Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The 70th Week of Daniel's Prophecy: Daniel 9:24-27 and the Traditional Messianic Interpretation


The dispensational understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 is fundamental to the establishment of the Bible Presbyterian’s end-time schema. The seven year tribulation period which follows the pretribulation rapture, according to Far Eastern Bible College, is the fulfillment of the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. The 70th week of Daniel begins with the Antichrist’s signing of a peace treaty with national Israel. This roughly coincides with the secret rapture of Christians.

The Antichrist will impose his cruel, despotic rule during the second half of the seven years tribulation period, also known as the Great Tribulation. All converts to Christianity will be fiercely persecuted during these three and a half years. At the end of the 70th week of Daniel, Christ will return visibly with His saints to execute judgment upon the ungodly. Instead of hovering in midair as in the secret rapture, Christ will now touch down upon terra firma.[1] A majority of Israelites will now turn to Christ in repentance and faith. Satan will be bound, and Christ begins His Davidic, earthly reign for one millennium.

For Dispensationalists and Bible Presbyterians, “probably no single prophetic utterance is more crucial in the fields of Biblical Interpretation, Apologetics, and Eschatology” than the seventy-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.[2] In fact, the dispensational exposition of Daniel 9:24-27 “is often appealed to as the conspicuous proof that the entire Church age is a parenthesis in the prophetic program which is to be discovered between vss. 26 and 27 of Dan. ix.”[3] The most striking characteristic of the dispensational understanding is the placement of a time gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. Kenneth Gentry writes,

“Dispensationalism incorporates a gap or parenthesis between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. This gap spans the entirety of the Church Age from the Triumphal Entry to the rapture.”[4]

The first 69 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 are understood to be chronologically sequential, and therefore, fulfilled consecutively. However, Bible Presbyterians, following their Dispensational brethren, impose an indeterminable time gap between the last two weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. This time gap is also known as the church age.

It is well known amongst exegetes that the exposition of Daniel 9:24-27 is notoriously controversial and difficult. Montgomery laments that “the history of the exegesis of the 70 Weeks is the Dismal Swamp of O.T. criticism. . . . [T]he trackless wilderness of assumptions and theories in the efforts to obtain an exact chronology fitting into the history of Salvation, after these 2,000 years of infinitely varied interpretations, would seem to preclude any use of the 70 Weeks for the determination of a definite prophetic chronology.”[5]

Gentry concurs that,

“This “extremely important prophecy” [of Daniel 9:24-27] is the most difficult for dispensationalists to make credible to those outside of their system. Even dispensationalist Robert Culver admits: “The difficulty of the verses that now lie before us is evident.” “Premillennial writers of two or three generations ago were very far apart on the details. Much of the same diversity appears in premillennial contemporary writers.” In fact, Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy leads dispensationalism into one of its most strained peculiarities: The doctrine of the gap theory of the Church Age.”[6]

Despite the exegetical difficulty, the entire end-time schema of dispensationalism depends upon an accurate and sound exegesis of Daniel 9:24-27. The dispensational understanding of Daniel’s seventy weeks forms an indispensable foundation for Bible Presbyterian eschatology. According to Gentry:

“The chronology provided in Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27) is a linchpin in the dispensational system, although it is not crucial to any of the other millennial systems. Walvoord comments that the “interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 is of major importance to premillennialism as well as pretribulationism.” Being such, it is the “key” to prophecy and, consequently, “one of the most important prophecies of the bible.” Surely [Oswald] Allis is correct when he observes that “the im­portance of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Dispensational teaching can hardly be exaggerated.’”[7]

Both Bible Presbyterians and Dispensationalists agree that Daniel’s prophecy of seventy-weeks is an indispensable key to the interpretation of New Testament prophecy. It provides an interpretive grid for Dispensationalists to understand essential prophetic passages such as the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation. In fact, this is a good illustration of how Dispensationalists and Bible Presbyterians interpret the New Testament in the light of Old Testament prophecies, instead of vice versa. This methodology goes against the Reformed principle of progressive revelation.

Since Daniel 9:24-27 forms an integral part of the dispensational, hermeneutical foundation, the entire Bible Presbyterian eschaton will collapse if we can demonstrate the exegetical weaknesses of their interpretation of Daniel’s seventy-weeks. Before we critique the dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 - also known as the Parenthesis interpretation - we shall first proceed to understand the Traditional Messianic interpretation of this passage.[8]

The Traditional Messianic Interpretation Versus the Parenthesis Interpretation

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Dan. 9:24-27).”

The traditional messianic interpretation is in many ways similar to the parenthesis interpretation of dispensationalists. As Oswald Allis has pointed out, the points of agreement are as follows:

(1) The seventy weeks represent weeks of years, a total of 490 years.

(2) Only one period of weeks is described, as is proved by the fact that the subdivisions (7+62+1) when added together give a total of 70.

(3) The “anointed one, the prince” (vs. 25) and the “anointed one” (vs. 26) are we same person, the Messiah.

(4) The first 69 weeks or 483 years had their terminus in the period of the first advent; their fulfillment is long past.[9]

Both interpretations agree that the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy consist of 490 years in human history. Dispensationalists and Bible Presbyterians, likewise, concur that the prophecy is Messianic in nature, and that “the Messiah the Prince” in verse 25 and “Messiah” in verse 26 refer to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the first 69 weeks of prophecy is fulfilled within Christ’s First Advent. Both the parenthesis and the traditional messianic interpretation, therefore, stand in opposition to various anti-messianic interpretations that have been proposed.

