Who Is The ‘Israel Of God’?

At the end of Galatians Paul offers a benediction upon the ‘Israel of God’ (Gal. 6:16). Who is this? Ethnic Israel? Jewish Christians who did not oppose Paul? The church as a union of Jews and Gentiles?

Contra the dispensationalists who think the Israel of God is ethnic Israel, Michael Bird gives three arguments for the Israel of God being the church as a union of Jews and Gentiles:

1. Paul has just spent a whole letter arguing for the unity of Jews and Gentiles in one body, so it is highly unlikely he now at the end of the letter splits up Jews and Gentiles and includes only Jews under the privileged title the ‘Israel of God’.

2. Paul elsewhere uses language ordinarily used to describe Israel to designate Christians (e.g. Phil. 3:3; Col. 3:12).

3. Paul is unlikely to issue a blessing upon Israel irrespective of whether or not they believe in Christ, since those who do not love Christ are under a curse (1 Cor. 16:22).