Seven Scriptures That Make Supersessionists Squirm

Has the Church replaced Israel? Scripture makes it clear that Replacement Theology is a misguided notion at best, and antisemitic at worst.

By Dan Juster | | Topics: CHRISTIANS, Replacement Theology
Supersessionism, or Replacement Theology, is easily debunked by taking God at His Word.
Supersessionism, or Replacement Theology, is easily debunked by taking God at His Word. Photo: Pexels/Monstera

A Quick Primer

For early Gentile Church fathers, the devastation of Israel in 70 AD and 135 AD would only have been possible if God had, in a final demonstration of wrath, rejected the Jewish people.

Replacement Theology was a new theory to give sense to that devastation and to the fact that the nation of Israel as a whole did not embrace Yeshua. This new theory of Biblical interpretation developed a way to read the Bible. The Church was understood as the New and True Israel. Passage after passage in the Hebrew Scriptures were read with this slant; read “Church” when you are reading passages that speak of a positive and permanent fulfillment for Israel.

Before responding we should note that Replacement Theology is the term used by opponents of this theology, not its proponents. Proponents use the term “Fulfillment Theology” or supersessionism, namely that the Church has superseded national-ethnic Israel.

After the Nazi Holocaust, most major mainline Church bodies officially repudiated Replacement Theology. Indeed this replacement theology was seen as a factor in opening the door to historical antisemitism. However, as the impact of the Holocaust has waned, and as these churches have been influenced by propaganda concerning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, replacement attitudes are growing again.


How to read the Hebrew Bible

Replacement Theology raises the central issue of the authority of the Bible and how to interpret biblical texts. In interpreting these texts our two guiding questions should be:

  1. What did the author intend to say or what was his meaning?
  2. What would the targeted audience have understood?

When one reads the texts according to author intent and audience criticism concerning the promises to Israel, one comes away with a very clear conclusion:

These texts promise that the ethnic people Israel, who later were called the Jews, have an election that can never be lost. This is due to the election of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants. Though there may be punishment and scattering, this ethnic/national people can never lose their election but will always continue as a people (Lev. 26:44). In addition, there are numerous promises to this people that will be fulfilled and which according to an honest reading of history have not yet been fulfilled.


How to read the New Testament concerning Israel

What about certain texts of the New Testament? Yes, by analogy the New Testament applies language from the Hebrew Bible concerning Israel to the Church. However, this cannot be a replacement, but an addition. I actually call this addition theology. In addition to Israel, God has a priesthood that He gathers from all nations who fulfill an analogous role to Israel and have analogous promises.

Many Christians are told that the New Testament re-interprets the Old. However, this interpretation is limited to new insights and applications that do not change the original intention of the text.

Moreover, we should note that Replacement Theology is not only unnecessary but is a violation of the clearest passage in the New Testament, which speaks about Israel. This is Romans 9-11. (Please take a few minutes to read.)


Seven scriptures that make supersessionists squirm

There are so many passages concerning Israel’s restoration in their own land and entrance into a glory that will not fade. Here are seven.

