles– Numeric or Relational – A Response to Israel Only #3
I want to take note that there still has not been a single serious attempt to prove, lexically, contextually, or by sound hermeneutic to refute my first two installments. There have been tons of diversionary arguments, lots and lots of ridicule and name calling, many, many unsubstantiated (and flagrantly dishonest) lengthy, caustic, vitriolic posts. I have been called dishonest, deceitful, stupid, ignorant, and lots of other adjectives, but still not a single attempt to show that my articles showing how Paul used pleroma, how he used hettema, how the lexicons define the words in view, how the context itself forbids a numeric focus– is false.
(Note: Lance Conley- who is not IO – did write a lengthy article attempting to answer, but his entire article can be summed up like this: Preston is wrong because he rejects the Calvinistic view of “election. Preston is wrong because he rejects the idea of literal creation being restored. Preston is wrong because he is a full preterist! That about sums up the entire thrust of his lengthy article). Edit– Conley has informed me, rudely and crudely, (he accused me of lying) that he is not a Calvinist. He tells me he is Eastern Orthodox, but not a Calvinist. I apologize for making that ill-informed accusation. It is never my intent to purposefully misrepresent the beliefs of anyone.
What has been done is that two IO proponents produced articles from noted scholars that they claim (falsely) posit that the Gentiles are Israel in Romans 11. But, both of these attempts simply demonstrate the unfortunate willingness of the IO camp to blatantly falsify. In neither one of the articles do the authors support IO! Both of them affirm that Paul used his ministry to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. Both authors unambiguously delineate between Israel and the Gentiles!
Not only have those IO defenders falsely claimed that those authors support their falsehood, they went so far as to claim that in my debate with Dr. Michael Brown, I actually espoused IO, identifying the Gentiles as Israel. The reader needs to realize that this is a blatant lie on the part of these two proponents of IO. I very clearly stated in that debate that the fullness of the Gentiles was the equal inclusion of the Gentiles, with Israel, in the one body. I absolutely did not identify the Gentiles as Israel. But, again, such is the dishonesty of the IO advocates that they are willing to openly lie.
But let me continue my examination of Romans 11 and the fullness of the Gentiles and on to related issues.
In Romans 11, Paul is clearly and undeniably focused on Israel / Gentile equality (not numerals) just as Ephesians 3 describes the mystery as Jew / Gentile equality in Christ:
“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree”– Paul is speaking of the grafting in of the Gentiles, into the root (the Abrahamic root, which promised blessing to “all nations of the world.”
And take careful note, again, that the Gentiles here are not Israel. This cannot be over-emphasized. Paul speaks of some of the branches of Israel being cut off, but in contrast, the Gentiles were being grafted in. Not only that, but pay particular attention to Paul’s comment: “you, (the Gentiles) a wild olive tree, were grafted in and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” The Gentiles were grafted in “with Israel” the righteous remnant of Israel. “With them” does not mean “you are them.” With is in addition to, not the same as.
And notice also that Paul does not say that the Gentiles had been “cut off” and needed to be “grafted back in” – “again” — as he does when discussing Israel. The Gentiles had never been part of the Root, had never been cut off from the Root, and could not be “grafted back in”– again. Israel had been cut off and needed to be “grafted back in”– again.This establishes an indisputable contrast between the Gentiles and Israel, a contrast that cannot be dismissed.
For Paul, “Israel” and “you” i.e. the Gentiles, were totally distinct. Israel sprang from the Root, the Gentiles did not. Israel sprang physically from Abraham, the Root; the Gentiles did not. This alone falsifies IO, because in that paradigm, all Gentiles were in fact of the physical lineage of Abraham, the Root. But, that is precisely what Paul is denying. The Gentiles were NOT of the physical Abrahamic root.
This is hugely important because if Paul was concerned about “ethnicity” and physical lineage, it would be impossible for any non-Israelite, anyone not originally of that physical lineage, to be grafted into that physical lineage! And yet, Paul said that the Gentiles were being grafted into the Root. Let’s get real here, shall we? God was not changing the DNA of the Gentiles to make them physical descendants of Israel! But to emphasize, in Romans 11, the Gentiles were not Israel. They were not of the Root. But all of this proves that “The Root” of Abraham under consideration had nothing to do with ethnicity, nothing to do with blood, nothing to do with physical lineage. And that destroys IO!
By the way, the fact that Paul is not concerned with ethnicity is also proven by the fact that Israel had been cut off from the Root, but, they could, by faith, be grafted back in. Well, once again, if ethnicity, bloodline, physical descent is the focus, then the IO folks need to explain how it was that “Israel” had been “cut off” from the Root!! Did they lose their blood? Had they lost their physical descent from Abraham? Such an idea is ludicrous beyond belief, but, it is demanded by the IO emphasis on blood, on ethnicity, on physical descent. Since it is impossible to be cut off from ethnicity, from blood, from physical lineage, this is prima facie proof that when Paul is talking about being grafted in, whether it be Israel or Gentiles, he simply did not have physical lineage in mind, and that destroys IO. All of this hearkens to Galatians 3-4 and becoming the children of God by faith, not by blood: “Only those of faith are the seed of Abraham.”
Paul said that along with faithful Israelites – “with them” – the Gentiles were being grafted into that One Root, to be equal partakers of that one root, the Abrahamic promises. This is the mystery at work, being accomplished, long after Acts 10, proving that the IO claims that the equality between Jew and Gentile was already accomplished before Paul’s ministry and before Romans 11 is are specious and false.
Thus, equality for Israel and the Gentiles is Paul’s focus. This is the mystery of God. It cannot be over-emphasized that Paul is not talking about a numeric equality, as if he wanted to make sure there were as many Gentiles converted as there were Jews. This is driven home by another text where Paul discusses his role in the mystery, and the scope of that ministry. In Romans 16:25-26, the apostle said:
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for the obedience of faith (NKJV).
We hear here an echo of Genesis 12:3 that in Abraham, (the Root of Romans 11), all the nations would be blessed. Paul says that God had always intended this, before Israel or Torah came into existence, although the full impact, the full realization, the implementation had been kept secret until his ministry and the coming of Christ. With the coming of Christ, the Seed through whom and in whom the Abrahamic promise for all nations was to be fulfilled, (Galatians 3), “all nations” were, when Paul wrote, hearing of the promises of those blessings and they were responding (Colossians 1:5f) and bringing forth fruit– in the New Creation! And with the remnant of Israel, they were being grafted into the Root, to become one new man, indeed, a New Creation. This helps us realize that the fullness of the Gentiles is not a numeric concept.
I will continue this discussion in the next installment. There, I will discuss the role of the Spirit and the charismatic gifts, Paul’s incredibly important role in bringing about the fullness of the Gentiles, and, how the book of Revelation proves beyond doubt that IO is totally falacious. Stay tuned.