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Commonwealth Theology Essentials - Introduction Sample below:



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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL - FOR SAMPLE ONLY. EXCERPTS FROM “PREFACE” AND “INTRODUCTION”

COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY ESSENTIALS

All rights reserved. This book sample (preview) or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations. Copyright © 2020 by Commonwealth of Israel Foundation, Phoenix.

Begin Excerpt:


Enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles— the “Nations” —was never part of God’s plan. “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:6).
On the part of the Jews: First-century Jews perceived that being chosen as God’s special people established their exclusive right to God’s promises. Even the Apostles were, at first, shortsighted and reticent to participate in the inclusion of the Gentiles. It took an angelic intervention and the judgment of the Jerusalem elders before the Church opened its assembly to non-Jews (see Acts 11).
On the part of the Gentiles: Most first-century Gentile believers belonged geographically, ergo politically, to the Roman Empire. Bound up in the patriotic spirit of the day was the attitude that the Jewish people were contrary and contentious. This anti-Jewish bias was reinforced and formalized as a result of the first and second “Jewish revolts.”
This anti-Semitic Roman patriotism influenced the theology of the Early Church Fathers; especially in the Latin Church where Gnosticism had migrated from North Africa and infiltrated the church. Eastern Dualism underpinned the notion that biblical theology consisted of two camps: The spiritual Church, and the earthly Jews. Neo-Platonists like Marcion of Sinope rejected the Old Testament, the “Jewish Gospels,” and even the Creator God of the Old Testament.
Christianity remained headquartered in the capitals of the East and West Roman Empires for 1,000 years, establishing a voluminous body of anti-Semitic comments by the “Church Fathers.” By the time of the Reformation, theologians presumed that the longstanding separation of the Church from the Jews found its basis in the Scriptures. Dispensational Theology, although kinder in spirit toward the Jews, separated the Church from the Jews by hypothesizing a variety of partitions of time, space, and divine relationships.
How could mainline theologians have missed the correct method of interpreting Bible prophecy? And, for nearly 2,000 years! This proposition doesn’t seem likely – or even possible. But the current state of world politics provides an ideal backdrop to explain how doctrines regarding the relationship between Israel and the Church shifted during the second century.
Reflect for a moment on the impassioned opposition between the left and right political parties of twenty-first century America. How much room for true objectivity is there in the hearts and minds of multi-generational Republicans or Democrats? It would seem based on the news broadcast from networks— which are as divergent as their respective audiences— there is little objectivity indeed. Now place yourself in the Roman Empire of the second century. Remember, the Roman Empire didn’t consist merely of the West, controlled by the western capital at Rome; but also of the eastern regions, ruled from Constantinople. Practically everywhere the Early Church spread— apart from Thomas’ mission to India— was part of the Roman Empire; which by the way, officially included Judea.
Consider further that most of the areas belonging to the Roman Empire were no longer in rebellion, but were settled in and enjoying the peace – Pax Romana. Whether you were a Jew or a Christian or both; or, a slave or a Roman citizen; in any case you were a Roman. Now take that “Proud to be an American” (or transfer that zeal to whatever country the reader calls their homeland) and add to that the zeal of political passion. Then project that emotion-driven attitude into New-Testament times.  From the time the Jews asked for Rome’s involvement, Israel’s civil strife —including the added tension between the Maccabees[i] and factions opposed to Rome’s presence— Rome found defending the Jews to be a futile endeavor. Now aside from the fact that the World will always persecute God’s people, Israel’s bloody internal wars over rulership, between the Sadducees and Pharisees, between the Zealots and the Peace Movement, etc., made Israel impossible to partner with.
By the time of Christ, Rome had “had it up to here” with the Jews; which is clearly reflected by the tensions documented in the New Testament. Then, add to this tinderbox two successive Jewish revolts against Rome. As the second century began, the Jews were driven out of the Land. The country of Judea was now officially an “enemy of the state.” Second-Temple era Israel was held in contempt; and, being Jewish in the Roman Empire was like being German or Japanese at the end of WWII. Awkward!
The second century was the time when Church Fathers began to speak of the Jews in a derogatory light. And, such mudslinging against the Jews seemed to the Christian Romans to be quite politically correct. Shortly after this time was when Origin began to spiritualize the prophecies about the future restoration of Israel; not as a gathering to the Land, but every other kind of figurative gathering of “saints,” on earth or in the heavens. The “world-rulers” (Eph. 6:12) played no small part in empowering Rome and belittling Judea. According to church historian Philip Schaff, the old Roman nobility never lost their vision of Rome as the center for earthly rule; and weren’t the least interested in that center moving to Jerusalem at ANY time in future. “The political pre-eminence of that metropolis of the world . . . was destined to rule the European races with the sceptre of the cross, as she had formerly ruled them with the sword.”[ii]
Thus, the first contortions of Eschatology were committed rather shortly after the time of Jesus and the Apostles. Unfortunately, other than condemning Rome, the Reformer’s theology didn’t fall far from the tree. That is, in a nutshell, why mainline theologies, Catholic/Orthodox, Reformed, and Evangelical, must be realigned with Old Testament Scripture and with the doctrine of the Apostles found in New Testament: Not in the doctrines of the “Early” Church Fathers, no matter how close to the second century these doctrines were formed.
One of the most convincing features of Commonwealth Theology’s eschatology is its ability to provide a clearer interpretation of more prophetic verses than today’s popular theologies. Catholic/Orthodox theologies tend to spiritualize many passages that should be interpreted literally – admittedly, there are some legitimately figurative passages. Very often, however, when verses are taken literally by the Supersessionists, the meanings are expropriated from the Twelve Tribes to the Gentile Church. Dispensational Theology, although interpreting verses more literally than the Supersessionists, insists on parsing passages —even midstream— and distributing the segments to the “correct” dispensational age. CT, on the other hand, is able to interpret the Bible just as it is written.[iii]
Why is this incredibly substantial truth of Commonwealth Theology just now breaking upon both Jew and Christian?[iv] If it were so vitally important, wouldn’t we have seen it long before this time? That inquiry in and of itself validates the prophetic consummation of the age–we’re “seeing it now” because on an eschatological plane it was prophesied to take place in the “latter days and years” (Jer. 30:3, 24–spoken to both Israel and Judah; Ezek. 38:8) . . . “In the latter days you will consider it” (Jer. 30:24). Indeed: “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still, therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD . . . and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy; which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Nations?” As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people; and her beloved, who was not beloved . . . and it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God” (Jer. 31:20; Romans 9:23-26; Hosea 2:23; 1:10).
Yet, today, we of Ephraim—we who were no longer a people, but now are the people of God—have come from the four corners of the earth to provoke Judah to jealousy whereby the Spirit of God’s breath will breathe life into these VERY dry bones . . . and they too shall come to life! Joseph, who is the Stick of Ephraim, is making his move upon Judah. Joseph can no longer contain himself—so great is his emotion toward his brethren according to the flesh for God will “pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me, the pierced one. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).[v]
  

