“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” (Rom. 2:28-29). This is one of many scriptures that is used to support Replacement Theology. It is the belief that Israel rejected her Messiah and the Gentiles accepted Him, so the Church has become Spiritual Israel, replacing the natural Israelites. As the above scripture says, a real Jew is one inwardly.
These two verses point out that the distinctions of heritage, religious practice, or circumstance are irrelevant in Christ.
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ” (Rom. 10: 12-13).
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Col. 3:11).
This scripture is key in describing that the Gentiles are fully included into Spiritual Israel, including citizenship and natives of the covenants and promise.
“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.’ (Eph. 2: 11-12). Further down in the same chapter it is restated directly that Gentile believers, the Church, are members of God’s family. “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” ( Eph. 2: 18-19). However, note that it says “fellow citizens with God’s people”, so it is true that the Church is Spiritual Israel, but not solely.
This seems to be the point and conclusion of Replacement Theology, that Israel is irrelevant in every respect and the Church has become the sole recipient of the promise. Israel is replaced by the Church, alone. It should be recognized that Replacement Theology has been a part of orthodox Christianity for many hundreds of years. Like many strained doctrines it is put forth for a purpose. In this case to denounce the Jews, their rejection (as a nation) of the Messiah, and any future role in God’s Kingdom purposes. Beware any teaching that strains scriptures to achieve a conclusion that carries a principle persuasion.
Most of the scriptures, even those above, when taken in full context are about inclusion of all believers in Spiritual Israel, but inclusion in Israel is not the elimination of Israel. When a bride is brought into her husband’s family, she joins the family and takes his name, she does not eliminate his predecessors or extended family.
Paul is very clear that Israel has not been forever replaced, by their rejection of Messiah, Yeshua. Many Jews accepted Yeshua and many more are coming to faith today, but God has not given up on His chosen people. “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.’ And what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom. 11: 1-6). This is a great truth and blessing.
If we take all the scriptures on Israel and the overall message of God’s dealing with Israel through the ages, we see that He continually brought His people back to Himself, even if it took generations to do so. Part of God’s purpose in bringing the Gentiles to faith is that they may participate in the restoration of Israel, by their inclusion in Spiritual Israel. “Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’ ” (Rom. 15: 10).
“What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” (Rom. 3: 1-3).
Replacement Theology was created for a purpose, not because it was taught in the Bible. You may be sure that such teachings are unreliable and should be rejected. Gentile believers can accept their inclusion in citizenship in Israel and the covenant and promises along with Israel, and we are Jews in Spiritual Israel. That does not mean that we are to try to take on all the religious practices of Judaism. When some people see this truth they go overboard and think God wants them to observe all the laws of Judaism, which never had any saving power. That could be a topic for the future, but read Galatians, Acts 15: 22-31, and hold tight to Yeshua Messiah, by the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Rom.11: 16-29).
The above scripture alone is adequate to dispel Replacement Theology. God is not through with Israel as people loved by God or as a Nation rising again after 2000 years, as prophesied in scripture. The evangelical spirit-led Church today is a great supporter of Israel, not out of naturalistic Zionism, but because God’s people love those whom God loves, it is a direct work of the leading of the Holy Spirit, and because it is taught in the Bible.