All Scripture quotes are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
The first chapter of Luke’s gospel is one of the major keys in identifying Israel and the Kingdom of Christ in the New Covenant. When we compare what Luke says with other New Testament scriptures, the true nature of the people of God and Christ’s Kingdom comes into clear view. What’s revealed is that true Israel is composed of all believers in Christ – both Jews and Gentiles – and not just believing Jews. This corporate people of Christ is identified for us in the NT as the Church. Christ’s Church – of whom He is Head, and for whom He died – is the New Jerusalem of the New Israel of the New Heaven and New Earth of the New Covenant (Rev 21:1-3).
Dispensational Premillennialism (DP) separates Israel and the Church into two separate groups of people. It teaches that God still has a future plan for the nation of Israel that is separate from Christ’s Church, even though the Church is composed of both believing Gentiles and believing Jews. DP makes a distinction between two classes of believers, where the NT does not make that distinction (Eph 2:11-22). One has to go to the Old Testament to get the idea that God still has a plan for ethnic Israel, in the form of an earthly kingdom. However, in order to understand the OT, we must first understand the NT, for the NT fulfills the OT. Therefore, we must allow the light of the NT to reveal the mysteries of the OT.
Luke himself, in the very opening of his gospel, begins to shine the light of Christ on the OT prophecies regarding Israel and the Kingdom of the Messiah (Christ). What he reveals – when we compare other scriptures – is that true Israel is spiritual in nature, consisting of those who are in the spiritual lineage of Abraham, and not in his ethnic lineage (Ro 9:6-8). In other words, true Israel are all those who are in Christ, who “share the faith of Abraham, who is the spiritual father of us all” (Ro 4:16).
Luke 1:30-33 is our primary text, but Luke provides other insights in this same chapter that helps us to recognize the fulfillment of the OT Scriptures regarding true Israel and the true people of God in Christ.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Verses 32 and 33 refers to the Davidic Covenant, that the Messiah would be given the throne of David, which speaks of a Ruler who shall reign over His kingdom and over His people, Israel. This Messianic kingdom is what the Jews were looking for in Jesus’ day, and what they’re still looking for even today. What they didn’t understand then, and what they don’t understand now, and what Premillennialism rejects, is that this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus’ day. More specifically and in its entirety, it was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Peter recognized its fulfillment and spoke about it in Acts 2:29-36. I covered this passage in the following study:
Since I already went into detail about Acts 2:29-36 in the above link, I’ll not repeat myself, except for the following:
(Acts 2:36) – 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.
Peter wants the whole house if Israel to know that “God has made him both Lord and Christ.” In other words, as properly interpreted within the context, Christ is King….and He’s ruling now.
Notice that Peter addresses “all the house of Israel.” This coincides with Luke 1:33:
(Lu 1:33) – 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
The house of Israel and the house of Jacob are the same thing, for Jacob is Israel. If you read Peter’s sermon, I think it’s really clear that he viewed this prophecy in Luke to be fulfilled in his day — and not in some distant earthly kingdom, as Premillennialism teaches. Again, please read my study on that in the above link.
Notice that Christ shall reign over Israel forever, that His kingdom has no end. In order to identify this kingdom, we must first identify who Israel is under the New Covenant in Christ. This is answered for us in the same chapter:
(Lu 1:54-55) – 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (ESV)
The covenant promises to Abraham and his offspring were fulfilled in Christ. Paul revealed the true offspring of Abraham to be spiritual in nature, and not ethnic:
(Romans 9:5-8) – 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. (ESV)
Paul reveals that the true “offspring of Abraham” are not those who come through his bloodline, but those who share his faith in Christ (Ro 4:16). In other words, true Israel are all those who are in Christ via regeneration. Those who place their faith in Christ are born (born-again) into the true Israel of God, which is spiritual in nature. This spiritual Israel is the Church — which consists of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles (Ga 3:7-16, 26-29; Eph 2:11-22).
In Christ all ethnic distinctions are done away with. In Christ we are a new entity, a brand new people. In our regeneration, we are not a combination of Jews and Gentiles, but a whole new spiritual race (Eph 2:15). In other words, Israel is rebirthed as a spiritual nation (1 Pe 2:4-10). At the time of conversion, we come to Christ as Jews or Gentiles, but in Christ all former distinctions are completely removed. What matters is who we are in Him. The true people of God, the true children of God, are spiritual in nature, not physical or ethnic. National Israel was a type and shadow of the spiritual nation they were to become in Christ — which is the Church in Him.
Verse 33 (Lu 1:33) says that the “house of Jacob” (Israel) and “his kingdom” will last forever (also Lu 1:55). The only way for Israel to last forever is as a spiritual people, because ethnic Israel will not last forever, but will end when this present world ends, when we go into the Eternal Kingdom of the “new heaven and new earth” of Rev 21 & 22 (also 2 Pe 1:11; 2 Pe 3:13). Therefore, if Christ reigns over the “house of Jacob” forever, His Kingdom must also be spiritual in nature, which Paul confirms in Colossians 1:13.
