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.

Vol. 19, no. 1 (Spring 2008)

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Vlach, Michael J.. "Rejection Then Hope: The Church’s Doctrine of Israel in The Patristic Era." The Master's Seminary Journal 19, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 51-70.