The identity of the “Israel of God,” begins by realizing that whenever “Jacob” is mentioned in the Bible, that name refers to the natural born man, “Jacob.” But when the heavenly name “Israel” is used, it speaks of the “spiritual Israel of God.” Jesus and Jesus alone lived up to the definition of the name “Israel,” which is: “HE WILL RULE AS GOD” (see Strong’s H3478). Jacob never lived up to that name, nor did any of his descendants other than Jesus. Notice in the next scriptures how they all point toward Jesus being the True Israel of God:
(14) When he arose, he took THE YOUNG CHILD and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
(15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, OUT OF EGYPT HAVE I CALLED MY SON.
(1) WHEN ISRAEL WAS A CHILD, then I loved him, and CALLED MY SON OUT OF EGYPT.
(22) And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, ISRAEL IS MY SON, EVEN MY FIRSTBORN:
(16) For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(6) Having yet therefore ONE SON, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
(7) But those husbandmen said among themselves, THIS IS THE HEIR; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
(8 ) And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
(9) What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? HE WILL COME AND DESTROY THE HUSBANDMEN, AND WILL GIVE THE VINEYARD UNTO OTHERS.
These verses interrelate together showing that the Promised Child was and is Jesus Christ! He is the same promise Paul referred to allegorically in Galatians 3:16 as the One promised SEED of Abraham. Through Jesus, the Church becomes partakers of that same promise, and members of the True Israel of God.
Jesus and Jesus alone lived up to the definition of the name “Israel,” which is: “HE WILL RULE AS GOD.”
These are the 82 times where Jacob and Israel appear in the same verse: Gen 32:28,32; Gen 34:7; Gen 35:10,22; Gen 46:2,5,8; Gen 48:2; Gen 49:2; Gen 49:7; Gen 49:24; Exo 1:1; Exo 3:15; Exo 3:16; Exo 19:3; Num 23:7; Num 23:10; Num 23:21; Num 23:23; Num 24:5,17; Deu 33:10; Deu 33:28; Jos 24:32; 2 Sam 23:1; 1 Kin 18:31; 2 Kin 17:34; 1 Chr 16:13; 1 Chr 16:17; Psa 14:7; Psa 22:23; Psa 53:6; Psa 78:5; Psa 78:21; Psa 78:71; Psa 81:4; Psa 105:10; Psa 105:23; Psa 114:1; Psa 135:4; Psa 147:19; Isa 9:8; Isa 10:20; Isa 14:1; Isa 27:6; Isa 29:23; Isa 40:27; Isa 41:8; Isa 41:14; Isa 42:24; Isa 43:1; Isa 43:22; Isa 43:28; Isa 44:1; Isa 44:5; Isa 44:21; Isa 44:23; Isa 45:4; Isa 46:3; Isa 48:1; Isa 48:12; Isa 49:5-6; Jer 2:4; Jer 10:16; Jer 30:10; Jer 31:7; Jer 46:27; Jer 51:19; Lam 2:3; Eze 20:5; Eze 28:25; Eze 39:25; Hos 12:12; Mic 1:5; Mic 2:12; Mic 3:1; Mic 3:8-9; Nah 2:2; Rom 11:26. However, when you read through these passages you find the “man” is referred to as “Jacob,” and the “promise” is referred to as “Israel.” Jacob never did live up to the spiritual promise of “ruling as God.” Thus the man Jacob is not the true Israel of God. As a result, Jesus alone lived up to both this promise and the true meaning of “Israel,” which is “He will rule as God.”
An identity crisis comes from a lack of identity in Christ. Once a person sees that Jesus is the True Israel of God, they can then be set free to pursue Christlikeness. That is what Paul meant by this statement:
(15) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
(16) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
It’s all about being IN JESUS CHRIST! The “rule” to which verse 16 speaks is not about being a Jew (circumcision) or a Gentile (uncircumcision), but about being a “New Creature” in Christ! This is speaking of the New Covenant, not Old Covenant. Paul is saying that those who walk in that rule will have “peace” and “mercy.” The conjunction “and” tying this to Paul’s “Israel of God,” is the Greek work “Kai.” Kai can be translated “and, also, even, indeed, but” (see G2532). The Amplified Bible uses the word “even” in place of “and” in this verse.
Galatians 6:15-16 AMP
(15) For neither is circumcision [now] of any importance, nor uncircumcision, but [only] a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah].
(16) Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule [who discipline themselves and regulate their lives by this principle], EVEN upon the [true] Israel of God! [Ps. 125:5.]
This translation clearly has Paul saying those living by this rule make up the membership of the Israel of God. These commentaries agree with this conclusion:
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
The Israel of God – The true Christians, called here the Israel of God, to distinguish them from Israel according to the flesh. See the notes on Rom 2:29; Rom 4:12 (note).
A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
Israel of God — not the Israel after the flesh, among whom those teachers wish to enroll you; but the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith (Gal 3:9, Gal 3:29; Rom 2:28, Rom 2:29; Phi 3:3).
John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule – Glorying only in the cross of Christ. Being crucified to the world. And, Created anew. Peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel, that is, the Church, of God – Which consists of all those, and those only, of every nation and kindred, who walk by this rule.
Neither the ethnicity of the Jews nor their opportunity to receive salvation through Jesus ended because of the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple. But with this destruction came the elimination of the self-righteous system of Law to which some Jews had fallen prey. Jesus’ coming in judgment during that generation—as prophesied—firmly established Him as the King of kings and the Lord of lords who does RULE AS GOD (see Mat 28:18). When a believer (Jew, Samaritan, or gentile) is “born again,” they become a member of Jesus’ Body and thereby a member of the true Israel of God.
Copyright © 2011 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.