The Distinction Between Israel & the Church

Lewis Sperry Chafer has documented 24 contrasts between Israel and the Church, (Systematic Theology, IV, 47-53).

They show that the two groups can not be united into one. They also show that God is dealing with each separately in special and distinctive programs.

1) The extent of Biblical revelation: Israel—nearly four-fifths of the Bible; Church—about one-fifth.

2) The Divine purpose: Israel—the earthly promises in the covenants; Church—the heavenly promises in the gospel.

3) The seed of Abraham: Israel—the physical seed, of whom some become a spiritual seed; Church—a spiritual seed.

4) Birth: Israel—physical birth that produces a relationship; Church—spiritual birth that brings relationship.

5) Headship: Israel—Abraham; Church—Christ.

6) Covenants: Israel— Abrahamic and all the following covenants; Church—indirectly related to the Abrahamic and new covenants;

7) Nationality: Israel—one nation; Church—from all nations.

8) Divine dealing: Israel—national and individual; Church—individual only.

9) Dispensations: Israel—seen in all ages from Abraham; Church—seen only in this present age.

10) Ministry: Israel— no missionary activity and no gospel to preach; Church—a commission to fulfill.

11) The death of Christ: Israel—guilty nationally, to be saved by it; Church—perfectly saved by it now.

12) The Father: Israel—by a peculiar relationship God was Father to the nation; Church—we are related individually to God as Father.

13) Christ: Israel—Messiah, Immanuel, King; Church—Saviour, Lord, Bridegroom, Head.

14) The Holy Spirit: Israel—came upon some temporarily; Church—indwells all.

15) Governing principle: Israel—Mosaic law system; Church— grace system.

16) Divine enablement: Israel—none; Church— the indwelling Holy Spirit.

17) Two farewell discourses: Israel—Olivet Discourse; Church—Upper Room Discourse.

18) The promise of Christ’s return: Israel—in power and glory for judgment; Church—to receive us to Himself.

19) Position: Israel— a servant; Church—members of the family.

20) Christ’s earthly reign: Israel—subjects; Church—co-reigners.

21) Priesthood: Israel—had a priesthood; Church—is a priesthood.

22) Marriage: Israel—unfaithful wife; Church—bride.

23) Judgments: Israel—must face judgment; Church—delivered from all judgments.

24) Positions in eternity: Israel-spirits of just men made perfect in the new earth; Church—church of the firstborn in the new heavens.