A Misquoted Bible Verse That Steals Land From Israel

By Michael Brown Published on July 30, 2018

Have you ever been misquoted? Or has someone ever taken your words and completely twisted their meaning? None of us like it when that happens, and immediately, we want to set the record straight. How, then, do you think the Divine Author of Scripture feels about His words being misquoted and misused?

Yet virtually every moment of every day, someone is misquoting or misusing the Bible to suit their personal agenda. (The recent fad is the misuse of the words of Jesus, “Judge not.”)

Sometimes this is done irresponsibly. Sometimes it is even done maliciously. At other times, the intent is sincere, and there is even study and thought behind it. Yet the scripture is still misused. And because we’re talking about misusing the Bible, the consequences can be severe.

Of course, if you are a God-fearing Bible believer, you would never intentionally misuse or misquote the Scriptures. Perhaps you’re just repeating what you heard from others without every studying the issue for yourself. Perhaps your point of view has never been challenged, and so you’ve never thought about it.

Then one day, a light goes on and you realize, “Wait a second. That is not what the Bible means.” It’s quite an eye-opening (and sometimes shocking) experience.

When I came to the faith in the early 1970s, my pastor would sometimes quote Proverbs 18:16, which reads (in the KJV), “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

His point was this: If God has given you a gift, that gift will open doors for you and do not have to promote yourself.

That is a completely accurate statement, and I believe it to this day.

But is that what Proverbs 18 is saying? It’s possible, but it’s more likely that it was simply an observation about the power of a bribe. That puts a different spin on it!

Now, that verse might be debatable, but how about one phrase from Ecclesiastes 10:19, “money is the answer for everything”? Is the Bible, God’s Word, really telling us that “money is the answer for everything”? What a carnal, unspiritual, and inaccurate statement.

Money is certainly important. And money can get a lot of things done. But, as even the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy me love” – or a host of other important things.

It’s most likely that Ecclesiastes 10:19 reflects the worldly attitude of the immature leaders mentioned three verses earlier. To quote this verse in full, “They make a banquet for revelry; wine makes life merry, and money answers every need” (NJPS). This is not meant to be a godly philosophy to emulate.

Did Paul Argue God’s Promise to the Jewish People Regarding the Land is Void?

Recently, while debating a top Palestinian Christian scholar, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, he quoted 2 Corinthians 1:20, which reads, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

His point was that the divine promise of the land of Israel in the Old Testament was now changed into a universal promise for all Christians. In other words, God no longer promised the Jewish people a specific piece of land in the Middle East. Instead, He now promised that all followers of Jesus – Jewish and Gentile alike – would inherit the whole world, while Jesus Himself becomes the promised Land. (For the record, Dr. Isaac was happy for the Jews to have a homeland; he simply wanted his homeland — meaning, the West Bank — too.)

As he explained in his book From Land to Lands, from Eden to the Renewed Earth: A Christ-Centred Biblical Theology of the Promised Land, “One of the most important statements of Paul in this regard is 2 Corinthians 1:20: ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.’.”

Dr. Isaac then quotes P. W. L. Walker who said, “This is ‘one of the most theologically pregnant statements in all of Paul’s writings.” And, he continues, “Walker argues that the phrase ‘all the promises’ would necessarily include those concerning the land. In other words, the story of Israel, in its totality, including the part related to the land, must find its fulfillment – its Yes – in Jesus.”

But Paul Meant the Opposite

Unfortunately, Dr. Isaac has stood this verse on its end, coming to the opposite conclusion of what Paul meant. (I say this with all respect for his scholarship; he earned his Ph.D. from Oxford.)

Paul’s point was not that every promise God previously made could now be applied indiscriminately to all followers of Jesus. If that were the case, then we could wreak absolute havoc with the Bible. For example, I could take a promise the Lord made to Israel before Joshua put 5 pagan kings to death and say, “This is what God will do to all my enemies. He will kill them all!” (See Joshua 10:16-26)

I’m sure Dr. Isaac understands this, which means that his point about 2 Corinthians 1:20 was this: “All the promises God has previously made find their fulfillment in Jesus, and this includes the land of Israel, which becomes spiritualized. Jesus has become the Land.”