However, it is the differences between these two interpretations that result in at least two diametrically antagonistic eschatological grids. The points of difference centre about these questions:

(1) Have the great events described in vs. 24 been fulfilled, or is their accomplishment still future?

(2) Is the 70th week past, or is it still to come?[10]

Dispensationalists and Bible Presbyterians, of course, take a futurist approach to these two questions. They both believe that the events of verse 24 have yet to be completely fulfilled, and they both hold to the position that the 70th week is a future occurrence.

The Traditional Messianic Interpretation of Daniel 9:24

According to the traditional interpretation, “all of the great transactions referred to in vs. 24 are to be regarded as having been fulfilled at the first advent and, more specifically, in what is to be regarded as the climactic event of the prophecy, the redemption at Calvary, which is referred to literally in vs. 26 and figuratively in vs. 27.”[11]

Readers will be able to recognize that these transactions of verse 24 speak about the active and passive obedience of Christ. Young understands the 70 weeks as being decreed to accomplish six results or transactions, and he categorizes these six results into two groups of three members each.[12]

The negative results are referred to as: “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity (verse 24).” Indeed, the Messiah’s passive obedience – his atoning sacrifice – encompasses the work of breaking the power of sin over God’s elect (Rom. 6:1-2, 14), the removal of the condemnation of sin (Rom. 5:12-19; 6:23), and the atoning for iniquity (Rom. 3:21-26). Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary, indeed, took away all the eternal consequences of the curse.

Young writes:

“To sum up; sin is here pictured as transgression, sins and iniquity. These three words well represent in its fullness the nature of that curse which has separated man from God. The first stated purpose of the decreeing of the period of 70 sevens is to abolish this curse. It is to be restrained, so shut up by God, that it may no longer be regarded as existing; it is to be brought to an end, that it may no longer be present to enslave; it is also to be done away, because the guilt which it involves has been expiated. How is this to be accomplished? The text does not say, but who, in the light of the NT revelation, can read these words without coming face to face with that one perfect Sacrifice which was offered by Him, who “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26b)?”[13]

Young refers to the last three results as being positive. These three positive results are spoken of by Daniel in verse 24b, “to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” In this group of positive transactions, all the three offices of Christ are alluded to: prophet, priest, and king.

By His perfect obedience as the final priest (Rom. 5:19), Christ brings in “everlasting righteousness.” This righteousness is the imputed righteousness of the Savior. It is by His righteousness that we can stand righteous before the judgment seat of Christ. “It is the righteousness of God which comes from God. More specifically, it is that state of rightness or right relationship with God which comes to the sinner through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the blessed condition of “being right” with God.”[14]

Jesus Christ is the Prophet of whom the Old Testament prophets had prophesized. As a prophet, Christ sealed up “vision and prophecy.” This sealing does not mean “to accredit,” but rather, “to seal up” so that prophecy no longer appears. The purpose and function of prophecy is finished, and is no longer needed in the new dispensation.

Young comments,

“The two words, vision and prophet, therefore, serve to designate the prophetic revelation of the OT period. This revelation was of a temporary, preparatory, typical nature. It pointed forward to the coming of Him who was the great Prophet (Deut 18:15). . . . When sin is brought to an end by the appearance of the Messiah, so prophecy, which had predicted His coming and His saving work, is no longer needed. It has fulfilled its task and is therefore sealed up.”[15]

According to Allis, “The “anointing of a most holy” may refer either to a person or to a place. If to a person, the reference may be to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus to fit Him for His Messianic work (Lk. iii. 22, iv. 18); if to a place, it may refer to the entrance of the risen Christ into heaven itself, when “through his own blood he entered once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. ix. 12) for all His elect.”[16] Both Gentry and Young argue that the anointing in verse 24 “speaks of the Christ’s baptismal anointing.”[17]

Gentry reasons that Daniel 9:24-27 is primarily a Messianic prophecy. The Messiah (mashiyach, “Christ,” “Anointed One”) is specifically mentioned twice in verses 25 and 26. Furthermore, the phrase “Most Holy” rightly describes the Messiah, “that holy thing which shall be born (Luke 1:35).”[18]

Isaiah prophesized about Christ, the Redeemer, who will usher in the ultimate redemptive Jubilee (Isa. 61:1-2a; cf. Luke 4:17-21). It was also at His baptismal anointing that the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Mark 1:9-11), which marks the beginning of His earthly ministry (Mark 1:14-15). Ultimately, “Christ is pre-eminently the Anointed One.”[19]

The six transactions or results of verse 24 are, therefore, Messianic in nature, and are to be understood as having complete fulfillment in Christ’s First Advent, and especially, in His Passion. “In a word, we have in vs. 24 the prophecy of the “satisfaction of Christ,” of His obedience and sufferings, by virtue of which the sinner obtains forgiveness and acceptance with God.”[20]

Determining the Terminus Ad Quem of the Seventy Weeks

The traditional Messianic interpretation understands the death of the Messiah as occurring within the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. “For the period of the 70th seven the Messiah causes a covenant to prevail for many, and in the half of this seven by His death He causes the Jewish sacrifices and oblation to cease. His death is thus seen to belong within the 70th seven [or week]. Consequent upon this causing the sacrifices and oblation to cease is the appearance of a desolator over the pinnacle of the Temple, which has now become an abomination. Upon the ruins a determined full end pours out. This event, the destruction of the city [of Jerusalem], does not, therefore, take place within the 70 sevens, but follows as a consequent upon the cutting off of the Messiah in the 70th seven.”[21]

Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 does not fall within the time frame of the 70 weeks. Gentry concurs that “the destruction of the city and the sanctuary with war and desolation (vv. 26b, 27b) are the consequences of the cutting off of the Messiah and do not necessarily occur in the seventy weeks time frame. They are an addendum to the fulfillment of the focus of the prophecy, which is stated in verse 24.”[22]

From Daniel 9:25, the terminus ad quem of the 69 sevens is fairly clear. According to Gentry, Allis, and Philip Mauro, the terminus of the second period of sixty-two weeks is at the baptism of Christ when He begins His public ministry (A.D. 26).[23] This marks the terminus ad quem of the first sixty-nine weeks, and the terminus a quo of the seventieth week. It should be noted that this is the interpretation widely agreed upon by most conservative scholars, excluding Bible Presbyterians and Dispensationalists who place the terminus a quo of the seventieth week at yet a future date.

“After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off (Daniel 9:26a).” This would imply that Christ is crucified after the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. This climactic event is further referred to in Daniel 9:27, “in the midst of the week he [the Messiah] shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Christ, by His atoning death, put an end to the Jewish cult of blood sacrifices. As the author of Hebrews writes:

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:9-14).”

Therefore, it is Christ who confirms (higbir) the covenant with many for one week (the 70th week), and His crucifixion takes place in the middle (“the midst”) of the 70th week. Allis comments that,

“If “in the midst” is taken in its natural sense, a half-week, or three and a half years, remains to be accounted for after the crucifixion. Many interpreters regard this as referring to the period of the founding of the Church and the preaching of the gospel exclusively to the Jews, a period ending with or about the time of the martyrdom of Stephen. Others hold that the period of three and a half years was graciously extended to some 35 years, to the date of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a reference to which is found in vs. 26. Both of these explanations may be regarded as possible.”[24]

How should we, therefore, interpret the terminus ad quem of the 70th week - the last three and half years? Applying the analogy of faith, we ought to interpret Old Testament prophecies with the light of New Testament revelation. I concur with Meredith Kline who understands that in the Apocalypse of John, the apostle reinterprets the last three and half years of the 70th week as “a time, and times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14).” Kline explains his position:

“It appears that the last half of the seventieth week [of Daniel] is the age of the community of the new covenant, disengaged from the old covenant order with whose closing days its own beginnings overlapped for a generation. In the imagery of the New Testament Apocalypse, the last half week is the age of the church in the wilderness of the nations for a time, and times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14). Since the seventy weeks are ten jubilee eras that issue in the last jubilee, the seventieth week closes with the angelic trumpeting of the earth’s redemption and the glorious liberty of the children of God. The acceptable year of the Lord which came with Christ will then have fully come. Then the new Jerusalem whose temple is the Lord and the Lamb will descend from heaven (Rev. 21:10, 22) and the ark of the covenant will be seen (Rev. 11:19), the covenant the Lamb has made to prevail and the Lord has remembered.”[25]

Edward Young, however, restrains himself from drawing a dogmatic conclusion with regard to the timing of the seventieth week’s terminus. The difficulty in determining the terminus ad quem of the seventy weeks should not be misconstrued as weakness of the traditional messianic school of interpretation. Young points out that all schools of interpretation are, in fact, faced with this difficulty. Young writes:

“The question naturally arises, What marks the termination of the 70 sevens? In answer it should be noted that the text does not say a word about the termination. The terminus ad quem of the 69 sevens is clearly stated, namely, an anointed one, a prince. No such terminus ad quem, however, is given for the 70 sevens themselves. It would seem, therefore, that the terminus ad quem was not regarded as possessing particular importance or significance. No important event is singled out as marking the termination. All schools of interpretation, therefore, are faced with the difficulty of determining what marked the close of the 70 sevens.”[26]

In summary, we recall that seventy weeks of years are determined to fulfill six great transactions as indicated by Daniel 9:24. According to the traditional interpretation, these messianic transactions had been fulfilled during the First Advent of Jesus Christ. The terminus ad quem of the seventy weeks will not affect our understanding of the messianic fulfillments of Daniel’s prophecy. However, the placement of the terminus a quo of the seventieth week will determine whether the events of Daniel 9:24 have been fulfilled. If, according to Dispensationalists and Bible Presbyterians, the seventieth week has yet to begin, it might become necessary to deny the complete fulfillment of the transactions of Daniel 9:24.