Introduction

Why Study the Commonwealth of Israel?
T
he authors, along with a growing Commonwealth of Israel community, believe they have rediscovered a vital aspect of Biblical Theology. An aspect of the gospel that is crucial in establishing peace between the Jews and the Nations. Paul’s narrative on the “Commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12), attributes peace between the Jews and “you Gentiles” through the blood and the cross of Christ. In contrast to the “peace with God,” that is associated with individual salvation throughout the New Testament, this peace is peace between two ethnic groups. Individual peace AND this “national” peace were both accomplished through the cross! And, not only national peace, but union: that God “might create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
The parties of this union, however, are not the entities one would anticipate after reading the Old Testament. There it was prophesied that the Jews (House of Judah) and the House of Israel would be gathered and united. Moreover, they were the expressly intended parties to the New Covenant:  “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31). Hosea prophesied: “The children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head” (Hos. 1:11). Ezekiel reiterated this prophecy: “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I will take the stick of Joseph...Ephraim [aka. House of Israel]...and I will join them ... with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand’... ‘And one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again’” (Excerpts from Ezekiel 37).
So how is it that, instead of the House of Israel, “you Gentiles” (ethnōn, “Nations”) have been united with the Jews? And: What happened to the House of Israel aka. Ephraim, Samaria, the Northern Ten Tribes/Israel)? Some have attempted to satisfy these questions by presuming the two houses of Israel had already united prior to the time of Paul’s writing. But consider the extent of the House of Israel’s punishment. According to Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth of Immanuel, Ephraim would be shattered and “not a people” within 65 years after the prophecy was written (Isa. 7:8). Consider also the extent of the Northern Kingdom’s banishment among the nations (Hos. 8:7-9). The ancient House of Israel was deported, scattered, mixed with the nations; and (as will be thoroughly demonstrated), by that name, has never to this day reassembled as a whole.
Paul, in fact, did not disavow the House of Israel by interchanging its identity with the believing Gentiles. Twice, within the Ephesians Two passage, Paul refers to the members of the Commonwealth as those “near” and those “far off.” “But now in Christ Jesus you [Gentiles] who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (v13). “And He came and preached peace to you [Gentiles] who were afar off and to those who were near” (v17). It would appear that Paul had gone out his way to identify those near and far by incorporating the associations established in Daniel 9:7: “To the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You [God] have driven them.” Herein, “near” refers to Judah and its capital, and “far” refers to all Israel dwelling among the other countries – among the nations. (The next section of the Introduction will show that “all Israel” can also mean the territories of northern Israel, that is, the House of Israel/Ephraim.)
Why would Paul draw this association between the “believers among the nations” (Gentiles) and the House of Israel dispersed among the nations? Obviously, they were both “among the nations.” But before exploring this interrelationship further, consider the magnitude of what has been presented thus far:
  1. Prophecies of gathering and uniting the two houses of Israel could never have been fulfilled unless the “Lost” House of Israel, which once was “not a people,” could somehow once more become “a people”;
  2. Ephesians Chapter Two introduces a peace and unity between two specific ethnicities, one of these being the anticipated House of Judah (the Jews);
  3. This national peace and unity – just as individual salvation – depended on Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
The concurrence between the restoration of the Commonwealth and the mission of Messiah was predicted in Isaiah’s Light to Gentiles prophecy:
Indeed He says,
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isa. 49:6)
This synchrony between the restoration of the Lost House of Israel and the “inclusion” of the Nations (Gentiles) was all part of God’s plan from the beginning: “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
At the time God told Abram he would be called Abraham, God said: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations” (Gen. 17:4). What is translated in the NKJV as “many nations” reads in the Greek Septuagint “plethous ethnon” (πλήθους ἐθνῶν), literally: “multitude of nations.” [Strong’s 4128. pléthos company, multitude. From pletho; a fulness]. English translators of the new Testament have traditionally rendered the Greek word, “ethnos (nation)” as “Gentile.” If the same treatment were applied to an English translation of the Septuagint, we would read: “you shall be a father of many Gentiles” (or literally; a multitude of Gentiles). Disregarding translation inconsistencies, the truth of this statement was clearly understood by Paul: “...to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom. 4:16). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed...” (Gal. 3:29)
God’s plan to reach the Nations continued through Ephraim. “Ephraim” means “fruitful” or “expansion;” and was often used as a moniker to represent the whole House of Israel. Joseph blessed Ephraim with the words: “Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Gen. 48:16); and, “his descendants shall become a multitude of nations” [LXX: plethos ethnon; πλῆθος ἐθνῶν] (Gen. 48:19). Now consider that “Jezreel” – also representative of the Northern Kingdom – means “God will sow;” and, that God sowed (scattered) the House of Israel among the nations: “I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries” (Zech. 10:9). Paul even used the same Old Testament phrase in his Greek writing to describe this expansion – this process: “...blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Nations (pleroma ton ethnon; πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν – “multitude of nations”) has come in. And so all Israel will be saved...” (Rom. 11:25-26).
Just who “all Israel” refers to in the verse above will be discussed in later chapters. Likewise, the ambiguity of the term, “Israel,” will be addressed in the next section; e.g., was the “Israel,” which was blinded in part, the same “Israel” – or part of “all Israel” – that would be saved?
In any case, Paul’s reference to this “fullness/multitude of nations” is immediately expounded by quoting Isaiah: “The Deliverer will come out of [to] Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is My covenant with them...” The phrase, “when I take away their sins” is inserted by Paul. But what actually follows in this passage from the Isaiah Scroll is the declarations: “For your light has come!” and “the Gentiles (Nations) [LXX; ethnae, ἔθνη] shall come to your light” (Isa. 60:1, 3).
Just as in Ephesians, Paul links the inclusion of the Nations with the work of Messiah. And when would this inclusion take place? “When (at the time) I take away their (Jacob’s) sins.” WAIT! WHAT? Just as the real problem from the perspective of Replacement Theology was never the identity of the Nations, but peace and unity with the “rejected” Jews; likewise, neither does this timing of events line up with Dispensational Theology. (Much will be said about these theological divergences throughout this book.)
Nevertheless, Paul’s writings would have made perfect sense to anyone reading the “Bible” in its original languages (primarily Hebrew and Greek). Some first-century readers (especially those living in or around Jerusalem) would have read from the Hebrew scrolls of the Tanakh. But the New Testament was written in Greek because Greek was the common (koine) language of the Roman Empire. So common in fact, that most Jews and Gentiles would have read from the Greek Septuagint – the version written BY those scattered among the nations, FOR those scattered among the nations.
Reading both the Hebrew “Writings” and the New Testament in the same Greek language would have made ALL of theology much simpler. Take, for instance, the deity of Christ. The Hebrew translators translated the Name, “Jehovah” into the Greek as “Lord.” So when Elijah brought fire down on the altar (1 Kings 18:39) all the people shouted, kurios estin o theos (κύριός ἐστιν ὁ θεός – “the Lord is God”). An English literal translation of the Hebrew would read, “Jehovah is the Elohim.” Furthermore, the writers of the New Testament referred to Jesus as this same “Kurios”: Κύριος Ἰησοῦς.  Now, if you confess, “Jesus is Lord” (Rom. 10:9) – if you believe Jesus is the same Lord (Jehovah) of the Writings – you will be saved. Deity question solved! Along with two-thirds of the Trinity.
But there’s more revealed by studying the Commonwealth of Israel than surprises found in the ancient languages. Moreover, Commonwealth Theology’s focus is not SO narrow that it is limited to investigating the lost House of Israel. The whole of biblical eschatology is clarified when the members of the Commonwealth and their prophetic roles are properly identified in Scripture.

