Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God
Keys to understanding the Scriptures
(1 Cor 10:32 KJV) Give none offence neither to the Jews nor to the Gentiles nor to the church of God:
The importance of rightly dividing the Word of God in relation to these three groups of people can not be overstated. How we see these groups conditions our understanding of the role each plays in the plan of God for His creation from Genesis to the Revelation. The relationship of each to the Old and New Covenants and to the final restoration of all things is specific and detailed. Failing to rightly divide these relationships has led to countless false doctrines and assumptions which have misled the Body of Christ for centuries.
It is clear from any serious study of Scripture that God reveals His plan for mankind in stages. He gives necessary revelation as each successive generation reaches its place in His plan. Although the plan of salvation of the Adamic race and the restoration of Earth to the perfection of Eden was foretold from the very beginning, successive generations have received greater and more detailed insight as the time for fulfillment of those promises unfolds.
(Gen 3:15 KJV) And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
(Gen 3:21 KJV) Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Here we see the clear message of the Messiah and His ultimate victory over the adversary. We can also detect the reference to the suffering Messiah Who would die on the cross for our salvation. In the picture of the covering of skins we see the shedding of blood in sacrifice as a covering, a picture of the sin offering. It was not until after His death, burial and resurrection that the disciples of Jesus realized the impact of these words spoken nearly 4,000 years before.
Human Race - The Gentiles
(Gen 9:12, 13 KJV) And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
Here we see a covenant between God and all flesh, human and non-human. It continues in effect "for perpetual generations", as long as any descendants of this flesh remain on Earth. There is, as yet, no distinction or segmenting into any groups.
The Jews - The Chosen People
(Gen 15:18 KJV) In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
(Gen 17:2-18 KJV) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
(Gen 17:21 KJV) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
(Exo 2:24, 25 KJV) And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
At this time in history we see the first distinction made by God in dealing with a select group differentiating them from all the rest of humanity. Abram, having entered into covenant with God, would be named Abraham (father of nations) and would see his seed become the Jewish people, the nation of Israel. This is determined by a direct bloodline relationship to Abraham through Isaac the son of the promise. There now exist two distinct groups of people on Earth, the Jews (descendants of Abraham and Isaac) and every one else (the nations or Gentiles).
(Exo 19:5, 6 KJV) Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
(Exo 31:16, 17 KJV) Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
The keeping of the laws and remembrances of the covenant by Israel is to last throughout their generations, "perpetually" and "forever". This has been used to support those who say the law of Moses should be kept by everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Here they are assuming that to be "saved" is to be born again. However, we must keep in mind the fact that Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness long before Messiah came to make a new life available. In fact it was 430 years before the Law of Moses was given as we see in the following scripture.
(Gal 3:17, 18 KJV) And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
(Mat 17:11 KJV) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
(Mark 9:12 KJV) And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
(Acts 1:6 KJV) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
In these passages we see the expectation of the Chosen people exemplified in the disciples of Jesus. They had been taught the Hebrew scriptures and knew of the promise of God to His people Israel through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David and Daniel. What they expected is plain -- a physical kingdom on a physical Earth for a physical people! This is clearly the promise of God to His chosen people. Jesus said nothing to contradict their understanding of what God had promised. He simply told them that the knowledge of the timing of the fulfillment was not for that generation.
(Mat 19:28 NKJV) So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
It is important to note here that the disciples would soon become the Apostles of the Church and thereby stand in relationship to each of two chosen groups. In the new heavens and new earth they will sit in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel. This does not necessarily define any role for the Church.
The Church of God -- The New Covenant
When Jesus of Nazareth cut the New Covenant with God the Father, it was between the Father and Jesus, no one else! As our Messiah, and Passover Lamb He took away the sins of the world JOHN 1:29. He has been raised because His sacrifice was acceptable to secure our justification. His resurrection life is now available to any who, in faith, trust Him for salvation. Note the following verses.
(John 20:19 NKJV) Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
(John 20:21, 22 NKJV) So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
This transaction is the first instance of anyone other than Jesus being "born from above" of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul clearly shows we can now be a "new creation" a point source originating act which brings into existence something which did not exist before and continues on without reference to an end.
(2 Cor 5:17 NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Only those alive after the resurrection of Jesus have the opportunity to receive this newly created spirit. This new creation is made alive with the same life Jesus was made alive with when He was raised from among the dead!
(1 Cor 6:17 NKJV) But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
(Col 3:3 NKJV) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Gal 2:20, 21 NKJV) "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
(1 John 3:2 KJV) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
The Old Testament "saints" were "saved" by believing in the promises of God and looking forward in faith to the coming Messiah Who would take away their sin. This lasted until the day Jesus was raised from the dead. Now, anyone who believes the Gospel message and puts faith in its Truth, is born again and receives a completely new and different spirit. This spirit now begins to take control of the same soul and body inhabited by the old human spirit which died. These are the "saints" of the New Covenant, the Church of the Firstborn, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ all referring to the same group.
Times of the Gentiles
(Luke 21:24 KJV) And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
As the "time of the Gentiles" or "Church age" comes to a close, God will once again begin dealing with the Jews as a nation right where He left off.
As we have now seen, the Jews the Gentiles and the Church of God are clearly distinct groups. The only overlap is when someone believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and becomes one spirit with Him. In Christ there is no distinction even between male and female, all are one in Him! This group is now distinct from all others in relation to how God deals with them.
Keeping these groups clearly separated in our minds as we read God's Word will help avoid many errant assumptions.
Questions for further study:
* Have you considered when people could first be born again?
* When the Body of Christ is taken unto Him can anyone then be added to it?
* What is the state of those who believe during the Tribulation or the Millennium?
* After the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, can anyone be added to her?
* Will Salvation once again be in the flesh, as in the Old Testament?
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