But once again, this is clearly not what Paul meant. Instead, he was simply stating that if God made a promise to His people in the past, that promise (in proper context and as relevant in our lives) finds affirmation in Jesus. And because of that we say, “Amen!”

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So, if the Lord promised to shelter us in the midst of calamity and storm in the past (see Psalm 91), all the more was that promise affirmed in Jesus. Similarly, as Paul explained to the Romans, Jesus the Messiah confirms, not cancels, the promises made to the Patriarchs (see Romans 15:8-9). This would obviously include the promise of the Land (see also Galatians 3:17).

It would be a complete misuse of 2 Corinthians 1:20 to argue that it somehow implied (or taught directly) that the Land promises no longer applied to Israel. To the contrary, this verse affirms what God promised many centuries before (see also Romans 11:28-29).

Not only so, such teaching is utterly impractical. As I said during my talk in Beit Jala (before debating Dr. Isaac), near Bethlehem, in May, “To tell a Jewish refugee fleeing from anti-Semitism that ‘Jesus is the Land!’ is like telling a hungry person that ‘Jesus is the Bread!’”

I also said, “It’s like me telling you, as Palestinian Christians, ‘Why are you so concerned about your living conditions? You are seated in heavenly places!’” (See Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-3.)

Let’s be careful, then, how we quote the Bible. The consequences are great.

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  • Starlord616

    I agree that there will be a earthly kingdom after jesus comes back.

    • This is the old heresy of zionism that rejects Heaven for an “earthly kingdom” as you say. Not shocking you would say this as “616” is the second form of the number of the beast.

      • Starlord616

        Revelations clearly talks about 1000 yr kingdom. And I congratulate you for picking up on 616.

        • It is talking about the fall of Isreal that was destroyed in 70AD.

          Also, since your mask is off: it is clear by your name that you are gnostic (and not just a marvel comics fan). I assume you are referring to the “omega point” not very subtly.

          you will recieve no “illumination/gnosis” from immanetizing your “reward.” All attempts to immanetize zion (nazi germany, communism, french terror, america, etc) have ended poorly for those involved. Think of what happened to all “useful idiots” once their “great leader” had no more use of them.

          • Starlord616

            I’m just a marvel fan.And I’m not a gnostic. I fight against those who would use force to bring theocracy to the world. That includes Dominionism

          • Yet you are a demoniacz

        • Kevin Quillen

          you might consider 666 and 616 = Nero. Individually, each is Nero.

      • Aliquantillus

        The beast is the one that will oppose the erection of the Kingdom of Messiah. But he will be destroyed by the Second Coming of Messiah, and so will all the antisemitic and godless powers of the world. After this judgment the remnant of Israel and the remnant of the then living nations will enter the Kingdom. The Temple of Ezechiel will be built and Messiah’s universal reign from Jerusalem will begin: “Yet have I set my King ipon my holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:6).

        The Gospels teach us that what is called by our Lord the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not a Kingdom located in Heaven — nor simply an “earthly kingdom” as you say — but a Kingdom coming down from Heaven, a Kingdom of heavenly origin and principles, coming down on earth when the King Himself, Messiah Yeshua, will return in glory and majesty.

        The heresy is on the other side. The heretical position is embodied in the Catholic Church and its Replacement Theology, which contradicts Scripture and denies the eternal promises of God to made to Israel, his nation.

        • Again, the americanist and zionist heresies are certainly the dstrangest heresies out there.

          As for the Church, it is the perfection of Isreal. The Church IS the actual Israel. It seems you will deny everything you can, even God and His Church, in your quest for earthly power.

