“BEHOLD ISRAEL AFTER THE FLESH.” I Corinthians 10:18.
In this same chapter note I Corinthians 10:32 “GIVE NONE OFFENCE, NEITHER TO THE JEWS; NOR TO THE GENTILES, NOR TO THE CHURCH OF GOD.”
In the study, appropriation, and application of the Scriptures, in Paul’s time, the Holy Spirit expected the student to recognize the three-fold division of the human race, “the Jews”, “the Gentiles”, and “the Church of God”.
Concerning “the Church of God”, in the same Epistle, note the thirteenth verse of the twelfth chapter. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be. Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:13.
The Church of God was composed of saved Jews and saved Gentiles. Outside of the Church of God were unbelieving Jews and Gentiles.
Note in Ephesians 2:12 and 17 how the unsaved Jews and the unsaved Gentiles were divided:
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
“And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”
Here we learn that the Jews were called “the commonwealth of Israel,” “those who were nigh.” The Gentiles were called “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” “those who were afar off.”
In Ephesians 2:11 the Jews were called “the circumcision;” the Gentiles were called “the uncircumcision.”
Now carefully note Romans 3:1 and 2 and Romans 9:4 and 5.
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way, chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.“
“WHO ARE ISRAELITES; TO WHOM PERTAINETH THE ADOPTION, AND THE GLORY, AND THE COVENANTS, AND THE GIVING OF THE LAW, AND THE SERVICE OF GOD, AND THE PROMISES; WHOSE ARE THE FATHERS, AND OF WHOM CONCERNING THE FLESH CHRIST CAME, WHO IS OVER ALL, GOD BLESSED FOR EVER. AMEN.”
With these statements in Romans, let us read the words of Jesus Christ, in John 4:22 – “We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”
One of the first lessons we must learn, if we would be intelligent, spiritual students of the Bible, is the place of Israel in the Scriptures, and in God’s purposes and programs.
Holy men were borne along by the Holy Spirit to give us the Holy Scriptures. II Peter 1:19 and 20.
“All Scripture is God-breathed.” II Timothy 3:16.
The Holy Spirit used Moses, an Israelite, to write the first five Books of the Bible. The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus used John, an Israelite, to write the last Book of the Bible. John too wrote five Books.
The Lord Jesus Christ is called “The Lion of the tribe of Judah,” “the Root of David.” Revelation 5:5. He took His place as Jesus of Nazareth, under the law, as a worshipping Jew. John 4:22. Galatians 4:4. He was saluted as “the King of Israel.” John 1:49.
Above His cross these words were written, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” John 19:19.
When Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, note Peter’s message to the Jews—“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” “To be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel.”
Paul called himself a Jew. Acts 21:39. Paul called Peter, “a Jew.” Galatians 2:14. Paul called himself, “an Israelite, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Romans 11:1. Philippians 3:5. Paul was a Jew by religion. Galatians 1:14.
Jesus of Nazareth came from Judah. He was a Jew in the double meaning of the word, “a Judahite,” and a Jew in His religion. Generally when the word “Jew” is found in the Scriptures it refers to the Israelites religiously. In that sense, descendants of all the twelve sons of Jacob were Jews.
It is interesting to note the first occurrences of the word “Israel” in the Bible, and the first occurrences of the word “Jew” in the Bible.
“And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” “Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day; because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.” Genesis 32:28 and 32.
“Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.” Esther 2:5.
“At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.” II Kings 16:6.
The word “Israel” is found more than 1400 times in the Bible before the word “Jew” is first used. The word “Israel” is found about 2600 times in the Bible. It is interesting to note that the word “Christian” is not found once in the Gospel of John which Christians love so much. But in that Book, “Jews” is found 70 times. In the Book of Acts “Jew” is found 79 times.
Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” about 1740 B.C. This was about 2260 years after Adam left the Garden of Eden, about 610 years after Noah left the ark, about 250 years before Moses was on the mountain receiving the Old Testament.
We quote Exodus 1:5 and 6—“And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. “
Let us get clearly fixed in our minds and hearts that there were no Jews or Israelites on this earth until after Jacob’s sons were born.
In other words, there were no Jews or Israelites on this earth during the first 2200 years of human history.
Jacob was Isaac’s son. Isaac was Abraham’s son. Abram was Terah’s son. Terah was not an Israelite. He was not a Jew. He was a descendant of Shem and Eber; but he was an idolater. Note Shem was born before the flood and lived 600 years on the earth. Genesis 5:32 and Genesis 11:10 and 11. He lived through several generations and was a contemporary of Abraham, although Abraham was Shem’s great-great-great-great-great-great grandson. Genesis 11:10 to 31. Eber lived on this earth 464 years. Genesis 11:17.
