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).

“[Ancient Israel] Was Merely a Type, a Shadow of the Spiritual Realities of a Better Day” (Louis Berkhof, 1951)


Louis Berkhof (1873 – 1957) “was a Reformed systematic theologian whose written works have been influential in seminaries and Bible colleges in the United States and Canada and with individual Christians in general throughout the 20th century” (CCEL). Berkhof taught at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1906 – 1944, and served as its president during his last 14 years there. Wayne Grudem called his Systematic Theology, published in 1932, “a great treasure-house of information and analysis…probably the most useful one-volume systematic theology available from any theological perspective.”

Nine years before his death, in 1948, Berkhof watched modern Israel become a nation. Three years later, in 1951, he published a book with a long title: The Kingdom of God: The Development of the Idea of the Kingdom, Especially Since the Eighteenth Century.Here’s a quote from that book, concerning ancient Israel and the emergence of a modern nation with the same name. What do you think of Berkhof’s statement here? I find myself agreeing with him:

“The theocratic nation itself was merely a type, a shadow of the spiritual realities of a better day, and therefore destined to vanish as soon as the antitype made its appearance. The restoration of the ancient theocracy in the future would simply mean the recurrence of the type – to what purpose? – and not at all the establishment of the Kingdom. It should be borne in mind that the beginnings of the Kingdom of God existed long before the theocracy was established, and continued to develop, and even after it lost its national existence. And the founding of the Kingdom in the new dispensation was in no way dependent on the fortunes of the Jewish nation” (Louis Berkhof, The Kingdom of God…, pp.170-171).

Of course, Berkhof didn’t say that the Jewish people were “destined to vanish,” only national Israel along with its previous significance. As we know, God created “in Himself one new man” from Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him (Ephesians 2:15), and God has kept a remnant from among the Jews (Romans 9:27, 11:5).

At least two earlier posts here also address this topic:

[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] “Galatians 4 Shows That Isaiah 66 Is Not About Modern Israel” deals with a passage (Isaiah 66) that many say predicted Israel becoming a nation “in one day” in 1948. It shows that Isaiah instead predicted the birth of the Church, the downfall of earthly Jerusalem, and God’s embracing of the Jerusalem from above.

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)

The Scepter Shall Not Depart From Judah UNTIL…


Sometimes a whole lot of meaning is packed into one word. This is the case with the word “until,” where it appears in Genesis 49 in one of the earliest prophecies in Scripture.

Jacob, later named “Israel” (Genesis 49:2), was the grandson of Abraham, and he knew that he was about to die. So he gathered his 12 sons to bless them (verse 28) and to tell them what would “befall [them] in the last days” (verse 1). When it was Judah’s turn to be blessed, Jacob proclaimed the coming of Jesus in Israel’s last days (see also Hebrews 1:1-2, 9:26):

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:8-12).

The word “until” speaks volumes here. For many centuries, Judah’s tribe would hold onto the giving of the law and the scepter, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as a staff of authority for ruling. However, Judah’s hold on the scepter and the law was only temporary. Shiloh (Jesus) was coming! He was to take over this scepter, and the people of God would be gathered to Him to obey Him.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until Shiloh comes=

The scepter will depart from Judah when Shiloh comes.

In David’s time, we see that God still referred to Judah as His scepter (Psalm 60:7, 108:8). Then after David and Solomon reigned, there was a split between the 10 northern tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah, also known as the house of David (I Kings 11:29-36, 12:16-20). In 722 BC, the 10 northern tribes were defeated and captured by Assyria, and for the most part they remained scattered among the nations.

In 586 BC, Judah was also defeated and captured by Babylon. However, after Medo-Persia defeated Babylon (Isaiah 13, Daniel 5-6) in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great allowed the people of Judah to return to Jerusalem in 538 BC (Ezra 1:1-8, Isaiah 45:1-8). Zerubbabel, who led them, was from the lineage of David and appeared in the genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:12-13, Luke 3:27). During the next few centuries, Judah had rulers among themselves even while they were under Persia, Greece, Syria, and the Romans. By the time Jesus came, the people of Judah were submitted to the rule and the law of the Sanhedrin (e.g. John 18:31).

