This is Appendix B of the book, "Israel's Identity/Israel's Conversion." The Introduction to the book is posted.

The Elect Race

The following is lengthy, but well worth the reader's attention. Dr Weiss make simple a very confusing issue--the proper relationship between Old Testament national Israel and the New Testament Christian Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Summations are at the end.

It is taken from Biblical Theology of The New Testament, by Dr. Bernhard Weiss, Vol I.204-210. Translated from the Third Revised Edition by Rev. David Eaton. Clark's Foreign Theological Library, New Series, Vol XII. T. & T. Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh. 1888. The endnotes are Dr. Weiss', of which not all are reproduced here. My word processor will not let me reproduce the Hebrew and Greek words.

SECTION II

THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER.

CHAPTER III.

The commencement of the Messianic Consummation in the Christian Church.

§ 44. The Elect Race.

The Christian Church, in which the promised completion of the theocracy begins to be realized, is the elect race, which consists of believing Israelites. (b) Their election to participation in the completed salvation is accomplished in baptism, in which God makes them a holy nation by equipping them with His Spirit, and granting them the full forgiveness of sin. (c) All Israelites who would not obey the demand of the message of salvation are excluded from the elect race. (d) Wherever individual Gentiles are received into the Church through baptism, they are joined to the elect race, whose substance is formed by believing Israel.

(a) Since that which is considered in the First Epistle of Peter is no longer the proclamation which lays the foundation, but a building up of churches which already exist (ii. 5), the apostle does not start by proving that prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus, but the basis of his exhortation is the fact, that in the Christian Church the realization has commenced of that which was set before the theocratic nation as the highest ideal, and which was to be realized in the Messianic time which has now commenced. That which Jesus proclaimed as the coming of the kingdom of God in the midst of the disciples (§ 14), is, for the preaching of the apostle, the completion of the theocracy in the Christian Church. Ye are the elect race (ii. 9), Peter writes to the Christian churches of Asia Minor. It is true they already belonged to the elect nation in virtue of their descent; for the elect out of the Jewish dispersion in that region (I. 1) have been chosen in accordance with the foreknowledge of God (ver. 2: [Greek word]). In the election of Israel (Deut. vii. 6, 7; Isa. xliii. 2O) there already lay the prevision that in this nation the divine purpose of salvation would be fulfilled, and in the circumstance that its realization has now commenced in the Church of believing Israelites, only that divine foreknowledge is confirmed. But now, the question is not as to the election of Israel as a nation, but as to the selection of individuals out of it, in whom the greatest salvation which is involved in the completion of the theocracy is to be realized; for although this salvation is destined for Israel as a nation in virtue of its election, it is by no means thereby guaranteed to all the individual members of the nation (cf. § 2O, c). Already Deut. vii. 9 intimates that participation in the salvation which is destined for the elect nation is attached to the fulfilment of the obligations of the covenant; and this covenant obligation of obedience (Ex. xxiv. 7) only those have fulfilled at the decisive moment, who, now when the commencing realization of all salvation through the exalted Messiah is proclaimed, have, in obedience to the will of God (cf. § 40, c), accepted the glad tidings concerning, Him (I. 14: [Greek word]). Since God declares that these alone are true Israelites, the idea of election is limited to them. It is plain from the context of ii. 9, that only the believers in Israel (ver. 7), those who are not disobedient to the word (ver. 8),(1) belong, to the elect race, in which the ideal of the theocracy is being realized; only the believing company of Jews in Babylon is elect together with his readers (v. 13).