[1] Cf. the dispensational understanding of Zech. 14:4-5.
[2] Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, 6th ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1940), 9.
[3] Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 111-112.
[4] Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 331. Gentry is a postmillennialist, and a Christian Reconstructionist. We shall discuss the gap theory in detail later in this chapter.
[5] J. A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Edinburgh: T.& T. Clark, 1927), 400–401.
[6] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 320-321, quoting Robert Duncan Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), 144.
[7] Ibid., 319-320, quoting John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), 24; John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 201, 216; O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945), 111.
[8] See Edward J. Young, Daniel (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1949), 192-195 for the various interpretations of Daniel 9:24-27. The two most popular interpretations of Daniel 9:24-27 are 1) the Traditional Messianic Interpretation; and 2) the Parenthesis Interpretation.
[9] Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 112. It is not within the scope of this book to provide a detailed exegesis of Daniel 9:24-27. The reader is advised to refer to Edward Young’s excellent commentary, Daniel. Also see Meredith Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week”, in The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, ed. John H. Skilton (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1974), 452-469.
[10] Ibid., 112.
[11] Ibid., 113.
[12] Young, Daniel, 197.
[13] Ibid., 199.
[14] Ibid., 200.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 113-114.
[17] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 326. Also see Young, Daniel, 200-201.
[18] Cf. 4:34, 41. See also: Mark 1:24; Acts 3:14; 4:27, 30; 1 John 2:20; Rev. 3:7; He is also called the “anointed one” (Psa. 2:2; lsa. 42:1; Acts 10:38).
[19] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 327.
[20] Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 114.
[21] Young, Daniel, 220.
[22] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 330.
[23] See Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 323; Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 114. Also see Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation: A Study of the Last Two Visions of Daniel, and of the Olivet Discourse of the Lord Jesus Christ, Rev. ed. (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publishers, 1975; reprint, Dahlonega, Georgia: Crown Rights Book Co, 1998), 55-69. Mauro furnishes us with an excellent treatise on this subject matter.
[24] Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 114-115.
[25] Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week”, 468-469. According to Leviticus 25:1-22, the first seven weeks of years of Daniel’s prophecy are comprised of seven sabbatical years, which is forty-nine years in all. These forty-nine years constitute the Jubilee, in which “seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years (Leviticus 25:8).” This precedes the fiftieth year, which is the Year of Jubilee, when liberty is proclaimed “throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof (Lev 25:10).” Mark Rooker writes, “In addition to allowing the land to lie fallow every seventh year, the year after the seventh sabbatical year, the fiftieth year, was to be the Year of Jubilee, during which each person was to return to his personal property. Thus when a series of seven years went through seven cycles (25:8), the following year, the fiftieth year called for a special celebration. The Year of Jubilee began with a trumpet blast on the Day of Atonement (25:9), thereby proclaiming liberty to all the inhabitants of the land (25:10).” See Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus: The New American Commentary (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 2000), 303. The total period of four hundred and ninety years (seventy weeks) in Daniel’s prophecy, therefore, constitutes ten jubilee eras. The emphasis is upon the ultimate Year of Jubilee, which follows the seventy weeks of prophecy.
[26] Young, Daniel, 220-221.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Israel of God: Paul’s Ecclesiology in Galatians (Part 3)

The Israel of God

In Galatians 6:16, Paul actually addresses the Church as “the Israel of God.”[1] The New International Version seems to provide an accurate rendering of the verse:

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God (Galatians 6:15-16).”

Witherington reminds us that, “Many interpreters . . . have understood the final καὶ here to mean ‘that is’ in which case the text reads ‘peace upon them and mercy, that is upon the Israel of God.’ In other words, Israel here refers to all Christians, both Jews and Gentiles united in Christ, both the author and his audience, and others.”[2] Hans K. LaRondelle, likewise, believes that the term “Israel of God” refers to the Church.[3] This is also the general Reformed understanding of the term “the Israel of God.”

However, both Jeffrey Khoo and S. Lewis Johnson disagree with this interpretation of “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16.[4] Johnson, a dispensationalist, is severely critical of such an interpretation. Shrewdly evading the actual arguments brought forth by LaRondelle in his book The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation, Johnson acknowledges that “the apostle [Paul] makes no attempt whatsoever to deny that there is a legitimate distinction of race between Gentile and Jewish believers in the church.”[5]

But Reformed theologians do not deny that there is a “legitimate” racial distinction within the church; this is apparently a straw man. What they do emphasize is that believing Jews and Gentiles share a common eschatological future, a joint ecclesiological reality, and equal spiritual blessings and status in Christ Jesus. Which Reformed theologian would “deny sexual differences within the church? Or the social differences in Paul’s day? Is it not plain that Paul is not speaking of national or ethnic difference in Christ, but of spiritual status?”[6] Here, Johnson is actually, albeit tacitly, admitting that, with respect to spiritual status and blessings, there are no differences between Jewish and Gentile believers. In fact, Johnson affirms that in terms of spiritual status, “there is no difference in Christ.”[7] Surely, Reformed interpreters of Scripture do not teach that Gentile or Jewish believers undergo an ethnic or sexual transformation upon regeneration. During conversion, Gentiles neither have Jewish genes spliced into their genomes, nor do they become hermaphrodites. Johnson’s polemic against LaRondelle is clearly unconvincing.

Johnson continues his critique of LaRondelle,

“That the professor [LaRondelle] overlooked Paul’s careful language is seen in his equation of terms that differ. He correctly cites Paul’s statement that “‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’ in Christ” (cf. Gal. 3:28) but then a couple of pages later modifies this to “‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’ within the Church” (italics mine), as if the terms Christ and church are identical. This approach fails to see that Paul does not say there is neither Jew nor Greek within the church. He [Paul] speaks of those who are “in Christ.” For LaRondelle, however, inasmuch as there is neither Jew nor Greek within the church and in Christ, there can be no distinction between them in the church.”[8]