We exist in Christ as a spiritual people, where all things are brand new. Both individually (2 Cor 5:17) and corporately (Eph 2:14-16), we are a new creation in Christ. Jesus didn’t die just for the people of the nation of Israel, but for people from every nation of the world (Jn 12:32; Rev 5:9; Rev 7:9). God has only one people, not two. When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he told him that Jesus would “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Christ’s people are not just Jews. Compare Matthew 1:21 with with what Paul says in Ephesians 5:23-25:
(Matt 1:21) – 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (CSB)
(Eph 5:23-25) – 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (ESV)
What Paul reveals here is that “His people” of Matt 1:21 is “the Church,” for He “is himself its Savior” (Eph 5:23). As Savior, “He saves His people from their sins.” Therefore, Paul reveals that true Israel is not the ethnic nation of Israel, but the spiritual nation of Israel, which is the Church. In Christ we are a spiritual people. Christ died for His Church, which consists of people from every nation of the world (Rev 5:9; Rev 7:9).
Again, OT national Israel was but a type and shadow of who they were to become in Christ. Israel has its fulfillment in Christ and His Church. Christ’s Church – of whom He is Head, and for whom He died – is the New Jerusalem of the New Israel of the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:1-3) of the New Covenant (He 8:8; 9:15; 12:24).
You may ask, understandably, can’t God still have a future earthly kingdom planned for the nation of Israel? The answer has to be no! Christ’s Kingdom is spiritual and He is reigning over His Kingdom now, and will continue to do so throughout the Church age. This same Kingdom continues throughout eternity (Rev 21 & 22). Furthermore, if you’ve been following along in this “Kingdom Now” series, the NT doesn’t even make room for such a kingdom. All indications are, that we go directly into the Eternal Kingdom of Rev 21 & 22 upon the return of Christ. Perhaps most importantly, Jesus Himself said that His Kingdom is not of this world:
(John 18:36) – 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (NASB)
How can Jesus say it any plainer than that? The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world. We just need to take Jesus at His word. I think this is one of the major fails of Premillennialism, it doesn’t take Christ at His word regarding His Kingdom. There’s no justification for explaining away this statement. His Kingdom is not of this world. That’s it!
Therefore, the idea that there is an earthly millennial kingdom yet to come, is blatantly contrary to what Jesus said about it. I believe this statement of Christ alone disproves Premillennialism. This verse should serve as a foundational verse for interpreting the rest of Scripture regarding the nature of Christ’s Kingdom. To interpret Christ’s statement according to a certain eschatological position, is completely backwards. This too is a major fail of Premillennialism. One has to wonder if we’ll be held accountable for not accepting the plain statements of Scripture, such as this one.
We’ll finish with the following passage:
(Luke 1:67-79) – 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people, 69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David 70 (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old), 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To show mercy towards our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware unto Abraham our father, 74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies should serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 Yea and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people in the remission of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us, 79 To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace.
68 — “God of Israel; redemption for his people”
69 — “hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”
72-73 — “to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware unto Abraham our father”
75 — “holiness and righteousness”
77 — “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people in the remission of their sins”
As we’ve been discussing, Paul reveals that “His people” and the children of Abraham (“Abraham our father”), are all those who are in Christ via faith in Him. Those who share the faith of Abraham – both Jew and Gentile – are the spiritual offspring of Abraham. It’s not the physical offspring who are the children of Abraham and the children of God, but the spiritual offspring of Abraham:
(Romans 4:16-18) – 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” (ESV)
(Romans 9:6-8) – 6 Now it is not as though the word of God has failed, because not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Neither are all of Abraham’s children his descendants. On the contrary, your offspring will be traced through Isaac. 8 That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring. (CSB)
When we compare these two passages in Romans with this passage in Matthew (Matt 67-79), it’s easy to see that Israel has its completion in Christ and His Church. This was always in view in the OT Scriptures. In Christ, true Israel are those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is “the father of us all” (Ro 4:16). In Christ, “God’s children” are those who are of the spiritual lineage of Abraham, not the “physical” (Ro 6:8), for we are a spiritual people (1 Pe 2:5; 1 Cor 2:13-15; Eph 1:3; Col 1:13). As a new creation in Christ, all people distinctions are done away with (Eph 5:11-16). In Christ, there are no Jews or Gentiles. We are a whole new race.
All things considered, it makes no sense that God would still have a separate plan for Israel apart from Christ’s Church, for whom He died, and of whom He is Head (Eph 5:1,23,25). It simply doesn’t fit. The idea that there’s still a 1000 year earthly kingdom in the plan of God, is totally out of harmony with what the NT teaches about the people of God in Christ. Dispensational Premillennialism, unnecessarily, causes great confusion with its two peoples of God and two plans of God theology.
How the OT and the NT fits together in the plan of God, falls into place once we realize that Jesus sits upon His throne now, ruling over His one Kingdom and His one people now, as Paul reveals in the following verse, and we’ll end our study here:
(Colossians 3:1) – 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (ESV)
[also Col 1:13-18; Col 2:10; Eph 1:19-23]