One of the classic themes in replacement theology (the belief that Christians have “replaced” the Jews in covenant relationship with God) is that even stones can be turned into God’s children. A number of new testament texts (i.e. Luke 3:7-8) are commonly used to support this traditional theology.

For example, John the Baptist spoke to his fellow Judeans:

“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Luke 3:7-8)

The mistaken assumption is that these texts are describing a “Jews” versus “Gentiles” mentality, while in reality, they are contrasting “Jews” and “Better Jews” instead. This Jewish prophet confronted his fellow Jews who thought that they can go through his water-washing without true life-changing repentance and still receive God’s pardon. In a similar incident, Jesus, in his confrontation with some Judeans who opposed him said, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.” (John 8:39)

Finally, those who embrace replacement theology often cite Paul’s words to the Christ-following assembly in Rome to (wrongly) support their view that Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s uniquely chosen people:

“…not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” (Rom. 9:6-8)

An ancient Jewish prayer (Ribon Kol HaOlamim) used regularly today sheds light on the error that Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul were all attempting to correct.

“Master of Eternity, it is not because of our righteousness that we bring before you our supplications, but because of your great mercy. What is our faithfulness?! What is our righteousness?! …What can be possibly said before you, Lord God, God of our Fathers?! …but we are children of your beloved Abraham, to whom You swore on Mount Moriah. We are the seed of Isaac his only son, who was bound on the altar. We are the witnessing community of Jacob, chosen and loved to the utmost by You…”

The child of the flesh is Ishmael, while the child of the promise is Isaac (notice that both Isaac and Ishmael were living, breathing sons of Abraham!). The contrast between Isaac and Ishmael is not between two different “races” but between two sons of the same father, who chose to relate to God in radically different ways: one in faithfulness (Gen.22) and the other in rebellion (Gen. 16:12).  Isaac’s life throughout the Book of Genesis was characterized by faith and obedience to God. Isaac was not only related to his father by blood but also by living (and receiving God’s favor) the same way that his dad did – by grace through faith.

In other words, John the Baptist, Paul, and Jesus all agree that while the connection with Abraham is very special, it is an “Abraham-like” faithful and trusting living under the blessed promise of God that reconfirms a person’s ultimate “belonging” to Israel.

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183 COMMENTS

  1. Both Jew and Gentile who except Jesus are of Isaac's promise. For there is niether Jew nor Greek but those who follow Jesus will be saved.
    • Gentile believer can never replace the Jews, we are just saved by grace and mercy in Jesus. we are Added-into ones. Jews has a special role to play, All Jews and Non-Jews has come to saving knowledge of Yeshua.

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    • Sometimes when it is speaking of the Greeks (not Gentiles) it may be referring to the Hellenistic Jews who had abandoned circumcision, etc. Timothy's father was most likely a Greek (Hellenist), thus not having Timothy circumcised, needing Paul to help with his circumcision. If a Gentile converted into the House of Israel, I believe it was the third generation that they would be completely accepted and become one with Israel. If you count each thousand years as a prophetic day, the Messianic Millennial period would be the third day as we all become truthfully one in the Messiah. Psa. 22 says, "A seed shall serve Him and it shall be accounted to Him as a generation." The Master spoke of the Last Days when asked a total of three questions, three questions that will span the 3,000 years, three eras equaling one generation.
  2. I do not believe in replacement theology, but I do think God can make sons of who so ever he wants to, stones included. The prayer you quoted in your article seemed a very nice prayer, but I didn't see what it had to do with turning stones into sons. It seemed to me that some people were getting very proud, and they were being warned of God's ultimate power. Jesus did of course say He had another flock, which I presumed was regarding the future gentiles being grafted in. God bless,
    • Hi Joan, You're right - there were "some" who had become spiritually proud and Jesus makes it clear that ethnicity alone does not guarantee a person's status within God's Kingdom. But, at the same time - as the prayer cited above makes clear - there have always been Jewish people that have recognized this truth. Unfortunately, all too many Bible teachers use a "one-size-fits-all" mentality and apply Jesus' criticism to the Jewish people as a whole.
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  3. I was raised a Christian (I'm 65) and have never heard such teachings as replacement theology in the churches I have attended over the years. What denominations teach this? I'm curious. Perhaps as a child, this was too advanced for me, but later churches did not teach such things. I don't see where they got these views at all. I always felt Jesus was addressing his fellow Jews, but a lesson was in there for us as Gentile followers. We are adopted into the faith. I, for one, am grateful.
    • Supersessionism teaches the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. Replacement Theology- the church has replaced Israel; Covenant Theology- the church is an expansion of Israel; Dispensationalism- the church is different and distinct from Israel, the next “dispensation” in God’s plan for humanity. Dispensationalism is the most common today, and it completely brushes aside the Jews. The promises God made to Israel are spiritualized and allegorized to say the church is the replacement for Israel.

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    • Hi Jan, I am sad to say that the majority of denominations within Christendom teach replacement theology in one form or another. As some of the larger denominations that embraced supercessionism (replacement theology) have become liberal, they have softened in their conviction that the "church" has replaced Israel as the new people of God. Others, however, seem to have "doubled-down" in this conviction and reaffirmed that Israel as a nation has no future in God's kingdom.

