Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jesus: The True Israel

PCA pastor Nick Batzig has posted a nice article expounding on a much-overlooked theme of Scripture: Jesus: True Israel of the First Gospel.

Here is a sample...

In the genealogy at the beginning of the first, Matthew mentions three major epochs in Israel’s history: fourteen generation from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the Exile. The reference to the period from Abraham to David, and from David to the Exile, marks the totality of Israel’s history as they waited for the promise of the Father. The genealogy of Christ is more than a mere record of lineage. It introduces the idea of Christ being the fulfillment of the entirety of Israel’s promises, and prepares the reader for the idea of Christ as the one who recapitulates Israel’s history in order to fulfill those promises.

After He is born, Jesus goes down into Egypt, out of Egypt, through the waters, into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (where He overcomes by using Scripture that God gave to Israel in the wilderness), up on the mountain, down from the mountain to feed the people with bread like God fed Israel with the manna in the wilderness.

Click on the link to read more. 
Lest you think that he is out on a limb please read this post by Kevin DeYoung.  I've heard much the same thing on The White Horse Inn which, by the way, is winding up a great series on interpreting Scripture.  Click on that link and listen to some recent broadcasts.


E. Wesley Reynolds said...

Hello Rev. Sarafolean,

The parallels between Christ and Israel are indisputable. What strikes me more is the fact that not only did Christ “recapitulate” Israel, but was living out the law in her stead as He was doing it. John Milton in his Paradise Regained poetically reminds his readers that in the temptation of Christ, Christ was keeping the law as Adam should have kept it (of course the difference in atmosphere being that Adam failed in a lush garden whereas Christ triumphed in a desert). If you’re interested, I just finished Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained recently, and wrote a review about them on my blog Landmarks of Liberty (

Grace reigns,

Dave Sarafolean said...


Good points. I was unaware of Milton's work in this area. I will check out your blog.

When we see that Christ was the
2nd Adam AND Israel recapituled, the OT comes clearly into focus. Just as Adam was under a conditional covenant (do this or die) so was Israel at Sinai (do this or I will kick you out of the land). This understanding clears up a lot of fog in the OT.

E. Wesley Reynolds said...

Yeah, Israel seemed to be in a very interesting position in Redemptive history. Certainly, Israel wasn’t in the covenant of works like Adam because they couldn’t keep the law perfectly and Hebrews mentions Abraham being saved by grace. Yet like you said, there seemed to be an allusion to what you called “conditional covenant” concerning Israel’s inheriting of the Promised Land. Any thoughts?

Dave Sarafolean said...


Well, Israel forgot that they couldn't keep the covenant of works. When God renewed the covenant with Israel (Deut. 27-30)
he spoke of covenant blessings and covenant curses. Furthermore, though the people agreed to live under these conditions God plainly told that they would fail to keep the covenant (see Deut. 30:18ff). They willingly entered into this covenant of works thinking that they could keep it. What was lost was the pedagogical nature of this covenant (Gal. 3) which was intended to drive them to Christ. Instead they (esp. the Pharisees) fooled themselves into thinking that they had kept the covenant of works which made Christ an enigma. He was the new Israel who did what Israel failed to do.

Stay tuned, I'll speak more about this on Sunday.

E. Wesley Reynolds said...

Alright, thanks.

Wes said...

Hey you guys,

Great discussion. I have a question, Dave: What about verses like Jer. 31:33 and Gal 6:16 (etc.), which clearly refer to the Church as the true Israel? How do you delineate between Christ as the true Israel, and the Church as the true Israel?



Dave Sarafolean said...


Good question. Let me take a stab at it.

Jesus is the true Israel by virtue of his completing the covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai. That was a conditional covenant just like the covenant made with Adam in the Garden of Eden. So, Christ kept both of these conditional covenants on behalf of those who have broken them.

The church is Israel based on the finished work of Christ. I don't see a contradiction but rather a complementary distinction. Christ is the true Israel and the church becomes that too by virtue of his finished work (and its imputation to individual believers). Here the language of Romans 11 is helpful, the language of grafting.