Supercessionism, commonly called “replacement theology”, is an intentional or default perspective that replaces the initial and primary content of theological categories of the Biblical texts of Judaism, generally referred to as the Hebrew Bible, with Christian categories that are claimed to be derived from and sanctioned by the Hebrew Biblical texts and additional scripture accepted by Christianity and known as the New Testament books of the Christian Bible.


This theology replaces Israel (the people and the Land) with the Kingdom of heaven as well as several other theological replacements. Gospel replaces Law, faith replaces works, Heaven replaces the Promised Land, the New Covenant replaces the Mosaic covenant, love replaces the commandments and the Church replaces Israel (the Jewish people) as the people of God. The only exception to this is that if Jews cease to be Jews, by the Biblical definition found in Judaism, thay can become Christians and continue as the chosen people of God. But this requires that they replace their previous covenants with God for the New Covenant and faith in Jesus Christ.

Replacement theology is so well entrenched in Christianity that it is seldom thought of as a doctrine or revisited by Christian theologians and adherents. It is so obvious in its being true that it is simply not considered to be in need of discussion. It is in the air and water and life of Christianity and to remove it would be to threaten the very existence of the “faith once for all delivered to the saints”.

But it must be examined against its basis in scripture and in its implication for Jewish and Christian relations and dialog. If it is correct, Judaism must be seen as a serious threat to the true religion of Christianity. If it is false, Christianity has done evil in the “Name of the Lord” to Judaism and the Jewish people. And if that is true, Christians must demonstrate repentance and restitution to claim validity for Christianity as a Biblical religion.

How did the idea of replacement come about? Was it part of the theology of Jesus or his disciples? Was it a development of the Apostle Paul? If it is true, its foundation must be found in the Hebrew Bible and clearly manifested in the New Testament. If it is not true, then how are the apparent replacement teachings of the New Testament to be understood? The burden of proof rests on Christianity and the New Testament, not on Judaism.

The Bible of Jesus and the disciples was the Bible of Judaism. They accepted it and promoted it in their own teachings. The Gospels written after Jesus ministry maintain that he accepted the validity of the Hebrew Scriptures and claimed that they testified of his legitimacy. To check into this claim we must begin by looking at the covenants made with Israel by God and then examine if there is a Biblical option or mandate for replacement. That will be the subject of the next post.

H Bruce Stokes, PhD