Better Theology – Not a Different Gospel

Those taking an interest in the plight of the two houses of Israel (a topic avoided by mainline denominations) have quickly observed that the House of Israel was scattered among the nation and designated “not a people” long before the House of Judah was carried away to Babylon. The modern quest for the Lost House of Israel by both Messianic and “Gentile” groups have led some to adopt aberrant theological positions. The authors and advocates of Commonwealth Theology are fully aware of these wanderings from the faith; and therefore, submit the following disclaimer:
Commonwealth Theology is not a departure from the “Apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), “the faith once delivered” (Jude v3), nor is it a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). Commonwealth Theology (CT) honors the Christology and understanding of the Godhead codified in the early Christian creeds. Furthermore, Commonwealth Theology (as will be discussed later) is not affiliated with any exclusive “Identity” cult, nor does it emphasize genetic lineage concerning God’s people who have been “scattered among the nations.”
Some people, from the House of Judah (viz. Jews), might be able to trace their descent from a particular tribe; some might “feel” strongly that they are Jewish; or, they might be converts to Judaism. The VERY SAME variety of identification may be applied by those from the scattered HOUSE OF ISRAEL (viz. the Ten Northern Tribes). Commonwealth Theology respects God’s prerogative to choose/bless separate and distinct groups of people. (Even in heaven, tribes and nations will retain their distinction.) Therefore, CT does not encourage, or even suggest, that one group should be converted to another.
The concept of “Commonwealth” wherein there abides distinction but not separation is readily seen in today’s “British Commonwealth of Nations.” Here, for example, Nigeria is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations; however, it maintains its distinction as the nation of Nigeria. Nigeria is not separated from the British Commonwealth of Nations – she is a full-fledged member, but wholly maintains her national identity as distinct nation. The question, of course, is this:  Does Nigeria enjoy the benefits of the British Commonwealth? All members of the British Commonwealth of Nations recognize the King or Queen of Great Britain – whereas, Ireland, most certainly does NOT recognize the British Royal Family nor are they members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
“Mixed with the nations” means “mixed.” No one people or nation on earth today can claim THEY are the one-and-only House of Israel. One the other hand, after nearly three thousand years of “mixing,” it is likely that nearly everyone on earth carries some genes from the lost House of Israel. Because CT is a refinement of Christian theology and not a religion, the response by those who would identify with the House of Israel is left to the individual. At a minimum, a “believer among the nations” should begin genuinely to embrace Messiah’s peace between the two houses and anticipate the prophesied glory of the United Kingdom of David. Others who have identified with the Northern Kingdom have chosen varying degrees of Torah observance and Messianic-style worship. The goal of Commonwealth Theology is to present the truth. The outcome belongs to the Lord! Indeed:  “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5)… “let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19 – NIV)… “So whatever you believe about these things (viz. diet, days, etc.) keep between yourself and God” (Rom. 14:22 – NIV).
Commonwealth Theology’s distinction from mainline Christian theology is narrowly focused on the question: What constitutes the Commonwealth of Israel? How then could this nigh single expression (Commonwealth of Israel: τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ), which appears only twice in the Bible—once in the Bible (twice is the word Commonwealth or its colloquial interpretation, “Freedom,” used)—wherein the word Commonwealth is derived from the word polity; to wit:
Strong’s G#4174: or a “legal jurisdiction or administration” – Politeia signifies (1) “the relation in which a citizen stands to the state, the condition of a citizen, citizenship,” Acts 22:28, “with a great sum obtained I this freedom.” While Paul’s “citizenship of Tarsus was not of advantage outside that city, yet his Roman “citizenship” availed throughout the Roman Empire and, besides private rights, included (a) exemption from all degrading punishments; (1b) a right to appeal to the emperor after a sentence; (1c) a right to be sent to Rome for trial before the emperor if charged with a capital offense. It is also (2) “a civil polity, the condition of a state, a commonwealth,” said of Israel, Eph.2:12.
Consequently, can a biblical term employed so infrequently merit a school of theology in its name? Consider that Paul applied this unique term to declare the impact of Christ’s sacrifice upon Israel’s historical division. Yet this fulfillment of extensive national prophecies is so neglected by mainstream theologies as to leave a gaping void which reduces the import of the Old Testament to a few inspirational stories and “portable” promises. (Portable in that promises made specifically to national Israel are often expropriated to the “individual” with little regard for their original context.)
