Irenaeus also explored the biblical analogy of Sarah and Hagar, seeing the rivalry between Jacob and Esau as a type which explained the tensions between the church and the Jews.
...[Jacob] received the rights of the first-born, when his brother looked on them with contempt; even as also the younger nation received Him. Christ, the first-begotten, when the elder nation rejected Him, saying, "We have no king but Caesar." But in Christ every blessing [is summed up], and therefore the latter people has snatched away the blessings of the former from the Father, just as Jacob took away the blessings of this Esau. For which cause his brother suffered the ploys and persecutions of a brother, just as the Church suffers this selfsame thing from the Jews.23
Gradually, over the first few centuries, the church which had initially been largely Jewish became predominantly Gentile. At the same time Judaism came to recognise that Christianity was not a Jewish sect. The immediacy therefore of answering the apologetic question as to the relationship of Christianity to Judaism and to the Old Testament became less and less significant.24 Jaroslav Pelikan puts it succinctly,
No title for the church in early Christianity is more comprehensive that the term 'the people of God,' which originally meant 'the new Israel' but gradually lost this connotation as the Christian claim to be the only true people of God no longer had to be substantiated.25
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