Is a Jewish believer different from a Gentile believer?
A Jewish believer is not positionally different than a Gentile believer. However, due to ethnic and cultural differences, Jews also enjoys the blessings bestowed to the nation of Israel by God.
The Same Gospel
First, both Jew and Gentile are saved by the same gospel. John 3:3 states that a person must be born again. In his discussion with Nicodemus Jesus also states that whoever believes in him will have eternal life (3:16). The “whoever” is inclusive of both Jews and Gentiles who place their faith in Yeshua. In addition, John 1:12 states that all who receive Christ and believe in his name become the children of God. Therefore, the invitation is clear: The gospel is not limited to just Jews alone.
Before his ascension to the right hand of the Father, Jesus told his Jewish talmidim to take the gospel to “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). Jews were to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Furthermore, Paul states that he is not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom 1:16 NIV). Thus, Jew and Gentile are saved by the same gospel.
The Same Spiritual Position
In addition to the same gospel, both Jewish and Gentile believers enjoy the same spiritual position as members of the family of God. Romans 11:17 states that the natural branches (unbelieving Jews) were broken off and the wild olive tree branches (Gentiles) were grafted into the olive tree. Along with the remnant (believing Jews), these Gentiles enjoy the blessings of the new covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31-37 (see Lesson 1). Both Jews and Gentiles abide in the vine (John 15:1-8) and in doing so receive their spiritual nourishment and the blessings associated with being a part of Abraham’s seed (Gen 12:1-3). It is important to mention that to prevent from being “cut off”, Gentiles must place their faith in Christ (Rom 11:21-23).
Galatians 3:26-29 also affirms this truth. This passage affirms that all believers are spiritually equal before God. A Believing Jew is not superior to a converted pagan. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; 1 Pet 1:17, etc.). It is important for the Messianic Jewish Movement to recognize that the biblical calling and purpose of Messianic Judaism is to preach the gospel “to the Jew first, and also the Greek” (Rom 1:16).
Ethnically and Culturally Different
While Galatians 3:26-29 mentions that Jew and Gentile are one in Messiah, this verse is not obliterating the differences between these groups of people. By examining the context of the passage, we can conclude that it does not state the literal elimination of these groups. There are still males and females living today. People are born either Jew or Gentile. There are saved people who are slaves today and there are people who are not under the bondage of slavery.
The purpose of this passage is two fold. First, even though these categories will continue through the messianic kingdom, positionally every person is the same in Messiah. A person is either saved or not. Deuteronomy 7:6 and 14:1-2 insist on a clear distinction between Jew and Gentile. As far as public life is concerned, God established the Mosaic Law that was specific for a Jew and not a Gentile (i.e. dietary laws, sacrificial system, etc.). Furthermore, Romans 2:23-29 mentions that a true Jew is not someone who is only a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also received the circumcision of the heart. A circumcised heart follows a changed heart. This occurs when a person becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Furthermore, Paul clarifies that being circumcised does not bring a person closer to God since he/she is a new creature (Gal 6:15).
Also, Ephesians 2:11-13 states that there are physical distinctions between Jew and Gentiles. Verse 11 discusses two groups of people: circumcised and uncircumcised. The Ephesians were Gentiles by birth. This passage also discusses the fact that the Gentiles do not have a part in the Abrahamic promise apart from salvation in Messiah. Furthermore, Gentiles are separated from the citizenship of Israel.
However, because of the blood of Christ the believing Gentiles have been “brought near” (v. 13 NIV). They now enjoy the blessings of being in union with the Messiah along with believing Jews. Christ destroyed the barrier and has made the both Jew and Gentile one in Messiah through faith in Him (v. 14 NIV).
Blessings of Israel
Another important distinction is that the Jewish believers also will enjoy the biblical promises given to Israel by God. They have a unique heritage of participating in the promises to both Israel as well as the Messianic community. For example, some Jewish believers will be princes (Isaiah 32:1; Ezekiel 45:8) ruling throughout Israel as well as judges and counselors (Isaiah 1:26) governing Jerusalem.
Another privilege that Messianic Jews will have headship over the Gentiles (Deut 15:6, 28:1, 13). In addition to ruling over the nations, the Gentiles will be the servants of Israel. They will feed the flocks and plow the fields in Israel. The Jews will receive a double portion of all blessings and possessions. As a result, the Gentiles will recognize that believing Jews have been chosen by God for these special blessings (Isa 49:22-23; 61:4-9).
Finally, the Jewish believers will become the center of Gentile attention due to the Shechinah Glory abiding over Israel (Isa 60:1-3). These Jews will be treated with respect and used by God to draw Gentiles to Him (Zech 8:23). For more information on Jews in the Messianic Kingdom, see Footsteps in the Messiah by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.
Scripture teaches that a Jewish believer is not positionally different than a Gentile believer. A Jew is one with a gentile in Messiah. However, due to ethnic and cultural differences, a Messianic Jew enjoys the biblical promises given to Israel by God. May God grant that believing Jews and Gentiles live out their oneness in Messiah for his glory.
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