As Jacob prophesied, the scepter remained with Judah all the way up until Jesus came. The coming of Jesus is one of the reasons, and the greatest reason, why Judah was preserved and kept intact while the 10 tribes were not. In Revelation 5:5, it’s significant that Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (see Genesis 49:9, quoted above). 

Christian Zionism, dispensationalism, and the Hebrew Roots Movement would nearly (or outright) have us believe that the scepter has not passed from Judah to Jesus. According to these movements, Jesus is not the center of prophecy; national Israel is. According to these movements, the plans, purposes, and promises of God do not belong primarily to Jesus and His followers, but to national Israel and/or the Jewish people. According to these movements, Jews are God’s chosen people (whether they love Jesus or hate Him), but Jesus and His followers are not God’s chosen people (or this is true of us only in a secondary sense). According to these movements, Torah (the law of Moses) is often preeminent, being at least as important as the law of Christ and His teachings.

Jesus has come, and the scepter is in His hands. To Jesus belongs the obedience of God’s people. He is the Desire of All Nations (Haggai 2:7), the One who has gathered “together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52), and the One who draws all people to Himself (John 12:32). He is the “Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6; 7:22).

The law, the covenant(s), and the priesthood were transferred out of Judah’s hand 2000 years ago, and there’s no handing back of the baton to Judah/Israel. All the types and shadows of the old covenant find their reality and fulfillment in Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

The Son of Man Will Come… With His Angels


I first published this article two days ago in The Fulfilled Connection Magazine (tfcmag.com):

In the book of Revelation the word “angel(s)” appears a total of 76 times, according to Strong’s Concordance (and based on the King James Version). In the majority of these instances, angels had the role of announcing or pouring out judgments. Why is this significant?

Six days before Jesus was transfigured on a high mountain (Matthew 17:1-8), He made some detailed predictions about His coming, telling His disciples that some of them would live long enough to witness it:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).

In Matthew 16 Jesus said He would come with His angels to judge. In the book of Revelation, as we will see, angels are directly connected with a multitude of judgments poured out on the harlot (see Rev. 11, 16, 17, 18), the great city where Jesus was crucified (Rev. 11:8). I didn’t initially make this connection between Matthew 16:27-28 and Revelation on my own. In early 2011 my friend, Mark Church, introduced himself and this Scriptural connection when he left this comment on my blog:

“Has anyone else ever seen the imagery given by Jesus in Matthew 16:27 about Him coming with His “ANGELS” and the imagery given in the whole of the book of Revelation? Preterists claim that much of what Jesus spoke of on the Mount of Olives was related to the book of Revelation. THEN NOTICE ALL THROUGHOUT REVELATION, THAT IT WAS ***ANGELS*** POURING OUT THE JUDGMENTS UPON THE NATION OF ISRAEL!!! He came back with His ANGELS and poured out His Judgments that He decreed would come upon them! WOW!”

In another post last month, we explored how Jude predicted that Jesus would come with thousands of angels to judge those who were presently troubling the church, and how Enoch predicted that this judgment would take place 70 generations after his time (confirmed in Luke 3 to be the generation in which Jesus lived). Before examining the prevalence of angels in the book of Revelation, let’s break down the four elements of Jesus’ coming which He predicted in Matthew 16:27-28.

1. IN THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER: As Don Preston well points out, this can be understood to mean that just as the Father had come in the past, Jesus would also come in the same manner. Don gives as an example Isaiah 64:1-3, where the writer declares that God had “come down” numerous times in the past:

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood, and the fire causes water to boil – to make Your name known to Your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things that we did not look for,You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.”

2. WITH HIS ANGELS: Compare this to what Paul promised the Thessalonian believers when he told them that they could expect relief “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance (II Thessalonians 1:7), in order “to repay with affliction those who afflict you” (verse 6). This was imminent in their day, for Paul said that the wrath of God had already come upon the Jewish persecutors (I Thess. 2:14-16). He knew this to be true because Jesus had declared in no uncertain terms (Matthew 23:35-36) that the blood of all the prophets would be required of His own generation. As we will see, all throughout the book of Revelation God’s angels pour out judgment upon “the great city” where the Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8) – that is, Jerusalem, the city marked as a harlot because of its shedding of the blood of the saints and martyrs (Rev. 17:1-6), apostles, and prophets (Rev. 18:20-24).