Notice that Johnson here assumes an a priori distinction between Israel and the Church, which cannot be found within the text of Galatians 6:16. The bone of contention, however, is not whether there is any racial or genetic “distinction” between Jews and Gentiles in a physical or biological sense. LaRondelle, for certain, is not saying that there can be “no distinction between them in the church” in a physicochemical sense. Indeed, no sane man will deny that there is a biological distinction between Jews and Gentiles within or without the Church. LaRondelle and Reformed theologians are stating, together with the apostle Paul, that there is no distinction in the spiritual destiny of ethnic Jews and Gentiles within the Church.[9]

Reformed exegetes believe that the New Covenant blessings of Jeremiah 31:31-34 are being fulfilled in the Church of Christ.[10] Believing Israelites and Gentiles share a common spiritual destiny in Christ Jesus, and there is no longer any distinction between them in the New Covenant perspective. The New Covenant promises are not only for the ethnic Jews or for any particular nation in a geo-political sense. The covenant blessings are being fulfilled in the Church age, and do not await a future eschatological fulfillment in a Jewish remnant (cf. Rom. 11:26). The Church, which is the seed of Abraham, consists of the elect from “all nations” (Matt. 28:19) and all races.

Johnson’s aforementioned argument begs the question: Are not those who are “in Christ” also the ones that constitute the invisible, universal Church? This is not because “as if the terms Christ and church are identical.”[11] Physicochemical distinctions notwithstanding, how can there be any spiritual distinction between Jews and Gentiles within the Church of Jesus Christ? Johnson’s dispensational ecclesiology is apparently clouding his understanding of LaRondelle’s line of reasoning. The terms “Christ” and “Church” are obviously not identical, but the phrases “to be in Christ” and “to be within the invisible Church of Christ” must mean the same thing: to be saved.

Concluding his critique of LaRondelle’s reasoning, Johnson writes, “Finally, to sum up his position, Professor LaRondelle affirms that since the church is the seed of Abraham and Israel is the seed of Abraham, the two entities, the church and Israel, are the same. The result is a textbook example of the fallacy of the undistributed middle.”[12]

In order to answer his arguments, we have to reflect upon Johnson’s definition and usage of the terms “Church” and “Israel.” Firstly, by the term “Church,” is Johnson referring to the Reformed understanding of an invisible, universal Church? Reformed theologians understand “Church” to mean all the elect (Gal. 3:7, 9, 16, 26-29), including Old Testament believers.[13] This is not the classic or revised dispensational understanding of the term “Church.”[14]

Secondly, Johnson does not define clearly what he means by “Israel.” Does this term refer to spiritual Israel, or to national, ethnic Israel? If “Israel” means all biological Jews by genealogical descent, “Israel” cannot be Abraham’s seed. Only a remnant of ethnic Israelites has believed in Christ throughout all redemptive history.

What LaRondelle really taught is this: the “Israel of God” has been expanded to include both Jews and Gentiles. The Church is the true, spiritual Israel. From the New Covenant perspective, the “Israel of God” is not limited to earthly, national Israel, but embraces all believers irrespective of nationality or ethnicity. Johnson’s polemic is, therefore, a “textbook example” of a red-herring. He subtly blurs the definition of key terms, namely, the “Church” and “Israel.” As part of his diversionary maneuver, he attempts to introduce the dispensational understanding of Israel and the Church. In the process, he weakens the thrust of LaRondelle’s polemic considerably.

LaRondelle correctly observes:

“Dispensational theologians grant that Paul, by the term “the Israel of God”, meant believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of their dispensational concern to keep Israel and the Church separate, however, they insist that Paul must have had Jewish Christians in mind as a distinct class within the Church. But to single out Jewish believers within the Church as “the Israel of God” is a concept that is in basic conflict with Paul’s message to the Galatians. He declares categorically that “there is neither Jew nor Greek” within the Church, and that the Church as a whole – all who belong to Christ – is the seed of Abraham, the heir of Israel’s covenant promise (3:26-29).”[15]

Jeffrey Khoo’s Reliance on Johnson’s Paper

Relying heavily upon Johnson’s paper, Jeffrey Khoo likewise applies an a priori hermeneutical distinction between Israel and the Church in his interpretation of Galatians 6:16. In contrast to the general Reformed understanding of this verse, Khoo believes that,

“The ‘Israel of God’ here [in Galatians 6:16] refers to saved Israelites who lived according to faith like their father Abraham (cf. 3:6-7). Paul was perhaps hoping that some of the Judaizers might see the error of their message and turn to Christ alone for their salvation. For a study on the term, “The Israel of God,” read S. Lewis Johnson’s paper on “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, edited by Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 181-196.”[16]

With regard to ecclesiology, Reformed theologians do not accept the dispensational Israel/Church distinction. Conversely, there is indeed a marked distinction between Reformed theology and dispensationalism. By rejecting the general, Reformed understanding of Galatians 6:16, Khoo evidently finds himself in agreement with dispensational exegetes.

Both Khoo and Johnson are sympathetic to the following interpretations of the term “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16: (1) The “Israel of God” refers “to believing ethnic Israelites in the Christian Church,”[17] and (2) The “Israel of God” refers “to the Israel that shall turn to the Lord in the future in the events that surround the second advent of our Lord.”[18] In either case, the “Israel of God” refers to elect Jews, and not the Church.

