The Meaning of “No Jews or Gentiles in Christ Jesus”


“We still recognize the distinction between males and females. So there is also still a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Galatians 3:28 doesn’t mean what you think it means.” 

Have you ever heard these words, or something similar, from a Christian Zionist or a dispensationalist? I have. At the end of this post I will quote Galatians 3:28, offer my explanation of what Paul meant, and also ask for your thoughts.

Christian Zionism thrives on distinctions. When Paul says that the middle wall of division between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14), Christian Zionism tries to rebuild that wall – and make it higher than it ever was. When Paul says that Christ created one new man in Himself (Ephesians 2:14-16), Christian Zionism suggests that there are two peoples of God, one based on faith and the other (the important one) based on ethnicity. When the New Testament defines the Israel of God as only those who are in Christ (Romans 2:28-29, 9:6-8; Galatians 3:29, 6:15-16; Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:6; etc.), Christian Zionism insists that only a national / ethnic group known as Israel inherits a large segment of God’s promises.

The Old Testament prophets looked forward to a day when the people of God would be made up of many nations and He would dwell in their midst. Zechariah had that vision (Zech. 2:10-12). Isaiah had that vision (Isaiah 11:10), and Paul taught that it had become a reality in his day (Romans 15:8-12). Amos had that vision (Amos 9:11-12), and James declared at the Jerusalem council that this had become a reality in his day (Acts 15:13-17). Despite these examples and more, Christian Zionism and dispensationalism insist that ethnic “Jews are God’s chosen people” and national Israel is God’s chosen nation (These four posts refute these ideas: #1, #2#3, and #4).

If we take away distinctions, favoritism, partiality, and superiority from the Christian Zionist movement, there wouldn’t be much left. That movement would fall apart without these elements – and that’s what I hope and pray will happen. Here are three instances where Paul taught that, in Christ, there is no difference or distinction between Jews and Gentiles:

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

“[You] have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all” (Colossians 3:10-11).

This is how I understand these passages, even Galatians 3:28 in particular: In Christ, there are no blessings available to Jews that are not equally available to non-Jews, or available to males that are not equally available to females, or available to free people that are not equally available to slaves. In Christ, all such distinctions disappear, and there is no favoritism or superiority along racial, gender, or status lines. The line is drawn between faith or no faith in Christ.

Do you agree? Do you understand Paul’s words differently? Feel free to share your thoughts.

 

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Israel and the Church: See the Difference?


This graphic is very revealing (source unknown)**:

 

Israel and the Church

To elaborate on points 7-10, in the post “Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?” we saw clearly the parallel language between what was spoken to ancient Israel (Exodus 19) and what was spoken to the Church (I Peter 2):

The parallel language is unmistakable, and I have letter-coded the parallels (A, B, and C):

[1] To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A] MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B] A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C] HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

[2] To the Church: “But you are a chosen race, [B] A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C] HOLY NATION, a people [A] FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:9-10).

On this topic, see also:

[1] “Why I Stand With Israel” shows how Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, and John all demonstrate that what was said of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus. In other words, Jesus is Israel, and it’s no surprise that Paul calls Jesus’ followers “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

[2] “Both Jews and Non-Jews Belong Equally to “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16)

[3] “God’s Promise of a New Covenant to the House of Israel”

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**I was told by someone on Facebook that Charles Provan may have created this graphic, but I have not been able to confirm this. Charles authored a book titled, The Church Is Israel Now.

Both Jews and Non-Jews Belong Equally to “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16)


In Galatians 6:16, the apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Galatians with an expression that he never used anywhere else:

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Who belongs to this group that Paul refers to as “the Israel of God”? Who is excluded?

Argument #1: Only Jewish Believers Are the Israel of God

Some insist that Paul could only have been speaking of Jews, believers in particular. The following quotes are representative of this view:

“The Israel of God refers to Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, to those who are spiritual as well as physical descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7) and are heirs of promise rather than of law (Ga 3:18). They are the real Jews, the true Israel of faith, like those referred to in Romans 2:28, Ro 2:29 and Ro 9:6,7″ (John MacArthur, Galatians. Chicago: Moody Press, p. 210).

“This controversial verse, with its expression, unique in the New Testament, ‘the Israel of God,’ has been misinterpreted as teaching what Replacement theology wrongly claims, namely, that the Church is the New Israel which has replaced the Jews, the so-called ‘Old Israel,’ who are therefore now no longer God’s people. But neither this verse nor any other part of the New Testament teaches this false and anti-Semitic doctrine” (D. H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary: Clarksville, Md.: Jewish New Testament Publications).

H/T: Steve Thomas, “Christian Zionism – Deconstructing the Myths – Biblically – One at a Time” (Facebook)

In one article, Arnold Fruchtenbaum claims that “the Jewish believer” differs from “the Gentile believer,” and that “four lines of biblical truth” form the basis of what he calls “the Messianic Jewish distinctive.” One of these lines is “the Doctrine of the Israel of God,” in which he says the term “Israel” is used narrowly: “It should be pointed out that the term Israel is never used of Gentiles, whether they are believers or not, nor is it used of the Church; it is used only of Jews.” According to Fruchtenbaum, Paul makes a distinction in both Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16 between “Israel the whole composed of all Jews; and Israel the elect, composed of all believing Jews.” In Galatians 6:16, he claims, believing Gentiles are “the them” and believing Jews are “the Israel of God” (Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “Jews, Gentiles, Christians,” Ariel Ministries).**

Thomas Ice agrees with Fruchtenbaum that “the New Testament consistently differentiates between Israel and the church,” adding that these are “two peoples” of God. When it comes to the term “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16, they insist that Paul is speaking of “believing Jews in contrast to unbelieving Jews called ‘Israel after the flesh’ (1 Cor. 10:18)” (Thomas Ice, “Israel / Church Distinction: The Fourth Foundation,” Rapture Ready).

Argument #2: All Followers of Jesus Are the Israel of God

Then there are those who, like myself, believe that “the Israel of God” must include all who belong to Christ, Jews and non-Jews alike. In Paul’s day, both Jewish and non-Jewish believers were walking according to the rule named in the previous verse: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15). If Paul used the expression, “the Israel of God,” to only mean Jewish believers, then the following passages would be untrue:

[1] “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).

[2] “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

[3] “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:9-11).

If only Jewish believers were “the Israel of God,” but non-Jewish (i.e. Gentile) believers were locked out of this privilege, then there really would be a distinction between Jews and Greeks in Christ. There really would be favoritism and partiality, based on race or ethnicity.

A similar problem exists when the claim is made that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. There’s no doubt that those who belong to Christ are God’s chosen people, as these passages reveal:

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being chosen according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Those who teach that all Jews are God’s chosen people sometimes fall back on the idea that God has two chosen peoples (one based on race, and one based on faith). This, however, also makes nonsense of Romans 10:12, Galatians 3:28, and Colossians 3:10-11 (quoted above), for it places Jewish Christians (aka Messianic Jews) into two chosen groups. It says that they are [1] chosen because of faith, and [2] doubly chosen because of race. Meanwhile, according to this view, non-Jewish Christians (aka “Gentile Christians”) are only part of one chosen group. Unlike Jewish Christians, they are only chosen because of faith. They allegedly don’t have the same overlap of blessings that Jewish believers do, because they are not of the Jewish race. This also creates favoritism, partiality, and distinction, contradicting the teachings of Paul.

Being a part of the Israel of God is the privilege of all who abide in Christ, because Jesus is true Israel, God’s chosen One. This is developed further in two earlier posts at this site:

[1] “Why I Stand With Israel,” outlines how Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, and John demonstrated that what was once said of national Israel is now said of Jesus.

[2] God also promised that He would one day make a new covenant with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34). One way that we see this fulfilled is when Paul, in Ephesians 2, declared that the household of God, His holy temple, the one new man of Jews and Gentiles together, was being built on the foundation of the apostles, who were also known as “ministers of the new covenant” (II Corinthians 3:6). See “God’s Promise of a New Covenant to the House of Israel.”