          • Aliquantillus

            No religious entity on earth has so been given to the quest of earthly power but the Roman Catholic Church. Biblical Zionism has nothing to do with seeking power, but with believing in the prophecies of Scripture. All faithful servants of Messiah will be persecuted and, if it were not for the sake of the elect, no remnant on earth would remain in existence during the future Great Tribulation. The power of the coming Kingdom Age is nothing else but the power of Jesus Christ when he visibly returns to earth at the Second Coming. All believers in him must wait for that glorious future before they will receive power. Only those who are prepared to suffer for him in this time will receive positions of power in the Kingdom Age.

            Although in the NT the Church is considered part of Israel, because the faithful are included in Messiah (who happens to be the King of Israel), the Church isn’t all the reality of Israel, since the Apostle Paul clearly acknowledges that the Jewish nation is still Israel. The Church is only a subset of Israel, because the faithful of the nations have been spiritually grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel. A part, or a subset, is not the whole.

        • The Gospels teach us that what is called by our Lord the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not a Kingdom located in Heaven — nor simply an “earthly kingdom” as you say — but a Kingdom coming down from Heaven

          Well stated. In fact, the only place we see “pearly gates” and “streets of gold” in the Bible is in Revelation 22, where John describes Jerusalem coming down to earth.

          • Kevin Quillen

            it is not “streets” of gold, but singular “street”. Jesus is the street and the New Jerusalem is the church, all believers in Christ.

  • James Blazsik

    Mr. Brown – all of the promises in the Old Covenant has been realized in Christ. He is the Torah, the Sabbath, the temple and the fulfillment of the land. Yes of course He is the Bread of Life in the Eucharist.That is Messianic Judaism in reality. All the promises in Abraham is fulfilled in Christ.
    I support Israel. But I also support my Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters who represent communities since the beginning of Christianity. I also support the ministries targeted to the Palestinians.
    The Father hasn’t given up on His calling on the Jews. It’s a calling to the Body of Christ. It’s not a calling to a land as a result of prophecy. That’s been fulfilled in the Church.
    Christ isn’t coming to sit up an earthly kingdom. He already is King over all the Kings of the earth and reigns over all the land. Revelations never states that Christ comes back to earth. Read it. Now whether you are a amillennialist or a postmillennialist that’s one thing, but I don’t see premillennialism in Scripture.

    • Maria

      I think this is too close to replacement theology.

      Fulfillment theology still holds in mystery the roots and foundations of the covenants as received by Jewish Israel. The land is in mystery significant.

      Read Luke where Jesus prophecies about the return ‘when the time of the gentiles are fulfilled’. They were put out of the land by the worldly authority of the day – the Romans – and they were officially put back in the land by the worldly authority of the day – the UN. There is something going on.

      Pope Benedict spoke of it like a bulb flowering. So when the fulfillment of the bulb as that flower happens the bulb there is continuity and the bulb is not cut off but it itself is not the flower.

      Its a mystery.

      • James Blazsik

        Again, the Abrahamic promises were fulfilled in Christ. (GaI. 3:9). Romans 9-11 say that God’s calling and election is sure for Israel – to come to Christ. This is the calling Scripture is talking about.
        There is nothing about the land in Romans 9-11. Salvation in Christ is much more than a specific piece of land. All is Christ’s.
        Again, I support Israel. But I also support our brothers and sisters of ancient communities that were there before Israel became a nation in ’48. I support the love of Christ for the Palestinians.
        Luke 21 speaks of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The specific verse that you refer to is v.24. “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
        What Jesus does not say is what happens after the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled. The Bible says in Galatians 4 that the earthly Jerusalem means slavery. The heavenly Jerusalem above is the mother of us all – which represents the Church.
        Maria – are you a pre,a, or a postmillennialist?

