The Church – The Israel of God and The New Creation

highplace2For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.  (Galatians 6:15-16)

In Galatians 6 St. Paul speaks about the Israel of God and the New Creation.  The Israel of God in this case refers to the Church, the Body of Christ.  St. Paul did believe that Christian believers were the Israel of God – not the New Israel (as versus the Old), but the continuation of the only Israel of God.  St. Paul does not use the phrase the “new Israel” but does believe that in Christ we are a new creation.  As Sergius Bulgakov wrote:  “The end of the world is not physical but metaphysical. In reality, the world does not end but is transfigured into a new being, into a new heaven and a new earth. ”  It is not just Jews or Christians who are renewed and transfigured but the entire cosmos.   St. Paul (and the entire New Testament) also does not use phrases like “True Israel” or “True Faith” when speaking about the Christian Church.  Actually the Church’s claim to be the “True Faith” is based upon the idea that we have received a true understanding of Christ and the world.  It is Christ as Truth that makes Orthodoxy true and the fullness of the truth.  “The greatest gift of Orthodoxy is its conviction of being the true faith, that is, a way of faith and life which possesses and proclaims the truth as a gift of God. At the heart of this awesome claim is Christ Himself who said; “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Based on the truth of the person and saving work of Christ, the Apostles and Church Fathers have bequeathed to Orthodox Christians a remarkably coherent and universal vision of truth pertaining to God, man, creation, salvation, Church, ethics, society, family, marriage, vocations, and so on.”        (Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, The Way of Christ)