Skip to comments.Origen and Supersessionism Origen and Supersessionism
Posted on 06/05/2012 2:42:18 PM PDT by wmfights
The influential church father, Origen (c. 185254), was important to the development of supersessionism. He taught that Israel was permanently rejected by God and that the church was the new Israel.
Concerning Israels rejection, Origen promoted a punitive supersessionist approach in which the people of Israel were forever abandoned because of their sins. He also declared: And we say with confidence that they [Jews] will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. According to Origen, The Jews were altogether abandoned, and possess now none of what were considered their ancient glories, so that there is no indication of any Divinity abiding amongst them.
In addition to believing that Israel had been forever rejected, Origen held that the church was now the new people of God. In his debate with Celsus, for example, Origen stated, Our Lord, seeing the conduct of the Jews not to be at all in keeping with the teaching of the prophets, inculcated by a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to the converts from heathenism. N. R. M. De Lange summarizes Origens supersessionist perspective: Crucial to the whole argument [of Origen] is the paradox that Jews and Gentiles suffer a reversal of roles. The historical Israelites cease to be Israelites, while the believers from the Gentiles become the New Israel. This involves a redefinition ofIsrael.
In addition to making specific supersessionist statements, Origen helped lay a foundation for supersessionism. Diprose points out that Origen strengthened the theoretical basis of replacement theology by grounding it in biblical exegesis. This theoretical basis is linked to Origens use of allegory to understand Scripture.
Origen gave Christian allegory its theoretical foundation and he was central in making the allegorical method the Christian approach to interpreting Scripture texts regarding Israel. In his De Principiis he argued for a threefold meaning of each Scripture passage. While acknowledging the importance of the literal meaning at times, Origen argued that the spiritual meaning behind the literal sense was most important. For example, in reference to Jesus statement, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mat 15:24), Origen denied that Jesus had ethnic Israelites in view. For Origen, the title Israel referred to anyone who truly knows God: We do not understand these words [Mat 15:24] as those do who savour of earthly things . . . but we understand that there exists a race of souls which is termed Israel, as is indicated by the interpretation of the name itself: for Israel is interpreted to mean a mind, or man seeing God.
Origen also held to a distinction between carnal Israel and spiritual Israel. Carnal or physical Israel, for Origen, was never intended to inherit the promises of the Old Testament because she was unworthy and could not understand them. At best, physical Israel functioned as a type for the spiritual Israelthe church, to whom the promises would find their complete fulfillment. The result of this view, according to Diprose, was that Origen effectively disinherits physical Israel.
 Origen, Against Celsus 4.22, ANF 4:506.
 Origen, Against Celsus 4.22, ANF 4:506.
 Origen, Against Celsus 2.8, ANF 4:433.
 Origen, Against Celsus 2.5, ANF 4:431.
 N. R. M. De Lange, Origen and the Jews: Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations in Third-CenturyPalestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 80.
 Ronald E. Diprose, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought (Rome: Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2000), 86.
 See Origen, De Principiis 4.1.11, ANF 4:359. See also Early Christian Interpretation, in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 31112. Kaiser says Origen championed the allegorical system of interpretation as the best way to handle most of the Old Testament. Walter C. Kaiser, An Epangelical Response, in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 363.
 Origen, On First Principles 4.1.22 ANF 4:371.
 Origen said corporeal Israelites [Jews] were the type for spiritual Israelites [the church]. On First Principles 4.21 ANF 4:370; See also Diprose, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought, 89.
 Diprose, 89.
If only someone had stopped them, Jesus could have lived a long and productive life, dying at a ripe old age. Of course that would have left us holding the bag for our own sins. Instead, the Jews performed the function they were destined to do. They were the priests, Jesus was the Lamb, Rome was the knife. I think Origen missed it on this one.
“...Origen promoted a punitive supersessionist approach in which the people of Israel were forever abandoned because of their sins. He also declared: And we say with confidence that they [Jews] will never be restored to their former condition”
Origen, the first radical muslim.
Origen ping. I’ll read later
Origen deserves our respect.
But on this issue, both he and our Covenant brothers are lost in the tall grass. Too much scripture promising great things for the nation of Israel in the future.
On this issue he was wrong. The Magisterium has never backed him on this point.
Thanks for the ping. I have great respect for Origen, but I think he went too far in his allegorical interpretation of scripture. Because anything written can be taken as an allegory for anything else, the result is more a product of the interpreter than it is of the scripture.
Well this Church father is wrong. And I say with confidence that God’s word says different: Hebrews 8:10-11 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
G-d made a covenant with the people of Israel forever. If Origen is right, then G-d is a liar...or maybe there’s another conclusion.
I am still mystified why so many people cannot accept the idea that G-d can make a separate covenant with 2 different peoples - one being the Jews/Israel, and the other being the Gentiles. After all, a covenant is like a contract or a promise, and if we mere mortals can enter into more than one contract or make more than one promise, why can’t the Creator?
FYI, it is my opinion (as a Jew) that Origen’s statements have led to more bloodshed in the name of his religion than just about anything else in all of history...and his soul still has a lot of time to suffer for that crime against humanity.
“He taught that Israel was permanently rejected by God and that the church was the new Israel. Concerning Israels rejection, Origen promoted a punitive supersessionist approach in which the people of Israel were forever abandoned because of their sins.”
I think he was partially right but for a different reason. Israel was not rejected by God, Israel rejected God by rejecting Christ. This is not a permanent situation. Israel, just like everyone else, may come to the Father through the Son. Many have done so and many more will.
Arguing that the nation of Israel is allowed to remain favored of God while rejecting his Son elevates the OT over the New, is in direct opposition to the plain meaning of Christs own words (John 14:6) and ignores the reason for Christ’s sacrifice which was for ALL mankind. ALL who believe in the Father are favored of him and none are more favored than others.
* Not to mention the Jews (mistakenly) believed in an earthly king and an earthly kingdom the last time around and look how that worked out for them. Christians believing that there will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly reign with the Jews at the apex make no sense whatsoever. I can see why Jews who continue to reject Christ as the Son of God would believe such but for Christians it is a rejection of their belief system.
You do realized that Jesus Christ fulfilled this promise. Hebrews 8:8-13 makes is clear that the real Israel of God has the "laws in their minds" and "written on their hearts" and that "none of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother saying 'Know the Lord' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them."
This is NOT modern day Israel who are in unbelief. Christians have the "laws in their minds and written on their hearts." Further, John says that believers who have the Holy Spirit "[ye] need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2:27)
Jesus called the physical descendents of Abraham who did not believe in him "children of Satan." Jesus cursed the unproductive fig tree "forever" (Matthew 21:19). We know from Luke 13:6-9 that this is [unbelieving] Israel then. And in Matthew 21:33-40 (the parable of the vineyard) the unfaithful husbandmen were removed and replaced by those "which shall render unto him the fruits in their season."
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lords doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whatsoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matthew 21:42-44)
Unbelieving Israel has been cut off and the kingdom of God has been given to a "nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Did God break his promise? No, "for they are not all Isreal who are of Israel." (Romans 9:6)
Apparently, Origen missed Genesis 32:28
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
The name "Israel", therefore, means "God prevails" and "contender" or "soldier of God". As it was used for Jacob and the twelve tribes that came from his twelve sons, it meant "Prince of God". Not sure where Origen got the idea that it meant "mind" OR "man seeing God", but his strange interpretation of the name Jehovah gave to Jacob and his descendants explains how he could then imagine that God would break His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To say that the Jews will never be restored to their former condition also distorts God's plans as He has clearly told us. An everlasting covenant is everlasting.
Thanks for the ping!
Great info, thanks.