Jealousy and fullness: revisiting Acts 13:48

Posted: 20th June 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Revisiting Acts 13:48, Steve (Undeception) has written on the topic of the elect and predestination from his full preterist perspective. Working primarily from Romans 9-11, he writes that:

God’s purpose in election was not to arbitrarily divide all of humanity into two groups, the saved and the damned, but to further His redemptive purpose in a particular, sharply defined context.

Note the verb tense, “was”. The key to his perspective is understanding that this context is in the past. For Steve and other full preterists, Paul’s reference to “until the full number of Gentiles has come in” in Romans 11:25 points to fulfillment in 70AD, not a future consummation.

The “full number” of Gentiles was already starting to be filled up. The generation Jesus spoke to that was not to pass away until He returned was nearing its end. The foreknown Jew and Gentile “first fruits” were about to be offered to God and redemption would soon be available to anyone who would believe. The coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of judgment at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 definitively eliminated the Jew/Gentile distinction by fulfilling once and for all the promises of God to Israel and vindicating those awaiting the fullness of a new, better covenant (Jer 31; Heb 8).

Steve closes with an appeal to Revelation 22, where the Spirit and the bride invite everyone to receive the water of life:

God’s purpose in election has been fulfilled. All are free to believe and receive the water of life. Praise God for fully accomplishing His redemptive plan for humanity!

[Read the entire article]

  1. tc robinson says:

    Thanks, El. This is an interesting reading of Romans 11:25-27. What is Steve going to doing about vv. 26 and 27:

    “and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
    “The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

    And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

    I have neither seen all Israel saved nor their deliver coming from Zion and fulfilling the covenant. Have you?

    Are we to understand the coming of their deliver as part of the AD 70 matrix?

  2. TC,
    Why didn’t you come by and ask me? 😉

    I have neither seen all Israel saved nor their deliver coming from Zion and fulfilling the covenant. Have you?

    Paul defines Israel in Romans as 1) natural, “after the flesh”, and 2) those who believe. Paul says, “I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…” The Gentiles are included here in the “all Israel”, so how can he be talking about natural Israel? Moreover, Paul himself precludes the possibility of every single ethnic Jew being saved in verse 23, “And even those of Israel,​​ if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in.”

    As far as whether you have “seen” their deliver coming from Zion, this passage does not refer specifically to the Second Coming (which I think you’re talking about here) but to the coming of the deliverer whose work of redemption occurred in Israel c. AD 33 – I didn’t see Jesus on earth, but I believe He came.

    In the same way, “Blessed are those who have not seen but believe”: this goes for the Second Coming, as well. We know who was supposed to see His return: Rev 1.7 says that “those who pierced Him” and the tribes of the land would see Him coming on the clouds in judgment. I have neither seen those who pierced Him nor any claim that the tribes are still intact today. Have you?

  3. deliver=deliverer (not a hepatectomy!)

  4. Well punned, well punned. That’s too funny to delete, so now I can’t just edit your first comment, I have to leave your correction up too. Oh well, more comments for me…

  5. tc robinson says:

    Paul defines Israel in Romans as 1) natural, “after the flesh”, and 2) those who believe. Paul says, “I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…” The Gentiles are included here in the “all Israel”, so how can he be talking about natural Israel? Moreover, Paul himself precludes the possibility of every single ethnic Jew being saved in verse 23, “And even those of Israel,​​ if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in.”

    Stephen, blame Elshaddai (smile).

    Paul makes a clear distinction between the Gentiles and the Israelites, ethnically speaking.

    From Rom 11:11ff Paul is clear who the Gentiles are and who the Israelites are. It’s only a person’s theology that is going to muddle this clear distinction.

    The only time Paul makes a distinction within ethnic Israel is seen in Rom 2:28, 29 and 9:6, where within ethnic Israel, there’s spiritual Israel.