The Myth of An All Jewish Israel

There’s an idea prevailing in the Christian Zionist movement today that Israel was, and was always meant to be, exclusively Jewish. This idea is applied to ancient Israel, as if God’s promises made to ancient Israel were for Jews only, then and forever. This idea is also applied to modern Israel, saying that the land belongs only to Jews, etc. However, even in ancient Israel, many non-Jews were joined to Israel. Besides the non-Jews who were among Jesus’ ancestors (Matthew 1:1-17), there are numerous other examples. Here are just two:

And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send [the children of Israel] out of the land in haste… Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also…” (Exodus 12:33-38).

And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them” (Esther 8:17).

Ever since Jesus was obedient to the point of completing His work on the cross, the Israel of God has everything to do with Him and nothing to do with being outside of Him. People of all nations are included. As Paul taught, no one who is in Christ is any longer “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.”

Thomas Schreiner’s Excellent Summary of Galatians 6:16

Thomas Schreiner offers some excellent thoughts on why Paul’s epistle to the Galatians as a whole mandates that there is no separation between Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentile) believers when Paul speaks of “the Israel of God” (Schreiner is an author and professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary):

The key question in Galatians is whether one must become a Jew and be circumcised to belong to the people of God. Must one receive circumcision to belong to the family of Abraham? The false teachers argued that circumcision and observance of the law were required to be part of Abraham’s family. But Paul has argued throughout the letter that circumcision is unnecessary and that those who put their faith in Christ belong to the family of Abraham. When he speaks of “the Israel of God” at the conclusion of the letter, where he rehearses the major themes of the letter, he is driving home the point that believers in Christ, members of the new creation, are the true Israel.

Such an interpretation fits with the whole of the letter, for believers in Christ are the true sons of Abraham [Gal. 3:29]. But if they are Abraham’s children and belong to his family, then they belong to the Israel of God. It would be highly confusing to the Galatians, after arguing for the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ (3:28) and after emphasizing that believers are Abraham’s children, for Paul to argue in the conclusion that only Jews who believe in Jesus belong to the Israel of God. By doing so a wedge would be introduced between Jews and Gentiles at the end of the letter, suggesting that the latter were not part of the true Israel. Such a wedge would play into the hands of his opponents, who would argue that to be part of the true Israel one must be circumcised.

Instead, Paul confirms one of the major themes of the letter. All believers in Christ are part of the true Israel, part of God’s Israel. This fits with what Paul says elsewhere when he says believers are the true circumcision (Phil 3:3). Since believers in Christ are the true family of Abraham and the true circumcision, they are also part of the true Israel.

–Thomas Schreiner, Commentary on Galatians, pp. 382 – 383

Amen. Let’s also not forget that Galatians is where Paul contrasts earthly Jerusalem and the Jerusalem above, saying that one was in bondage and about to be cast out, but the other (“the Jerusalem above”) is free and is the mother of God’s people (Galatians 4:21-31).

Christopher Gowan (Associate Editor of The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) interacts with Schreiner’s conclusion, agreeing with it and expanding upon it in an article titled “Context Is Everything: ‘The Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16” (4-page + PDF). It’s worth reading as well.

A Question

Finally, I have a question for those who would insist that Paul was speaking only of Jewish believers when he referred to “the Israel of God.” Paul’s use of this expression implies that there was an Israel during his time that was not of God, which would have been national Israel (as a whole, minus the remnant of believers). It’s often insisted today that modern Israel is a continuation, or a restoration, of national Israel, which was wiped out by the Roman armies in 70 AD. If that (pre-70 AD) Israel was not of God, then why is national Israel today allegedly “God’s chosen people”, “the apple of God’s eye,” a nation that we must bless and support unconditionally, etc.?

Paul did make a distinction in Galatians 6:16, but it wasn’t between Jewish believers and non-Jewish believers. It was between “the Israel of God,” those who belong to Christ, and the Israel that was not of God, those outside of Christ. The Israel of God today still has everything to do with God’s chosen One, Jesus Christ.

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**When Fruchtenbaum claims that only Gentile believers made up the “them” of Galatians 6:16, he is basically saying that Jewish believers were not walking according to the rule that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (verse 15). Supposedly, only Gentile believers were walking according to this rule. In effect, Fruchtenbaum puts all the Jewish believers in Paul’s day into the camp of the Judaizers, who Paul said were in danger of falling from grace (Galatians 5:4).

Why I Believe Israel Is the Apple of God’s Eye


Israel is the apple of God’s eye. This was true during the days of David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. It’s also true now, but of whom exactly is it true?

Two Passages Where God Said Israel Was the Apple of His Eye

Zechariah 2:8 is a well-known verse, often quoted by Christian Zionists with reference to modern Israel (as does this Christian ministry), and typically as a way of saying that Christians are bound to stand in loyalty to the nation of Israel:

For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Looking back at the history of ancient Israel, God did indeed refer to this nation as the apple of His eye:

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:7-10).

Of course, Deuteronomy 32 is overall a lament concerning Israel, where God

[1] speaks of “their end” in the days of “a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith” (verses 5, 20, 28-29; see also Matthew 17:17 and Philippians 2:14-15)
[2] denies that many within Israel are even His children (“They are not His children…“; verse 5)
[3] goes on to prophesy of a time when Gentiles would rejoice with His people over the avenging of the blood of God’s servants (verse 43; see also Matthew 23:35-36; Revelation 16:3-6, 17:1-6, 18:20-24). 

Other Passages Where This Phrase Is Used

The phrase “apple of my eye” is used in two other passages. David asks God to keep him as the apple of His eye, and Solomon advises his readers to value his instructions as much as they value their own eyeballs:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8).

Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye” (Proverbs 7:2).

Which Israel Is the Apple of God’s Eye?

From Deuteronomy 32 and Zechariah 2 it’s clear that God does have an apple of His eye. Is modern, national Israel the apple of God’s eye, as many say? If so, does this include even the Arab citizens of Israel, as well as expatriates living there? If so, who was the apple of God’s eye between 70 AD and 1948 when there was no nation of Israel?

Israel is indeed the apple of God’s eye. The apple of God’s eye is Jesus, true Israel, and His followers, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). 

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, God shouted from the heavens how He felt about His Son:

And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:17). 

When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain toward the end of His ministry, God proclaimed the same words over His Son (Matthew 17:5). Throughout the New Testament we see similar testimony indicating that Jesus is the apple of God’s eye, even if this phrase isn’t used there. For a deeper study of how Jesus is Israel, see this post (“Why I Stand With Israel”), which shows how Matthew, Luke, and John are among the New Testament authors who demonstrate that what was said of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus, our Savior.

The Church of Jesus Christ is also the Israel of God, His beloved, the apple of His eye. This is because we abide in Christ, the apple of God’s eye. Of Jesus it is said that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). We who belong to Jesus are “a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17), “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10), and “a holy temple in the Lord…a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22; compare with Deuteronomy 32:7-10 quoted above). We are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:10), and we are God’s chosen people (Ephesians 1:11-12, Colossians 3:12-13, I Peter 2:9-10).

When Saul persecuted God’s people, Jesus’ followers, He took it personally: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?…I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5). When the beast made “war with the saints” for 42 months (Revelation 13:5-7), God saw it as making “war with the Lamb(Revelation 17:12-14).

The Context of Zechariah 2 

Who did God ultimately see as Zion when He called the “daughter of Zion” (Zech. 2:10) “the apple of His eye” (verse 8)? Was this prophecy simply about national Israel or all Jewish people? God spoke through Zechariah at a time when the people of Judah and Israel had been “spread…abroad like the four winds of heaven” (Zech. 1:19-21, 2:6), but God was calling them to escape from Babylon (2:7). He would shake His hand against the nations that plundered them and touched the apple of His eye (2:8-9). Zechariah prophesied of a time when God would come and dwell in the midst of Zion (verse 10). This was not to be a mono-ethnic or single-nation reality:

Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem” (Zech. 2:11-12).

