Introduction: Merriam-Webster defines New Israel as “the Christian fellowship of believers: the Christian Church.” The relationship of Israel and the Church has been debated for centuries and various theologies have emerged.

For example, replacement theology teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan and that the many promises God made to Israel are fulfilled in the Church instead—Old Testament prophecies are allegorized in order to make them applicable to the church.

"Spiritual Israel" is a term sometimes used to suggest concepts related to replacement theology.

Contrary to replacement theology, dispensationalism teaches that, after the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan.

Others believe that the church is distinct from Israel, and the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost.

The reason for my question is not to argue for or against any of these conflicting views. I have been asked to answer a very specific question, namely, does the Bible refer to Christian gentiles or the Church as "New Israelites", "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel"?

It may be that the early church fathers wrote about the relationship between Israel and the Church and it would be helpful to know who may have said what. However, being a Christian of the Protestant persuasion, I prefer to stick to what the Bible says. Nonetheless, in order to respond to the question I have been assigned, I would appreciate any helpful input regarding this specific question. Thank you.

P.S. If the tags I have selected can be improved upon, feel free to make suggestions.


4 Answers 4


This can turn out to be quite a large question and so I will address the occurrence of the three terms only. I find none of the three exact terms, "New Israelites", "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel", in the pages of Scripture per se.

That being said, Jesus did declare His intention to gather sheep that were not currently part of "this fold" and make one flock:

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. - John 10:16

In Romans 9, Paul states quite clearly that natural descent within the nation of Israel does not guarantee inclusion within what should be considered the people of God's promise:

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. - Romans 9:1-8

Later in that same epistle Paul explains that Gentiles, rather than replacing something or constituting something altogether new, have been grafted in to something which already exists:

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;... - Romans 11:11-17

Galatians 6 contains a reference to the Israel of God which, though sometimes a source of contention, is contextually a reference to those who are in Christ from either Jew or Gentile stock and who walk according to the rule that the Old Covenant profits nothing:

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. - Galatians 6:12-16

There is a remnant of (natural) Israel, elected (according to foreknowledge and grace) unto the promise of Abraham, and there are Gentiles elected by that same grace and these are one in Christ. There are not two, but one; neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor gentile.

What appears unto us a replacement or distinction is just that; an appearance to us. God knows those who are his. The Shepherd knows His sheep and calls them by name from every tribe and tongue and people. Those who hear His voice and follow are Abraham's children and heirs according to promise:

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. - Galatians 3:7

Not something new or the replacement of something old but that which was always intended ... Christ Jesus, the Israel of God. Israel should not rely on lineage and Gentiles should not boast on being grafted in.

Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. - Romans 11:18-27

In this way, all Israel will be saved.


There are two texts which demonstrate Paul's expression of the relationship between Israel, that is to say the natural seed of Abraham, and the Church, that is to say those who are 'born of water and of Spirit', who are 'born again', 'born anew', 'born of God' and 'born from above'. (All of these expressions are used in scripture.)

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. [Galatians 6:16 KJV]

For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: [Romans 9:6 KJV]

Paul pronounces a blessing on 'the Israel of God' and Paul says that 'not all are Israel who are of Israel'.

It is clear that the concept 'Israel' has meaning and that some are the realisation of that meaning. It is clear, also, that some have failed of the realisation of the concept. They are not what they seem to be.

To merely transport the title from an outwardly gathered company (all the natural seed of Abraham) to a new outwardly gathered company (all that profess the name of Jesus Christ) misses the point.

It is just as true now that : They are not all 'Christians' who are of 'Christendom'.

'Israel' is a spiritual term. Isra-el is prince with God. It denotes spirituality. Thus the - supposed - term, 'spiritual Israel' is, by definition, a misnomer.

And they are not of it (Israel) who are unspiritual.

Hence Paul's use of the term 'the Israel of God'.

All of 'Israel' are 'of God'.

But some are - apparently - of Israel who are not - actually - of Israel.

