Is the Church like Israel in the OT?


I’d like to get opinions on whether or not the Church sees itself as essentially the new Israel and patterns its structure off of the ecclesiology of ancient Israel.

Some thoughts:

Israel was united under Moses (like Pope)
Israel had a succession of Aaronic priests (like Apostolic succession)
God gave Abraham a covenant that his decedents are the chosen group (perhaps like Christ giving a covenant with Peter with the Keys?, or is there a better parallel such as when God interacted with Moses?)
The penalty was death for not observing the Sabaath (like it being a mortal sin to willfully skip mass)

I could go on but I think that’s enough to generate a discussion.
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing thoughs.


This is actually a very interesting topic and I was just reading about the connections between ancient Judaism and Catholicism recently. I think you are bringing up a lot of good points.

I remember learning somewhere that the Church is supposed to be like the Davidic Kingdom of ancient Israel. Christ is the king and the Pope is like the chamberlain so-to-speak if I am remembering correctly. When the Israelite king would leave on some important task, he’d leave the administration of the kingdom in the hands of the chamberlain which he would symbolize by giving the keys of the kingdom to the chamberlain, much like Christ giving the keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter. I think they even referred to the chamberlain as a “father” much like the title of “Holy Father” for the Pope. Another interesting thing was the role of the king’s mother in ancient Israel. Special honor started being given to the “queen mother” starting with Bathsheba and Solomon I think. If you couldn’t get the king to approve sometimes it was better to petition the king through his mother’s intercession. The parallels to the Blessed Virgin Mary should be obvious. These connections are found in either the first or second Book of Kings, although I confess I am not as well versed in Sacred Scripture as I should be ;).

You might be interested in reading a book called “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity” by Taylor Marshall. There were a lot of other parallels to ancient Israel concerning things like the priesthood (as you mentioned), priestly vestments, parishes vs. synagogues, and even parallels to the Eucharist and the Bread of the Presence in the tabernacle in the Jewish Temple (more on this specifically in Jesus and Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre).

Anyway, I hope you find some of this information useful. :slight_smile:


I think you’re on the right track.
I might parallel Moses to Jesus
and the Pope to Aaron, in con–
sideration of Exodus 7:1.
(However, Aaron was the High Priest, the Pope is not a High Priest,
Jesus is the only High Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek)
I would better parallel Isaiah 22:22 to the Keys of Heaven and Peter.

But yeah I think you’re right for the most part, Israel is a type for the Worldwide Church.


There are parallels for sure, but one thing I do want to point out is that its not a matter of the Church patterning itself with Israel in the OT, but rather Israel was a type and foreshadow of the Church. The major distinction between schools of thought is that some non-Catholics will say that Israel is God’s main focus as a chosen people and the Church is a quick fix until Israel finally gets it together, whereas its more like the Church was God’s ultimate covenant plan and all other covenants were temporary. God’s main concern was not for a carnal nation and people but His spiritual nation and people. All other covenants pointed towards the final eternal one.


Yes, it does help, thank you all.

Going with the Aaron to Pope parallel: Did Israel keep an unbroken Aaronic priesthood line (like Apostolic succession)?

So the teaching authority would have been vested in the Aaronic line?
But then where do the non-Aaronic “outsider” Prophets fit in?

Another parallel by the way is that the ancient Israelites were given the divine authority to choose which writings were inspired (which is confusing though if the authoritative Aaronic line did not persist after the Babylonian Captivity: which Jewish line/sect had the authority to set the canon, because Saducees differed from Pharisees).


Yes, I believe the tribe of Levi passed on the Levitical priesthood, which included the family of Aaron the high priest. If I’m not mistaken, Moses and Aaron were both Levites.


Isa. 35:8,54:13-17 - In the Old Testament, the Church is described as a Holy Way, free from error.

Acts. 9:2; 22:4; 24:14,22 - In the New Testament, the Church is the “Way” from Isaiah where fools will not err therein.


Interesting question, and there are certainly parallels in both “generations” of God’s people.

As the pilgrim Church on earth, we probably would have been subject to the Father’s corrections, except for the fact that we have a mediator… Christ himself as our head.

That changes the whole complexion, and sanctifies our journey until he returns. I think of it as blanket of holiness that protects the bride of Christ and sustains her.

As individuals, we are to take seriously our own part, continually running back to our Father for forgiveness through the sacraments.

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