3. TO REPAY EACH PERSON: The context of Jesus’ promise to come and “repay each person” for what they had done was His foretelling of [1] His own death and suffering at the hands of the Jewish leaders (Matt. 16:21-23) and [2] the suffering that His own disciples would experience (verses 24-26). In other words, Jesus would come to vindicate this very persecution. In Revelation 6:10, the “souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” cried out for this very thing: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

4. IN HIS KINGDOM: Jesus promised to come in His kingdom before all of His disciples had died. This echoes His earlier promise to come before His disciples could pass through all the towns and cities of Israel (Matthew 10:23). It also fits perfectly with the following prophecy given to Daniel: “And in the days of those kings* the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (Daniel 2:44). [*Many scholars agree that the four kingdoms in Daniel’s vision were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since Rome was destroyed in 476 AD, the kingdom had to be set up before that time.] A first century fulfillment fits; a 21st century fulfillment doesn’t. Furthermore, the kingdom was to be given to the saints (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27). This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the Parable of the Tenants that the kingdom of God would soon be taken away from the Jewish leaders and given instead “to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43) – i.e. the body of Christ. This was to happen even as the stone was to crush those who would fall (verse 44) – 1.1 million Jews killed in August/September 70 AD by the Romans would seem to qualify as a fulfillment of this prediction.

Let’s now examine the prevalence of angels in the book of Revelation. What follows is a record of all 76 instances where angels are mentioned in Revelation. This is lengthy, but you can skim it, use it as a topical study tool, or skip ahead to the conclusion (if it appears small, press the Control and + keys together on your keyboard to increase the size on your screen):

Instance

Reference

Scripture Text

#1 Rev. 1:1 “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John…”
#2 1:20 “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…”
#3 – #9 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 “To the angel of the church of
Ephesus / Smyrna / Pergamos / Thyatira / Sardis / Philadelphia / Laodicea write…”
#10 3:5 “He who overcomes… I will confess His name before My Father and before His angels.”
#11 5:2 “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’”
#12 5:11 “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…”
#13 7:1 “After these things I saw the four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth…”
#14 – #15 7:2 “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea…”
#16 7:11 “And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…”
#17 8:2 “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.”
#18 – #20 8:3-5 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
#21 8:6 “So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
#22 8:7 “The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth…”
#23 8:8 “Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood…”
#24 8:10 “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water…”
#25 8:12 “Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that  a third of them were darkened; and a third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.”
#26 – #27 8:13 “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’”
#28 9:1 “Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. And to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.”
#29 9:11 “And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”
#30 – #32 9:13-14 “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great River Euphrates.’”
#33 9:15 “So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.”
#34 10:1 “And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.”
#35 – #36 10:5-7 “And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his hand to heaven and swore… that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
#37 – #39 10:8-10 “Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Give me the little book.’ And he said to me, ‘Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’”
#40 11:1 “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.’”
#41 11:15 “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”
#42 – #43 12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought…”
#44 12:9 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
#45 14:6 “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth…”
#46 14:8 “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’”
#47 – #48 14:9-10 “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’”
#49 14:15 “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
#50 14:17 “Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.”
#51 – #52 14:18-19 “And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
#53 15:1 “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.”
#54 15:6 “And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen…”
#55 15:7 “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.”
#56 15:8 “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”
#57 16:1 “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
#58 16:3 “Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.”
#59 16:4 “Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.”
#60 16:5-6 “And I heard the angel of the waters saying: ‘You are righteous, O Lord… For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.’”
#61 16:8 “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.”
#62 16:10 “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness…”
#63 16:12 “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.”
#64 16:17 “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’”
#65 17:1 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters…”
#66 17:7 “But the angel said to me, ‘Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.’”
#67 18:1-2a “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen!’”
#68 18:21 “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.’”
#69 19:17-18 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings…and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’”
#70 20:1-2 “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…”
#71 21:9 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’”
#72 21:12 “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.”
#73 21:17 “Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.”
#74 22:6 “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”
#75 22:8 “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that…’”
#76 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