The ramifications of Paul’s “Commonwealth” toward comprehending the rest of the “Greatest Story Ever Told” are extensive enough that Paul himself elaborated on this Commonwealth throughout the first five chapters of Ephesians. Furthermore, allusions are made to the concept of the Commonwealth (e.g. Freedom found in Acts 22:28) by Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, in his other epistles, and by other New Testament writers. Indeed, once the Commonwealth of Israel is discerned it becomes recognizable throughout the Bible as both the sum of God’s chosen people and an integral aspect of Christ’s peace won by the cross. Thus, the seemingly narrow lens of Commonwealth Theology broadens the Bible student’s perspective to consider and rightly divide hundreds of passages that have been overlooked or misapplied by other theologies. The insights shared by Paul in Ephesians regarding the Commonwealth are nothing short of the revelation of the mystery of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5:32). Thus, CT’s broader understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament may have been the very panorama Paul had in view when he prayed that the eyes of the understanding of God’s people be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18).
Indeed, despite the uniqueness of its name, Commonwealth Theology offers significant value to the everyday believer. CT reveals and magnifies God’s dealing with Israel far beyond the superficial treatment rendered by mainline theologies. True understanding how God has dealt with Israel – the full story – builds confidence in God’s love, assurance of His faithfulness, and trust in His righteous justice. CT also establishes a more proximate connection to the fathers (and mothers) of the faith found in the Hebrew Scriptures; thereby, enabling the believer to experience such spiritual family ties to the saints of old – the great and surrounding cloud of witnesses – as to run the race of faith with endurance (Heb. 12:1).
In addition, Commonwealth Theology directly impacts Judeo-Christian relations today, as well as Judeo-Christian expectations for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the future. This occurs supernaturally as the Spirit of Truth who leads into all truth corrects the false dialogue that has inadvertently strengthened the very wall of separation which was broken down by Christ. A wall that now exists solely in the minds of men who have been trained by the forces of politics, time, and tradition to resist the peace already accomplished by the cross. We will discuss how Zechariah’s prophecy of the “two staffs” (Beauty [Grace] and Bonds [Unity]) found in Zechariah 11:7-17 were initial expressions abolishing that “wall of separation” but how disunity between Judah and Israel (i.e., “I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel”—Zech.11:15), once again, erected that separating wall through “false shepherds” led by the “foolish” or “worthless” shepherd (Zech. 11:15-17). (The workings of these forces of deception will be greatly expanded in the course of this volume.)
Just who is the intended audience for the revelation of this new theology? Is this a casual book for the layman or a scholastic reference for the clergyman? Confessedly, this document is crafted for “thinking theologians”—later, more “laymen-oriented text” will be forthcoming. We purposefully wish to alter “thought leaders” in this quest of theological disclosure. And, what inroads do the authors realistically expect this volume to make into the time-honored tenets of the world’s largest religion? Can the scriptural evidence for this alternative theology be so compelling as to prevail over Ironside’s maxim?: “What is new is not true, and what is true is not new.”[vi]  Notwithstanding, it will be demonstrated in the course of study that Commonwealth Theology is not something new at all but IS in fact the Apostles’ doctrine which was unwittingly, or somewhat purposefully, obscured. It is at the very core of Jesus’ revelation of His entitlement as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” wherein He uttered His all-inclusive, all-embracing statement in response to Peter’s declaration: “I will build My EKKLESIA, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16, 18).
Considering the audience and their response to this work provides an opportunity to introduce a dynamic which was the subject of a separate book by Chris Steinle and is incorporated in Dr. Gavin Finley’s chapter on the Breach of Jeroboam. It is both a social and personal dynamic. This dichotomy asserts its influence on society, politics, – and, pertinent to theology – religion: Namely, the seeming antinomies of Individualism and Authority; of Freedom vs. Obedience. No plainer (relatively recent) example of this dynamic’s influence on religion can be exhibited than the Protestant Reformation. It was not that Luther and the likes consciously set out as individualists; encouraged, inadvertently so, by Luther’s emphasis upon the “priesthood of all believers.” Indeed, this “discovery” should have mitigated against such “individualism” with the emphasis upon the “priesthood of all.” But the Reformation did bring such scrutiny upon the rights of both the institution and the individual that a compromise was demanded and settled in the Peace of Westphalia.
No, we have not strayed from our inquiry about the book’s prospective audience. There are two basic types of religious authority structures accommodating two types of followers. Therefore, the reader predisposed to examine the claims of Commonwealth Theology might come from unanticipated sources. It can be observed (by the openness of discussion on bulletin boards and online groups) that Christians who believe their salvation is heavily dependent on their affiliation with a particular institution are far less threatened by discussing a wide range of doctrinal ideas (including the often contradictory writings of the Church Fathers). This also seems to be the case with the Jew, who is “Jewish” because of his ancestral heritage. These prospective readers might be interested and open to reading about a new theological slant without feeling the least bit threatened that they might encounter some epiphany by which they might lose their faith. They have no desperate need to know if they have missed some biblical truth and, therefore, might be reading out of mere curiosity.