In his essay “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” Johnson makes a classic argumentum ad numerum.[19] Johnson comments “that the weight of contemporary scholarship is opposed to the prevailing interpretation of amillennial interpreters that “the Israel of God” refers to the church, composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers, although the subjective nature of this comment is recognized by the author.”[20]

Even if all of “contemporary scholarship” is agreeable with Johnson, it does not necessarily prove that his view is true. Johnson, however, acknowledges earlier in his essay that a good number of reputable scholars adhere to the “amillennial” interpretation.[21] He further agrees that “the list of names supporting this [amillennial] view is impressive.”[22]

Although I am avoiding the logical fallacy of an argumentum ad antiquitatem,[23] it is true that the amillennial interpretation is supported by an “impressive” list of theologians and exegetes. Having even the support of certain Anti-Nicene and Nicene Fathers,[24] such as Justin Martyr and Chrysostom, the amillennial interpretation must have its strengths. It must be emphasized that, although traditional interpretations are not always correct, the understanding of Galatians 6:16 by the Reformers (e.g. John Calvin, Martin Luther) and faithful exegetes of Scripture must not be frivolously substituted with “contemporary scholarship.” Furthermore, the Word of God has always been inerrant, infallible and unchanging. Why would “contemporary scholarship” be in anyway superior to the “prevailing” interpretations of older or more antiquated exegetes? I am sure Johnson is not insinuating that contemporary scholars are superior to John Calvin, Martin Luther or J. B. Lightfoot.

Problems with the Dispensational Understanding of “the Israel of God”

What are the exegetical problems inherent in Khoo and Johnson’s interpretation of the “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16? We shall begin by examining the preceding verse, namely, Galatians 6:15.

It should be remembered that “Gal 6:16 must be interpreted in accordance with its own specific context and in the light of the entire argument of this particular epistle.”[25] Who are those who walk according to “this rule” in verse 16? In verse 15, Paul writes, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Hendricksen explains that,

“According to the preceding context, this rule is the one by which before God only this is of consequence, that a person places his complete trust in Christ Crucified, and that, therefore, he regulates his life by this principle. . . . Upon those – all those and only those – who are governed by this rule peace and mercy are pronounced.”[26]

In view of the Gospel age, Paul’s rule states that there must be no distinction between Jew and Gentile, or between the circumcision and the uncircumcision. The only phenomenon that can establish a person as one of God’s people is for him to be a “new creature” via regeneration. In other words, the clause “as many as walk according to this rule” in verse 16 refers to all of the elect, that is, the invisible, universal church.

The perennial contention between exegetes concerns the usage of the word kai in the last phrase of Galatians 6:16 “kai upon the Israel of God.” Johnson admits that “there are several well-recognized senses of kai in the New Testament. First and most commonly, kai has the continuative or copulative sense of and. Second, kai frequently has the adjunctive sense of also. Third, kai occasionally has the ascensive sense of even, which shades off into an explicative sense of namely.”[27]

In Galatians 6:16, Khoo and Johnson reject the explicative or epexegetical sense of kai, preferring to understand the term “Israel of God” to “mean “the Jews,” or “all such Jews as would in the future be converted to Christ.”[28] They favor the continuative or copulative sense of kai, although they might appreciate that kai is also “only slightly ascensive” in Galatians 6:16.[29] Even if one accepts the copulative sense of kai, “the question still remains as to what “Israel” refers to.”[30]

According to Khoo and Johnson, “the Israel of God” refers to Jewish believers in Paul’s day, or to those Israelites who are allegedly saved at the Messiah’s return (in the sense of Romans 11:26). These interpretations have their difficulties.

Firstly, the expression “Israel of God” cannot refer to Jews as a distinct, ethnic community, apart from the Gentiles. Ronald Fung reminds us that,

“The specifying phrase “of God” makes it unlikely that the reference is to [ethnic] Israel as such (or even the eschatological Israel in the sense of Rom. 11:26), and Paul “can hardly have meant to bless the whole of Israel . . . , irrespective of whether or not they held to the canon of the cross of Christ.’”[31]

The rule instituted by Paul in verse 15 - which states that for one to be counted amongst God’s people, he must experience a new creation - must be extended to verse 16. Paul cannot be pronouncing his benediction of “peace and mercy” upon the Jews irrespective of their belief or unbelief. This understanding contradicts the entire thrust of Paul’s epistle, as well as the rule he has just established in verse 15.

According to Hendricksen,

“This interpretation tends to make Paul contradict his whole line of reasoning in this epistle. Over against the Judaizers’ perversion of the gospel he has emphasized the fact that “the blessing of Abraham” now rests upon all those, and only upon those, “who are of faith” (3:9); that all those, and only those, “who belong to Christ” are “heirs according to promise” (3:29). These are the very people who “walk by the Spirit” (5:16), and “are led by the Spirit” (5:18). Moreover, to make his meaning very clear, the apostle has even called special attention to the fact that God bestows his blessings on all true believers, regardless of nationality, race, social position, or sex: “There can be neither Jew nor Greek; there can be neither slave nor freeman; there can be no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (3:23). By means of an allegory (4:21-31) he has re-emphasized this truth. And would he now, at the very close of the letter, undo all this by first of all pronouncing a blessing on “as many as” (or: “all”) who walk by the rule of glorying in the cross, be they Jew or Gentile by birth, and then pronouncing a blessing upon those [ethnic Jews] who do not (or: do not yet) walk by that rule? I refuse to accept that explanation.”[32]

Can “the Israel of God,” then, refer to believing Jews in Paul’s day? If kai is to be understood in the continuative or copulative sense, it should be rendered as and. This translation has inherent problems. Based on this rendering, Paul would be pronouncing his apostolic benediction in verse 16 upon “as many as,” that is, all those who adhere to the rule in verse 15. He would subsequently be extending his blessing to another category of people, namely, the elect or believing Jews in verse 16b. The discerning reader can quickly recognize the problems in such a rendering. Firstly, the “as many as (hosoi)” includes all the elect. It is, therefore, unnecessary for Paul to mention the elect Jews again in a separate phrase within verse 16. Secondly, for Paul to mention the believing Jews as a separate category of elect people in his benediction would mean that he has violated his own rule in verse 15.

