Israel and the Nations: A Theological Opinion, Part 1

israel-and-the-nations

Often, well-meaning, Israel-loving people will say to me, “I am Jewish now. I am grafted in.” I never, ever say anything close to, “No, you’re not Jewish.” I focus more on how grateful I am that they love God and pray for the Jewish people. However, it is interesting that the Church went from saying, “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus,” to, “All believers are Jewish.”

Which is it? What does the Bible actually say? I will make six statements and then seek to back each one up with Scripture, one blog post at a time:

  1. Jews who receive Yeshua remain Jews, just as a females remains female or a male remains a male, after coming to faith.
  2. Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish, but continues to be a member of his or her nation.
  3. However, Jewish and Gentile believers are equal in the sight of God. Jews are neither favored above Gentiles nor discriminated against, in regards to non-Jews.
  4. Salvation is free, but rewards in the kingdom are based on merit, not ethnicity. Intimacy with God is based on the desire and passion of the individual believer, not whether they are Jew or non-Jew, male or female, etc.
  5. Jewish and non-Jewish believers make up the One New Man—a mystery that was hidden in times past. Paul calls this the household of God. In this household, the Gentile believers become joint-heirs withJewish believers—without losing their own ethnicity and without replacing the Jewish people.
  6. Ethnicity is important to God, which is why non-Jewish believers do not become Jews or Israelis (Israelites) after coming to faith. They are called to stand in the gap for their nation.

Blog One: Jewish believers are still Jews

The early believers clearly had zero issues with the idea of being Jewish and believing in the Jewish Messiah. The question with which they wrestled was, “Can a Gentile believe in Jesus, without converting to Judaism?” The apostles, through their lives and teaching, give no hint of leaving Judaism. In fact, rumors were being spread about Paul teaching Jewish believers “to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (Acts 21:21). Paul, upon the advice of the Jerusalem apostles, went to the Temple to make a sacrifice so that, “everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” (Acts 21:24)

Church Fathers turn against Jews

However, the Church Fathers in the second century began to teach that once a Jew comes to faith, he is no longer a Jew. Many were vicious in their accusations against the Jewish people. Peter the Venerable wondered about the humanity of Jews: Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human.

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) – Epistle to the Magnesians

For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.

They lined up to accuse the entire Jewish nation of killing Yeshua (forgetting that He laid down his life by His own free will for them.) Another, Justin Martyr taught that Christians were the true “Israelite race” and that the Hebrew Scriptures now belonged to the church exclusively. He did not believe you could be both Christian and Jewish. He also taught that circumcision was for judgement (as opposed to being there mark of the covenant of Abraham).

The purpose of [circumcision] was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. (Click to Site)

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