What does Paul mean by the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16)?
Galatians 6:16: "And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy
be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."
Are we to understand that New Testament saints are the "Israel of God" using N/T terminology?
In short to your answer the "Israel of God" are the saints/holy people (2 Cor.1:1 NIV)./partakers of the heavenly calling. (Heb .3:1)God’s Word shows that a person is not made a saint by men or by an organization. The Scriptures state: God:(2 Tim.1:9)
Sanctified by God (Not man-made saints)
2 Timothy 1:9 NIV
9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything
we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was
given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
Hebrews 3:1 NASB
3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partakers of a heavenly
calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession:
Romans 6:5 NET
5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death,
we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his
Privileges of the "partakers of the heavenly calling"(the invitation to heaven) they will reign as priest and kings over the earth.
Revelation 5:9-10 NASB
9 And they *sang a new song, saying,“Worthy are You to take the scroll
and to break its seals; for You were slaughtered, and You purchased
people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and
nation. 10 You have made them into a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they will reign upon the earth.”
How Many Are Sealed?
The scriptures indicate that the number of the sealed ones is limited
Jesus said to those in line for this sealing: ( Luke 12:32NASB)"
Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom.Also Rev. 6:11 states "11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also. And (Rom 11:25)states: " And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also."
The scriptures above indicate that the number of this little flock is indeed limited and, in fact, predetermined, the number sealed is 144,000
Revelation 7:4-8 NET
4 Now[a] I heard the number of those who were marked with the seal,[b]
144,000, sealed from all[c] the tribes of the people of Israel:[d] 5
From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe
of Reuben, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand, 6
from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali,
twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh, twelve thousand, 7 from
the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi, twelve
thousand, from the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand, 8 from the
tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand,from the tribe of Joseph, twelve
thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve
Footnotes NET 7:4d
However, many scholars understand the expression in this context to refer to Christians rather than ethnic Israelites.
Does not the apostle Paul speak of Christians as being “predestinated”?
Rom. 8:28, 29: “We know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose; because those whom he gave his first recognition he also foreordained [“predestinated,” KJ] to be patterned after the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Also Eph. 1:5, 11) Yet, to these same ones, 2 Peter 1:10 says: Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choice of you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;(NASB)
(If the individuals were predestinated to salvation, they could not possibly fail, regardless of what they did. Since effort is required on the part of the individuals, it must be the class that is foreordained. God purposed that the entire class would conform to the pattern set by Jesus Christ. Those selected by God to be part of that class, however, must prove faithful if they are actually to attain the reward set before them.)