To the Church at Rome

The Apostle Paul had much to say to the gentiles about their relationship with the Jewish people, even warning them to not boast or become arrogant against them. Paul made these critical points in his message to the church at Rome, specifically Chapters nine through eleven. I have paraphrased and emphasized these below, and I believe scripture speaks plainly for itself:

Romans 9:3-5

All the promises of God belong to Israel, including the adoption as sons of God, the manifest glory of God (Shechinah), all the covenants, including the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, Aaronic, etc., the giving of the law of Moses and its foundation for Christianity, the priestly and kingly service of God, and the promise of resurrection and eternal life in Christ Jesus. All these were promised to the Jewish people through Christ, who Paul referred to as his countrymen according to the flesh and Israelites.

Romans 9:6-8

Not all children of Abraham are truly Israel, nor are they all children of God just because of their natural lineage. Only those born again of the Spirit of God are considered the children of God and the children of the promise in Christ.

Romans 9:30-32

The gentiles who were not part of the covenants made with Israel are now part of the covenants and have attained the righteousness of God and the righteousness of faith in Christ. However, much of Israel, to whom belonged all the promises, pursued their own righteousness by trying to fulfill the law out of their own human effort, and have not attained to the righteousness of God because they did not seek it by faith, but rather by the carnal works of the law.

Romans 10:3-4

And they, unsaved Israel, remain ignorant of God’s righteousness which was His sacrifice on the cross, and have sought to establish their own righteousness through the through their own human efforts under the law, and have not submitted to the righteousness of God which is their acceptance by faith that Christ died on the cross for their sins.

Romans 10:12-13

Therefore, God makes no distinction (in terms of our salvation) between Jew and gentile, for God is the same Lord and Savior over all who call upon Him.

Romans 11:11-12

Therefore, has Israel stumbled that they should permanently fall? Absolutely not! But rather through their stumbling, God has given to the gentiles the message of salvation and the calling and responsibility to share the gospel with the whole earth, especially the Jewish people to provoke them to jealousy. And if Israel’s stumbling means spiritual riches for the gentiles, how much more will their salvation usher in the return of Christ and the Messianic Kingdom?

Romans 11:17-21

And, if some of the Jewish people were cut way from Israel, and the gentiles (being called a wild olive tree) were grafted in amongst Israel contrary to nature, and with Israel are able to now share in the spiritual riches of the foundation of Israel, including sharing in all their covenant promises, blessings and inheritances, do not think of yourself more highly then them or speak prideful words against them, but remember that you do not support the root but the root (the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) support you. Because of their unbelief, they were broken off. However, you need to humbly stand in your simple faith and do not be proud, but fear God. For, if God did not spare the Jewish people, He may not spare you either.

Romans 11:25-29

Therefore, I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own human intellect, that temporary blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness (full number) of the Gentiles has come into the kingdom of God. And so, all the natural remnant of Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer, who is Christ, will come out of Zion (the place of His holy habitation, which is the church), And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My eternal and unbreakable covenant with them, When I take away their sins. Concerning the gospel, they, Israel are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election (Israel’s unique chosen status) they are beloved for the sake of the fathers (the Patriarchs). For the gifts of the Spirit and the calling of God to be carriers of the oracles of God and the Gospel message of salvation to the ends of the earth, and to be a blessing to every nation and fill the whole earth with the fruit of the Spirit, are irrevocable.

 

Even in this substantially condensed portion of Romans there is a considerable amount of information that Paul shares with the church at Rome, and its content is clear—the children of Israel are the rightful heirs to all of God’s covenant blessings and promises, not by any works of the flesh or their own fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, but only through their faith in Christ Yeshua. God’s promises to Israel are irrevocable, meaning they are still in effect to this day and remain in effect for eternity. However, because of Israel’s rejection of both her Messiah and her calling to bring God’s message of salvation to the nations, the Lord has turned (for a season) to the gentiles. He has given them the mantle and responsibility for completing the great commission, not to the exclusion of Israel, but fully to their inclusion; specifically, God’s remnant of Jewish believers, that we together as one new man in Christ would labor to provoke Israel to jealousy.