  1. Amos 9:15“I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.Does this verse speak to the ethnic-national people or a metaphorical future people from all nations who will inherit the eternal Kingdom which is metaphorically the Land?Would this be a comfort to faithful ancient Israelites?
  2. Joel 3:20“Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon. The LORD dwells in Zion.”This passage comes after the description of a severe world judgment of the nations which are described as invading Israel. It is hard to see how this is the Church. This has not yet happened.
  3. Isaiah 49:6“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”There is no legitimate way to confuse the meaning here. The promise is to Israel and includes the salvation of the nations. A new Israel of Jew and Gentile replacing Israel cannot be the interpretation.
  4. Isaiah 62:1-4For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness and all kings your glory…for the LORD will take delight in you and your land will be married.Here the Jews of exile are comforted by the promise of the restoration of Jerusalem, not comforted by a spiritual metaphorical Jerusalem from heaven. This would not have been such a comfort.
  5. Jeremiah 23:7, 8“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”Can this be the Church? No, the Church was not banished. Can this be the return from Babylon? No, this was a small remnant that returned and 500 years later was still a minority of the Jewish people, perhaps less than a third. There was never such a mighty and great return such that this language was used, that is until today.There is still more to come from this verse. This return is to yet make the Exodus pale by comparison. This has to be a prophetic word about the literal national-ethnic people.
  6. Jeremiah 31:31-37This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar, the LORD Almighty is his name. “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.” This is what the LORD says, “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out, will I reject the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD.Here is food for thought. The New Covenant is made with national/ethnic Israel. It includes the promise of the forgiveness of their sins and that they will all know God. It includes the promise of their ethnic-national preservation. When Christians hear the words, “New Covenant,” this context of meaning is hardly in their minds. So how is it that Christians are part of the New Covenant? It is by the fact that salvation of the Gentiles is part of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant enables its implementation.However, this covenant has only been partially fulfilled. It includes, as part of it, the restoration of the Jewish people. The affirmation to the physical seed in this passage could not be clearer. There is no way that the Church can be read as the intended subject of the last part of the quote above.
  7. Zechariah 12-14 selectionsJerusalem shall be an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… A day of the Lord is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it…Then the LORD will go and fight against those nations as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet wills stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be split in two form east to west, forming a great valley… then the Lord My God will come, and all the holy ones with him.Then the survivors form all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

    When I have shared this passage with replacement proponents, they often simply say that they do not know how to fit this in. This is because the passage is so blatantly about one real place that is actually on the earth. It describes Jerusalem surrounded by armies and then delivered. Zechariah writes after Jerusalem was resettled after the first exile in Babylon. It cannot be the first century war because Jerusalem was then destroyed. It can only be an event connected to the Jewish people at the end of days when the city is again inhabited as a Jewish city.

There are so many more passages that could have been chosen. However, the ones we have chosen give us the thrust of the prophets concerning the restoration of ethnic/national Israel, and the glory that will be hers. Paul’s strong words on the irrevocable election and calling of Israel are in the very context of these passages. He expected, with absolute confidence, a fulfillment of God’s promises to the ethnic/national nation. That fulfillment would bring “life from the dead” to the whole world (Romans 11:15). That the in-grafted Christian people share in like promises by analogy is indubitable, but that the ethnic/national people will come into their promised inheritance is also indubitable.


The tragedy of Replacement Theology

Replacement Theology led to the Gentile rejection of the legitimacy of Jewish life in Jesus by the middle of the second century. The results of this have been tragic. For example, a Jewish living community of Yeshua’s followers, if embraced by the rest of the Church, would have made Christian antisemitism, and even the Nazi Holocaust, impossible.

Editor’s note: For additional salient points and details, see the full 12-page paper of which this article is an excerpt:

The Tragic Error Of Replacement Theology


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16 responses to “Seven Scriptures That Make Supersessionists Squirm”

  1. Mark Watkins says:

    Shalom Dan,

    Bravo Chaver, hope you don’t mind if I pinch this to share with others, great piece and as we say: Adonai li; lo ira — יְהוָ֣ה לִ֭י לֹ֣א אִירָ֑א

    Brachot 🙂

  2. Rick Blake says:

    When you say ‘Church’, who do you see, exactly, that belongs in this entity? If a Jew comes to believe in Jesus, do they automatically become a ‘Christian’ and now adhere to the precepts of the ‘Church’? Are genetics, now, THE key factor in determining our dealings with one another in our ‘separate but equal’ walking before God? If so, how is each to properly divide up the New Covenant criteria presented in its’ scriptures?

    • David Lazarus says:

      Hi Rick, you raise some really interesting questions here. Personally, I believe Jews who believe in Jesus become part of the body of believers but remain unique in their role as part of Israel in a way Christians are not. Here’s something I recently wrote that touches on this, though there are still many questions that remain a mystery to me.

      • Dan Juster says:

        Dear Rick,
        I agree with the response of David Lazarus. The issue is not that we are separate but equal but that Messianic Jews must walk as part of the one Body of the Messiah and as the saved remnant of Israel. Messianic Jewish congregation foster the Jewish identity and fellowship of Jew and Gentile. There are also Jewish groupings in congregations that are mostly gentile. There are different ways to do this.
        Dan J.

        • Rick Blake says:

          Mr. Juster,
          As a gentile believer, if I were to participate in a Messianic congregation, would I observe the Sabbath on ‘Saturday’ as opposed to church on ‘Sunday’? If so, should I be participating because of Jewish identity of the congregation, or as a proper expression of the scriptures, even certainly implied in the apostolic writings?

          • Dan Juster says:

            Dear Rick.
            Along with the mainstream of the Messianic Jewish Movement, we believe that there is no commandment for Gentiles to keep the Sabbath but they are free do choose to do so. (Rom. 14, Col. 2). However, in a MJ congregation those gentiles called to be part of these congregations and to join in the mission to see Jewish people come to Yeshua do live a common life with the rest of the congregation. The congregation is a Sabbath keeping one.
            God Bless,
            Dan J.

  3. AdinoBenaiah says:

    Amos 9:15
    This is the permanent restoration of Israel as a nation and government at the Second Advent (Isa 60:21, 11:11-12; Rom 11:12, 15, 26-28). God intends to do this by destroying every Gentile nation and all seven major world religions. (Isa 60:12, 11:4). The Lord is going to preserve Israel as the leading government over every other nation on earth on the grounds that the entire world has called Him a liar to His face (John 8:47; 1 John 5:10). He is going to repay them for it, with “interest” (Deut 7:10, 32:41; Psalm 149:7; Isa 35:4, 47:3, 61:2, 63:4; Mic 5:15; Nah 1:2, etc.)

  4. AdinoBenaiah says:

    Joel 3 describes the judgement of Nations at the end of the Tribulation.
    vs. 4-8 give you the future of Lebanon and the “Palestinians.” During the Tribulation, they will gain the upper hand over the Jews and sell some of them into slavery (Rev 18:13). But when Christ returns at the Second Advent, He takes “Hamas” and sells them as slaves to the very people who used them for propaganda purposes (see pg. 359 in a book titled, “Israel: A Deadly Piece of Dirt”). The “Sabeans” are the Old Testament name for the Saudi Arabians.
    vs 17 Notice that Jerusalem is not “holy” until the Lord returns and dwells “in Zion.” That won’t take place until He completely destroys the UN by wiping out a tw0 hundred million of their troops (Rev 9:16 cf. 19:19-21) Until then, Jerusalem is identified as “Sodom and Egypt” (Rev 11:8)
    vs 20 is a reference to the Millennium.

  5. AdinoBenaiah says:

    Isaiah 49:6
    vs 1-6 are a bear trap that will give every unsaved Jewish Rabbi the chance to go to Hell while quoting Scripture (see Isa 28:16 & 1 Peter 2:8) Jesus Christ was not only given to save you if you believe, He was given to damn you if you don’t trust Him (Matt 21:44): The “servant” is called Israel in Isa 49:3, but it can’t be Israel or Jacob. Jacob was not named before he was born (vs. 1); Jesus Christ was (Psa 22:10 cf. Luke 1:30-32). The Rabbis will try quoting Ex. 4:22; Deut 32:18; and Jer 31:9 to prove that Israel was God’s son, not Jesus Christ. (Of course they’ll ignore Isa 7:14, 9:6; Prov 30:4 where the “son” can’t possibly be Israel.) but notice that the “servant” in this passage cannot possibly be Israel because He is called to bring Israel back to God. When it doesn’t happen (Matt 23:37), He is still “glorious in the eyes of the LORD” (John 17:5) It’s a reference to the Church Age (1 Tim 3:16)

  6. AdinoBenaiah says:

    Isaiah 62:1-4
    Check out Isa 61:7 – Notice the match to Job 42:10. Any scholar who would remove the word “captivity” from Job 42:10 is a God-defying, demon-possessed reprobate, because it breaks the cross reference to the restoration of Israel. If you aren’t using a King James Bible you’re missing a lot. But who am I to judge if you like reading “translations” that alter verses connected to Israels restoration while at the same time attack the deity of Christ. Authors write books – wonder how many the “author of confusion” has put on the market? Food for thought.