    As far as whether you have “seen” their deliver coming from Zion, this passage does not refer specifically to the Second Coming (which I think you’re talking about here) but to the coming of the deliverer whose work of redemption occurred in Israel c. AD 33 – I didn’t see Jesus on earth, but I believe He came.

    What you’re contending for is not based on a natural reading of the text. You must import meaning to export such.

    The Spirit came on Pentecost, not Jesus. Jesus promised the coming of the Spirit with his ascension (Acts 1:8). The only appearances of Jesus in Acts are visions and so on.

    If Paul were referring to Pentecost in Romans 11:25-27, he did a horrible job of making that known. A natural reading of the text points beyond Pentecost and looks to the future.

  6. From Rom 11:11ff Paul is clear who the Gentiles are and who the Israelites are. It’s only a person’s theology that is going to muddle this clear distinction.

    You’re not following his train of thought: he begins making a distinction, because at that time there was a distinction – yet in the New Covenant, which I would think you claim to be a part of, there is no longer a distinction (Galatians 3). When do you think distinction disappeared?

    Anyway, please bear with me and re-read this passage again:

    “And so all Israel will be saved…”
    vs.
    “And even those of Israel,​​ if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in.”

    Ok, so we either have Paul blatantly contradicting himself (two verses apart!) or Paul is falling back on the formula that is probably one of the most foundational themes of the entire epistle, “They are not all Israel who are Israel.” This interpretation makes the most sense of the text.

    The only time Paul makes a distinction within ethnic Israel is seen in Rom 2:28, 29 and 9:6, where within ethnic Israel, there’s spiritual Israel.

    Don’t forget Galatians 3. Also, how can you assume that Paul defines true Israel as irrespective of race, and throughout the rest of the epistle abandons that theology and goes back to a two-covenant system? Jesus, not the Law, was to be the basis for everyone’s redemption, including ethnic Jews. Your system has a second plan of salvation in competition with Jesus extending for millennia.

    What you’re contending for is not based on a natural reading of the text. You must import meaning to export such.

    The Spirit came on Pentecost, not Jesus. Jesus promised the coming of the Spirit with his ascension (Acts 1:8).

    I didn’t say anything about Pentecost, by the way. I was saying that the coming of the deliverererer (got it that time) was probably referring to the work of Christ on earth that initiated our redemption, but perhaps it was referring to the Second Coming; it’s immaterial to my argument. But it’s devastating to yours. Read it again:

    The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

    And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.

    So tell me, TC, are your sins taken away yet? Or are you waiting for the future? 🙂

  7. tc robinson says:

    You’re not following his train of thought: he begins making a distinction, because at that time there was a distinction – yet in the New Covenant, which I would think you claim to be a part of, there is no longer a distinction (Galatians 3). When do you think distinction disappeared?

    Distinctions still remain even within the NC: a male is still a male, and a Jew is still a Jew. But there’s no distinction soteriologically speaking. If that is what you mean, then I agree.

    Anyway, please bear with me and re-read this passage again:

    “And so all Israel will be saved…”
    vs.
    “And even those of Israel,​​ if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in.”

    Ok, so we either have Paul blatantly contradicting himself (two verses apart!) or Paul is falling back on the formula that is probably one of the most foundational themes of the entire epistle, “They are not all Israel who are Israel.” This interpretation makes the most sense of the text.

    From Rom 9:1ff Paul reiterates the rich heritage of Israel, then makes his distinction within ethnic Israel with reference to Israel alone. Gentiles are not in this discussion until v. 17.

    Within Romans ethnic distinction remains (1:16; 3:9; 29 and so on).

    Don’t forget Galatians 3. Also, how can you assume that Paul defines true Israel as irrespective of race, and throughout the rest of the epistle abandons that theology and goes back to a two-covenant system? Jesus, not the Law, was to be the basis for everyone’s redemption, including ethnic Jews. Your system has a second plan of salvation in competition with Jesus extending for millennia.

