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Jews and Gentiles

Did the New Covenant replace the Old one? 

Why would people need to believe that the Church has replaced the Jews? Because the alternative, for some, is not acceptable. It would imply a future for the Jewish people in the 'Promised Land', according to the plans of God.

If Jesus had intended to be radical enough to cancel an 'eternal' covenant, he certainly wouldn't have been silent about it. It would have been a key teaching, expounded in a clear and unambiguous way. There would have been no doubt where he stood on the matter. 'Verily, listen to me', he would have said, 'I have come to tell you that the covenant God made with Abraham has now been fulfilled. He who follows me shall inherit the land ...' But he said nothing of the sort, neither did he allude to it, hint at it, or imply it! 

Although Jesus wasn't too forthcoming, Paul was. In his letter to the Romans he said: 'Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises' (Romans 9:4). Who was he writing about? The Jews. And which covenants was he writing about? God's covenants with the Jews, of course. As far as Paul was concerned, the covenants were still valid, as were, at the time of Paul's writing, all the other items listed.

It is worth having a quick view of some New Testament Scriptures that the alternative views of 'Mr. Shoots' would use to back up his views.

He would look at Matthew 21:33-46, the Parable of the Tenants and quote verse 43: 'Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit'. He would conclude that this shows Jesus rejecting the Jews as a 'chosen people'. If we carry on reading, to verse 45, we see that Jesus is not talking about the Jews as a people, he is speaking directly to the Jewish leadership, the chief priests and the Pharisees. In fact, this parable, as with others, speaks to all in positions of authority, reminding them of their responsibilities and the outcome of disobedience. It could equally well speak to us, if we are in positions of leadership.

He would look at Galatians 3:26-29: 'You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.'

He would point to this and say that surely there is no difference between Jew and Gentile any more. That's true, as far as personal salvation is concerned, through the New Covenant of Jesus the Messiah. When it comes to this issue it is true that there are no differences between Jew and Greek - both equally need Jesus as Messiah. Jews have no fast-track to heaven! The context of this verse, in fact the whole book, is that non-Jews as well as Jews can also be saved and that the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant are for all to enjoy. If you take this verse as meaning that there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Greek, then you must equally say the same about men and women, or slave and free.

He would look at Hebrews 8:1-6:'"The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.' But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises."  

All this does is speak of the superiority of the New Covenant of Jesus over the Old Covenant with Moses. It is not concerned with the Older Covenant with Abraham and so these verses are totally irrelevant to our discussion.

He would not spend too much time on Romans 9-11, which explains exactly what God thinks of the Jewish people in the light of the New Covenant with Jesus. Read it for yourself and spend some time in a reliable commentary on these verses. Whole books have been written on these three chapters and it is unlikely that Mr. Shoots would have paid them too much attention. More on these chapters a little later.

Steve Maltz
February 2014

(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation

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