The identity of Zion and the identity of Israel was destined to expand to include people from all nations. This has already been accomplished in Christ, and the church was born in Jerusalem as Jews were added to the church daily (Acts 2:47) and a short while later non-Jews began to flow in as well (Acts 11:18). God again chose Jerusalem, but His chosen Jerusalem is the heavenly one, not the one 43 miles from Tel Aviv (Galatians 4:21-31).

However, Zion would not include the corrupt and perverse, disobedient people who God didn’t even regard as His children. This was true even in Moses’ day, as we saw earlier (Deuteronomy 32:5). Most importantly, God’s people, Zion, would not include those who would not hear His Son, Jesus, for they would be cut off:

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people‘” (Acts 3:22-23).

A study of the Old Testament reveals that Jews were cut off from among God’s people for quite a number of reasons (e.g. Exodus 31:14, 32:33; Leviticus 7:20-21, 27; 17:4, 9-10, 14; 18:29; 19:8; 20:3, 5-6, 17-18; 22:3, 23:29; Numbers 9:13, 15:30, 19:13; Deuteronomy 29:19). The ultimate reason for being cut off from among God’s people, from Zion, is being separated from Jesus. Today, the Christian Zionist movement doesn’t see the slightest reason for a single ethnic Jew to be outside of God’s people, not even if they are Atheists or they mock Jesus Christ. They are all God’s chosen people, and they are all the apple of God’s eye, if Christian Zionism is to be believed. 

Any teaching that uses Zechariah 2:8 to say that the apple of God’s eye is limited to the Jewish people, or limited to people living within the borders of ancient Israel, or that it includes people who reject Jesus Christ, is off-base. The apple of God’s eye is first Jesus, and by extension those who belong to Him (Galatians 3:16, 29). If you belong to Jesus, rejoice that you are the apple of God’s eye.

I hope you will enjoy this song by the worship artist, Jason Upton, which rejoices in this truth. This song is called “One Reason,” from his 2001 album, Faith

(Alternate link #1, alternate link #2, lyrics)

Why I Believe Jews Are God’s Chosen People


I believe Jews are God’s chosen people, and in this post I’d like to explain why I believe this. Jews are described very well in Peter’s first epistle:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Indeed, Jews are called out, chosen, made holy, have received God’s mercy, and are walking as light in the midst of darkness. Here are a couple more passages which mention and describe God’s chosen people:

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being chosen according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Would you agree that each of the above passages describe Jews? Why not? After all, the apostle Paul, an ethnic Jew, says that true Jews are those whose hearts have been circumcised:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

Statements abound on the internet, made by Christians, claiming that all Jews are God’s chosen people, and by this they mean ethnic Jews. This flies in the face of what Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly.” On the other hand, Paul affirms who really is a Jew: “…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit.”

Only those who are circumcised in heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can live out the callings of God’s chosen people described in I Peter 2, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 3. Are some ethnic Jews part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes. Is this true of all ethnic Jews, or even a majority of them? No. Are some non-Jews (ethnically speaking) part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes.

Notice the verses immediately preceding Colossians 3:12 where Paul speaks of God’s chosen (or elect) people. He says that God’s people “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11). He then goes on to say, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…” God’s chosen ones are simply those who are in Christ, and ethnicity is not a factor at all.

Circumcision of the flesh (a major identifying trait of ethnic Jews) is meaningless under the new covenant, and meaningless when it comes to the role and identity of God’s chosen people:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15-16).

Remember that true Jews, Paul says, are those who are circumcised in their hearts. And Paul says elsewhere, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3).

Ultimately, why is it that God’s chosen people are chosen today? It’s because we are in Jesus, and Jesus is the chosen One!

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1).

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:16-17).

The following passages further demonstrate why all ethnic Jews are not God’s chosen people, but why all who are in Christ are God’s chosen people:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire‘” (Matthew 3:7-10).

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’ …They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’ …You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:19, 39, 44). 

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’” (Acts 3:22-23).

How can those who are in outer darkness, who don’t receive Jesus (God’s chosen One), whose father is the devil, and who are “utterly destroyed from among the people” — how can they be God’s chosen people? And how is it that thousands of Christians are ready to roll out the accusation of “replacement theology” as soon as someone says that Christians are God’s chosen people? It’s a phenomenon of our time.

To Review

1. God’s chosen people are a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s light, proclaim God’s praises, have obtained mercy, have an inheritance, and are called and empowered to obey Christ’s commands.

2. Ethnic Jews, who are only outwardly Jews or circumcised in the flesh, are not Jews in the eyes of God. Those who are circumcised in their hearts are Jews inwardly, and are Jews in the eyes of God.

3. Among God’s chosen people, there “is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,” and all that matters is being made a new creation in Christ.

4. The circumcised in heart, who Paul says are Jews in the eyes of God, are those who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ.

5. All ethnic Jews (and others) who reject Jesus are children of the devil and not Abraham, are in outer darkness, do not know the Father, and are utterly cut off from God’s people.

Israel Is God’s Chosen People – What Does That Mean?


Two days ago Andrew Strom, a well-known minister from New Zealand, created a firestorm with his post, “Replacement?? – Israel & the Church.” I personally agree with about 90% of what he wrote. As expected, there have been many responses, some very emotional. There are nearly 350 comments under that post, as of last count, and they address so many different aspects of this topic (and beyond) that it can make the mind spin. I’m very interested in what some have to say, but quite baffled at what others say. I’d like to get feedback, if possible, regarding one baffling statement that appeared repeatedly in that forum, one which I’ve heard so many times before:

“Israel is God’s chosen people.”

For those who say this and believe it, what does that mean? Does it mean that all citizens of Israel are God’s chosen people? At face value, that’s what it seems they would mean. Somehow, though, I get the impression that people mean Jews only, when they say this. Did you know that there are roughly 1.6 million Arab citizens in Israel? According to this Wikipedia entry, that’s the case. Are they also among God’s chosen people, since they live in Israel?**

Others claim that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, and I also completely disagree with this idea. Scripture teaches that only those who belong to Jesus are God’s chosen people. In I Peter 2:4-10, for example, those who belong to Jesus are chosen to be a royal priesthood, to receive mercy, to be a light in the darkness, etc. This is true of those who belong to Christ. It’s not true for those outside of Christ, even if they happen to be Jewish. For a deeper discussion on this topic, please see this post:

http://kloposmasm.com/2010/09/23/who-are-gods-chosen-people-and-why-are-they-chosen/

However, I’m even more baffled by the claim that the nation of Israel is God’s chosen people. It makes no sense Scripturally, and it doesn’t even make sense politically. What are your thoughts on the claim that “Israel is God’s chosen people”?

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**I believe that some Arab citizens of Israel actually are among God’s chosen people, but only those who belong to Christ. And some of them do – praise God.

Psalm 33:12 and God’s Chosen Nation


Psalm 33:12 and God’s Chosen Nation

by Adam Maarschalk (December 3, 2010)

Psalm 33:12 is a familiar verse to many people. In the United States, it’s often cited in patriotic sermons or at political events along with a declaration that the US is a Christian nation. This is how the verse reads (see here for its context):

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!”

When studying Scripture, it’s important to consider the original intent of the author—as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit—and who was in his original audience (a study method known as “exegesis”). It’s also good to then consider the meaning and application of a given text to one’s own life and time (known as “hermeneutics”). With this in mind, and given your overall knowledge of Scripture, which of these combinations do you believe to be correct for Psalm 33:12?

ORIGINAL AUDIENCE: PRESENTLY APPLIED TO:
Ancient Israel The modern-day nation of Israel and/or the Jewish people
Ancient Israel The nation of Israel, in the future
Ancient Israel The United States of America, at least ideally
Ancient Israel The Church, the body of Christ

I will assume that there is no disagreement regarding the original audience of this Psalm of David, but if there is please do feel free to express your understanding in the Comments section below. Were you surprised to see option #2 listed above? I was certainly surprised the other day when I saw that a fairly well-known pastor and author proposed this as the primary meaning of Psalm 33:12. This is what prompted me to write this post actually. This assertion was made by Pastor Happy Caldwell, founder of Agape Church, a mega church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Caldwell is also an Executive Board Member with Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the influential pro-Israel organization founded by John Hagee. Caldwell wrote the following in the November 23, 2010 CUFI Weekly Update:

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: And the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance”.

