An Offense: Jews Condemned and Gentiles Saved
The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to the Jew (1 Cor 1:23). The reason for this offense is the message. It is an insult to a Jew, to call him a sinner. His presupposition is that the Bible tells him, he is one of God’s chosen people (Dt 7:6). For what were the Jewish people chosen?
First, the Jews were chosen to be a type. The Israelites of the Old Testament prefigured Christ and His church. “I will be their God, and they will be My people,” is the covenant signature (Jer 24:7; 31:33). The covenanted people would glorify God and enjoy their unique relationship with Yahweh.
History demonstrates how this relationship was estranged by the sins and rebellion of the Israelites. They proved to be sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2), just as the Gentiles (Rom 2). This fact, however, eluded their understanding. Deluded by their mistaken identity, their behavior often betrayed them. In short, they obviously fell short of obedience to God’s Law, despite all of the advantages God had given them. For this they would be judged.
Second, the Israelites were chosen to be an example…a bad example (Rom 2; 1 Cor 10). God called them obstinate and stiff-necked (Ex 32:9; 2 Kgs 17:14). He equated them with a prostitute (Gomer), indicating they were gross idolaters, whom God judged (ie. wilderness wandering, temple destructions, exile, diaspora, etc.). God had clearly judged the Jews for their unbelief, demonstrated in their abhorrent behavior. Ethnic Israel was not the Israel one would expect…if they were truly God’s people.
When Paul wrote to the Romans, he exposed the Jews, for being just as depraved as the Gentiles (Rom 2). They had all the benefits. They had the Law of God. They had the covenant. They had the priesthood. They had the prophets. They had the Temple. They were given land, and they prospered under God’s blessing, when they were obedient. This was for the sake of the patriarchs, who walked with God in their own generation.
When the Jews heard the apostle Paul, an esteemed Jew himself, they were enraged at his suggestion that they were all condemned, and in desperate need for a Savior. This was yet another reason for their ire.
The Gospel Paul preached included the Gentiles (non-Jews). This was an abomination for his Jewish hearers; for not only did they believe they were saved, by the mere fact of their biological bloodlines, they also believed that absolutely no one else could be saved unless they converted to Judaism.
The unfolding drama of the Gentile inclusion, into the church, is a major theme in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, etc.). It appears prominently in the Paul’s epistles, too. Salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), and it extends to God’s elect from every nation (Rev 5:9).
It is a deviant misnomer to call Reformed theology, “Replacement theology,” as if the message is, “the church is replacing Israel.” God’s plan of salvation did not replace the Jews with Gentiles. The shift from the Old Testament to the New Testament is a revelation advancement. There is also a fulfillment that causes some obvious changes. The catalyst for this change is the first advent of Jesus Christ. He is the antitype for all the types of the Old Testament that prefigured His arrival, as Messiah.
As the true Israel (Is 49:3), Jesus Christ was everything ethnic Israel failed to be. His perfection condemned the Jews, even as He exposed them for being impostors, save for a remnant. These true Israelites believed in Jesus, as Messiah and Lord, and their faith in Him was counted to them as righteousness (Rom 4:5, 9). The rest hated Jesus (Jn 7:7; 15:18–19, 24–25); and Jews, today, still do…for the exact same reason.
As for the believing Gentiles, who rejoice at the Word of their salvation (Acts 13:48), it provokes the Jews (Rom 11:11). The Korean, Kenyan, or Christian from Kiev knows their Bible, and the God of Israel, far better than their jealous detractors.
The condemnation of the Jews (Rom 2), along with the condemnation of the Gentiles (Rom 1:18–32), reminds us that all sinners share the same disposition from God (Jn 3:18; Rom 3:23). The elect, both Jew and Gentile, are humbled by the fact of their inclusion into the church of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28), the Israel of God (Is 49:1–6; Gal 6:16). Together, these redeemed, regenerated saints are the true Israel of God (Is 49:1–7; Rom 9:6), the body of Christ (Rom 12:5), a people of God’s own possession (1 Pet 2:9), who are not ashamed (Rom 1:16), nor are they offended by the Gospel of God, for it is good news sent to them from the God of Israel, their Savior.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 19, 2021