|PEOPLE OF GOD |
Group elected by God and committed to be His covenant people. Scripture repeatedly defines who is included in people of God. The history of revelation shows God electing Israel by grace.
Election and Covenant The election of Israel as people of God may be traced from Abraham (Genesis 12:1; compare
Romans 9:7-8). However, the relationship between Yahweh and Israel began in the Exodus.
Exodus 19:1 represents a special covenant form with both conditions (Exodus 19:5) and promises of the covenant (Exodus 19:5-6). The condition of the covenant was obedience; the promise was that “you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.” This promise involves a God-people and people-God relationship which is the center of the Old Testament. This promise was inherited by the church as the true Israel or the new Israel (Romans 9:6-8;
1 Corinthians 10:18-21;
Galatians 6:16). Here is the unique position of the church as the people of God in the divine order (Romans 9:25-26;
1 Corinthians 6:14-17;
1 Peter 2:9-10;
Revelation 21:3). See Church; Covenant; Election; Israel, Spiritual.
The faith of Israel became more concrete when the remnant idea was developed from corporate salvation out of the divine wrath and judgment. To the remnant fell the status and condition of God's long purpose for His people. The remnant as the chosen one is explained by Jesus in
Matthew 22:14. Most of all, Jesus Himself is the remnant. Truly, the church carries the ideas from the Old Testament that the remnant in the figure of the Servant is the witness of universal salvation and the agent of a final revelation. The servant of Yahweh represented by Israel would be a light to the nations. The universal character of Israel's vocation is most clearly expressed here. The idea of God's people in the Old Testament culminates in the person of the Servant who is the idea of the remnant personified as an individual.
Christ claimed His servant-messiahship, for He is the Son of David, fulfilling the promise of God in the Old Testament. Jesus is the King but rejected every political interpretation of His messianic vocation. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). He is the Suffering Servant, who gave His life as a ransom for many and thereby inaugurated the New Covenant.
The role of servant-messiah developed another dimension in its collectivity, that is, church. The servant idea is determinative for an understanding of the priesthood of the whole church. Christology (Christ) is related to ecclesiology (church) (2 Corinthians 4:5). Christians are servants sharing that servanthood which the Servant par excellence creates. The call into peoplehood is a call into servanthood. The church is truly the people of God.