(b) As in the case of the election of Israel, the Old Testament does not reflect upon an eternal divine decree of salvation, but, at the most, goes back upon the historical relation of Jehovah to their forefathers, so the election of believers out of Israel to participation in the completed salvation is also conceived of as an historical act, which is accomplished [Greek word] (I. 2). Here, undoubtedly, the act of baptism is thought of, by means of which the individual enters into the narrower fellowship of salvation which exists in the midst of the people of Israel, and in which he receives the gift of the Spirit (§ 41, a). For as it is by the anointing with the Spirit in baptism that Jesus becomes the God-consecrated one [Greek word] (§ 38, b), so God must first, by means of His Spirit, consecrate everything which He chooses for Himself, i.e. He must separate it from everything that is profane, and make it fit and suitable for His purposes. Here also, accordingly (cf: § 18, a, 40, a), the Spirit is conceived of as the principle of the gifts of grace, by means of which God equips His servants and instruments for His purposes, just as He, therewith, equipped the prophets of the old covenant, and now makes men able to preach the gospel (I. 11, 19). The honour which God confers upon them, in that He causes His Spirit, which is a Spirit of gory, to rest upon them, is expressly represented as far outweighing all the dishonour which Christians must endure (iv. 14). As, however, according to Acts ii. 38, the obtaining of forgiveness of sins is the design of baptism, so here also the election which is accomplished in baptism appears as having in view the (purifying) sprinkling with the blood of Christ (I. 2); and in iii. 21 baptism is expressly described as a washing which does not, as in the case of common bath, aim at the washing away of the filth which cleaves to the flesh, but at the cleansing of the conscience from the consciousness of guilt.(2) Nothing of the profane impurity, which the stain of guilt bring along with it, may any longer adhere to the members of the elect race; and also in this sense it is baptism which first bestows upon those who are chosen out of Israel the quality which was set before the whole nation as an ideal (Ex,. xix. 6), but which during the old covenant had been always realized only in the case of individuals (iii. 5: [Greek word]). The elect race has now become a holy nation (ii. 9: [Greek word], cf. ver. 5).

(c) That many who belong to the nation of Israel in virtue of their descent from the fathers will nevertheless not obtain the salvation for the realization of which this nation was chosen, yea, that possibly only a remnant of Israel will share in the Messianic salvation,--this the prophets have often enough stated in their prophecies regarding the judgments which precede the commencement of the time of the consummation. This prophecy is now being fulfilled. To those who are disobedient, and therefore do not fulfil their covenant obligation (note a), the Messiah has become the stone of offence and stumbling, as is said in ii. 8 with an express allusion to prophecy (Isa. viii. 14). For those, however, who refuse obedience to the proclamation regarding the Messiah, this stumbling is expressly appointed by God as a punishment of their disobedience. The passage (ii. 8) does not speak of the foreordination of individuals to unbelief (Lechler, p. 186), or to exclusion from the kingdom of God (v. Colln, ii. 351); it states that in accordance with a divine arrangement the disobedient are appointed to stumbling, i.e. however, not to going astray morally, but to destruction. According to the connection with ver. 9 this destruction consists in this, that they no longer belong to the elect race, and have therefore no part in the completion of the theocracy which is brought about by the Messiah (ver. 6). Here also, accordingly, as in § 42, b, every sin, even the disobedience of those who perished in the flood (iii. 20), is regarded as a sin of ignorance (I. 14: [Hebrew words]).(3) Only obstinate disobedience to the message of salvation which demands its believing acceptance (ii. 8, cf. iii. 1, iv. 17), and which is nothing else than disobedience to the Messiah Himself, is regarded as the presumptuous sin of godlessness (iv. 18: [Hebrew words]), which cannot be forgiven, because through the Messiah the consummation is brought about, and disobedience to Him is of a definitive character. There has, therefore, been no alteration of the divine decree of election, no transference of it to another subject. It is in the originally chosen nation that the theocracy is completed; only the unworthy descendants of the fathers are excluded from this completion.

(d) It is, per se, very possible, that when Peter wrote to the churches of the dispersion, individual Gentiles who had become believers had already attached themselves to them; and if it were really the case that individual expressions of the Epistle refer expressly to Gentile Christians (which I, at least, cannot find to be the case), then we should have to conclude that the Gentile-Christian portion of these churches was not inconsiderable. But in such a case it would only come out the more clearly that Peter holds the believing Israelites to be the real stem, the substance of the Church, to which these Gentiles have been led by God before the time (cf. § 43, b). That even such as were not born Jews might enter into the elect race, and participate in its promises, was an idea which had become quite familiar to the Jewish consciousness through proselytism. It is true that circumcision was demanded from the actual proselytes to Judaism; but Peter had, according to § 43, c, acknowledged that even Gentiles as such, i.e. without accepting circumcision, could be incorporated by faith with God's people; and if even born and circumcised Israelites belonged to the elect race of the time of the consummation only inasmuch as they had become believers, it would certainly not have been a great step in advance to make faith, henceforth, the sole condition of participation in the salvation and promise of Israel. Put as the apostolic decree had not thought of placing believing Gentiles in a subordinate position to the Jewish-Christian substance of the Church, after the analogy of the proselytes of the gate, so no such idea can be found in our Epistle, although Reuss (ii. 302 [E. Tr. ii. 272]) still discovers it in consequence of his false interpretation of the address of the Epistle. What, indeed, was the nature of the social relation subsisting between these Gentiles who were incorporated with the elect race and the stem of the Church, which undoubtedly remained true to the law, and whether this question had already arisen--as to these matters there is no indication whatever in our Epistle. The Jews in the far-off dispersion were scarcely accustomed to so strict an observance of the law, that their social relation to the uncircumcised members of the Church would become such a burning question as in the immediate neighbourhood of Palestine; and even in the Church at Antioch the controversy was imported from Jerusalem (Gal. ii. 12).