As we can see from these texts, a different angel was assigned to pour out each seal judgment, each trumpet judgment, and each bowl judgment. The “Revelation of Jesus Christ” was given in the first century to show God’s servants things which would “shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1, 22:6), “for the time [was] near” (Rev. 1:3). Jesus also said in Revelation 22:12 that He would come quickly, and He added, “My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This is identical to what He told His disciples in Matthew 16:27-28, i.e. that He would come with His angels, while some of them were still alive, to judge everyone for their deeds.

Jesus, John, and Paul clearly predicted that Jesus was about to come in vengeance, with His angels, in their generation. Indeed, before their generation passed, angels presided over a series of judgments in the events leading up to and including Israel’s downfall and Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD. The book of Revelation gives a clear picture of just how deeply the angels would be involved, and everything came to pass just as Jesus said it would.

Jerry William Bowers Jr: “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” (A Poem)


My friend, Jerry Bowers Jr., has been writing for a long time. He recently resurrected his poetry writing, which had lain dormant for some time. Here is one of his recent poems:

My God I give my heart to thee, a soul once imprisoned is now set free.

Through your mercy, forgiveness and grace, I see you clearly in every place.

The bonds once held me, now are broken, words I couldn’t utter, now are spoken.

The world’s amazements, beauties and wonders, I feel like St. John, who heard the seven thunders.

The apocalypse of Christ, means simple revealing, as it cleanses my heart, tis joy I’m feeling.

No wants nor cares, I truly have no need, whom the son sets free is free indeed.

Peace on earth, good will to all, as I expand from your righteous leaven. Your kingdom has come, your will is done, on earth just as in heaven.

Copyright © 2014 Jerry Wm Bowers Jr.

Jerry’s main website is www.lastdaysendtimes.com

Jonathan Welton: Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy Is About Jesus, Not An Antichrist


(Note: This post includes a full-scale teaching illustration below the following introduction.)

The last quarter of the 20th century featured many prophecy charts, based on dispensationalism, depicting a future “Rapture,” 7-year tribulation, Antichrist, series of seal/trumpet/bowl judgments, Battle of Armageddon, etc. When I was younger, I saw a few of these charts in person, and a number of others when I watched “A Thief In the Night” (1972), “A Distant Thunder” (1977) and “Image of the Beast” (1981); all available here.

Charts and illustrations can be good teaching aids. Based on my study of church history, however, the vast majority of respected leaders in the first 1800 (or so) years after Christ would have been horrified to see a lot of these (dispensationalist-based) charts. As my personal journey has taken me away from the pre-trib Rapture/premillennialist view I grew up with, and toward fulfilled eschatology, I’m glad to see that new charts, illustrations, and similar tools are being created which are a lot more sound and Biblical (in my opinion). In a couple of previous posts, I’ve highlighted two such illustrations by author Jonathan Welton, one on Daniel 2 and the kingdom of God and another on John’s use of “ge” (land) versus “kosmos” (world) in the book of Revelation.

Welton’s newest illustration concerns the 70 Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9. Seeing this prophecy differently was a major turning point in my own journey. Previously I was led to believe that Daniel saw a future Antichrist who would make a 7-year political covenant with Israel, then break it 3.5 years later, before presiding over another 3.5 years of planet-wide turmoil and catastrophes. This was to be the 7-year tribulation period. The text (Daniel 9:24-27) says none of these things. I can’t forget how stunned I was when it was pointed out to me, online, that the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is parallel to Jesus’ words on the night He was betrayed by Judas:

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering…” (Daniel 9:27).

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

Each “week” in Daniel’s prophecy represents a period of seven years. We also know that Jesus laid down His life as a sacrifice after 3.5 years of ministry (“…in the middle of the week…”), and that His sacrifice brought an end to the sacrifices and offerings under the old covenant. There went the idea that sacrifices must be restored in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem in our future. There also went the only Scriptural basis (so I thought) for a 7-year tribulation period. Jonathan Welton does a great job bringing this and more out in his latest illustration:

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.