Galatians 3:7 “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” (NIV)
Biblical Terms used to define a people:
- Body of Christ
- Israel of God (Gal 6:16)
- Heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22 & Gal 4:26)
- Household of Faith, family of God, family of believers etc. (Galatians 6:10 & Eph 3:14-15)
Justification and righteousness was always by faith even from the beginning and through the Old Testament (OT) and the Old Covenant (OC). A good example of this is Abraham who was declared righteous by faith, Rahab and Ruth who were grafted into the commonwealth of Israel because they believed.
Rom 4:3 “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’” (Also Gal 3:6)
Listen to what Rahab said to the spies. Joshua 2:8-11 “Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath…”
Now listen what was said about Rahab. Hebrews 11:31 “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
Romans 3:20 says no-one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law. Not before, not now or ever.
NOTE: The Israelites were born naturally as God’s people, the nation through whom God chose to make Himself known and through whom His son Jesus would come. That however, did not make them all God’s spiritual people i.e. those who would be saved, who would inherit all things and live eternally with Him. The same is true today for those who may be religious Christians but are not born again by the Spirit of God. Being a ‘Christian’ does not mean we are saved, for salvation is by faith from the beginning to the end. All must be saved by faith in Christ, irrespective of our nationality or religious identity.
Abraham had two sons and similarly, God has two peoples.
Natural Israel were the people through whom God chose to make Himself known to the world under the OC. Israel was chosen for the very same reason Pharaoh was hardened. “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’” (Romans 9:17)
Galatians 3:26 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Question: What is the difference between Jew and Gentile as pertaining salvation?
Answer: THERE IS NONE. There was never any before and there will be none in the future. The following scriptures proves this to be true. Romans 10:12 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Galatians 3:26&28 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. … 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
Before Christ there was a separation where the Jews were God’s people and the Gentiles not but even this was nothing more than a foreshadow of what was to come. Israel was saved from Egypt by the blood of the lamb, they were baptised in the Red Sea and in the cloud, they were led, protected and provided for through the wilderness. They received the word of God and the promises of God. On the other hand the Gentiles were a heathen people who were the enemy of God and His people the Jews. In those days God destroyed the Gentiles and drove them out the land ahead of Israel but since Christ this has all changed. The separation now is between those who have been born of the Spirit through faith in Jesus and those who were not. The wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been torn down and now we are one in Christ opposed and persecuted by those who are not in Christ be them Jew or Gentile.
Question: So what is the name of this united people?
This one man whom Christ has brought together through His blood is called Israel (or Spiritual Israel for clarity) We are, “…a holy nation, His own special people… who once were not a people but are now the people of God…” 1 Peter 2:9-10 God’s children does not include unbelieving Jews. It is however, the believing Jews along with believing Gentiles that the term ‘God’s children’ apply to.
Question: So aren’t the Jews the true descendants of Abraham?
Answer: The Jews are the physical descendants of Abraham but the promises were not to those who were only physical descendants but to those who were spiritual descendants, those who are of faith.
Romans 9:6 – 8 “For they are not all Israel who are of [natural] Israel,7 nor are they all children because they are the [natural] seed of Abraham;…8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God;…” They are of the same nationality as Jesus but are not all God’s children.
Galatians 3:16 & 29“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” …29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed,..”
Galatians 3:7 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
We who believe, Jew or Gentile, are the true children of God and of Abraham but the unbelieving are not, even if they were born Jewish.
Romans 2:28-29 “I have come to the conclusion that a true Jew is not the man who is merely a Jew outwardly, and a real circumcision is not just a matter of the body. The true Jew is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision is not just an outward physical affair but is a God-made sign upon the heart and soul, and results in a life lived not for the approval of man, but for the approval of God.” (Phillips)
A believing Gentile with a circumcised heart is more Jewish (a descendant of Abraham) than a natural Jew with an uncircumcised heart. In fact, the truth is that an unbelieving, uncircumcised at heart naturally born Jew is not a true child of Abraham but could actually be a child of the devil. Jesus addressing some Jews who fit this description said this “Ye are of your father the devil…” (John 8:44)
The slave woman Hagar represents the law and her son Ishmael represents those who are under the law. So a Jew who is in bondage to the law is an Ishmaelite but the Jew who believes in the promised son Jesus is and Israelite. See Galatians 4:21-31
Abraham had two sons, one through natural means, the other by God’s power and promise. Similarly God has two peoples, one born as natural descendants of Abraham, the other by God’s power of salvation through Jesus Christ who was the promised seed of Abraham. They are children of Abraham through faith.
Article written by: H. Slack