In this Scripture we see the “future” of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people.  God calls those things that be not as though they were.  He speaks the end results from the beginning. (Job 42:12) (Ecclesiastes 7:8) (Isaiah 46:9, 10)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end”.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

As we pray for Israel today, let us remember God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Let us stand together with the Nation of Israel and thank God for the “expected end” . . . which is total peace, prosperity and victory.

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.”

In other words, according to Caldwell, this passage (Psalm 33:11-12), which was written roughly 3000 years ago, is not presently being fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled one day for the geopolitical nation of Israel. To be fair, it’s not clear whether or not Caldwell believes this was once fulfilled in ancient Israel prior to the destruction of that nation in 70 AD. Caldwell also asserts that “God’s chosen people” is made up of the citizens of the nation of Israel (In his mind, does this include the Palestinians, since out of Israel’s population of about 7.6 million people nearly 2 million are non-Jewish?). It’s also clear that Caldwell makes a direct association between the modern nation of Israel and God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We’ll discuss shortly why all these assertions are highly problematic.

The “biblecc” website is one I’ve found to be helpful in that it provides parallel commentaries for any given Scripture passage (as well as parallel translations). Their entry for Psalm 33:12 includes commentary from Albert Barnes (1834), Adam Clarke (1831), John Gill (1746-63), Charles Spurgeon – The Treasury of David (1869-85), the Geneva Study Bible, and Matthew Henry. The comments at the end of Albert Barnes’ entry are notable (emphasis added):

“And the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance – Chosen to be “His;” or, His portion. The primary reference here is undoubtedly to the Hebrew people, called his “inheritance:” Deuteronomy 4:20Deuteronomy 9:26Deuteronomy 32:9Psalm 74:2Psalm 78:62Psalm 78:71; or “heritage,” Psalm 94:5Jeremiah 12:7,Jeremiah 12:9; but what is here affirmed of that people is true also of all other people who worship the true God.”

Barnes points to nine Old Testament passages where the term “inheritance” or “heritage” is used as a reference to the ancient nation of Israel. Is he correct in saying that “what is here affirmed of that people is true also of all other people who worship the true God”? Does the New Testament bear this out?

It certainly does. God’s major announcement in Exodus 19 regarding His chosen people finds its New Testament equivalent in I Peter 2, and a comparison of these two passages is very revealing. The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote in September titled, “Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?”

God has only ever had one chosen people, and no one (regardless of race) is part of God’s chosen people if they are outside of Christ. God’s chosen people in Old Testament times were chosen for the same purpose as God’s chosen people at this time. Compare what was spoken by Moses to “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3) to what has been spoken to the Church through Peter. The parallel language is unmistakable, and I have letter-coded the parallels (A, B, and C):

[1] To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A]MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B] A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C] HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

[2] To the Church: “But you are a chosen race, [B] A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C] HOLY NATION, a people [A] FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Can there be any question that the Church is chosen for the same purpose that the nation of Israel was once chosen? …Israel has never ceased to exist. The body of Christ today IS Israel in every true sense (see, for example, Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16). Outside of Christ there is no Israel (as God’s people), despite the fact that a secular, political nation in the Middle East happens to bear that name today. Romans 9:6-8 is most profound on this point (parenthetical notes are mine): “…For not all who are descended from [natural] Israel belong to [spiritual] Israel, and not all are [spiritual] children of Abraham because they are his [physical] offspring…it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” See this article for an excellent explanation of Galatians 6:16’s use of the phrase “the Israel of God” to refer to the Church: http://www.bible-researcher.com/gal6-16.html. Furthermore, we who are in Christ are spiritual Jews, so to speak: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter…” (Romans 2:28-29; see also Philippians 3:3).

Galatians 3:16 further points out that all the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring, “referring to One, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” In the same chapter, Paul says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Does Paul leave any room for those who are outside of Christ to be heirs of the promises? No, he doesn’t, not even for unbelieving Jews. Nor did Jesus (see, for example, John 8:31-47), nor does the New Testament in any place.

Today many teach that the Jews (meaning all ethnic Jews) are God’s chosen people. I believe this is classic false teaching. I Peter 2:9-10, already quoted here, makes it explicitly clear why God’s chosen people, the body of Christ (believing Jews and Gentiles), are chosen. His people have been called out of darkness and now have the privilege of proclaiming His excellencies to those who are still in darkness. Unbelieving Jews remain in darkness, and cannot possibly carry out any such calling. For those who teach that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, the question remains: What are they (allegedly) chosen for at this present time?

It’s for these same reasons that America cannot qualify as God’s chosen heritage, the nation spoken of in Psalm 33:12. The majority of people in America remain in darkness, just like the majority of Jews, and they don’t know the excellencies of Christ’s salvation, let alone have the ability to proclaim them. This calling belongs exclusively to those who are in Christ. Why do we look elsewhere, whether to America or to the nation of Israel, to find some group to fulfill it? Likewise, for Happy Caldwell to speak of Psalm 33:12 as awaiting a future fulfillment for a geopolitical nation is for him to effectively deny that God has had a chosen people for the last 2000 years walking in holiness as His special possession and proclaiming the gospel to those walking in darkness.

CUFI ornament depicting Israeli and US flag

SOURCE

In another excerpt from the Sept. 2010 post on God’s chosen people, we saw a quick rundown on what the New Testament has to say about God’s chosen people and why they are chosen:

[1] “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; see verses 1-13 for context).

[2] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16).

[3] “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).

[4] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him…” (Ephesians 1:3-4; see also verses 5-14 for an even fuller description of what belongs to God’s chosen people).

[5] See also Ephesians 2:11-22 [The word “chosen” is not used, but this passage speaks of God bringing those who were far off (Gentiles) “near by the blood of Christ,” creating “one new man”, “one body,” and breaking down the wall of hostility that separated them (us) from the “the commonwealth of Israel” and “the covenants of promise.”]

[6] “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:11-12).

[7] “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:4-10).

Clearly God’s chosen people, according to these passages, are strictly those who belong to Christ. It’s all about bearing spiritual fruit, not being of this world, having every single spiritual blessing, being holy and blameless, being God’s own special possession, proclaiming His excellencies to those who are in darkness, receiving mercy, etc.

Again, these things aren’t true and can’t be true for unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Americans, unbelievers in any location, or for any geopolitical nation as a whole. Yet they are true for the Church. For those who are in Christ, let us rejoice that we are blessed to be part of that nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He has chosen as His heritage.

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.

Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?


Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?

by Adam Maarschalk (September 22, 2010)

What follows is an actual discussion which took place on my Facebook page during the month of August 2010, concerning the very pivotal theological question of who God’s chosen people are. I was pleased that the discussion drew out the common ideas which are normally expressed on this topic. Lord willing, this won’t be the only post at this site dealing with this question, but I believe that the reader will find the following conversation to be educational and profitable. Anyone is more than welcome to add further thoughts, as well as to express agreement or disagreement with any of the thoughts expressed in this discussion. All of the 29 comments have been numbered for easy referencing, and they are also color-coded to indicate which participant wrote them (Adam, Dan, Mike, Manuel, Nadia, David). Last names have been removed for the sake of privacy. Here are the questions posed, and the comments which followed:

ORIGINAL POST: Important Christian theology question: According to the Bible, who are God’s chosen people at this present time? For what purpose are they chosen? How many chosen peoples does God have? One? Two?

COMMENT #1 (by Dan):  Ah, your favorite subject. God can choose different people for different things simultaneously. He doesn’t have to cancel out one choice for one purpose before he makes another choice for another purpose. He can have more than one plan in operation at one time. God chose us, the church, for eternal life. He didn’t choose Israel for eternal life, He chose them for other things, like for preserving His words and for being a means of revealing the true God to this world, etc. So, 2 peoples chosen for 2 different purposes. There’s no conflict here.

