New Testament Israel - Christ Redeems His Fellow Israelites (Part 3) - Christians for Truth
Here we will conclude with the third part of Sheldon Emry’s essay New Testament Israel. In the two previous installments in this series, Emry firmly established that Jesus Christ, the promised messiah of Israel, came only for Israelites both in Judea and dispersed among the nations — fulfilling the promises that God the Father made to His Israelite people.
Let’s go on in the New Testament to see how it tells us rather plainly that it was the descendants of Abraham — the Israelites — who would become Christians in this age.
In John 8:39, Jesus said to the Jewish Pharisees,
“If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”
All church-goers should know what Abraham’s works were — Faith. Abraham believed God and that it was counted unto him for righteousness is both the Old Testament and a New Testament doctrine. Abraham’s children would be children of the faith. In John 10, Jesus said,
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14)
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish. neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27)
Only Israel is called “God’s sheep” in the Old Testament — and since Jesus came to do the will of the Father, it would follow that the sheep here must be Israel. This makes sense with what follows,
“My Father, which gave them me. is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)
So these sheep were in the Father’s hand — they were then given into Jesus’ hand — and no man can take them away from either Jesus or the Father. Now, the people we know as Jews are NOT in Jesus’ hand — they are not Christians — they have not followed this Good Shepherd, and yet Jesus said the sheep the Father had were given to Him and they would follow Him.
That must mean the Jews were not the sheep — and that the present Christian people are those sheep. Those peoples that God had as His sheep prior to Christ and gave to Christ — otherwise this too has failed — and Jesus was wrong.
The book of Acts is a study in itself of this question as to which people became Christians. We know the disciples were Israelites — and it is certain that most — if not all — of Jesus’ followers referred to in the Gospels were Israelites. And in the beginning of the book of Acts, on the day of Pentecost, we hear Peter address that crowd in this manner, calling them:
“Ye men of Israel…” (Acts 2:22)
And then we read:
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41)
Before they were baptized — and after Peter called them Israelites — he told them,
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you. and to your Children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
In effect, he said to these Israelites: ‘Become Christians — for the promise is unto you and to your children.’ This indicates the promise was racial — it was to that generation of Israelites, and to the generations of Israelites that followed — [their posterity]. Then we read of three thousand of these Israelites becoming Christians — and in later passages in the book of Acts we read of thousands more becoming Christians.
In Acts 3:12 Peter again calls his listeners, “Ye men of Israel” and then says to them,
“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers….Jesus, was sent to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his Iniquities.” (Acts 3:25, 26)
They believed, they repented, and they became Christians. As we read on in the book of Acts, more Israelites are converted — five thousand are numbered. And other groups are not numbered, so the total would be much more.
That was nineteen hundred years ago. Just the present day descendants of these few thousand Christian Israelites here — not counting the Christian Israelites in Rome, Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, and so on — would number in the millions today.
Are we to believe that these descendants all left the Christian faith and joined the religion of Judaism — and that today none of the progeny of these Israelites are still Christian? That is nonsense. It is obviously much more probable that they ARE Christians — and that they just do not know — [prophesied in Psalms 83:4] — that they are descended from these ancient Israelite Christians since they have gone under the name Christians — prophesied in Isaiah 65:15 — for so many centuries in Europe and America.
In Acts 6:7 we find that conversions of the Israelites to the Christian faith was so great that
“…a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith, And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
How many of us miss these passages and believe the ministers when they tell us, ‘Oh the Israelite priests and the Israelite people in Jerusalem and in Judea just didn’t accept Jesus and they turned away — and they are still not Christians today.’ That is NOT true. Israelites were converted in great numbers in those first years, according to the book of Acts — and even men of the priesthood.
You should read all of the book of Acts with this in mind — in several places it is recorded that entire cities came to hear the stories of Jesus, and most — if not all — of them were converted and became Christians.
By the time of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 70AD, most of the people of Judea and Samaria were divided into two religions — Christianity and what was known as Phariseeism, [which became codified as Judaism circa 200AD].
Some of us are convinced by history and by Bible prophecy that all of the Israelites became Christian — and that it was only racial non-Israelites who retained the religion of Phariseeism. Persecution of the Israelite Christians by the non-Israelite followers of Phariseeism was then responsible for driving out of the Israelites from Judea and Samaria in the years between 35 AD and 70 AD.
As the Christians left Palestine, they took the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. We read of this as early as chapter 8 of Acts:
“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)
They scattered over the eastern end of the Mediterranean, into Greece, into Rome and other areas — that is why Paul and the other apostles could travel and find Christian communities wherever they went and those communities were Israelites — not necessarily ‘gentile’ as we call so many Christians today.
Paul went to the nations of Israel, who had been dispersed by the Assyrians in the centuries before Christ — and at the same time, the converted Israelites from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were being driven out, so they also helped spread the gospel of Jesus Christ rapidly into the Mediterranean area of Europe.
