Rejection Then Hope: The Church’s Doctrine of Israel in The Patristic Era

Michael J. Vlach | May 21, 2010

The early church’s hope for the future of Israel has often been overlooked. In writings of the Patristic Era, the fathers often connected the salvation of Israel with the comings of Antichrist and Elijah and the personal coming of Jesus Christ at some time in the future. To note their emphasis on the future of the nation is not to deny several other emphases of the early writers. Their view of Israel is best defined primarily as punitive supersessionism, because they viewed Israel as being judged by God for their rejection of Christ at His first coming. For them the two destructions of Jerusalem proved this. They felt that the church had replaced Israel as the people of God, at least for the present, and had taken over Israel’s Scriptures, Israel’s Covenants, and Israel’s promises. Yet the message is loud and clear that the ancient church believed in the future salvation of Israel, some voices even predicting that the nation would return and possess the land that God had promised to Abraham. The early church as a whole, then, adhered to a moderate form of supersessionism, meaning that they concurred with the Bible’s teaching that Israel had been rejected, but went beyond that to dwell on the great hope lying ahead for that people.

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Michael J. Vlach Professor of Theology B.S., University of Nebraska-Lincoln M.Div., The Master’s Seminary Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D. is Professor of Theology at The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, California where he has been teaching full time since 2006. Michael has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Divinity degree from The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, California. He also earned his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Michael specializes in the areas of Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, Apologetics, and World Religions. His specific area of expertise concerns the nation Israel and issues related to refuting the doctrine of Replacement Theology. Dr. Vlach was awarded the "Franz-Delitzsch Prize 2008" for his dissertation, "The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism." He is also the author of five books: Has the Church Replaced Israel?: A Theological Evaluation (B&H Academic, 2010) 20 Tips for Writing Seminary Papers (Theological Studies Press, 2010) The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism (Peter Lang, 2009) Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths (Theological Studies Press, 2008) Philosophy 101: The Big Idea for the 101 Most Important People and Ideas in Philosophy (Lampion Press, 2016) Dr. Vlach is also the Founder and President of, a cutting-edge website devoted to providing quality articles, news, and information related to Christian theology. Michael speaks regularly at churches and conferences and has appeared on several national radio and television broadcasts including The History Channel. Michael is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and has taught various courses in Theology for Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. To learn more about Dr. Vlach visit

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