Objection to Israel as a type of the Church

On my post about Riddlebarger’s double-edged sword, I mentioned in passing that Israel was a type of the church. Someone named Joshua took objection to that, arguing that I had taken typology “too far.”

Now, I greatly appreciate that Joshua took the time to read my post and took the time to comment. That is the reason that I post my thoughts on a public blog. I’m not writing on here because I have everything figured out. I’m writing on here because a) it helps me organize my thoughts, and b) it allows for me to be sharpened by iron. So I appreciate Joshua’s comments, and I hope more people continue to comment on things they object to (or maybe even agree with!).

Joshua then made a post over at his own blog:

I’ve been commenting on a blog post as to whether or not the church is the antitype to Israel. I think one runs into an issue when looking at Israel as the type and the church as the antitype because it distracts people from the fact that Jesus is the true Israel. One of my favorite authors is Dr. Kim Riddlebarger who wrote the book A Case for Amillennialism. He also wrote an excellent blog post entitled, “Amillennialism 101 — Jesus Christ: The True Israel“, which explains the position so well.


This is a very interesting comment, because it undermines his earlier objections in my comment thread. Let me explain: My comment was in opposition to classic paedobaptist covenant theology which argues that the nation of Israel is the church of the OT. It is the same body as the church in the NT. This is Joshua’s position (correct me if I’m wrong Joshua).

P1. The nation of Israel was the church in the OT
P2. The NT church is the church in the NT
C: The nation of Israel and the NT church are essentially the same thing

Now, Joshua objects to my statement that the nation of Israel was a type of the church by arguing that the nation of Israel was a type of Christ. But, let’s see where we end up if we combine these two views:

P1. The nation of Israel was a type of Christ
P2. The nation of Israel is essentially the NT church
C: The NT church is a type of Christ

Hmmm. Looks like we goofed somewhere along the line. I think the first syllogism/view is the goof. I agree with what Riddlebarger says in the post Joshua linked to. But the thing is, Riddlebarger’s argument proves my case, not Joshua’s 😉

P1: The nation of Israel was a type of Christ, the true Israel of God
P2: The believing church, through union with Christ, is the true Israel of God (see Riddlebarger’s quote of Strimple in his post)
C: The nation of Israel was a type of the believing church

And so, by implication, Riddlebarger agrees with Jonathan Edwards (and myself) that the nation of Israel was a type of the church. But it is not only by implication. Note what Riddlebarger’s teacher Meredith Kline says:

the socio-geo-political sector of the Israelite kingdom of God was a part of the total system of kingdom typology established through the covenantal constitution given to Israel in the law of Moses… Israel as a geo-political kingdom is…expressive of the restorative-redemptive principle, it is…a type of the antitypical kingdom of Christ, the Redeemer-King… This kingdom of Israel – not just the temple in its midst, but the kingdom of Israel as such, the kingdom as a national geo-political entity – was a redemptive product of God, a work of divine restoration, given as a prototype version of the kingdom of God in the perfect form it was to attain under the new covenant in the messianic antitype of that Israelite kingdom.

Comments on an Old-New Error

3 thoughts on “Objection to Israel as a type of the Church

  1. Jon

    Brandon…this posting on blogs is a bit of terra nova for me, a career lurker. I agree that Israel is a type of the Church…I think the author of Hebrews makes this point as well. My interest is in the Kline quote. I probably am not understanding his wording, but it seems to me that he is implying that the whole old covenant (including the geo-political components) and not just the ceremonial component with the temple, priesthood and sacrifices were rightly considered the kingdom of God. If that is his position, then I’m not sure how that works for his 2 kingdom theology which seems to (at least to my understanding of it) say that the word of God is for the temple (Sacred) but not the geo-political (Secular). Maybe I’m reading too much into this, and I definitely know that I don’t understand the 2K stuff no matter how many times I hear it explained…but it just seems like he’s consistent in understanding the typology, but inconsistent in applying it across the board. Does that make any sense?


    1. Kline is saying that all of the old covenant, including the geo-political, was rightly considered the kingdom of God in a sense. And that sense is a typological sense. It is not the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of heaven. It is only a type or shadow of it.

      This fits very well with, and in fact is the motivating factor behind, his two kingdoms view. The quote is actually taken from his critique of theonomy. If you have a chance to read that article it may clear things up. He argues that precisely because the Old Covenant was typological, we should not practice theonomy, because the antitypical kingdom is “not yet”. It was a type/shadow, and is therefore done away with, but what it typified is not yet consummated. Thus theonomy is unbiblical.

      Regarding the two kingdoms view of what the Bible is for – the Old Covenant kingdom of God represented a theocracy, and what Kline would refer to as an “intrusion ethic” that is unique in all of history. It is not the model for all nations, it is only a shadow of Christ’s nation.

      Here is another quote from the article:

      In the new covenant, the messianic anti type of the Old Testament theocracy unfolds in two eschatological stages and the Lord’s invisible reign on the theocratic throne of David in heaven is a present reality of the first stage, now current. Not, however, until the second stage at the consummation of history will the kingdom of God as a visible geo- political institution, the anti-type’ of the Old Testament typical theocracy, be introduced into public earth history through Christ’s coming in final redemptive judgment.


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