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The Problem with Dispensationalism

Discussion in 'Eschatology & Prophecy Forum' started by Trekson, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. n2thelight

    n2thelight Well-Known Member

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    Israel has always been and still is the Church

    Ekklesia, the Greek word translated "church" in the New Testament, is often used to refer to Israel in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (LXX). In the LXX ekklesia is even used as a synonym for the Greek word sunagoge, a word that we transliterate as "synagogue." Further, sunagoge in the LXX sometimes refers to Gentiles. These facts indicate that in Scripture there is not as sharp a distinction between the church and Israel as modern dispensationalism would have us believe.
    Many dispensationalists have said, "Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel." A lot of doctrines and eschatology are built upon this premise. Yet when one examines Scripture itself, one is surprised to discover that Israel in the Old Testament is repeatedly called the "church." In Acts 7 Stephen tips us off to this fact:
    • This is that Moses, which . . . was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina. (Acts 7:37, 38)
    It was no accident that Stephen, a Jewish Christian who followed Greek customs, called Israel the "church," for his Bible, the LXX, regularly uses ekklesia to refer to Israel. Many Christians in those early years relied heavily upon the LXX, and the New Testament is filled with quotations from it. Thus, early Christians were well acquainted with the biblical concept that God's church in Old Testament times was the nation of Israel.
    Therefore, even without such Pauline passages as Romans 2:28, 29; 9:8; and Galatians 3:29, dispensationalism's ultra-sharp distinction between "Israel" and the "church" appears to be both unwarranted and unbiblical.
    For our analysis below we present Bible verses in English as found in the King James Version (KJV), adding notes within brackets wherever the LXX deviates from the KJV in the relevant portions of those verses. We have highlighted the English words that correspond to ekklesia in yellow, and that correspond to sunagoge in turquoise.
    Ekklesia Used As A Synonym for Sunagoge

    What follows are four passages in which ekklesia and sunagoge are used as synonyms in the LXX. This suggests that New Testament Christians who used the LXX as their Bible would have viewed our words "church" and "synagogue" as synonyms.
    1. "Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh." (Judg. 20:1)
      "And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword." (Judg. 20:2)
    2. "And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death." (Judg. 21:5)
      "And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly." (Judg. 21:8)
      "And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children." (Judg. 21:10)
      "And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them." (Judg. 21:13)
      "Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?" (Judg. 21:16)
    3. "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest." (Ps. 40:9)
      "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." (Ps. 40:10)
    4. "I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly." (Pr. 5:14)
    Ekklesia Used In Conjunction with Sunagogein

    In some cases, the noun form of the one word is used in connection with the verb form of the other word. Below is a verse in which in the LXX the noun form of "church" is used in connection with the verb form of "synagogue."
    1. "Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet." (Joel 2:16)
    Ekklesiazein Used In Conjunction with Sunagoge

    Now we'll look at two verses in which the verb form of "church" is used in connection with the noun form of "synagogue," the opposite situation of what we found in the last quoted verse.
    1. "And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (Lev. 8:3)
    2. "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink." (Num. 20:8)
    Verses Where Ekklesiazein Appears Alone

    Here are three verses in which the verb form of "church" is found without either sunagoge or sunagogein.
    1. "Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law." (Deut. 31:12)
    2. "Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them." (Deut. 31:28)
    3. "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16)
    A Verse in Which Both Ekklesia and Ekklesiazein Occur

    To the above could be added the following verse. In this one we have both the noun and verb forms of "church" appearing together.
    1. "Specially the day [LXX reads: "the day of the assembly"] that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." (Deut. 4:10)
    Ekklesiastes Translated As "Preacher"

    Ekklesiastes is yet another word that is related to ekklesia. It means "preacher" and is where the book of Ecclesiastes gets its name. Here are seven verses that use this word in the LXX.
    1. "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem." (Eccl. 1:1)
    2. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2)
    3. "I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem." (Eccl. 1:12)
    4. "Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account." (Eccl. 7:27)
    5. "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." (Eccl. 12:8)
    6. "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs." (Eccl. 12:9)
    7. "The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth." (Eccl. 12:10)
    Sunagoge Used to Refer to "Gentiles"