The Christian who believes he or she is saved solely by faith in the God presented in the Bible will obviously place paramount importance on the correct interpretation of the Bible. Every aspect of doctrine, then, is vital; and can only be interpreted one correct way because the “word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). These prospective readers might be extremely doubtful that any one aspect of theology could be improved or altered without shattering everything they have regarded as true. They might relate the various elements of theology (Soteriology, Christology, Ecclesiology, etc. – and especially Eschatology) to the blocks in a game of Jenga. Removing any one block could bring down the entire structure. For this audience the greatest concern should be that CT is SO narrow, SO surgical, that it might correct or enhance one feature of the faith without destroying the Gospel Truth in its entirety.
The fact of the matter is this: CT proclaims, yea, even demands, that we should live by the “Truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:5, 14). Paul and Peter, and the entire Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15:6-21, understood the Nations/Gentiles participated in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit under the prophetic reality of the “United Kingdom of David” (aka, the “Tabernacles of David”) without becoming Jewish (i.e., circumcision) and its restoration so that “the rest of mankind (Edom—Amos 9:11-12) might believe” (Acts 15:17; Amos 9:12). Notwithstanding, and almost immediately, “he [Peter] withdrew and separated himself [from the Gentile Galatians], fearing those who were of the circumcision [Jewish believers] . . . and the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:12-13). The “Gospel Truth” is that “He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation . . . to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace . . . He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near” (Eph. 2:14-18, excerpts). Peace with God is granted to all who believe on His Name; however, peace between peoples is wrought by the same cross!
Evangelical believers who have been convinced by their mentor, pastor, or seminary that their denomination (or even their particular congregation) has figured out or “received” the one-and-only true take on all Christian doctrine is exceedingly unlikely to read about a new theology. Likewise, the extreme megalomaniac (maybe the pastor of the above church) will not be open to any doctrinal interpretation that he or she didn’t originate. Individualism AND control at its finest! Neither will be a reader. Absolute truth is found in Christ alone (“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life” (John 5:39-40)—Berean Study Bible). Consequently, they who so vociferously “pore over the Scriptures” – yet will not come to the Living Lord Jesus Christ, are clearly missing the mark! “Grace and truth” came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb. 4:9).
“Dead knowledge” is NOT the goal, but a fuller and complete revelation of the Living Son of God is!
Among the interested readers might be: Evangelicals who have encountered “issues” when comparing their own reading of the Bible with what they have been taught; The casual inquirer who has heard about Commonwealth Theology and wants to know how it is different from other “Commonwealth of Israel” theologies; either Christians or Jews who are appalled by Supersessionist/Reformed Theology’s inevitable Anti-Semitism (or anyone else on the planet, god-fearing or atheist, who can’t find the slightest reason for the world’s inexplicable bigotry toward the Jews). Or, the reader open to CT may have had a Dispensational background, but has recognized its schizophrenic tendencies when interpreting Bible prophecy as a two-tiered theological/eschatological system; whereupon, and especially, the New Testament can be solely written to Jews and then, inexplicably, written only to Christians—with the Dispensationalist “rightly dividing the Word of God” as the sole and discretionary arbiter); and, how the Jews/Israel still end up with the short end of the stick. (Both short ends of the same stick on the Dispensational chart.)
Due, nevertheless, to the bias intrinsically bound to the “devotional” element of any religion, the authors realize full well that the weight of proof to substantiate CT must mount an exceedingly high bar. Such scriptural authority does, indeed, exist and was sufficient to move the authors (all devoted Christians) from their previous doctrinal positions which were, in the main, within the Reform or Dispensational camps. And, as with the authors, so with the reader; study and time will be required to break through the well-entrenched positions taught by mainline theologies which embrace these aforementioned extremities.
Along with the biblical credence for CT, which makes up the bulk of this volume, some explanation is in order – and perhaps a great deal of explanation – for why CT has eluded prior theologians. This obvious question did not escape the authors during the development and/or framing of Commonwealth Theology. When, and even why, the post-Apostolic Church began to resent and repel from the root that supports the branch is addressed in later chapters of this book. The perpetuation of theologies promoting unscriptural assumptions about the relationship and prophetic destiny of Israel, the Jews, and the Church does deserve some examination in this introduction. Such “blindness in part” has persisted for nearly two thousand years primarily due to the normal bias of tradition and the theological “flexibility” permitted by ambiguity. 

