Date of Award
Dr. J. Scott Duvall
Dr. C. Marvin Pate
Dr. B. Allyson Phillips
God chose his people in the Old Testament (OT) beginning with a man named Abraham. In Genesis chapter 12, God makes a promise to Abraham, "I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 1 From Abraham, Israel developed into a great nation that followed God intently sometimes but ultimately found themselves in a never-ending circle of betraying, disobeying, and forgetting God. In Leviticus 26:11-12 God says to Israel, "I will make my residence among you, and I will not reject you. I will be your God, and you will be my people." God kept this promise by dwelling in the Tabernacle, in the Ark of the Covenant, and eventually, in the Holy of Holies in the temple. However, because of Israel's continuous rejection of God, He, in turn, replaced national Israel with spiritual Israel as his people. Through the death of his son, Jesus Christ, he offered a place in his family to all who believe in him, regardless of their ethnicity. In the OT, the only way to become a part of the people of God was to have faith in God and to follow his law. It may seem like to be part of God's people, Israelite blood was essential, however, there are several Gentiles even in the OT that were granted entrance into the people of God. Rahab and Ruth are two great examples of Gentile members of God's chosen people. There is a common belief that in the OT, Israelites were the only people chosen by God to be his, and that is simply not the case. God chose the nation of Israel as his vessel to reach the world, and Gentiles were allowed in if they were faithful and obedient to God. In the New Testament (NT), following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the way to salvation and into God's chosen people changed. Jesus's perfect sacrifice annulled the law and allowed God's presence to dwell among his people just as it was promised in Genesis 12, and now there is no ethnic distinction. In the OT, God chose a specific people group, Israel, to accomplish his mission, but they failed, and now, God is allowing the entire world to have a chance.
This thesis is an investigation of the New Testament understanding of "Israel." Beginning with the Gospels, and ending with Revelation, the goal is to thoroughly understand how the New Testament authors view national Israel and the true, spiritual Israel. Following the section investigating the Gospels are sections looking into the Pauline Literature, Hebrews, and Revelation. Readers will gain insight into the nature of "Israel" from a New Testament perspective and what is necessary to be included in the people of God.
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Hurst, Ashton, "An Investigation into the New Testament Understanding of "Israel"" (2023). Honors Theses. 877.