COMMENT #2 (by Adam): Hi Dan. Thanks for your comment. I’ll share my own viewpoint later today after I see what feedback comes in. In the meantime, I have a few questions for clarification, in particular regarding the second group you named (Israel):

[1] Do you believe that all who live in Israel today are presently chosen to preserve God’s words, reveal Him to this world, etc? In other words, does this include Palestinians and foreigners who are working/studying there? Does this exclude Jews who happen to live outside of Israel?

[2] Do you believe that God had only one chosen people (the Church) from 70 AD – 1948 when there was no established nation of Israel, and that ever since 1948 He has had two chosen peoples?

[3] What, if any, New Testament Scriptures speak of a present calling for the political nation of Israel (or for ethnic Jews, if this is what you mean instead)?

COMMENT #3 (by Mike): My question would be… EVERYONE in Israel? Just the Jews? Or Christians? What about Israeli Muslims? Is it a question of religion or ethnicity? Also kind of along the same lines, who are the 144,000 in Revelations? I used to think that was a big number, then I grew up.

COMMENT #4 (by Manuel): 1) Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. 2) They are saved and therefore are the “chosen” to spread the good news of God’s redemption through Christ. 3) God only has one chosen people which are the spiritual seed of Abraham. In other words, the believers in Jesus Christ (people of faith in Christ). This is also known as spiritual Israel (not the nation of Israel). In my opinion.

COMMENT #5 (by Adam): Manuel, you have articulated my position on this matter, and I very much agree with what you have written. God has only ever had one chosen people, and no one (regardless of race) is part of God’s chosen people if they are outside of Christ. God’s chosen people in Old Testament times were chosen for the same purpose as God’s chosen people at this time. Compare what was spoken by Moses to “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3) to what has been spoken to the Church through Peter. The parallel language is unmistakable, and I have letter-coded the parallels (A, B, and C):

[1] To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A] MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B] A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C] HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

[2] To the Church: “But you are a chosen race, [B] A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C] HOLY NATION, a people [A] FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Can there be any question that the Church is chosen for the same purpose that the nation of Israel was once chosen? In fact, Dan, I forgot in my previous reply to ask about your statement that ancient Israel was not chosen for eternal life. I believe the people of Israel were indeed chosen for this, and that the faithful among them have this inheritance as much as we do. Otherwise, should we expect that Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and many other faithful servants from Israel fell short of inheriting eternal life? Will we be separated from them for eternity? The people of Israel were to make known the path to eternal life (faith in the coming Messiah) to the nations surrounding them, but this often did not happen. The kingdom was eventually taken away from faithless Israel, as Jesus prophesied (Matthew 21:43, cf. Matt. 22:1-14), and given to “a people producing its fruits” (clearly the Church, those who belong to Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who enables us to produce spiritual fruit). This “people” (some translations say “nation”), of course, is made up of both Jews and Gentiles (i.e. those who trust in Christ).

As Manuel said/implied, Israel has never ceased to exist. The body of Christ today IS Israel in every true sense (see, for example, Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16). Outside of Christ there is no Israel (as God’s people), despite the fact that a secular, political nation in the Middle East happens to bear that name today. Romans 9:6-8 is most profound on this point (parenthetical notes are mine): “…For not all who are descended from [natural] Israel belong to [spiritual] Israel, and not all are [spiritual] children of Abraham because they are his [physical] offspring…it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” See this article for an excellent explanation of Galatians 6:16’s use of the phrase “the Israel of God” to refer to the Church: http://www.bible-researcher.com/gal6-16.html. Furthermore, we who are in Christ are spiritual Jews, so to speak: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter…” (Romans 2:28-29; see also Philippians 3:3).

Galatians 3:16 further points out that all the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring, “referring to One, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” In the same chapter, Paul says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Does Paul leave any room for those who are outside of Christ to be heirs of the promises? No, he doesn’t, not even for unbelieving Jews. Nor did Jesus (see, for example, John 8:31-47), nor does the New Testament in any place.

Today many teach that the Jews (meaning all ethnic Jews) are God’s chosen people. I believe this is classic false teaching. I Peter 2:9-10, already quoted here, makes it explicitly clear why God’s chosen people, the body of Christ (believing Jews and Gentiles), are chosen. His people have been called out of darkness and now have the privilege of proclaiming His excellencies to those who are still in darkness. Unbelieving Jews remain in darkness, and cannot possibly carry out any such calling. For those who teach that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, the question remains: What are they (allegedly) chosen for at this present time?

Another implication of this teaching (that all Jews are God’s chosen people) is that it makes Jewish believers superior to non-Jewish believers, something that the New Testament declares cannot be the case (e.g. Romans 10:12-13; Galatians 3:16, 28-29; Gal. 5:6, Gal. 6:15-16). The reason this superiority is implied is that Jewish believers would then be heirs of two sets of spiritual promises/blessings. One set of promises would be theirs simply because they are ethnically Jewish, and the other set would be theirs because they belong to Christ. Gentile believers could only partake of the second set of promises, and could never partake of the first set. The New Testament doesn’t allow for this, and in fact combats this idea, saying, for example: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12).

God never rejected the entire race of Jewish people, but continues to have a remnant from among them (Romans 9:27, 11:1-5). Any Jew who trusts in Christ for salvation is part of God’s one and only chosen people, the Church. In Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, no partiality, no superiority for one group over the other, and no special plan that applies to one group and not the other. Any Jew who does not trust in Christ is just as much lost and in darkness as any non-Jew who does not belong to Christ. They are chosen, along with lost Gentiles, only for condemnation (John 3:18).

COMMENT #6 (by Adam): An excellent, though lengthy, treatment of this subject of God’s chosen people can be seen here in this article by Stephen Sizer:

http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs2.pdf

COMMENT #7 (by Adam): Hi Mike. I appreciated your thoughtful questions above. And I liked your line about the 144,000 (“I used to think that was a big number, then I grew up”). I can identify with that. 🙂 Regarding the 144,000, I personally believe they were first-century AD believers (all Jewish, or mostly Jewish) who fled from Jerusalem to Pella (in modern day Jordan) before that city was invaded by the Romans. They did this in response to a very specific warning given by Jesus (see Matthew 24:15-20 and Luke 21:20-23). I believe their virginity (Revelation 14:4) was not necessarily physical, but rather spiritual (this is language commonly used in the Old Testament for faithfulness versus faithlessness). If interested, feel free to check out the studies on my blog on Revelation 7 and 14 (where the 144,000 are mentioned):

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/revelation-7-study/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/revelation-chapter-14/

COMMENT #8 (by Nadia): Adam, I see you have your own theological forum. Nice work:)

COMMENT #9 (by Adam): Thanks, Nadia. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to add to what’s already been stated here?

COMMENT #10 (by David): The beginning of the Mission to the Gentiles is very strong evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. It was God’s purpose all along that the blessings promised to Abraham and his seed should go out to all the nations of the world. It is this that we see unfolding in the book of Acts.

COMMENT #11 (by David): We should learn to read the whole of the Bible missiologically, rather than see world evangelism as being based merely on the texts traditionally known as The Great Commission. That’s the grand narrative expounded in Christopher J H Wright’s book, “The Mission of God”.

COMMENT #12 (by David): Don’t you hate it when people who oppose Adam’s position accuse us of teaching “replacement theology”? If ever there was a bad description of consistent Biblical theology, surely that is one.

COMMENT #13 (by David): Often overlooked when Christians are debating this theological topic: The suffering of Palestinian Christians. Brethren – pray for them.

COMMENT #14 (by Adam): David, thank you for your comments. Yes, world evangelization was a Biblical goal long before Jesus delivered what is known as the Great Commission. I also understand what you’re saying about the common accusation of teaching “replacement theology.” This phrase seems to be used quite often as a cop-out or a conversation stopper. Ironically, those who use it as a weapon often assign promises made to the Church to either the modern nation of Israel or to the Jewish people as a race, the majority of whom are completely separated from Christ, in whom all promises are fulfilled. In effect, then, it’s the Church that becomes (at least in part) “replaced.”