Coming to Terms with Israel and the Church

Voltaire once stated: “Define your terms ... or we shall never understand one another.”[vii] In recent years this “soft spot” of defining, or redefining, terms has played a major role in the legal arena of social issues. Common variations on Voltaire’s ultimatum include: “He who defines the terms wins the debate,” and, “Whoever controls the meaning of words, controls the conversation.” Op-Ed columnist William Haupt, assembled the following syllogism, drawing from the logic of Orwell’s 1984, and ending with a direct quote:
If you control language, you control the argument. If you control the argument, you control information. If you control information, you control history. If you control history, you control the past...,“He who controls the past controls the future.” – George Orwell’s “Big Brother,” 1984.[viii]
Actually, Orwell’s full quote was: “[He] who controls the past controls the future. [He] Who controls the present controls the past.” Orwell had obviously realized the power wielded by those who are able to revise history. But Haupt’s point is made: The past can ultimately be manipulated by controlling the language.
In this section of the Introduction we will learn how to disambiguate the most common terms for God’s chosen people. Because the “narrow focus” of CT demands a re-examination of mainline Christendom’s position on the relationship between Israel and the Church, the very terms, “Israel” and “Church,” CANNOT remain ambiguous. When it comes to the theological field of Israelology – ESPECIALLY – whoever controls the meaning of these words, controls the theological position regarding Israel: Past, present, and future. Although we are intensely focused, at the same time, the “theological ramifications” are all encompassing – impacting every branch of theology.
Some words (terms) used in the Bible ARE actually ambiguous – even in their original language. Most unfortunately, what is meant by the words “Jews” and “Israel,” – in the Bible and in modern culture – must either be defined by the context in which the words are used or by purposefully adding further clarification. This is grievously problematic in any theological analysis of these two entities; and yes, “Jews” and “Israel” are quite often  two separate entities when used in the Bible.
Complicating the issue is the fact that the contemporary usage of these words often refers to a different entity than the same word represented when the Bible was written. Or, the same word might define a related entity of different composition than its historical equivalent. This “time shift” of usage can be observed even between Old and New Testament writers. Now compound all of these moving pieces with the honest efforts of modern Bible translators, who have tried to represent the identity of these ancient entities by stating them in modern terms – terms which carry current connotations based on current usage.
Furthermore, missing the true, or at least the best, definition of these terms might occur innocently or because of intentional bias. We will not, at this time, attempt to attach blame except to note that Early Church theology developed in a social and political climate in which the Jews were detested. The important thing to know for now is that Commonwealth Theology takes great care to determine what is meant when references to Israel, et. al. occur in the Bible. The rest of this section will examine how these terms can be used. Just becoming aware of the variety of definitions is a step toward identifying the correct meaning of these words when reading the Bible; and of course, when formulating theology.

