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Origen and Supersessionism
Theological Studies ^ | Michael Vlach

Posted on 05/18/2014 10:49:02 AM PDT by wmfights

The influential church father, Origen (c. 185–254), 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 Israel’s rejection, Origen promoted a punitive supersessionist approach in which the people of Israel were forever “abandoned because of their sins.”[1] 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.”[2] 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.”[3]

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.”[4] N. R. M. De Lange summarizes Origen’s 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.”[5]

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.”[6] This “theoretical basis” is linked to Origen’s 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.[7] 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.’”[8]

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 Israel—the church, to whom the promises would find their complete fulfillment.[9] The result of this view, according to Diprose, was that “Origen effectively disinherits physical Israel.”[10]

[1] Origen, Against Celsus 4.22, ANF 4:506.

[2] Origen, Against Celsus 4.22, ANF 4:506.

[3] Origen, Against Celsus 2.8, ANF 4:433.

[4] Origen, Against Celsus 2.5, ANF 4:431.

[5] N. R. M. De Lange, Origen and the Jews: Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations in Third-CenturyPalestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 80.

[6] Ronald E. Diprose, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought (Rome: Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2000), 86.

[7] 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), 311–12. 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.

[8] Origen, On First Principles 4.1.22 ANF 4:371.

[9] 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.

[10] Diprose, 89.


TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: dispensationalism; supersessionism
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.”[2]

The acceptance of the erroneous belief in supersessionism not only promoted a change in how we interpret Scripture, but also introduced the ground work for antisemitism from churches empowered by the state.

1 posted on 05/18/2014 10:49:02 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: Kandy Atz; Mrs.Z; CynicalBear; Iscool; amigatec; kjam22; boatbums; imardmd1
Dispensational Ping

If you would like to be on this ping list please mail me.

We can argue from Scripture how supersessionism is wrong until the "cows come home", but I think one area we don't cover enough is how this error has affected the world politically. Origen not only promoted a flawed way to interpret Scripture he laid the ground work that justified persecuting Jews by Christian institutions.

2 posted on 05/18/2014 10:55:15 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights

With “Our Father”, Jesus taught a Hebrew prayer.


3 posted on 05/18/2014 11:17:38 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: wmfights

Interesting too. Thanks for posting.


4 posted on 05/18/2014 11:20:02 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: onedoug
You won't get an argument from me.

I think a lot of Christians don't see the consequences of erroneous beliefs beyond a theological setting, but there are also political and cultural consequences. The justification of antisemitism is just one consequence.

5 posted on 05/18/2014 11:23:09 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights
Nowhere in Scripture can one find God's permanent rejection of Israel. In fact, God promises to restore and reconcile Israel to Him. Thank God (literally) that I was taught early in my walk of faith about God's promises to Israel.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned the "experts" against leading believers astray.

I've said it before, and I say it here: some the biggest stumbling blocks to Christian faith can be found in the opinions of "theologians" who are more concerned about who the nephilim were than the matchless wonder of His atoning sacrifice and victorious resurrection.

Throughout history, the greatest human disasters (Naziism, communism, liberalism, political correctness, and false religions) are brought about when people abdicate their personal responsibility to, if I may paraphrase Christ's admonition, pay close attention, hold everything up to the light of god's word, and judge for themselves what is right.

So, I urge any reader who does not already do so: If you want to know what God really said, read His Word for yourself. Don't let the "experts" do your thinking for you. God wants to personally reveal His will and His glory to each one of us. He wants to "reason" with us. But he expects us to take personal responsibility for our relationship with Him.

6 posted on 05/18/2014 11:40:18 AM PDT by 60Gunner (Fight with your head high, or grovel with your head low.)
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To: wmfights

From the site:
Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology at the Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. He is also the Founder and President of TheologicalStudies.org, a cutting-edge website devoted to providing quality articles, news, and information related to Christian theology.

Michael has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. He also has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.


7 posted on 05/18/2014 11:43:41 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: wmfights

should have been titled Origen and the origin of European Christianity’s antisemitism


8 posted on 05/18/2014 11:53:20 AM PDT by Wuli
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To: wmfights

We can argue from scripture...however, he cannot. It wasn’t around for another 100 years...


9 posted on 05/18/2014 12:46:36 PM PDT by bike800
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To: wmfights
This week's episode of "Dr. Vlach's Obsession".