In his commentary on Galatians 6:16, Witherington concludes with these observations:

“Finally, if I am right that Paul distinguishes between the Mosaic Law and the Law of God now expressed in and as the law of Christ, we must expect a transfer of the term Israel to Jew and Gentile united in Christ. As Weima says it “is difficult to believe . . . that in a letter where Paul has been breaking down the distinctions that separate Jewish and Gentile Christians and stressing the equality of both groups, that he in the closing would give a peace benediction addressed to believing Jews as a separate group within the church” much less to non-Christian Jews whom he nowhere really discusses in this letter.”[33]

Likewise, Fung concurs with Witherington’s comments:

“The view that v. 16 refers to, respectively, “the Gentiles who believe the gospel and the Jewish Christians who recognize the unimportance of circumcision” faces the objection that “whoever” (hosoi) would naturally include Jewish as well as Gentile Christians; moreover, particularly in the light of v. 15, it is improbable that Paul, with his concern for the unity of the church . . . , would here single out Jewish Christians as a separate group within his churches.”[34]

Also, to interpret the expression “Israel of God” to mean the “all Israel” of Romans 11:26 creates similar difficulties. Johnson admits that this interpretation “takes the term “the Israel of God” to refer to ethnic Israel but locates their blessing in the future.”[35] Israelites, as well as Gentiles, saved in the past, present and future constitute the elect, and are therefore included in the “as many as (hosoi).” Furthermore, there is little probability that Paul would isolate a group of Jewish elect in his apostolic benediction, thus contradicting his rule established in verse 15.

In his exegesis of verse 16, Fung perceives that,

“Perhaps the least unsatisfactory view is to suppose that in the two parts of his benediction Paul is thinking first of those of his readers who qualify under the hosoi and passes from there on to the new Israel, the new people of God – both Jews and Gentiles being included in each instance.”[36]

The most satisfactory interpretation is, perhaps, that “the Israel of God” refers to the Church. This is the so-called amillennial interpretation. As Clowney has stated, “The church is the λαός (laos, 2 Cor 6:16), the true Israel as over against Israel of the flesh (Rom 9:6, 7, 24-26; cf. 1 Cor 10:18; 12:2); the people of the new covenant (2 Cor 3:3-18); the sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7); the circumcision (Phil 3:3); the children of the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal 4:21-31); no longer strangers or aliens but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God (Eph 2:12, 19).”[37]

The amillennial interpretation involves understanding the Greek conjunction kai in the explicative sense. The kai is taken to be epexegetical of “as many as walk according to this rule.”[38] This interpretation satisfies both the context and syntax of Galatians 6:16.

R. C. H. Lenski adds, “Paul has a special, telling reason for adding this explicative apposition. It is a last blow at the Judaizers, his final triumph over them and their contention. As many as shall keep in line with this rule, they and they alone constitute “the Israel of God” from henceforth, all Judaizers to the contrary notwithstanding.”[39]

John Calvin, the great reformer, concurs with this interpretation of the expression “Israel of God.” In his commentary on Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Calvin writes:

And so all Israel [Romans 11:26a] Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning - “When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both . . .” The same manner of speaking we find in Gal. vi.16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.”[40]

In our brief discourse on Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, we further reinforce the understanding that Reformed ecclesiology is, in fact, Pauline ecclesiology. The Church is the true Israel of God, and is the blessed recipient of all the promises of the New Covenant. As believers who follow the rule, which states that “neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (Gal. 6:15),” we can praise and thank God for including both Jews and Gentiles in His gracious redemptive plan.

God does not have two redemptive plans in history, one for ethnic Israel, and one for the Church. There can be no such Israel/Church distinction under the New Covenant administration, for “the Old Testament promises are realized in the advent of the Messiah and the gathering of Messiah’s people, the true Israel of God. Christ comes as Immanuel, the Lord of the covenant and the Son of the covenant. He thus completes both the promised work of God and the required response of his people. As true God he is the Lord who has come; as true man, he is the head of the covenant, the new and true Adam, Israel, Moses, and David. All promises are complete in him (2 Cor 1:20), for in him dwells the fullness of the godhead in bodily form (Col 2:9). He is the Amen (Rev 3:14), the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 22:13).”[41]