Defining Jews, Israel, and the House of Israel

Who Are the Jews?
Jews; ambiguous: Israel: related to any tribe, Modern Israel.
Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.[ix]  “A person born Jewish who refutes Judaism may continue to assert a Jewish identity, and if he or she does not convert to another religion, even religious Jews will recognize the person as a Jew.”
Jews; disambiguous: Judah; the House of Judah. The Greek term was a loan from Aramaic Y'hūdāi, corresponding to Hebrew יְהוּדִי Yehudi, originally the term for a member of the tribe of Judah or the people of the kingdom of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, the name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.[x]
The English word “Jew” continues Middle English Gyw, Iewe. These terms derive from Old French giu, earlier juieu, which through elision had dropped the letter “d” from the Medieval Latin Iudaeus, which, like the New Testament Greek term Ioudaios, meant both “Jew” and “Judean” / “of Judea”.[xi]
Speaking of Israel
Israel; ambiguous: All Israel; the United Kingdom. According to Wictionary; 1. “The State of Israel, a modern country in the Middle East, at the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. 2. The Land of Israel, a region that is roughly coextensive with the State of Israel. 3. (historical) An ancient kingdom that occupied roughly the same area in ancient times. 4. (historical) An ancient kingdom that occupied the northern part of this area, as distinct from Judah. 5. The Jews, taken collectively.”[xii]
Israel; disambiguous: Referring to the northern 10 tribes of the divided kingdom; the House of Israel, also known as Ephraim, Samaria, the Stick of Joseph, Jezreel; which was taken into captivity cir. 740-712 BC by the Assyrians and was assimilated among the nations. These Israelites constitute those nations identified in the blessing given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and conferred upon Joseph’s younger son, Ephraim, where he would become a “multitude of nations.”[xiii]
When the word “Israel” is used in the Old Testament, what is it referring to? That depends on where in the saga of the Children of Israel the word appears. Obviously, before Jacob’s descendants settled in the Land – and before the northern and southern settlements came to odds – “Israel,” as a nation, continued to denote the “Children of Israel” as a whole. However, once this North - South faction developed, the definition of “Israel” began to change.
The House of Israel and the House of Judah
The following text takes place just prior to the union of the northern and southern tribes.
2 Samuel 2
8  But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim; 9 and he made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10 Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. Only the house of Judah followed David. 11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
In the passage above, the United Kingdom under David had not yet been formed. The northern tribes (with Benjamin), gathered under Saul, are here referred to as “Israel;” and even “all Israel,” along with the ten northern tribes – collectively, these twelve tribes are referred to as “Israel”. Notwithstanding the fact that Judah was aligned with King David. Judah was not considered to be part of “all Israel” in this case because “all Israel,” as well as the nomenclature, “Israel,” represented what would, after the Breach of Jeroboam, be designated “the House of Israel.” Note that the tribe of Judah is, however, called out as the House of Judah.
From this point on – in the Old Testament – “Israel” most often refers to the northern territories of the Promised Land. Note: as of the passage above, these two would-be kingdoms had already been ruled by two separate kings.
Example:
In 1 Kings 1:35, King David had just declared Solomon to be king. The Kingdom had not yet been “formally” divided. The verse, nonetheless, reads: “For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah; signifying the House of Israel and the House of Judah.
The meaning of “Israel” and “Judah” MUST be established by the context of their usage. Often in the case of prophecy, the time and jurisdiction of the prophet must be discovered in order to establish a verse’s correct context.
Israel and Jews in the New Testament
When it comes to the New Testament – and especially when these terms appear within quotes from the Old Testament – the same process of discovery must be applied in order to disambiguate their meaning. Furthermore, the Old Testament meaning of references to “Israel,” “Judah,” and “Jews” within such quoted verses must be respected when interpreting the New Testament passage in which these words occur.
The history and prophetic significance of BOTH houses of Israel carried over into New Testament times. As formerly noted, Jesus made reference to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Moreover, Peter’s first sermon mentions, and even indicates the location of, the two houses at the beginning of the first century. Perhaps because Judah had not been formally divorced by God as the House of Israel had been, Peter honored the order recorded by Paul as “first to the Jew, then to the Greek.”
Peter began his Day of Pentecost sermon by addressing the House of Judah: “Men of Judah (Ioudaioi) and all who dwell in Jerusalem” (Acts 2:14). Recall that Daniel used this same wording to address “those near”: “To the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem...”. Later in his sermon, Peter acknowledged those from among the nations,  who had been specifically identified in verses 9-11, as those who had traveled from foreign lands for the feast: “Therefore let all the house of Israel (oikos Israel, οἶκος Ἰσραὴλ) know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:39).

Defining the Church

“Church” in the Original Language
Jesus and the Apostles chose to use an Old Testament Greek word for Christ’s congregation. The word “ekklesia” (ἐκκλησίᾳ ekklēsia) comes from the word “kaleo”; a calling out; [Ecclesia, as translated into Latin]. Ekklesia – as used nearly 200 times in the Septuagint – means, “congregation” or “assembly.” Christ and the authors of the New Testament used this word, rather than using a different word – or creating a new word – to describe the “assembly” who followed “the way.” The Apostles continued to gather and worship at the Temple (as well as from house to house) because God had simply sent Messiah to save the Ekklesia (Congregation) of both houses of Israel. And to include the Nations – “even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” (Rom. 9:24). Therefore, quite naturally, the writers of the New Testament had no reason to change the name of the Ekklesia. As we will see in later chapters, even early English translations of the New Testament used the word, “Congregacion,” for what is today translated, “Church.” See: Tyndale Bible (1526), Coverdale Bible (1535), Matthew Bible (1537), The Great Bible (1539), Bishop's Bible (1568).
When the Congregation became “the Church”
King James insisted by edict that “Church” be used instead of “congregation.”[xiv] “Church” was a familiar word for a gathering place for worship. The origin of the word “church,” according to Oxford’s Lexico: Old English circe, cyrce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma) ‘Lord's (house).[xv] Most likely, King James’ motivation for favoring this new and different word for the Congregation was politically motivated rather than Anti-Semitic. (It is suggested that the king desired to gain control over the buildings in which the congregation assembled since Christ is obviously the head of the congregation.[xvi]) The king’s edict, however, blurred the distinction between the religion and the edifice, e.g., Jews meet in a synagogue/temple, Buddhists in a temple, Muslims in a mosque, but the “church” – in a church. The tragedy of this etymological manipulation is that the continuity between the “congregation (ekklesia) in the wilderness” and the “congregation (ekklesia) of Christ” is lost to the English reader.
The “English” study of Ecclesiology is obviously complicated by the English translation of the key words, Ethnos and Ekklesia. Likewise, disambiguating the meaning of the terms, “Israel” and “Jews,” is essential in studying Israelology. One can now appreciate the difficulty in undertaking a scholarly examination of the biblical relationship between God’s chosen people-of-old and the congregation of Christ. Although the word “church” automatically conveys a separation – even isolation – that was never intended by the authors of the New Testament; and, although “Israel” can easily have four different meanings (apart from the name given to Jacob); this volume will continue to discuss the Commonwealth of Israel using the customary terms: Israel and the Church. These terms will, nevertheless, be carefully defined with the understanding that “Church” is not the congregation/the ekklesia but is in point of fact the actual places of worship, the buildings; whereas, “Church” in its “organic extrapolation” refers to the living people of God – His Ekklessia – His assembly.