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  4. I repented (turned to God), but after my conversion to Christianity repentance got replaced by a question “Why did you come to Christ?” This made me seem really super intelligent in prayer. Talk about a golden heart!!! I have never understood why Jesus got baptized, but now I see that the voice came from heaven and revealed Christ. I heard the voice the day I repented. This explains why I was so smart about something I had never heard of. Coincidentally, Jesus spoke in my language so I accepted Justice.
    • Yeshua underwent tevilah (loosely baptism) because He was starting His ministry. Observant Jews undergo tevilah many times in their life for many reasons; a major change in status or ministry being one of them. It differs from Cristian baptism in that the Rabbi stands outside the mikvah (baptismal pool) and reads scripture while the one undergoing tevilah immerses himself completely; usually three times to make sure immersion is absolutely complete. This is how Yochanon (John) and Yeshua (Jesus) would have done it.
    • In Matt .3:11-12 ..Yochanan said ;Its true I am immersing you in water so that you might turn from sin to G-d ;but the One coming after me is more powerful than I ---and He will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh ( Holy Spirit ) and in Aish ( fire ) .This is why Yeshua was immersed in water .Read Acts 2 when all the Jews were gathered together and were filled with the Ruach HaKodesh :-)
  5. If the church (Jews and Gentiles who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior under the New Covenant) have not replaced the unsaved Jews as the covenant people, under what covenant are the Jews in covenant with God? As for the stones being pointed at by John the Baptist, I have always thought they might have been the stones placed in the Jordan River by the Israelites when they entered the promised land, John's reminder of why the Israelites were chosen as a covenant people.
    • In can be shown from scripture that the very spot on the Jordan where the Israelites crossed was where John was baptizing. Thus, he literally is pointing to the stone memorial.

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    • Certainly the Jews can begin answering you that the Adamic covenant is still active. It was never nullified, and it applies to everyone. The conversation continues on from there to Gentiles being grafted onto Jews, not Jews being thrown out as a whole. The conversation has many levels, not that I could lead the whole conversation thoroughly, but it can most certainly begin there.....
    • Dan, great question. For starters, I have to point to Paul's comments in Romans 11:28. Paul states, "In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers." Paul makes it clear that even in Israel's state of unbelief the Abrahamic Covenant (from which all subsequent covenants spring, including the New Covenant), remains in force.
  6. What the New Testament is talking about and for that matter what Yesuha taught was for the spiritual redemption, or spiritual growth of an individual regardless of racial lines. WE see this all through the New Testament and this is further shown to us in the story of Ruth where Gentiles were converted to the faith. What Yesuha did was expand this out to the world. Yesuha's teachings were then sent out to the world.
    • On one level, you are absolutely right. Jesus' teaching has application for everyone regardless of ethnicity, culture or community. However, it is also important to read a text in its original context or we risk becoming "historical gnostics" - assuming that the historical details are really irrelevant in God's redemptive program for the World. But the details - the Who, Where, When, and What, indeed matter!
  7. What specific behaviours constitute “faithful and trusting living under the blessed promise of God “? Abraham did not trust God when he fathered a child through his servant? When his wife died he had no further interest with the inheritance he married Keturiah and went away to establish another family. Jacob did not trust God when he deceived his blind father with a pack of lies, conned his brother when he was hungry, thirsty and tired and did not show kindness to him at that time of need, married three sisters two of whom he had lived and worked with
    • It sounds like you have already made up your mind about the Patriarchs so I'm not sure there is much I can say to persuade you otherwise. But that said - keep in mind that the only reason we know about the character flaws of these guys in the first place is that the Narrative reports who they are, warts and all. The Biblical text wants us to understand the men they become - and God's faithfulness to them despite their many flaws.

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    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with Exodus and The New Testament or Leviticus and The New Testament. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
    • You are misquoting scriptures .Avraham did trust Adonai .Go back to the book of Gen .from chapter 12 and on and read how Adonai trusted G-d .And read how Ya'acov /Jacob also trusted and believed .Also .Ya'acov had two wives not three .Study the scriptures from the Hebrew writings and understand what YHVH is saying to His people .And yes ,Avraham never turned his back on YHVH and the inheritance went to Yitz'chak not Keturia nor her children .
    • Winston, the things you say about Jacob *in his early life* are correct although you left out Rebecca's influence and orchestration of the latter events.

      As for the rest, my response is that there is no scriptural support for it whatsoever. If you believe otherwise, then please cite supporting scripture.
    • winston meerabux Jacob is said to have had twelve sons by four women, his wives, Leah and Rachel, and his concubines, Bilhah and Zilpa. Which one was the 3rd Sister. A small thing but i believe we must report our beliefs accurately. I love these discussions that question My beliefs
  8. Shalom, Dr. Eli, I do not understand the logic behind the replacement theory. Since Yeshua is a Jew, does He replace Himself under this theory? There's Adam, born of the flesh (i.e., Ishmael) and the Second Adam (Yeshua), born of the Spirit and promise (i.e., Isaac). The reference to the word "stone" is interesting. The Stone that the builders rejected Has become the Chief Cornerstone.
    • In one sense, I also don't understand the "logic" behind replacement theology. The Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the NT, are clear that God's commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is eternal and irreversible.

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    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Apostle Paul I: His World and The Jewish Gospel of John I: The Arrival of the King. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
    • I have assumed that medieval, reformed theologians invented this replacement doctrine in part because there was no physical place where the Jews lived as a nation, they could not conceptualize such a place, and most importantly, they did not inquire as to this seeming conflict via the Holy Spirit, but rather resorted to human "logic"....

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