§ 45. The Peculiar People and the Calling.

In the time of the consummation the elect race has first truly become the people of God's possession. (b) In this there is implied, first, that it has been called to all the salvation which God bestows in the Messianic time out of the fulness of His grace. (c) Therewith, however, it has also been called to the highest task, viz. as the true servants of God to glorify God in the fear of God and in righteousness, and to serve Him as priests. (d) Both points of view are united in the idea of sonship, yet so that the latter still predominates in it.

(a) Although God has, according to Deut. vii. 6, chosen Israel that it may be a people of His possession ([Hebrew word]), yet, as appears from Ex. xix. 5, the realization of this ideal remained dependent upon the obedience of the people. Faithless Israel is no longer the people of God; but it can become so again, if it is converted in the Messianic time (Hos. ii. 93); and since the Israel which has become believing has shown the obedience demanded by God in the Messianic time (§ 44, a), it can be described by Peter as the people which has been taken to be His possession (ii. 9: [Hebrew word]), the people which has now again become the people of God (ver. 10). Jehovah, however, has promised to dwell in the midst of His people (Ex. xxix. 45 f.); and since, even when He was dwelling in the temple, He still remained separated from the people, the prophets assign to the Messianic time the full fulfilment of this promise also (Ezek. xxxvii. 27). This promise is now, however, fulfilled (ii. 5); the Christian Church has itself become the house of God (iv. 17), in which He dwells (cf. § 31, d).(4)

Under a common prophetical image (Jer. xxxi. 10 ; Ezek. xxxiv. 11 f.) their readoption to be the people of God' sown possession is also so represented as if the erring sheep who had gone astray from their shepherd hae now returned to God, their Shepherd and Overseer (ii. 25 ; cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 10, 16), and so form a flock of God (v. 2), over which He, as proprietor of the flock, has set their shepherds, and, chief among these, the Messiah (v. 2-4 ; cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 23 f.). ...

Observe:

First, the elect race, or nation, of God is identified as Israel, The Israel of God. Its foundation is traced to the promises made to Abraham, passed down through Isaac and Jacob/Israel, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.

Second, that physical nation was called to be a holy nation to the Lord God, and represent Him midst the pagan nations around them.

Third, that nation had two sides: physical and spiritual. The physical nation of Israel consisted of believers in the Messiah Who would come, Jesus Christ, and non-believers. Faith in the Messiah was evidenced by faithful obedience to the laws given to it by the Lord Jesus Christ, including the rites and rituals pointing to His coming.

Fourth, those who were unfaithful were cut off from physical Israel, cast out of the nation of Israel. Those who refused to obey the demands of salvation were excluded from the elect nation; those who obeyed the demands of salvation were grafted in even before Christ, e.g., Rehab, Ruth, &c.

Fifth, the physical nation, or national Israel, totally rejected the Messiah, putting Him to death. The result was that God totally cut off that nation. It no longer exists as it did in the Old Testament.

Sixth, however, spiritual Israel, the elect race, continued, for it was made up of those faithful to the gospel message of the Messiah. They, the remnant, were kept faithful by the electing grace of God: He reserved them unto Himself, (Rom. 11:4.)

Seventh, at the coming of Christ, the elect physical nation took on another name, the Christian Church. To finalize the establishment of the Church in place of national Israel, Old Testament national Israel was totally destroyed when Christ finally judged her for her sins, Matthew 23:34-39 (Lk 11:50).