He Loves Israel, He Loves Israel Not

One more “ambiguity” should be discussed in the course of this introduction. Has God cast away His people? Have they stumbled that they should fall? (Rom. 11:1, 11). Well: Yes; and, No. Yes, because both houses of Israel did fall into sin. And the House of Israel was certainly divorced (Jer. 3:8); and both houses were cast away from their land. Due to this historical reality, hundreds of verses can be quoted from the Old Testament which – taken out of the context of time – can be (and have been) used to support the argument that God has rejected “Israel” and/or “the Jews”; and that, subsequently, God needed to “replace” the whole lot with a new group of chosen people: the Church.
“Israel had been laboring under the curse for seven hundred years before Yeshua was born. According to 2 Kings 21:10-15 and Jeremiah 15:4, it was pronounced during the reign of the wicked king Manasseh, who filled Jerusalem with idolatry and blood from one end to the other. What this means is that, contrary to common Christian interpretation, the Jewish people were not cursed because they rejected Yeshua. On the contrary, the Jews had already been under the punishment of the law for over seven hundred years before Yeshua came. In fact, the rejection of Yeshua by all but a minority of Jews was the result of the curse, not the cause of it!”[xvii] 
Messiah did not come into the world for the purpose of rejecting His people, who had already been rejected; but rather, to remedy the longstanding rejection which had already occurred. Prophecy relates the comfort and assurance of Messiah’s rescue directly to God’s correction of Israel and their being cast away. (See the overall context of the virgin birth, Immanuel, and the Prince of Peace; Isaiah Chapters Six through Nine). The coming of Messiah was all about the restoration of Israel. Not, the replacement of Israel. Much more will be said to refute Supersessionism within the body of this book.
In conclusion, consider a passage of Isaiah, quoted by Matthew, that brings closure to several points previously discussed. Isaiah Nine begins by bringing attention to a region that was part of the northern House of Israel: “land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.” During the deportation of the northern house by Assyria into the northern reaches of the Assyrian Empire, people from the nations under Assyrian rule (Gentiles) were imported into these same northern provinces, aka. Ephraim. Thus, Isaiah’s reference to “Galilee of the Gentiles (Nations).” In the third verse of the ninth chapter Isaiah declared, “You have multiplied the nation,” thereby making reference to both the “inclusion” of the Gentiles and the dual fulfillments: of God’s covenant with Abraham, and Ephraim’s blessing – to become a “multitude of nations.” Moreover, just as the Commonwealth of Israel was founded upon the sacrifice of the One who said, “but for this cause came I unto this hour,” this “multiplier of nations” was identified in Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” – the “us” here being both Judah and Israel, but having in view all humankind!




[ii] History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff, Hendrickson Publishers, 2011, Vol. 2, p. 156
[iii] Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture: 2nd Edition, Steinle, Memorial Crown Press, 2020, pp. 145-147
[iv] Commonwealth Theology, by Douglas Krieger, Tribnet Publications, 2018, p. 98
[v] Ibid, p. 357
[vi] The Epistles of John and Jude,  H.A. Ironside, 1949, Loizeaux Brothers, p. 13
[vii] Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique
[viii] Op-Ed: Control the language and control history by William Haupt III, The Center Square Aug 5, 2019, https://www.thecentersquare.com/national/op-ed-control-the-language-and-control-history/article_53e45292-b6f5-11e9-a1d2-07cbbda5a160.html
[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews
[x] “Jew”, Oxford English Dictionary
[xi] Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Facts On File Inc., Infobase Publishing, 2009, p. 336
[xii] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Israel
[xiii] Commonwealth Theology, by Douglas Krieger, Tribnet Publications, 2018, p. 10
[xiv] Ecclesia.org, "The Origin of the word Church", retrieved 5/21/2020: http://ecclesia.org/Truth/ekklesia.html
[xv] Oxford’s Lexico, "church", retrieved 5/21/2020, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/church
[xvi] The VineyardJC,"Beware Of Translator Bias" by Christine Egbert, retrieved 02/21/2020: https://vineyardjc.com/beware-of-idols-even-the-king-james
[xvii] Galatians, Judaizing, and the Curse of the Law: Marrying The New Perspective on Paul, the Divine Council paradigm, and eschatology (2nd Draft), by Michael Bugg: https://www.academia.edu/28706723/Galatians_Judaizing_and_the_Curse_of_the_Law_Marrying_The_New_Perspective_on_Paul_the_Divine_Council_paradigm_and_eschatology_2nd_Draft_?email_work_card=thumbnail

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