I also agree with you about the plight of Palestinian Christians. Their suffering is not only far too often overlooked, but is even perpetuated by hardline Zionist policies which are rabidly supported by many American professing Christians. But that’s perhaps a subject for another time and place. Indeed, let’s pray for them.

COMMENT #15 (by Nadia): Unfortunately, I don’t have any thoughts to add. This was our last week’s assignment and I am behind 😦 Maybe later I will put my two cents 🙂

COMMENT #16 (by Dan): ‎? I guess I needed to be more specific. I didn’t use the word ‘Israel’ to mean the current political entity in the Holy Land. That seems to be the assumption behind the questions. God called the descendants of Jacob, “Israel’, regardless of whether they were living in the promised land or not. For example, the prophet Ezekiel was among the captives of Judah in Babylon, long after the northern tribes were taken captive by Assyria. He used the word “Israel’ almost 200 times. It looks like most of those times were the words of God talking to Israel and calling them ‘Israel’ even though they weren’t in their land. That’s the meaning I intended.

All Israel (all ethnic Jews) haven’t been saved (received eternal life). All the Church has been saved, or they wouldn’t be the Church. So, I meant Israel, as a whole, isn’t guaranteed eternal life. This doesn’t exclude Abraham, Moses, David, etc. from attaining it. The problem with contrasting Israel and the Church is that there is a lot of overlap between the two, as well as the contrasts. The Church wasn’t something completely separate from Israel. God gave the New Covenant to Israel, but called Gentiles to be a part, also, as wild olive branches grafted into the natural olive tree (Romans 11). God didn’t create a whole new tree, He grafted us into the old one. That’s why the parallel passages from Moses and Peter make perfect sense. At the same time, God does have covenants with ethnic Israel that are irrevocable (also Romans 11). Caboose…

COMMENT #17 (by Adam): Dan, thank you for following up on your previous comment, and for addressing some of my (and Mike’s) questions. OK, so I think we’re clear now that you believe that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, and that this chosen people is distinct from God’s other chosen people, the Church. You and I have talked briefly about dispensationalism in the past, but I know that it’s this system (invented by John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s) which holds that Israel and the Church are distinct, with each entity having separate (although some overlapping) promises.

To me, the parallel language used by Moses (Exodus 19) and Peter (I Peter 2) only makes sense if the Church now IS Israel, and if outside of the Church there is no Israel (regardless of the fact that a political entity bears that name today).

You said that God grafted Gentile believers into God’s natural olive tree. However, was/is the olive tree natural or spiritual? I believe it’s spiritual, and that it’s the natural branches (the Jews) who, because they didn’t believe in Christ, were cut off from the tree (Romans 11:17-24) but can be grafted in on an individual basis if they believe on Christ (verse 23). The grafting in of Gentiles is likewise on an individual basis, only for those who believe. You also said that the New Covenant was given to Israel, which you have defined as referring to ethnic Jews. Surely we agree, though, that unbelieving Jews have nothing to do with the New Covenant, right? The New Covenant was established through Christ’s work on the cross. Also, in response to what you said, what exactly are the covenants that God maintains with ethnic Israel to this day, and how do we reconcile this idea with New Testament teaching (see previous comments) that all spiritual blessings belong to the Church and that all promises are fulfilled in Christ (and therefore none are fulfilled outside of Christ)?

In any case, the words of Moses and Peter simply cannot be true of ethnic Jews as a whole or for anyone who does not belong to Christ. So the question remains: If ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people at this present time, where does the New Testament express the purpose for which they are chosen? On the other hand, here is what the New Testament has to say about God’s chosen people and why they are chosen (I did a quick Bible Concordance search for NT passages speaking of God’s chosen ones in a corporate sense):

[1] “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; see verses 1-13 for context).

[2] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16).

[3] “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).

[4] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him…” (Ephesians 1:3-4; see also verses 5-14 for an even fuller description of what belongs to God’s chosen people).

[5] See also Ephesians 2:11-22 [The word “chosen” is not used, but this passage speaks of God bringing those who were far off (Gentiles) “near by the blood of Christ,” creating “one new man”, “one body,” and breaking down the wall of hostility that separated them (us) from the “the commonwealth of Israel” and “the covenants of promise.”]

[6] “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:11-12).

[7] “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:4-10).

Clearly God’s chosen people, according to these passages, are strictly those who belong to Christ. It’s all about bearing spiritual fruit, not being of this world, having every single spiritual blessing, being holy and blameless, being God’s own special possession, proclaiming His excellencies to those who are in darkness, receiving mercy, etc. None of these things can be true for unbelieving Jews, or for the Jewish race as a whole. So where is the evidence in the New Testament that all ethnic Jews are chosen for any unique purpose at all? What are they presently chosen for?

COMMENT #18 (by Dan): I guess John Nelson Darby organized ideas in the 1830’s about Bible dispensations to a greater degree than previously, but he didn’t invent it. Writings about various ‘dispensations’ (also called ‘economies’) in the Bible goes back to Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D.), Irenaeus (130-200 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria, who specified 4 dispensations (150-220 A.D.), and Augustine (354-530 A.D.). Some of them were even premillenialists, believing that Jerusalem and the Temple had to be rebuilt because of prophecies about the Antichrist. Nearer to Darby, Pierre Poiret (1646-1719) wrote a 6-volume systematic theology that included 7 dispensations. John Edwards (1637-1716) wrote a 2-volume systematic theology titled “A Complete History or Survey of All the Dispensations”. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote about 6 dispensations. Even the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians refers to a future dispensation: “… the dispensation of the fullness of times…” (Eph. 1:10). That would be the last dispensation, sometimes called ‘the eternal state’.

Actually, I’ve never warmed up to the term, ‘Dispensationalism”. It’s never made sense to me to focus so much on dispensations. If someone says that I’m a dispensationalist, I think, “OK, whatever.” I also don’t think much about ‘Covenantalism’, the antithesis of Dispensationalism. I can’t get into the debate about whether to focus on dispensations or covenants. I see them both in the Bible, and I don’t understand this whole thing about drawing a line in the sand and lining up on one side or the other. I think it’s much more important to focus on whether to take the words of the Bible literally or to take them symbolically. And I realize that some of the differences between Dispensationalism and Covenantalism DO involve this. Dispensationalists tend to take the Bible literally and Covenantalists tend to allegorize the Bible. I read recently that any kind of ‘ism’ in systematic theology has problem scriptures. I suppose that’s true. Some dispensationalists are realizing the necessity to fine-tune some of their doctrine. They’re called Progressive Dispensationalists. Mostly, they’re realizing that Classic Dispensationalism makes too much distinction between Israel and the Church and that they shouldn’t keep them distinct forever. Some Covenantalists are also realizing the necessity to fine-tune some of their doctrine. They’re called Progressive Covenantalists, and they realize that they can’t just allegorize the wealth of specific details in all the prophecies about Israel’s future, including their national restoration in their land. I’ve also read that anyone’s beliefs about Israel indicate whether they’re a Dispensationalist of a Covenantalist. That’s actually not true. After reading some of Stephen Sizers articles on his website, I read a couple books by his friend, David Pawson, defending Christian Zionism. I was really suprised to find out that David Pawson, even though he is a Christian Zionist, is NOT a dispensationalist, and very much against dispensationalism. So, I find this whole ‘ism’ thing in systematic theology not very helpful in understanding things. Caboose time again (that pesky Post Office)…

COMMENT #19 (by Adam): Dan, I also don’t have a problem with seeing a few different ages or dispensations in history. I understand that some in the past have seen three dispensations: law (up until Christ), grace (this present age), and kingdom/eternal state. Others have seen four: patriarchal, Mosaic, Church age, Zionic and/or kingdom age. Darby, however, is credited even by Classic Dispensationalists as having developed the modern system of dispensationalism. You’re correct that some now favor Progressive Dispensationalism (which I’m not really sure how to define), and that some Christian Zionists are not classic dispensationalists.

