I wrote these series of articles (see menu sidebar to the left) as a Catholic for Catholics, but I no longer accept Catholic teaching as the authoritative source of truth.I have not attempted to align these articles with my current views.
Many Protestants claim that the New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant in every way. Dispensationalists even go so far as to claim that the means of salvation is different under these two covenants.
The Catholic Church has many similarities to the Old Testament nation of Israel. Some examples:
The Church as the New Covenant is really phase two of God's first covenant in which He called out a holy nation. There are many similarities between the two covenants.
There are many Biblical passages which support the idea that the Church is the New Israel, the fulfilled Israel.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. (1 Peter 2:9)
Old Testament Israel was a chosen and holy nation; so is the church, as this passage indicates. We should expect many similarities between the church and Old Testament.
The new covenant has many things in common with the old covenant including:
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
The new covenant has many things in common with the old covenant including:
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith 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 when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 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. (Hebrews 8:8-10)
Notice that the new covenant is with Israel. Therefore, the church is in a sense merely the nation of Israel which God chose and called out. But it is composed of those who have the faith of Abraham.
The new covenant provides the way in which people can continually live in faith and not fall away as those in the old covenant did.
The members of the new covenant are a people just as the members of the old covenant were.
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matthew 21:43)
Notice that Jesus calls the church a nation, which refers to more than a merely abstract, mystical set of believers as the body of Christ.
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. (John 11:50-52)
The phrase "that nation" refers to Israel. Jesus sacrificed his life for the nation of Israel, some of whom were scattered abroad. The nation of Israel was dying spiritually and Christ died to revive it in the form of the Church (which is also a nation).
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. (Luke 24:21)
Jesus redeemed Israel, which is more than an abstract collection of believers.
He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. (Matthew 27:42) Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (John 1:49) Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. (John 12:13)
The church is the nation of Israel which Christ is the king of. Jesus is the king of Israel, that is to say, the church.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)
The answer is "yes," but the kingdom is not strictly a political kingdom which is what the Jews were anticipating, but a spiritual one along the lines of Old Testament Israel.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
The phrase "house of Israel" does not refer to the nation of Israel but to the church.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)
The ones who are saved in the New Covenant are those in the Church, the body of Christ. These are called "Israel."
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15) The word which God sent unto the children of Israel. (Acts 10:36)
Paul was sent to preach to those who would become believers; called here the "children of Israel." Since the children of those in a nation are also in that nation, the church is Israel. This passage indicates that the Church is the true Israel and that the church is not a different entity than Israel. The church is a covenantal continuation of God's chosen people, Israel.
Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. (Acts 13:23)
Notice that Jesus' mission was to Israel. The church is this Israel, the true Israel, the Israel of those of faith.
Because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. (Acts 28:20)
The Church is this Israel to which Paul refers.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. (Romans 9:6)
Paul defines the proper view of who are members of God's nation, Israel. It is not by birth, but by faith that a person belongs to Israel. But notice that the Church is Israel.
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. (Romans 9:27)
The saved remnant is the true Israel. But it is Israel nonetheless.
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel. (Romans 11:2)
God has not discarded His chosen nation of Israel. Instead He has transformed it into the Church, which is still His nation of Israel.
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. (Romans 11:25,26)
Christ is the deliverer of Israel. At the time of Christ's incarnation, Israel has fallen into apostasy and the leaders had become corrupt. They were even looking for a political Messiah.
Jesus is the "fullness of the Gentiles" since the Gentiles did not have the intimate connection to God as those in Israel did. Once Christ came in the incarnation, then the blindness was lifted from those of the "true Israel," the Israel of those who have the faith of Abraham.
The consequence of all of this is that salvation is for those of the "true" Israel, which is the Church.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
The word Israel refers to the Church.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Revelation 7:4)
Certainly this passage does not refer to a restored future political nation of Israel as premillennialists claim. It refers to the Church.
And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. (Revelation 21:12)
Notice that the redeemed are referred to as children of Israel. Thus, the Church is Israel.
The Church is the New Israel
There is ample Biblical evidence that the Church is the New Israel. Although many Protestants deny this, the Catholic Church teaches it as the following quotes demonstrate:
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
From the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as "the seeds of the new Israel." (877)
I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel.
Notice that the Church is called a New Covenant. (1965)
From notes on the New American Bible (a Catholic translation):
The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah and then became the new Israel, the church. (Revelation 12:1)
The apostles as leaders of the new Israel. (Revelation 21:16)
Christ is the Paschal Lamb without blemish, whose blood saved the new Israel from sin and death. (Revelation 5:6)
The temple and altar symbolize the new Israel. (Revelation 11:1)
Jesus . . . showing himself the faithful shepherd of a new Israel. (Mark 6:31-34)
The stylized figure of the woman clothed with the sun depicting the New Israel. Intro to Revelation, Para. 4
In Christian thought the church is the new Israel. Intro to James, Para. 2