    Both Jews and Gentiles are now being saved in this church age. This fact, however, does not nullify what God has in store for ethnic Israel.

    God’s return to ethnic Israel is not a competition with Jesus but rather a completion of the NC as it was meant to be (Jer 31). The NC was made with ethnic Israel.

    I didn’t say anything about Pentecost, by the way. I was saying that the coming of the deliverererer (got it that time) was probably referring to the work of Christ on earth that initiated our redemption, but perhaps it was referring to the Second Coming; it’s immaterial to my argument. But it’s devastating to yours. Read it again:

    The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

    And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.

    So tell me, TC, are your sins taken away yet? Or are you waiting for the future?

    You’re missing Paul’s argument. Again, if Paul were speaking of Christ’s trip to Calvary, he did a poor job at it.

    The NC is already in effect but not fully realized. And here’s the thing, because of that fact, I sure of its fulfillment to ethnic Israel.

    Yes, my sins have been taken away, but not on the basis of Romans 11:27, for that’s speaking of ethnic Israel.

  8. TC,

    Thanks for the reply. Let me take a different tack.

    What does God have in store for ethnic Israel? Is He going to remove the sins of all who are ethnically Jewish? What about those who are 1/2 Jewish? 1/16? 1/256?

    Read this from Romans 9 carefully:

    2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people,​​ my kindred according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5 to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah,​​ who is over all, God blessed forever.​ Amen.

    [Paul is in anguish that not all of his countrymen will receive the blessing of redemption. The very next verse continues this train of thought, anticipating the objection, “How can some of ethnic Israel not receive the blessing of redemption?”]

    6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 7 and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.

    The whole point of that passage and Paul’s introducing the “not all Israelites” distinction is that God’s promises were never intended for natural, ethnic Israel, but for true Israel. When you understand this and let it sink in, Romans 11.25-27 is an obvious, almost doxological (with the OT quotation) restatement of this same information.

  9. tc robinson says:

    What does God have in store for ethnic Israel? Is He going to remove the sins of all who are ethnically Jewish? What about those who are 1/2 Jewish? 1/16? 1/256?

    Scripture itself teaches us that God always has a remnant, not the least with Israel.

    The 70th week of Daniel 9:24-27 is yet to be realized for the nation Israel. The time of Jacob’s trouble has not occurred (Jer 30:7). Her deliverer has not come from Zion to deliver her and setup the MK (Acts 1:7).

    [Paul is in anguish that not all of his countrymen will receive the blessing of redemption. The very next verse continues this train of thought, anticipating the objection, “How can some of ethnic Israel not receive the blessing of redemption?”]

    True! And this, my friend, is strong evidence for the premillennial view of eschatology.

    The whole point of that passage and Paul’s introducing the “not all Israelites” distinction is that God’s promises were never intended for natural, ethnic Israel, but for true Israel. When you understand this and let it sink in, Romans 11.25-27 is an obvious, almost doxological (with the OT quotation) restatement of this same information.

    Yet Paul doesn’t say that. When Paul wants to make that point of true Israel he does. Back in 2:28, 29, in a context referring to ethnic Israel, he does.

    There’s still that partial hardening of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles come in. Has that number come in already?

  10. I can’t believe you dodged my question about people of mixed heritage. The fact is that most Europeans, and hence most Americans, have some Jewish blood in our ancestry.

    Some try to say that the nation of Israel is ethnic Israel for eschatological purposes. But in no way does the nation of Israel resemble ethnic Israel in Romans: people within Israel and millions outside Israel have Jewish blood, but none of them are pure Jews. So the only difference between Jews in NYC and Jews in Jerusalem is the political system and the physical location. So, some Jewish blood = not ethnic Israel, but some Jewish blood + political system and physical location = ethnic Israel. Huh? In what sense are NYC Jews not Israel “after the flesh”?

    You ask, “There’s still that partial hardening of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles come in. Has that number come in already?” Acts 13 already shows that number coming to completion. Since the fulfillment of the OC and the ratification of the NC (see Hebrews 12:25-29), “whosoever wills” may come, descendants of Israel included (good thing – since the Diaspora ensured that most of us are descendants of Israel!).

    Also, a comment of yours I missed above said that the NC was made with ethnic Jews. Are you going to stand by that? The author of Hebrews and Paul in Ephesians and Galatians are emphatic that the NC is for us. Read Hebrews 8 (which quotes Jer 31) and see if that relates to us or to ethnic Israel.

    And they call preterism strange!

  11. tc robinson says:

    I can’t believe you dodged my question about people of mixed heritage. The fact is that most Europeans, and hence most Americans, have some Jewish blood in our ancestry.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to. I agree with you on that one. The Sovereign of the universe knows how to gather his people from the four corners of the earth.

    Some try to say that the nation of Israel is ethnic Israel for eschatological purposes. But in no way does the nation of Israel resemble ethnic Israel in Romans: people within Israel and millions outside Israel have Jewish blood, but none of them are pure Jews. So the only difference between Jews in NYC and Jews in Jerusalem is the political system and the physical location. So, some Jewish blood = not ethnic Israel, but some Jewish blood + political system and physical location = ethnic Israel. Huh? In what sense are NYC Jews not Israel “after the flesh”?

    I didn’t get my eschatology from the likes of John Hagee (smile). I reject that type of hermeneutics. Again, YHWH knows those who are his.

    You ask, “There’s still that partial hardening of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles come in. Has that number come in already?” Acts 13 already shows that number coming to completion. Since the fulfillment of the OC and the ratification of the NC (see Hebrews 12:25-29), “whosoever wills” may come, descendants of Israel included (good thing – since the Diaspora ensured that most of us are descendants of Israel!).

    Also, a comment of yours I missed above said that the NC was made with ethnic Jews. Are you going to stand by that? The author of Hebrews and Paul in Ephesians and Galatians are emphatic that the NC is for us. Read Hebrews 8 (which quotes Jer 31) and see if that relates to us or to ethnic Israel.

    Gentiles too benefit from the NC and because of this I take the premillennial position. The NC was betweed God and ethnic Israel. Gentiles benefit because of the church era.

    And they call preterism strange!

    Still strange, I say.

  12. Damian says:

    Steve,

    I only just read the original post on your site, but I have to say – regardless of whether I agree or disagree with your proposition (I’m not sure I’m well-read enough to make a choice) – I love the way you think.

    Elshaddai and TC, thanks for starting the conversation.

  13. Gentiles too benefit from the NC and because of this I take the premillennial position. The NC was betweed God and ethnic Israel. Gentiles benefit because of the church era.

    So it was meant between God and ethnic Israel – but Israel won’t get to be a part of it until the end of time? In what sense does our participation in this current day resemble the sort of life under the NC that the Jews will have after the apocalypse? Is the NC simply about the afterlife? If so, then we aren’t really participating right now. If not, how can you really parallel how it applies to us here before our afterlife and before the apocalypse with how it will apply to ethnic Israel after the return of Christ after they’re all whisked away to their afterlife?

  14. tc robinson says:

    So it was meant between God and ethnic Israel – but Israel won’t get to be a part of it

    until the end of time? In what sense does our participation in this current day resemble the sort of life under the NC that the Jews will have after the apocalypse? Is the NC simply about the afterlife? If so, then we aren’t really participating right now. If not, how can you really parallel how it applies to us here before our afterlife and before the apocalypse with how it will apply to ethnic Israel after the return of Christ after they’re all whisked away to their afterlife?

    Are you intentionally misrepresenting the premil view? I hope not.

    During this church era, both Jews and Gentiles are being saved. This is the mystery form of the kingdom, and this in no way, nullifies what God has in store for ethnic Israel.