We can verify that these Christian groups were Israelites by reading the epistles in the New Testament to see to whom they are addressed. The best known one of these, of course, is James, which begins:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” (James 1:1)
In Romans 1:6 Paul calls them “the called of Jesus Christ” — and in verse 7 he calls them “Saints” — and in Romans 7:1 he identifies them as Israelites when he writes,
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the Iaw)”
Now, who of all the people of the earth would know the Law?
“He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalm 147:19, 20)
Only Israelites — no others had the law. This and other passages verify that the Roman Christians were Israelites. (see also Romans 9)
[CFT Note: Certainly not all Romans were racial Israelites, but many were — as Paul himself is an example.]
Now turn to 1 Corinthians 10 — in the first chapters, Paul addresses the Corinthians as “believers” — then we read,
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea”
He is referring to the Red Sea and the cloud of Glory with which God overshadowed Israel as they came out of Egypt. So he is writing to believers at Corinth — that is in Greece — and he says THEIR fathers passed through the Red Sea — so that must mean that the believers at Corinth had to be Israelites.
Turn to Galatians. This is a little more confusing partly because of the use of the word “gentiles” — from the Greek ‘ethnos’ [Strong’s #1484] — where it actually means ‘nations’ — [not “non-Jews”] — but we still have in that letter evidence that the Galatian Christians were racial Israelites.
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:5)
Who was under the law? Only Israel, of course. And who, therefore, was “redeemed” [from lutrósis, Strong’s #3085]? Israelites. To receive what? The adoption or “placing” [from huiothesia, Strong’s #5206] of sons as Israelites — so the Galatian Christians were indeed Israelites by race.
The next letter Ephesians is full of symbolic phrases which identify its subjects as Israelites. In chapter 1 they are called “predestinated” — “chosen” — the “purchased possession” and so on. Then speaking of Christ, Paul says to them,
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)
The presence of the law identifies them as Israelites — for in 1 John 3:4 we read that “…sin is transgression of the law.” And Romans 4:15 tells us, “…for where no law is. there is no transgression.” In order to be “transgressors” these Ephesians had to have had the Law at one time in the first place.
Again, only Israel had the law. In Chapter 2 we are told that the Ephesians were “reconciled” [Strong’s #2644] to the household of God by the blood of Christ. Paul would not apply the term “reconciled” to anyone who had not once been a part of the group — and then had been alienated — and now bought back again or “reconciled.” Remember that at other times we’ve seen how Israel became God’s wife at Mount Sinai — then because of her adultery and worshiping other gods, she was divorced and cast off.
Now, Jesus — through his shed blood — has effected a reconciliation between God and His divorced wife Israel. Thus, only Israel can be “reconciled.” We do not use the term “reconcile” to describe a first time marriage between two parties. The term is used only to describe a re-uniting only after a separation.
Throughout the New Testament, therefore, whenever the term “reconciled” or “reconciliation” is used, it can refer only to divorced and cast off Israel being brought back through the Christian faith. In addition, there is no prophecy that Christ in this age would convert a people or a nation of non-Israelites. But instead that He would convert the Israelites — and that is what was happening as the book of Acts and these letters testify.
The letters to the Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy and so on do not have clear cut passages which can be pointed to and say, “See, these are Israelites.” But they follow the same pattern as the others in using the names for Israel such as “saints” — “brethren” — “sons of God” — “the elect” — “peculiar people” — and so on. The letter to the Hebrews — by its title and contents — is clearly addressed only to Israelites.
As cited previously, then follows James:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” (James 1:1)
James not only identifies them as Israelites, but also as “scattered” or dispersed tribes. That James’ letter was written years before the dispersion of the so-called “Jews” in 70AD [after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem] is also proof that the “scattering” or dispersion of Israel had taken place prior to the dispersion of just the apostate Jews.
These examples should be enough for now to demonstrate that the New Testament is written to and about Israelites. You can see from what little we have covered here that the New Testament is a record of the conversion to Christianity of most of the Israelites who heard the Gospel (John 1:12) — then of their diligence in carrying that gospel on to other Israelites who were then converted (Matthew 28:19).
Within a few decades of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ most of the Israelites in the eastern end of the Mediterranean had become Christians and were no longer called “Israelites” ( or “Jews” or Judeans). That process continued [as Christianity spread throughout Europe.]
However, most ministers today will nevertheless try and tell us that all of the world’s Israelites are followers of a religion called “Judaism” — and that they number only a few millions of people. In order for that doctrine to be true that would mean that in the centuries since the book of Acts and the New Testament were written, all of these Christian Israelites would have had to abandon Christianity — and denounce Jesus Christ — turn back to the religion of Phariseeism — and resist almost to a man re-conversion back to Christianity.
In that case, their quick and seemingly almost spontaneous acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first century hardly makes any sense — either from a rational or from a prophetic standpoint.
No, the only thing that makes sense is that these Israelites did become Christian — and they now number in the tens and hundreds of millions in Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand — [wherever white Europeans have dispersed]. And while millions have not been diligent in their obedience to the Christian gospel, still they have largely not turned to “religions” such as Judaism which are in direct opposition to Jesus Christ.