Have you worked through the article and subsequent thread The Church and Israel in the New Testament? (The part before it got derailed by quirky preterism.)

The acceptance of the erroneous belief in supersessionism not only promoted a change in how we interpret Scripture, but also introduced the ground work for antisemitism from churches empowered by the state.

I expect we'll be hearing about Luther and the Not-Sees in upcoming episodes.

10 posted on 05/18/2014 1:26:20 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: bike800
We can argue from scripture...however, he cannot. It wasn’t around for another 100 years...

Now that's just goofy...Where do you suppose Origen got his material to concoct his Hexapla???

11 posted on 05/18/2014 1:43:15 PM PDT by Iscool
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To: Salvation

Your point is?


12 posted on 05/18/2014 5:16:28 PM PDT by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
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To: Iscool

"It wasn’t around for another 100 years... "

Now that's just goofy...Where do you suppose Origen got his material to concoct his Hexapla???

Given the dates of Origen's life and the "hundred years" figure, I'm going to hazard a guess that we'll soon hear some theory about Constantine and the Nicene Council.

13 posted on 05/18/2014 5:48:15 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Salvation
Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology at the Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. ...

Michael has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. He also has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Vlach is actually one of the folks that I'm actually inclined to listen too. Unlike a lot of the pop prophecy pundits (say that quick 3 times), the Chuck Misslers and Hal Lindsays of the world, Dr. Vlach shows signs of actually being familiar with and having read people he disagrees with.

14 posted on 05/18/2014 5:53:52 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: wmfights

When the first temple was destroyed, the remnant of Israel was a mere 85,000 people. These went on to rebuild and restore the nation of Israel. The Israel remnant from the destruction of the second temple was 144,000, and these formed the foundation of the New Covenant, into which the Gentiles were eventually received. Thus, the Church represents the remnant of the true Israel, along with the incorporation of Gentile believers.


16 posted on 05/18/2014 6:40:26 PM PDT by impactplayer
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To: wmfights

Thanks. Keep pinging me?


17 posted on 05/18/2014 7:11:30 PM PDT by imardmd1 (Fiat Lux)
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To: impactplayer
When the first temple was destroyed, the remnant of Israel was a mere 85,000 people.

No idea where that number comes from. Considerably fewer than that were deported to Babylon.

These went on to rebuild and restore the nation of Israel. The Israel remnant from the destruction of the second temple was 144,000, and these formed the foundation of the New Covenant, into which the Gentiles were eventually received. Thus, the Church represents the remnant of the true Israel, along with the incorporation of Gentile believers.

I think your history's a little skewed.

18 posted on 05/18/2014 7:18:26 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Lee N. Field

Many deported to Babylon never returned to rebuild.

As for the 144,000: Revelation Chapters 7 and 14 agree - who am I to disagree?


19 posted on 05/18/2014 7:29:13 PM PDT by impactplayer
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To: wmfights; Lee N. Field; Iscool

Origen is merely stating the universal faith received from the Apostles. Matthew 21 is the clearest chapter in the Bible concerning this issue:

Matthew 21:19 Jesus curses the fig tree ( a type of national Israel ) for not bearing fruit ( fruit being faith in Jesus )and specifically says “ may no fruit EVER come from you again”
Ever is a long time.
Matthew 21:43 Jesus tells the Pharisees the kingdom will be taken from them ( again national Israel )and given to a nation producing the FRUITS ( faith ) of it.
Which NATION was the kingdom given to? the Greeks? Romans? Chinese? Slavs? No! The nation Jesus had in view was described in 1 Peter 2:9 “ but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, God’s own people....”
It is a nation of faith, comprised of every ethnicity, one in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, just one in Christ.

this DOES NOT mean individual Hebrews are cursed, as individual Hebrews have come to faith in Jesus all thru the history of the Church, Paul being a great example. but it does mean that national Israel has been cut off as being the Israel of God. The true Israel of God, the nation possessing the kingdom is the Church.

Origen merely read the words of Jesus in Matthew 21 and believed Him!


20 posted on 05/18/2014 7:53:26 PM PDT by one Lord one faith one baptism
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To: metmom
Your point is?

He's not Catholic ... lol.

21 posted on 05/19/2014 5:15:11 AM PDT by dartuser
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To: imardmd1

I put you on the list.


22 posted on 05/19/2014 6:46:00 AM PDT by wmfights
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