    In the New Testament the Greek word that is translated "Gentile" is ethnos. Ethnos means "nation" and in the King James Version is often translated as such, as well as "heathen" and "people."
    The following thirteen verses either use ethnos in connection with sunagoge in the LXX, or use sunagoge in talking about non-Israelites. "Synagogue" in thus a word that sometimes refers to Gentiles.
    1. "And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude [plural in LXX] of people [plural of ethnos]." (Gen. 28:3)
    2. "And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company [plural in LXX] of nations [ethnos] shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins." (Gen. 35:11)
    3. "And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude [plural in LXX] of people [plural of ethnos]; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession." (Gen. 48:4)
    4. "For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people [LXX reads: "a company of very many nations [ethnos]"]." (Ezek. 26:7)
    5. "Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin." (Ezek. 27:27)
    6. "In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall." (Ezek. 27:34)
    7. "Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword." (Ezek. 32:22)
    8. "Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living." (Ezek. 32:23)
    9. "And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords." (Ezek. 38:4)
    10. "Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them." (Ezek. 38:7)
    11. "Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?" (Ezek. 38:13)
    12. "And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army." (Ezek. 38:15)
    13. "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations [LXX reads: "gatherings of the nations [ethnos]"], that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." (Zep. 3:8)
    The Complete List of Verses

    We identified 264 verses in the LXX that contain either ekklesia or sunagoge, and have posted the complete list on page two of this analysis

    The Word "Church" in the Old Testament
  2. Retrobyter

    Retrobyter Well-Known Member

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    Shalom, sojourner4Christ.

    A "no-brainer?" If you say so! But, may I suggest that a LITTLE usage of the brain is a good thing.
  3. Trekson

    Trekson Well-Known Member

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    Hi Retro, You’ve got to dig a little deeper than that. What we have is a promise within a promise.

    Romans 9:6-13 – “6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel(1*) 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.(2*) 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.(3*) 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth (4*) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. KJV

    Your words: “"The children of the flesh" were the children that Avraham had through the physical attempt to "help God out" by Sarai's handmaid, Hagar, and his later concubine Keturah. The children he has through normal relations were NOT the children of promise. Yitschaq (Isaac) was the child of promise! What promise?”

    Your focus is a little too narrow. Yes, it’s important for understanding to get the context from surrounding scripture. (I’ll call that the immediate context.) We also have to understand scripture from the general context of the whole story from Gen. to Rev. (*1) Sometimes the general context has to override the immediate context to get a greater understanding. So, Gen. 18: 10-14 is not the “promise”. It is the telling of how the “promise” goes from one generation to the next. (*2) First, I believe Isaac was the child of “normal” relations. Sara was barren but, imo, God healed her womb at the appointed time so she could be the mother of the son to carry on the promise just as He did with Samuel’s and John the Baptist’s mothers (as far as healing of the wombs are concerned).

    What is the promise that Paul is speaking of in Rom. 9? (*3) From Gen. 12:1-3 – “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

    The highlighted part is what makes us children of the promise, nothing else.

    This “promise” was passed on to Isaac. Gen. 26:3-4 – “ Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

    The “promise” was then passed on to Jacob. Gen. 28:13-14 – “And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

    Your words: “THAT was the promise! That promise passed on, according to God, since He said "the elder would serve the younger," to Jacob/Isra'el! Furthermore, He said, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." So, ironically, if you are claiming to be children of the promise, then YOU are also claiming to be children of Isra'el!”

    Sorry, but Jacob/Israel wasn’t the promise. The promise was that through their faith and obedience all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I am blessed to have Christ as my personal Savior through the obedience and faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They started it all but the “promise” is Christ, (3*) not Israel! (*4>) Matt. 20:16 –“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”

    Your words: “Now, regarding the analogy of the body to the ekkleesia, this analogy was NOT extended to all Christians all around the world! It was a LOCAL analogy made of the ekkleesia to Korinth. However, as I've said before, it is impossible for a finger in Albuquerque to scratch a nose in Timbuktu!”

    You’re getting a little too literal here but could one part of the Body in Albuquerque bless either physically through the internet or intercessory prayer or financially with offerings or a missionary effort bless someone who is also part of the Body in Timbuktu? Absolutely! It is not impossible at all.

    Matt. 19:26 – “ But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”