Beyond the breaking up of history into ages (dispensations), the key component of dispensationalism seems to be the distinction between national Israel and the Church, as well as the assertion that God’s promises to national Israel have never been fulfilled but will be in the future. Another key component is the idea that this present Church age is an unforeseen parenthesis (interruption) in God’s program with national Israel, which He will allegedly fully resume during a future 7-year Tribulation period after the Church is taken away (raptured). According to classic dispensationalism, the “Tribulation saints” will somehow be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit (the restrainer of II Thess. 2), who will have been removed from the earth together with the Church. John Nelson Darby also championed the idea that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, even if they reject Christ. It’s these ideas that I personally reject more so than the breaking up of history into different ages (although I also don’t believe that there will be a future earthly kingdom based out of Jerusalem–premillennialism, nor do I believe that the Great Tribulation is future or that it was ever said to be 7 years in length).

Anyway, as much as I’m happy to discuss dispensationalism, I hope this topic doesn’t become a rabbit trail leading away from the specific topic at hand:

“Who are God’s chosen people? Does He have one chosen people or two, and for what purpose are they chosen?”

Dispensationalism is related in a way, though, since Darby (and C.I. Scofield after him) did so much to promote the idea that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. So feel free to respond to what I’ve written here about dispensationalism, but if at all possible I’d like to hear from you (and anyone else who shares your viewpoint) why you believe that even unbelieving Jews remain among God’s chosen people. That is, for what purpose are they presently chosen? In particular, I’d like to know which New Testament texts express this idea. Feel free to invite anyone else here to tackle this question.

COMMENT #20 (by Dan): I agree with much of what you said here. I’ve also heard that the Church age is an unforeseen parenthesis, and that God will someday ‘resume’ His program with Israel. Completely untrue. Even back at the beginning, when God first called Abraham, He promised him that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s one, specific seed/descendent – which we know is Jesus. “All the families of the earth” reaches way out beyond the promised land to include the whole planet, and reaches way out beyond one particular line of the sons of Shem to include all men. The church would only be ‘unforeseen’ to someone ignorant of the Bible. And God’s dealings with ethnic Israel doesn’t have to ‘resume’ because it was never put on hold to begin with. God’s dealings with ethnic Israel during their diaspora/dispersion were fully explained by Moses in Leviticus 26 and elsewhere, so rather than being on hold, the program of God for Israel has been ongoing in just the way the Bible said it would.

You’re also correct that the Great Tribulation was never said to be 7 years in length. We’ve heard the phrase “seven-year Tribulation” so often that many think it comes from the Bible. It doesn’t. It comes from people thinking that the entire 70th week of Daniel is the Tribulation, but there’s no Biblical reason to think that. And you brought up the teaching that the ‘Tribulation saints’ will be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit. Right – saved without the Holy Spirit. Where do people come up with this stuff? It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Christians should know better.

“Who are God’s chosen people? Does He have one chosen people or two?” Answering that with either a simple “one” or “two” could be misunderstood and misleading and wouldn’t communicate effectively or satisfactorily. The answer has to have more information with it than just one word. It has to also include some explanation. So, the best answer I can think of right now is to say that God has one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals. This is a very important distinction! We’re not comparing apples with apples here, or even apples with oranges – we’re comparing apples with trees. Again, God has one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals – and the chosen group is chosen for different purposes than the chosen individuals are chosen for. I think the distinction is profound. There’s no reason to think that God has to unchoose the group before He starts choosing the individuals. As I said before, God can have more than one plan in operation at one time. He’s God.

Israel was chosen as a nation, not as individuals – chosen as a group, irregardless of what any specific individuals within the group did or didn’t do; or what they believed or didn’t believe. God chose to bring about certain results/purposes through this chosen nation-group as a whole. He blessed them as a whole and judged them as a whole. It was primarily the whole – ‘the big picture’.

The church, however, is chosen one at a time, individually, and not as a group, a nation, or a people. They’re randomly scattered and completely unrelated. Like Peter said, “once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people“. 1Pt.2:10

Why did God choose ethnic Israel?
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them;…” Deut. 4:37
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
“but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers
,…” Deut. 7:7,8
The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.” Deut. 10:15

What about now?
“…they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers.
“For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call
.] Rom. 11:28,29 Amplified.

After Jesus came, was there still a legitimate expectation that God would still restore national Israel according to the words of the prophets? The disciples asked Him about this in Acts 1:6, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus didn’t tell them that God wasn’t dealing with the nation of Israel anymore. He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” In other words, God has decided when the restoration of Israel will happen, but is keeping that timetable to himself right now.

Caboose.

COMMENT #21 (by Manuel): To say that God loves the Jewish people more than any other is a racist statement. God chose Abraham as an example of the faith people and his seed or people of faith (in Jesus specifically for our time). Jesus himself wept over Israel’s decision not to follow Him. that He came unto his own but His own did not receive him. So what did Jesus do – He chose those who would believe in Him. Remember when Jesus’ 1/2 brothers and sisters came looking for Him. Jesus said to the onlookers – “But he answered and said unto him tahat told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Mat 12:48-50
So Jesus did not respect a blood line. He only sees a spiritual line to believers.

There is another principle we have to consider: God is not a respector of persons. And by the same token of nations, or creeds, or whatever.
God the Father is no respecter of persons, and He will not be showing any type of partiality or favoritism to any man or woman He has ever created.
Acts 10:34, Gal 2:6, Deut 10:17, 1 Peter 1:17

Now let’s look at the Jewish response to Jesus according to Jesus himself:

Matt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  Verse 38 “Behold your house is left desolate.”
Verse 39 “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

On verse 39 – Jesus is saying that He will not be seen by the Jewish people until they individually can see Him as the Savior. In other words, until they become his spiritual children, not his physical ethnic group. Please remember that God does not save nations, He only saves individuals from nations. God will not wait for the whole nation to change its mind. If I have already decided to follow him now, I am accepted when I say yes to Him. When I say yes, then I am included into His spiritual family and become a child of God. Now I can rightly say that I am his brethren as noted in Mat 12:50.

I can’t make this more clear than using the Lord’s own words from the word of God.

I think that we as believers should concentrate more on the lost than to wait around for the Jewish nation to repent and see Jesus for who He really is – messiah. There should be an outreach to the Jewish nation as other nations that do not know who the savior is. God loves all people and has children in many nations. We clearly see that God is not showing any favoritism to Israel. We can choose Jesus as savior, or eternal judgement, regardless of our ethnic background. Period.

COMMENT #22 (by Dan): ‎”To say that God loves the Jewish people more than any other is a racist statement”. I agree – who said that?

COMMENT #23 (by Adam): Dan, I’ve been meaning for some time now to reply to your response from over a week ago, but here it is finally. I appreciate your openness regarding the claims of dispensationalism, and where you stand on some of these things. It all makes for very interesting discussion, and helps in getting to know you better. At some point in the future I’d be interested in knowing how you view the 70th week of Daniel (e.g. who makes—or made—the covenant with many, who the “many” are, how the sacrifices and offerings of Daniel 9:27 are to be viewed, etc.). That’s such a pivotal prophecy.

I agree with you that no program of God’s has been postponed or put on hold, including His program with Israel. The difference we have in this regard seems to be in how we identify Israel. In the viewpoint that you’ve articulated, Israel is made up of ethnic Jews. On the other hand, I see Scripture teaching that Israel is the Church, and that outside of the Church there is no true Israel. In other words, there is only continuity, and God has never ceased to have one special and chosen people for Himself, Israel. Some passages to examine on this point are those already quoted above: Romans 2:28-29, Romans 9:6-8, and Galatians 6:15-16.

Prior to Christ’s first coming, Israel as a nation was chosen, as you have said. Still, God always had a faithful remnant, just as He has now. Even at that time, provision was made for those who were unfaithful to be cut off from among God’s people. For example:

And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations… Every male among you shall be circumcised… So shall My covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant” (Genesis 17:9-14).