Abram was called by God and declared righteous in uncircumcision. Romans 4:8 to 13— Genesis 12:1 to 3. Abram was circumcised and named “Abraham” 24 years after he was called to leave his father and follow God. Genesis 12:4 and 17:1. Abram was circumcised at the time his name was changed to Abraham. Genesis 17:24.
Abraham was declared righteous in uncircumcision 430 years before God entered into the Old Covenant with the children of Abraham, the nation Israel. Exodus 20 and Galatians 3:16 to 19.
The Old Covenant was added. Galatians 3:19. It was added 2500 years after Adam left the Garden of Eden, about 857 years after Noah left the Ark, about 430 years after Abram left his father’s home.
Jehovah and the children of Israel entered into that mutual contract at Sinai some years after the last one of Jacob’s (Israel’s) twelve sons had died.
As there was no Israel until after Jacob’s sons were born, there was no Old Covenant until Moses was on Mount Sinai, about 1495 B.C. Therefore there is not one line concerning the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:7 to 13) in the Book of Genesis. One of the first blunders generally made in the study of the Bible is calling Genesis, “the Old Testament Scriptures”, and Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Levi, Joseph, and their brethren Old Testament characters.
Let us get fixed in our minds when Israel entered God’s program, and then when the Old Testament entered that program. When the Old Testament entered at Sinai it was not “old”; it was decidedly “new”. It became “old” by Christ’s death on the cross. II Corinthians 3:12 to 16p – Hebrews 8:13. When the law was added at Sinai, note what was added with it. Religion, “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” Hebrews 9:10.
This is religion. It became the religion of all of the twelve tribes of Israel. And all Israelites were called “Jews,” and their religion was called “Judaism.”
In the first chapter of Romans we are told how and why God gave up the Gentiles. In the eleventh chapter of Romans we are told how and why God gave up Israel. In the thirteenth chapter of Acts and the eleventh chapter of Romans we are told when and why God took up the Gentiles when He gave up Israel.
Then in the eleventh chapter of Romans, and in other Scriptures, we are told that God is going to again give up the Gentiles and take up the Jews.
Note Romans 1:24—“God gave them up”. Romans 1:26 and 28—”God gave them up.” What became of the children of Adam and of Noah? Read what happened before the flood.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5.
“And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” Genesis 7:23.
Then later on note Genesis 11:9—“Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
Note that God cut off the children of Adam and began a new movement in Abram, the Hebrew. Genesis 14:13. Note what became of the Gentiles—“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Ephesians 4:18. Alienated from the life of God.
A Gentile could become a Jew under the economy of law. Note Esther 8:17—“And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.”
Here we learn that alienated Gentiles could become “Jews”, that is, they could accept the benefits of the Lord’s covenants with Israel, and become proselytes.
One of the important covenants Stephen mentioned, in Acts 7:8. “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.” Compare this with Genesis 17:14—
“And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.”
Note why the Christian Jews condemned Peter for preaching to Cornelius, the Gentile. “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” Acts 11:3.
The circumcised Gentiles who accepted Israel’s God-given covenants and religious programs were called “proselytes.” Acts 2:10. So we may be sure that any Gentile who may have been saved while Jesus of Nazareth was here on earth, became a Jew by religion, a proselyte, and not a member of the Body of Christ saved by grace without religion.
In studying the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us keep in mind:
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Romans 15:8.
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Galatians 4:4.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” Acts 2:22.
“But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24.
“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:9 and 10.
“Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews. beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” Luke 7:1 to 5.
This is all very clear concerning the scope of the Lord’s ministry on earth, to Israel after the flesh. The only Gentile man to whom He ministered, according to the Records, loved Israel and built them a synagogue. He also ministered to a Gentile woman. Matthew 15:21 to 27. Christ was ministering to all who were protected and preserved by the covenant of circumcision.
But later on something happened. Note Paul’s words: – “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.” Galatians 2:7.
“That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:16.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Romans 11:13 and 15.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8.
Yes something happened. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, LO: WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.” Acts 13:46.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid. But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Romans 11:11. “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief.” Romans 11:30.
Therefore, the message of Romans 10:12 – Ephesians 2:17.
“FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GREEK; FOR THE SAME LORD OVER ALL IS RICH UNTO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM.” “AND CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHICH WERE AFAR OFF, AND TO THEM THAT WERE NIGH.”
When the Gentiles were cast away justification by faith was preached to Abram, and the children of Israel were established in God’s program for the human race. When Israel was cast away justification by faith was preached to Gentiles, and then the reign of grace, without Israel’s law or religion, was ushered in. Israel will have a glorious future.
“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.” Jeremiah 31:35 and 36.
“For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Hebrews 8:8.
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.” Hebrews 8:11. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Romans 11:25 and 26.
And the Gentiles have a Divine warning. “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” Romans 11:21.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” II Timothy 2:19.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.