Just as there are some attending 'church' who are not of 'the Church'.

No, there is no biblical basis for attempting to transport natural Israel into a natural church.

As Jesus has told us : Ye must be born again.

This new birth is a matter of a new Head (Jesus Christ, not Adam) and a matter of being in a new humanity (of Christ, in Spirit) and of being indwelt by an Holy Spirit (no longer serving sin).

This reality is the realisation of what Israel of old merely represented in a natural and earthly way.

The Church is not a 'clone' of natural Israel.

It is the realisation of a representation.


None of the terms "New Israelites", "New Israel", and "Spiritual Israel" appear explicitly in scripture.

But they are apt terms to describe the relationship between God and Christians.

Jeremiah 31:31–33 prophesies the change in God's relationship with Israel from physical to spiritual:

The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (NLT — paraphrase)

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NKJV - literal translation)

Galatians 6:15,16 provides the concept of Christians being the new Israel:

It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. (NLT — paraphrase)

For 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. (NKJV — literal translation)

Similarly in Romans 2:28,29 (where "Jew" could be considered a synonym or synecdoche of "Israel"), being a Jew now means being one in spirit, not flesh:

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks[fn: or receives] praise from God, not from people. (NLT)

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (NKJV)

Romans 11:17 shows that some Gentiles are becoming part of God's people, despite not being part of the physical covenant:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree — some of the people of Israel — have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. (NLT)

And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, (NKJV)

This idea of Gentile Christians becoming Israelites, without becoming physical Israelites, is echoed in Galatians 3:28,29:

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (NLT)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NKJV)

  • "...house of Israel and with the house of Judah..." both refers to northern and southern kingdom. as we know northern kingdom has been lost and only left is today's southern kingdom judah, which has becomes judaism, continuing upholding the teachings of monotheism.
    – VNPython
    Jun 21, 2023 at 0:36
  • (mistake on pressing enter, continuing...) there are no hint in their jewish holy scriptures that is seen as they are abandoned. Jeremiah 31 shows Israel will not be replaced or abandoned. They are God's witness for this world and for the world to see them as lights of the world, a Priestly nation. ultimately is Israel and those righteous people obeying God's law living in this world.
    – VNPython
    Jun 21, 2023 at 0:48

OP does the Bible refer to Christian gentiles or the Church as "New Israelites", "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel"?

Yes; although none of the specific terms are found in Scripture, yet the sense of the sole focus on Israel from the time of the Exodus has ended with the new opening of Jew and Gentile through Messiah’s restored Passover as originally planned is found in Scripture.

Abraham’s seed is for all. God will provide the sacrifice. This was fulfilled in Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, son of the Father. This too was prophesied.

And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. Hos 2:23

This prophetic inclusion of all peoples is not new, but is important to keep in mind.

The Good News is for all, prophesied also by Isaiah and fulfilled in Christ. Let’s look at the prophecy of the new name.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, Isa 61:1-2a

Christ applies this prophecy to Himself as the fulfillment at Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.

With that prophetic application in mind, we then read in Isa 62:1-2 about the new name.

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth.

What new name? The next verses of Isa 62:3-4 answers.

The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God. Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

The new name is the City of God’s Delight, the Bride of God. So again, with that in mind we find the application of this as pertaining to all those in Christ. The Gentiles were not God’s people, but with Christ, we may be God’s people.

The new name is a rename from physical Zion to spiritual Christian. This new name is known as the Bride of God, the City of God’s Delight. This rename is shown in Revelation.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Rev 21:2

So he took me in the Spirit[fn] to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Rev 21:10

Paul put it this way, tying together the prophecy from Abraham’s seed to the new name of the church, the Christian (the called out ones from all nations).

But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. Gal 4:26

He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Eph 5:27

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride[fn] to one husband—Christ. 2 Cor 11:2

So, in short, while the identical words of the OP are not found in Scripture, the spiritual idea is clearly found in Scripture.

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