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15; see also verse 19).

“…but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people…” (Leviticus 8:20-21).

Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord… For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places” (Leviticus 23:27-31).

The ultimate cutting off from God’s people was to come upon those who reject(ed) Christ:

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to Him in whatever He tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:22-26).

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people weren’t as plentiful as it might seem that they were, for there were many who descended physically from Abraham but were not counted as being among God’s people, Israel, because of their unfaithfulness. God’s people were those Israelites who served Him faithfully, as well as those from other nations who joined them in this service. When John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7-12) and Jesus (e.g. John 8:37-47) refused to allow their Jewish audience to claim to be among God’s people because of their physical descent from Abraham, they really weren’t saying anything different than what Moses and the Old Testament prophets had said.

Prior to the cross, the majority of those who were counted as God’s people were ethnic Jews. God’s people today are those who belong to Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. There has been an expansion, a very intentional opening up of the gospel to the Gentiles, and today the majority of those who are counted as God’s people are Gentiles. Aside from this difference, there is also much continuity. God had a faithful remnant prior to the cross, and the same is true today.

I have to confess that I don’t understand the distinction you tried to make between God having one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals. I have pondered what you said, but I just don’t see it. You said that the chosen group (and by this, I understand that you mean ethnic Jews) is chosen for different purposes than the group of chosen individuals (the body of Christ) is chosen. But how is this true? As already shown in previous comments, “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3-6) were chosen for the very same purposes that the body of Christ is presently chosen (I Peter 2:9-10). You also said that the nation of Israel was chosen as a group, regardless of what individuals did/believed or didn’t do/didn’t believe. However, as shown above, provision was made to cut off faithless individuals from among that group known as Israel, so that only a faithful remnant remained (from God’s vantage point) to make up God’s people. You also said that a distinctive of the Church is that we are chosen “individually, and not as a group, a nation, or a people.” We are saved individually, yes, but our calling/purpose/choosing is certainly corporate, and we are declared by Scripture to be a people and a holy nation (e.g. Matthew 21:43, II Corinthians 6:16-17, Ephesians 2:11-22, I Peter 2:4-10).

Regarding Romans 11:28-29, the Jewish people are spoken of as “beloved for the sake of their forefathers.” This speaks of the historical significance of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, and to me it also fits with what Peter said (quoted earlier): “God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:26). Jesus lived and ministered among the Jews, and the gospel was first made available to them, before being proclaimed throughout the nations. At the same time, “God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Rom. 11:32). In other words, Jews are just as lost as anyone else without Christ (and on this I know we agree). However, the Jews are not utterly cast off, for any Jew who would turn from disobedience, drawn to Jesus by the Father (John 6:44), would receive mercy (just as any Gentile would). At that point, and at that point only, could they possibly take their place in fulfilling the purposes for which God’s people are chosen (both in ancient times and also now): to be a holy people, a nation of priests, a people for His own possession, and a light to the nations.

My response concerning Acts 1:6 will follow in the next comment…

COMMENT #24 (by Adam): Regarding Acts 1:6, you’re right that Jesus didn’t explicitly rebuke the disciples for asking a nationalistic question. Their question was similar in nature to the statement made by the two men on the way to Emmaus: “But we had hoped that He was the One to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Jesus was patient in His reply to these two men, just as He was with the question asked by the apostles as recorded in Acts 1:6 (“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”). In addition to His statement regarding times and seasons, part of His reply was to again prophesy of the Day of Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit with power, and the mandate to be His witnesses even to the end of the earth. It’s interesting, and I would say very revealing, that after Pentecost came the apostles never again spoke of the kingdom of God in nationalistic terms. I appreciate the explanation that Stephen Sizer gives regarding Acts 1:6.

“It is interesting that in this question, the Apostles at least, see ‘Israel’ as having a separate existence as a people without sovereignty in the land. In his commentary, John Calvin writes, ‘There are as many mistakes in this question as there are words.’ John Stott, in his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, succinctly appraises errors made:

‘The mistake they made was to misunderstand both the nature of the kingdom and the relation between the kingdom and the Spirit. Their question must have filled Jesus with dismay. Were they still so lacking in perception?… The verb, the noun and the adverb of their sentence all betray doctrinal confusion about the kingdom. For the verb restore shows they were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment. In his reply (7-8) Jesus corrected their mistaken notions of the kingdom’s nature, extent and arrival.’

Since the Holy Spirit had not been given, the disciples may be forgiven for still holding to an Old Covenant understanding of the Kingdom with the reestablishment of the monarchy and liberation from the brutal colonialism of Rome. Had they been present at Jesus’ trial they might have understood things differently. Jesus explained, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place’ (John 18:36).

Jesus repudiated the notion of an earthly and nationalistic kingdom on more than one occasion (see John 6:15). This is why, in reply to the disciples, Jesus says that he has another agenda for the Apostles:

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The kingdom which Jesus inaugurated would, in contrast to their narrow expectations, be spiritual in character, international in membership and gradual in expansion. And the expansion of this kingdom throughout the world would specifically require their exile from the land. They must turn their backs on Jerusalem and their hopes of ruling there with Jesus in order to fulfill their new role as ambassadors of his kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21). The Acts of the Apostles suggests that they needed something of a kick-start to get going. It is only when the Christians in Jerusalem experience persecution following the death of Stephen and are scattered that they begin to proclaim the gospel to others (see Acts 8:1-4). The Church was sent out into the world to make disciples of all nations but never told to return. Instead Jesus promises to be with them where ever they are in the world (Matthew 28:18-20).”

Source: http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs3.pdf (pages 14-15)

COMMENT #25 (by Adam): Manuel, thank you very much for your latest response as well. I most appreciated your opening up of Matthew 23:39. This is my understanding as well, that Christ was speaking of an individual response, not a corporate one, and that both Jews and Gentiles (us included) have been responding in this way during the last 2000 years. May we continue to labor in the vineyard so that even more will do so.

COMMENT #26 (by Nadia): Adam, I think it’s time to publish a book based on these insights 🙂 looks like you have enough material!

COMMENT #27 (by Manuel ): I have to agree with Nadia on this Adam. That way we can reference from that resource.

COMMENT #28 (by Dan): Adam, I’m getting the distinct impression that we don’t completely agree on some of these things. 😉

Actually, I know that any difference of opinion in these things is just a temporary situation. Ultimately, we will see and know and understand these things in exactly the same way. Now, we know in part, but then we shall know as we are known. Imagine Stephen Sizer, Hal Lindsay, and John Hagee all being in complete agreement about Israel and the Church (OMGosh). It will happen. That’s the power of God.

It’s been awhile since I looked at anything connected with Daniel’s 70th week, so I remember generalities, but I’m a little hazy on specifics. I’ll have to look at it again, and then I’ll get back to you about it.

COMMENT #29 (by Adam): Now, Dan, what gave you that impression? 🙂 Yes, that day you’re speaking of, when we will know fully even as we have been fully known (I Cor. 13:13), is definitely something to look forward to. Very good reminder. I have to admit that the image of Sizer, Lindsay, and Hagee being in complete agreement is a startling one.

I would very much look forward to a discussion of Daniel 9:24-27, if we’re able to do so. When that time comes, it would be good to start a new discussion thread, rather than host it here in this thread. I do continue to appreciate your willingness to dig deeper on some of these things, to challenge and be challenged, etc. It’s very good exercise for the mind and spirit.

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This wraps up the discussion as it took place on Facebook. What viewpoint do you, the reader, have on this subject of the identity and purpose(s) of God’s chosen people? Are God’s chosen people the physical descendants of Abraham (ethnic Jews)? Are they the spiritual descendants of Abraham (all who belong to Christ through faith)? Do both of these groups make up God’s chosen people? In any response that you may have, please—if you are able to—make an effort to interact with the question of why God’s chosen people are presently chosen. Thank you.

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.