    • Geoffrey Shubert

      These scriptures contract your position: “thy kingdom come.. they will be done.. ON EARTH as it is in heaven..” “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley.. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him….On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles….”. Zechariah ” Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven…” Acts ” “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and “every eye will see him,even those who pierced him and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him…. With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
      and they will REIGN ON THE EARTH… We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty the One because you have taken your great power AND HAVE BEGUN TO REIGN. The nations were angry,and your wrath has come. The time has come for …destroying those who DESTROY THE EARTH.”..Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, STANDING ON MOUNT ZION…and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written..I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war….The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “HE WILL RULE THEM with an iron scepter.”…. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded……They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. ..(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) .When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the EARTH —Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle..” Revelation

      • James Blazsik

        Hey Geoffery! Thank you for sharing Scripture.
        Christ already reigns on His throne at the right hand of the Father. The Church is the Kingdom of priests. The book of Revelation centers on the passing away of the Old Covenant and the coming of the New Covenant, the destruction of the earthy Jerusalem and the coming of the New Jerusalem (which is the Church).
        The Church is the fulfillment of Messianic Judaism.

  • tz1

    But that doesn’t address the question.
    Is the Israel created by the UN in 1948 (condemn the UN, you condemn the organization responsible for Israel as a state) the promise?
    Is whatever return today blessed of God?
    Why is Tel Aviv (according to Rabbi Boteach) the most LGBTQ+ friendly city in the world, and why did Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner get an award from Israel?
    Why does Israel have a Fiat currency and defacto abortion on demand?

    You look at some abstract promise from various biblical verses, but what exactly is the fruit growing in that area? What any Christian can recognize as far better than our attempt with our Constitution? Or a socialist, secular, corrupt state modeled after the EU states?

    While I can accept that Israel may need to be tikkun olam-ed, I don’t see ANY CHRISTIANS DOING SO! Instead of condemning sin and error, they make excuses. Did Balaam bless Israel by telling Barak to send young women to fornicate with their young men (Numbers 25)? Where is the modern Phineas?

    • nandu25

      I believe the restoration of Israel is work in progress. You may wish to see that through the prophecy of Ezekiel 37. Maybe the State of Israel you currently see is the dry bones that came together. Maybe flesh appeared on them, maybe it is already covered by skin but it is not yet filled with the Spirit which may explain why the current State of Israel is controversial and not perfect as per Biblical standards. However it is difficult not to see the work in progress of God in Israel and hence the support from people who believe in Ez 37 and other prophecies. So I think the answer to your question is yes, the current wordly Israel is the same as in the promise and it is very exciting to see live how the work of God is being brought to the next level.
      Also, I believe we need to see this promise in faith as much as we see the Christian Church in faith. You may also point out the historic and present day failures of the Church, asking that is this the perfect bride of Jesus Christ? Well, yes when you see that through the prophecies and in faith that God will complete its work in progress. Same is true for Israel.

      • tz1

        The Dry Bones was the return under Ezra and Neiamiah. Israel was restored, But decided they prefered the Law to God, and killed their Messiah.

        The date and interpretation of Revelation is questionable so it may apply to the 70AD destruction (which was the interpretation until Darby and the Scofield reference bible).

        But in the Gospels, Jesus had many parables and prophecies including the 70 AD destruction. He said he would return to the Mount of Olives IIRC, but I can’t think of any place where our Lord himself said that Israel would be restored as a nation.

  • Kevin Quillen

    Dr. Brown, I ask respectfully……since it has been 70 years since the rebirth of Israel, do you think relevance to Matt 24 is true? Also, if God put Israel back into their land in 1948, why only a small portion of the original promised land?

  • Shlomo Vinishsky

    Misquoting the Bible is quoting the Bible by somebody else.

  • AdamBGraham

    I agree that the speaker may be stretching that verse a bit too far. Christ certainly is the fulfillment of much of what is promised to Israel and the church as a whole. But it may be a bit too sloppy and unnecessary to extend the context and intent of the verse to place Christ in place of the Promised Land.

    Besides, there are so many other good arguments and verses that more definitely show that Israel’s promised land promise has been fulfilled and that they lack any modern claim to the land. Why use II Corinthians when you can reference Joshua 11:23 and Joshua 21:43. Genesis 17:9 and the subsequent breaking of the covenant is all that is needed to disqualify any further claim on the land, especially in light of the universal redemptive work of Christ.

    • Kevin Quillen

      spot on. thank you.

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