[1] This is the understanding that the καὶ before the phrase “Israel of God” is an explicative or appositional καὶ. Wuest translates Galatians 6:16 as follows, “And as many as by this rule are ordering their conduct, peace be upon them, and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” See Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1961).
[2] Ben Witherington III, Grace In Galatia: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 452. In fact, the Dispensationalist scholar, Lewis Johnson, acknowledges that “it is well-known that Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho is the first author to claim an identification of the term Israel with the church. Of the commentators, Chrysostom is one of the earliest to identify apparently the church with Israel, affirming that those who keep the rule are “true Israelites.” Others who follow this view include Daniel C. Arichea, Jr., and Eugene Nida, Ragnar Bring, John Calvin, R. A. Cole, N. A. Dahl, Donald Guthrie, William Hendricksen, Robert L. Johnson, M. J. Lagrange, Hans K. LaRondelle, R. C. H. Lenski, J. B. Lightfoot, Martin Luther, Herman Ridderbos, Henrich Schlier, and John R. W. Stott.” See S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, eds. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 183-184, quoting John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians and Homilies on the Epistle to the Ephesians of S. John Chrysostom, new rev. ed. (London: Walter Smith [Late Mosley], 1884), 98.
[3] See Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1983), 108-114.
[4] The reason I interact with Lewis Johnson’s writing in this section is that Khoo uses Johnson’s essay as part of the seminary course entitled, “Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology” in Far Eastern Bible College. See Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 181-196.
[5] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 190.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Actually, Johnson needs only to read the rest of the chapter to see LaRondelle’s point. LaRondelle writes, “According to Hebrews 8-12, the Church of Jesus represents the true fulfillment of Jeremiah’s predicted new covenant. Far from being an abrogation of Israel’s new covenant. It is rather a type and guarantee of the final consummation of the new covenant, when true Israelites of all ages will join in the wedding supper of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem (Matthew 8:11, 12; 25:34; Revelation 19:9; 21:1-5).” See LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy, 121.
[10] The Pauline perspective of the New Covenant and the Christian Church is aptly summarized by Ridderbos, “It is on account of this fulfillment of the prophecy of the New Covenant in the Christian church that all the privileges of the Old Testament people of God in this spiritual sense pass over to the church. To it, as the church of Christ, the pre-eminent divine word of the covenant applies: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . . I will receive you, and I will be to you a father, and you shall be to me sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:16ff.). Out of this fulfillment in Christ the whole nomenclature of all the privileges Israel as God’s people was permitted to possess recurs with renewed force and significance in the definition of the essence of the Christian church: being sons of God (Rom. 8:14ff.; Eph. 1:5); being heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29; 4:7); sharing in the inheritance promised to Abraham (Rom. 8:17; cf. 4:13; Col. 1:2); being heirs of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21). For this reason the church may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2; 8:21; 2 Cor. 3:7ff., 18; Phil. 3:19), the splendor of the presence of God among his people, once the privilege of Israel (Rom. 9:4). Likewise the worship of God, at one time the prerogative of Israel (Rom. 9:4), is now the distinguishing mark of the Christian church as “spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1), the service of God by the Spirit (Phil. 3:3), as Paul knows himself to be the leitourgos of Jesus Christ who in the priestly administration of the gospel has to see to the irreproachableness of the offerings of the gentiles (Rom. 15:16; cf. Phil. 2:17). In a word, all the richly variegated designations of Israel as the people of God are applied to the Christian church, but now in the new setting of the salvation that has appeared in Christ.” See Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 336-337.
[11] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 190.
[12] Ibid., 190-191.
[13] See Vincent Chia, "Bible Presbyterianism: A Need for Redefinition," chapter 1 for a discussion on the meaning of “Church.”
[14] See Ibid, chapter 21 for the differences between classical and revised/normative Dispensationalism.
[15] LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy, 110.
[16] Jeffrey Khoo, Galatians (Singapore: Far Eastern Bible College, 2000), 45. This book is used by Far Eastern Bible College as lecture notes. Also available from; Internet; accessed 10 November 2005. Relying on Johnson’s essay, Khoo makes no attempt to provide exegetical arguments for his interpretation of Galatians 6:16 in his commentary on Galatians.
[17] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 185.
[18] Ibid., 186.
[19] This is the fallacy of attempting to prove something by appealing to numbers, and in this case, the number of “contemporary” scholars who agree with Johnson’s interpretation of Galatians 6:16.
[20] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 187.
[21] Ibid., 183-184.
[22] Ibid., 184.
[23] This is the fallacy of trying to prove a point by appealing to antiquity or tradition.
[24] Cf. A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, s.v. “Israel of God.”
[25] Hendricksen, Exposition of Galatians, 247.
[26] Ibid., 246.
[27] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 187.
[28] Hendricksen, Exposition of Galatians, 246.
[29] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 193.
[30] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 310.
[31] Ibid., quoting J. C. O’Neill, The Recovery of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (London, 1972), 71.
[32] Hendricksen, Exposition of Galatians, 246-247.
[33] Witherington, Grace In Galatia, 453, quoting J. A. D. Weima, “Gal. 6:11-18: A Hermeneutical Key to the Galatian Letter,” Calvin Theological Journal 28 (1993): 105.
[34] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 310-311, quoting C. H. Pinnock, Truth on Fire: The Message of Galatians (Grand Rapids, 1972), 89.
[35] Johnson, “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study,” 192.
[36] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 311.
[37] Edmund Clowney, “Toward a Biblical Doctrine of the Church,” Westminster Theological Journal 31, no. 1 (1968): 37.
[38] Lightfoot writes, “It [the expression “Israel of God”] stands here not for the faithful converts from the circumcision alone, but for the spiritual Israel generally, the whole body of believers whether Jew or Gentile; and thus καὶ is epexegetic, i.e. it introduces the same thing under a new aspect, as in Heb. 11:17, etc.” See J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillan, 1896), 225.
[39] Lenski, Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians, 321.
[40] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, ed. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co, 1998), 437.
[41] Clowney, “Toward a Biblical Doctrine of the Church,” 49.