Paul continues with the theme of faith as the mark of those whose belong to God. And he says some surprising things.
The first is that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was that they would inherit the “world”! Not the land of Canaan but the world. How can he say this? Because the promised land was always a sign or pointer or parable signaling that what was in line for Israel in the land was the destiny of all people everywhere – the world. At Abraham’s point in the story, God promised him and his the land of Canaan; after the resurrection of Christ that “land” becomes the whole world where God’s people live in every corner and nook and cranny. And that, Paul insists in v.16, is why God’s people are now marked by faith and not Law, so that it can include all who trust in Jesus (vv.23-25).
The ecclesiology pictured here puts an end to all the nonsense about America as a “Christian” nation. What Paul teaches here is that God’s people as Israel (a geopolitical nation) has been fulfilled in the church (Jew + Gentile) as a transnational worldwide community with no boundaries to defend or national interests to pursue. The “world” is now our “place” and the well-being of the entire world community is our interest. There’s no such thing as a “Christian Nation”!
That’s why the tragedy of war is at root an ecclesiological heresy. Some of God’s people planning and implementing the death and destruction of others of God’s people is blasphemous! If the church would take this aspect of Paul’s teaching about the church seriously the face of the world would be changed forever!