Monday, May 23, 2011

Being a Jew

Romans 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

29 ἀλλ᾽ ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος, καὶ περιτομὴ καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι, οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ.

This is the end of a long argument that Paul makes about what it means to be a Jew. He uses the word τῷ κρυπτῷ to describe what it means to truly be a Jew. This word means "hidden," which certainly stands in start contrast with the sign of circumcision. His point is that one's ancestry is not the important thing here. Even the sign of circumcision is not the important thing. It is a matter of the heart.

I won't go so far as to say that God has finished with ethnic Israel. We will see more about that as we go through this book. But what is undeniable is that somehow Israel and the Church are combined right now. We will definitely see more of that as we go through Romans. If we know Christ then we are sons of Abraham. But we're not just any sons of Abraham. Ishmael was a son of Abraham too, but we see that his descendants build mosques and a few of them crash airplanes into buildings. 

We are Abraham's covenant children if we are in Christ. We will see more of this in Colossians 2 as well. Of course, this is all fascinating in its own way, but what difference does this make to us? It means that as Gentiles we should be completely cut off from the blessings of God. But as sons of Abraham we get to enjoy salvation and blessing.

I just finished going to school with some people who make a huge deal about the Jew. We should make a big deal out of them because the Bible does. We need to make sure that we realize how Christ is at the center of all of this. It is not about the nation of physical descendants of Abraham anymore, but about the spiritual descendants. Those are the true Jews. So, in a manner of speaking, I am more Jewish than Jerry Seinfeld.


Steve Martin said...

Oy vey!

Well said!

It's all about faith, not lineage, and not works.

It's all about trust in the Living God, Christ Jesus and what He has done for us.


Jason said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think that there is a balance in Romans that many miss. The Dispensational camp tends to focus too much on Israel, but the Reformed camp tends to focus too much on the grafting in of the Gentiles and forgetting the ethnic Jews. This is going to be a point of focus for me as I go through Romans this time.