Dear Arno Froese,
The early fathers of the Church agree that God did not cast away his people. In that passage in Romans 11, St. Paul commented that the breaking away for some Israelites indirectly led to the Gentile’s salvation, and this would cause their own return. St. John Chrysostom commented on this passage: “But they will not perish forever. For God has concluded them all in unbelief…that He may save the one by the captiousness of the other, these by those and those by these.”
You made an interesting comment, pointing to verses 25-26: “‘blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.’ Any church or denomination, regardless of name, claiming to be Israel, is therefore still ‘blind.’”
St. Paul talks about Israel in two senses, when he writes: “he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter” (Romans 2:29). Perhaps in Romans 11 when St. Paul talks about the part of Israel being blind, he is referring to those Jews that have the outward circumcision of the letter? Perhaps this inward, spiritual Jew is what early non-Jewish Christians like Justin Martyr meant when they referred to themselves as Israel.
-H. Smith, PA
Romans 2 reveals the fact that a Jew is not automatically a believer. A Jew who knows the Law and does not keep it, dishonors God. A Jew cannot boast that he is a Jew and therefore has preeminence. Yet, that was the case during those early days of the church; a Jewish believer in Jesus was greatly esteemed. The Gentiles had nothing, were without promises and without hope in the world. For this reason, Paul specifically emphasizes that the real Jew is the one believing in Jesus who has been renewed by the Spirit of God.
Does that change his position as a Jew? Not at all, because Galatians 3:28 reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” A Jew does not cease to be a Jew, neither does a Gentile cease to be a Gentile, just as a male remains a male and a female a female after being born again.
Note also that the existence of Israel is guaranteed based on the existence of the universe, as documented in Jeremiah 31:35-36.
Midnight Call - 12/2013 Letters to the Editor
by Arno Froese
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