This provocation would not only result in bringing the full number of gentiles into the Kingdom of God, but would also bring resurrection life to the church and the earth itself, thereby ushering in the return of the Lord and the fulfillment of the Millennial kingdom, as it is written: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Yeshua told His disciples that He could do nothing of Himself, but whatever He saw His Father doing, He did in like manner.[i] Our heavenly Father therefore did not have to give verbal instructions to Yeshua, because Yeshua always responded from the deepest inner will of God Himself—His thoughts. In comparison, does our mouth need to give instruction for the hand to move? No, the hands and feet move by the will of man.

Therefore, if the church is called to be one in Christ and function as one body, then how much more should the parts of the body conform and move to the will of God without Him having to dictate what we ought to do? “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The body of Christ should move per the will of God, every part obediently and faithfully responding to His will and desires. And just so that we would have a road map for the journey, God wrote His instructions for us in the bible and gave us a deposit of the Holy Spirit to remind us of all the things Yeshua spoke.

One instruction: it is written, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). And what is the will of God? Simply, He is not willing that any should perish, and that most certainly includes the Jewish people.

I will not dive into the history of the church in regards to how the Jewish people have been treated by the nations. This has been studied exhaustively by other scholars, and the history is not good. Rather, I want to focus on where God is taking us in the future because God’s promises have yet to be fulfilled for both the church and Israel.

Paul said, “Through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:11). Question: has the church in its history ever provoked the Jewish people to jealousy? Some argue this happened in the first century. Personally, I do not see any lasting evidence of that, so I argue it has not happened. Most church theology and tradition these days point to a separation of the church at Rome from the Jewish people and its biblical foundation, even predating the formation of the Roman Catholic Church.

Paul’s writing to the church at Rome and his reference to the Christian community who lived there, was to gentiles.[ii] The word gentile literally translates as nation or family, and specifically Paul was referring to those gentiles who had now excepted Christ, hence his reference to the church at Rome.[iii] Paul was not speaking to the heathen in Rome, he was writing to our brothers and sisters in Christ. He was writing to Christians.

We can therefore conclude that in the church today there are both Jewish Christians and gentile Christians. This raises an interesting question: are the gentiles who are grafted into Israel through Christ now Jews or Jewish? No. Paul was quite clear in making a distinction between the natural branches of Abraham (the Jewish people, whom he also called Israelites and of the circumcision) and those grafted into Israel whom he called gentiles.

So, while we are now one people of God in Christ and one new man, where there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks (in terms of our salvation), there is still a natural distinction in God’s Kingdom of those who are called His firstborn.[iv] God has exclusively reserved this term for Israel, where it is written, “Israel is My son, My firstborn” (Exodus 4:22). Therefore, Paul said, “Glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 2:10).

Yes, we are all sons and daughters of God through Christ our Lord and Savior,[v] but we are also sons of Adam, for it is written, “As we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Christ]” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Why? Because God honors what He created, and while He is making all things new and making us a new creation in Christ, He is also building upon a natural foundation He established with Abraham. Therefore, Paul warned the gentiles, saying, “Do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root [the patriarchs] supports you” (Romans 11:18).

In summary, the Jewish people are called the natural branches of Abraham, and the gentiles who are in Christ are called the spiritual seed of Abraham. While the early church was comprised of mostly Jewish Christians, today the global church is comprised of mainly gentile Christians. And it is these who are called to provoke unsaved Israel to jealousy. It is hard for me to believe given the sharp division within the church surrounding Israel, but I believe God’s word will not return to Him void.[vi]

Therefore, the only thing that can and will happen as the Lord fulfills His prophetic promises to Israel is this: the nations, the gentile church will at some point in time provoke Israel to jealousy. All Israel shall be saved, and the church and Israel will become united as one people of God and one new man in Christ Yeshua. For this reason, the Book of Romans, and especially Chapters 9 through 11 are so critically important for the church to both understand and embrace.

God’s will and plans will be fulfilled. Those who walk in the Spirit will at some point experience God’s love for the Jewish people. The question is whether we will conform our will to His, or continue to hold onto a lie perpetuated by Satan that has divided the church and Israel? There is a decision to be made, and the wrong choice will lead to separation from God and ultimate destruction, hence Paul’s warning to the gentiles: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either” (Romans 11:21). On the other hand, the right choice will lead us to a fulfillment of God’s promises for both Israel and the church.

I pray the right path for your life so that we might stand together before the throne of God and sing this new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,  And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).


[i] John 5:19.
[ii] Romans 3:29.
[iii] Romans 1:7.
[iv] Romans 11:21.
[v] Galatians 3:29.
[vi] Isaiah 55:11.