  7. AdinoBenaiah says:

    Jeremiah 31:31-37
    vs. 31-34 are quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 where the Jewish application of the “new covenant” is used because the book is written to Hebrews at the end of the Tribulation, and the “new covenant” is about to come into effect in the Millennium (vs 12) (Acts 3:19-20; Rom 11:26-27)
    Expositors try to match Jer 31:31 with Christ’s statement in Matt 26:28. That is a second application of the “new covenant” to all believers, both Jew and Gentile, in the Church Age (Eph 2:11-19) but here in Jer. the covenant is made with the Jews in the political entities of Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom) reunited in one kingdom (vs.33) No Gentile is part of that application. However, it does include every Jew alive at the time (vs.34). Law written in their hearts 33 – no witnessing 34 – that is not the “new covenant” of the Church Age at all. (Col 1:13; Rom 9:1-7, 10:1-4; Gal d3:17-25; 2 Thess 1:8; Mark 16:25; Acts 1:8)

  8. Rick Blake says:

    Thanks, Mr. Lazarus, for taking the time to reply. It really helps to know that you all see the questions we have. I had read the previous article you mentioned and originally had some questions there but didn’t ask at that time. I’m trying not to be nit-picky over too many issues and detract from the authors main intent. I will go back and read it again, but one question: in your reply, you said …”that Christians don’t have.” Do you see the ‘Christians’/’Church’ as a gentile entity? Ok, but where are the definitive lines drawn in the apostolic writings that rely on their best expression found in the Torah? Thanks, again, hope to talk more.

  9. Rick Blake says:

    Thanks Dan, This is what I was wondering. For me, the misinterpretation of the Sabbath has been the essence of ‘replacement’ thought for the Christian Church. Yes, it looks like ‘Church’ founders from the very beginning had a fervent desire to distance a ‘New’ religion from a foreign looking, Jewish lifestyle. History bears out the edicts pronounced that essentially threw out the ‘baby with the bathwater’ with distain for ‘Jewish’ interpretation/practice of the scriptures. My take is IF the Sabbath is creation, and for all man, then it has to stand to this day. We can debate the various ways of enjoying this gift, but that our Creator has changed His mind for the expediency of making it comfortable for the gentiles is more than a bit unsettling. I don’t see anywhere in the apostles writings to dispute this. Could this be a lesson to the gentiles from the Messianic congregations even today?

    • Dan Juster says:

      The Sabbath is a difficult question. That it was not enjoined on Gentiles in any NT text and known as enjoined by the early first 3 century church Fathers is an issue. The fact is that there was no Sabbath either Sat or Sun kept by Christians. Only a half century after Constantine did Sunday become a day of rest. So my view is that it would have been impossible for most to keep the Sabbath. In the Age to Come it will be universal. The Sabbath as you say has meaning that is rooted in God creating and resting. It is different than the other Feasts. But in this Age not required but can be freely chosen. Sunday during those centuries was not a sabbath rest but a memorial of the resurrection.

  10. Rick Blake says:

    I have to respectfully disagree about no ‘scripture’ (whether OT or NT) text to enjoin the Gentiles. That was the very conclusion at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:21, was it not? “The Gentiles begged the words to be preached”…when? Acts 13:42. It concerns me that my believing, Jewish brothers and sisters feel compelled to adhere to errant, theological practice sponsored by Gentile, ‘Church Fathers’ who felt justified in establishing doctrine that ensured the separation of ‘Jewish’ culture from their new epiphany. If there was ever a prime example and clear demonstration of 2 Peter 3:14-16, here it is. As for the OT (why do we insist on using terminology that perpetuates separation?), and as a gentile, I’m not giving up Isaiah 56!

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