Eighth, the Christian Church is built upon the same foundation as was the true Israel of God in the Old Testament, faithful obedience to the gospel message, James chapter two. (Mt 16:15; Jn 6:69.) It is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. (Ep 2:20. Note that the prophets had to be the Old Testament prophets. Cf. Lk 24:44ff.)

Ninth, the Christian Church is the continuation of the elect nation of God, the Israel of God, as a daughter is a continuation of her mother. The believers of old, the true Israel of God, are the stem of the Church; they are the fathers of the Christian Church. (1 Cor 10:1, speaking to a church made up of both "Jews" and "Gentiles," Paul identified their fathers as the ones who came out of Egypt, being led by the cloud in the wilderness.)

Tenth, there is no difference now, for both "Jews" and "Gentiles" alike must be grafted into the "root" of Jessie, Jesus Christ, the true Israel of God. (Is 49:1-7. Christ is called Israel by God the Father. Thus all who are in Him are in the Israel of God.)

Eleventh, the Christian Church, or the Gospel Church, replaced national Israel as God's elect race. And like the nation of old, it is made up of those who obey and those who refuse to obey the demands of the converting gospel of Christ. Those who refuse to obey the demands of the Christian Gospel are required to be removed from the congregation of the Lord. (1 Cor 5.) Baptism by submersion is the physical sign of entrance into the physical Israel, outwardly showing the faith of the believer in the converting work of Christ in his heart.

Twelfth, though He at one time dwelt in the temple made with hands in old Israel, the Gospel Church is now the dwelling place of the Most High God.

1. The connection with ver. 6 shows clearly that in ver. 7 faith is already conceived of as trust in the Messiah, who had been made by God the corner-stone of theocracy, and who brings about the consummation of all things as well as the final salvation [I. 5, 7, 9, v. 9; cf. Acts xv.11, for which see § 40, c]...

2. Since baptism (more accurately: the baptismal water) had just been described, from the objective side, as the antitype of the water which had once borne Noah and his family in the ark through the flood and saved them (iii. 20 f.; cf. Acts ii. 40), so now, in the opposition clauses, it is more particularly described, from the subjective side, as a submersion ([Greek word]), in which they do not put away ([Greek word]) the filth of the flesh, but in which they present to God the prayer for a good conscience ([Greek word]), which they can obtain only be means of the forgiveness of sins which removes their consciousness of guilt, and which then makes them certain of deliverance from the destruction to which they are exposed only on account of the stain of guilt (cf. Gess. P. 401). That they obtain in baptism what they pray for in it, is taken for granted as self-evident, since it had just been shown how, by means of the suffering of the Messiah (who is confessed and called upon in baptism), we are freed from the stain of guilt which separates us from God (iii. 18)... [From text, Theology, pp. 96, 97, ed.] (b) If the hearing of the word of Jesus is the one thing which is needful (Luke x. 42, cf. ver. 39), and if this hearing must always be accompanied with doing (Matt. vii. 24), then His preaching seems to have been nothing else than a renewed inculcation of the divine will; it seems to be like the preaching of the prophets, which also always began with the demand of a general conversion and repentance. But recently the Baptist had appeared with such a demand, and had caused the solemnly-vowed repentance to be ratified by the symbolical act of submersion in the Jordan (Mark I. 4: [Greek Word]).

3. As their walk in the sinful lusts is represented here as a walk which is owing to their imperfect knowledge of the true will of God, which, after the common Jewish manner (§ 24), his readers once thought they could satisfy by an external fulfilling of the law, so in i. 18 it is described as a walk which is vain and idle, i.e. not reaching its true end, viz. The blessedness of man in consequence of pleasing God. This, as well as the milder view of all pre-Christian sin as an aberration which has withdrawn them from the guidance of the one true Shepherd (ii. 25), is owing to the circumstance that, looked at from the Christian standpoint, such sin is regarded as a pardonable sin of ignorance.

4. When this house of God ([Greek word]) is called a spiritual one (ii. 5), it might be though that the Spirit, who brings about the consecration of Christians to God in general (§ 44, b), qualifies the Church also to be His dwelling -place; but it is much more natural to think only of the contrast to the stone temple of the old covenant. It is expressly set forth that this house of God is built up of living stones, inasmuch as the individual members of the elect race attach themselves to the Messiah.
 
 
 

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