Is Reformed Theology Replacement Theology?

David Norczyk
5 min readApr 8


When the Protestant Reformers of the Roman Catholic Church produced their doctrinal distinctives in the 16th century A.D., they had a view to Christ’s church and her relationship to ethnic Israel. Did they believe that Messiah’s called out people from every nation, tribe, and tongue were replacing the Jews as God’s chosen people? Did they believe that God had two separate elections involving two distinct covenants, resulting in two different people of God, manifested by two ways of salvation?

Hundreds of years after the Reformation, a group of misguided skeptics formed in order to misrepresent Reformed Theology. In their zeal to defend a newly organized ethnic Israel, that is, the Jewish people and Israel, the nation state, they erroneously nick-named Reformed Theology as “Replacement Theology.”

Despite the derogatory name calling by these opponents, no person holding to Reformed Theology would ever agree to the moniker misnomer “replacement” because that is not what Reformed Theology teaches, nor is it what any born again soul believes.

Claiming that Bible interpreters were blind to a right understanding of the elect people of God for the past two thousand years, these critics of Reformed Theology claim new revelation has informed them to see the error of the Reformers. These also accuse the Reformed of holding to a doctrine not believed by the Reformed. These false teachers have created a straw man argument. They even claim the Reformed have attempted to cover up the doctrine of the church with other names to avoid the term “replacement.” In this deviant exercise, they are simply gaslighting Reformed believers.

Let us correct the false accusations by the false teachers by first defining some terms. “Israel” was the name that Yahweh gave to the patriarch Jacob, whose sons carried the name “sons of Israel.” This title would later identify the Jewish nation of Hebrew people. Yahweh put forth His covenant with Abraham, the believer, and subsequent believers received covenant renewal.

The Bible clearly reveals that Israel was a nation of people chosen by God to be the recipients of revelation. Yahweh revealed Himself to Israel with a special knowledge of Himself. He spoke to the Jewish people through the Old Testament prophets. The canon of Scripture known as the Old Testament is the record of revelation God intended for His chosen nation of people to know and believe.

Only a remnant of Jews has ever believed the report of the prophets and later, the apostles of Jesus Messiah. In fact, the Bible never hides the fact that the majority of Jews throughout history have rejected God’s revelation of Himself. They even killed the Son of God, who was the Word of God incarnate, as a clear demonstration of their unbelief.

It is unbelieving Jews, today, that the accusers of Reformed Theology wish to support and defend. Only those people, either Jew or Gentile, upon hearing the Word of God preached, and upon receiving the regenerated heart from the Spirit of God, could ever believe and be saved. This was true in the Old Testament and likewise in the New Testament.

Israel, as the church of God in the Old Testament, was represented by a visible congregation of ethnic Jews. Within that nation of people was a remnant of believers — the true Israel. Jesus Himself, during His earthly ministry, exposed this dichotomy everywhere He traveled and ministered. Some Jews heard the Messiah and gladly received Him and the words of eternal life He proclaimed to them. Other Jews heard Him and hated Him (Jn 7:7; 15:18–25). The difference between these two groups of Jews was made clear by Jesus when He told the unbelievers that they did not believe in Him because they did not belong to Him (Jn 10:26).

The regathering of Jews from the diaspora (A.D. 70–1948) does not require a reinvention of sound Bible interpretation. Reformed Theology embraces the Bible teaching of the Old Testament prophets, of Jesus Christ, and of the apostles of Jesus Messiah. The events of history cannot change God’s eternal purpose in the salvation of His chosen people — both Jew and Gentile. There is simply no difference between Jew and Gentile believers (Gal 3:28). This is why the Apostle Peter referred to Christ’s New Testament church in the Old Testament terms “chosen people”, “holy nation”, and “royal priesthood” (1 Pet 2:9). There was not a replacement, but rather, a continuation of God’s faithfulness to save His chosen people from every nation.

The Apostle Paul stated the obvious fact, revealed in all of Scripture, that “Not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6).” To say that “Israel really means Israel in both the Old and New Testaments” rejects the clear separation of believers and unbelievers — both Jew and Gentile.

Just as Old Testament Israel was made up of both believers and unbelievers, so the same is true of Christ’s visible church. Christians come from all nations, including ethnic Israel. Therefore, the distinction to be made is not Israel and the church — as if one replaced the other — rather, the distinction to be made — from Adam through today — is who the true believers are in fact.

Gentile believers are not grafted into ethnic Israel. They are grafted into Jesus Christ, the true Vine (Jn 15). Jesus Christ is the true Vine, the Israel of God, from whom are all the blessings of Yahweh (Eph 1:3). Jewish believers, along with their Gentile brethren, are those identified “in Christ.” As the Israel of God, Jesus is the head of His church, and the members of His body are the Israel of God. The two are inseparable.

If any replacement is required in this theological debate regarding Israel and the church, it is for the false teachers to replace their notion that ethnic Jews are the only “Israel.” Rather, they should read their Bibles and learn that the true Israel of God is Jesus Messiah (Is 49:1–6), who gathers His body of people — both Jew and Gentile — from all nations (Rev 5:9; 7:9). They must learn that Yahweh is not just the God of the Jews.

The Spirit of Christ calls out to God’s elect with the Gospel of God, revealing an eternal salvation for those He predestined to adoption as sons (Rom 8:15, 23, 30; Eph 1:4–5) — all those for whom Christ died…both Jew and Gentile (Mt 1:21; Jn 10:11, 15). Having received the Spirit of Christ these same people, throughout history, become Christ’s church, the Israel of God…as it has always been…with no replacement necessary.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

April 8, 2023



David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher