Christian Judaism

E.P. Sanders famously said the problem with Judaism for contemporaries of Paul was that it was not Christianity. Sanders was a lightning rod and at the same time a lighthouse for scholars in the late 70s and 80s, and his legacy — usually called the “new perspective” (language used by Tom Wright and Jimmy Dunn) — has been that while there is a clear difference between “Judaism” and “Christianity,” that relationship in the 1st Century — and perhaps a lot longer — was not so much two kinds of religion but varieties within one religion, namely Judaism.

So the debate is often Do we call “it” Christian Judaism (a Christian form of Judaism) or Jewish Christianity? And what are the consequences of seeing Christianity — the 1st Century kind — as a kind of Judaism?

Daniel Boyarin, in his new and (for the first time for Boyarin) accessible book, The Jewish Gospels, proposes his way of understanding the relationship of Jesus-following Jews in the context of non-Jesus-following (or is that Jesus-non-following?) Jews. His book deserves a wide reading, even if I think there a chunks of chunks of issues not covered and crying out for some explanation. Boyarin is one of my favorite Jewish scholars who interprets earliest Christianity, though I have to admit that his writing is often very difficult to comprehend. His first work, The Radical Jew (about Paul) and then his  Border Lines are important contributions to understanding the original relation of the two groups — Jesus followers and those Jews who did not follow Jesus.

I make the following observations from his book:

First, for Boyarin the key or secret to comprehending earliest christology — how Jesus became a “part” of God (his word, an odd one to be sure) — is Daniel 7. Over and over he takes the reader back to Daniel 7 to explain how Jesus understood himself and his mission in his Jewish world.

Second, Boyarin belongs in a history of religions school that contends ancient Israel combined El with YHWH, and at least one main version was that El was the older god and YHWH the younger one, though eventually YHWH takes over El. This version of how God developed among Israelites finds a similar version in the relation of the Ancient of Days with the “one like a Son of Man” in Daniel 7, and he makes the thoroughly acceptable suggestion that the Son of Man is “part” of God — sometimes he says a “second God” — because the only one who rides on the clouds of heaven in the Old Testament is God. That makes Son of Man divine.

So, when Jesus uses Son of Man, he is referring to Daniel 7 (this is a major issue for many NT scholars), and if he is then “Son of Man” is a divine title while “Son of God” is a kingly, more human, Davidic title. So Boyarin is turning simplistic but quite traditional theology on its head.

Third, there is good Jewish evidence supporting this kind of christology at work in Judaism well before Jesus, so when Jesus called himself Son of Man, and with that meant divinity and messianic vocation, there was nothing offensive or non-Jewish about his claim. Boyarin points to 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra, and he’s right here — if it can be proven that these texts are pre-Jesus.

Fourth, Jesus lived an entirely kosher life. Mark 7: 19′s famous statement is not about making all foods clean — so that he was saying you can eat bacon and eggs with milk and still be kosher — but about saying that foods are not sources of purity but instead morals are. Bodily fluids make one unclean; food doesn’t. Food is kosher but this is not the same as purity. Jesus was contesting the addition to the Torah — making foods purity/impurity — by the Pharisees. (Foods are either permitted or not permitted; foods are not clean/unclean or pure/impure.)

Fifth, suffering was an element of the messianic vision in the Jewish world — and here he sketches stuff in Isaiah 53, how Jews read Isaiah 53, how messianic Jews today are keen on this connection (he says this is a bit embarrassing to some orthodox Jews), how Isa 43 was messianic for Jews … etc..

The result for Boyarin: it was the 4th Century and 5th Century that split Judaism into two religions, Christianity and Judaism. The heresiologists of those days said one had to believe one version of the Jewish vision of Jesus (Trinitarian version) or they were not Christian; and Jewish scholars then pronounced such views heresy. And we have two religions.

There are problems in his theory, not the least of which is the relationship of Jews and (non-Jewish) Christians already in the 2d Century — Justin Martyr et al — but the big vision is right: Christianity was part of Judaism and everything about Jesus was within the Jewish story.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Mark Edward

    I think a piece that is often left out of the ‘son of man’ discussions is that (within the book of Daniel) the title doesn’t represent divinity, but humanity,

    The four kingdoms are depicted as beasts because of their oppressive and destructive nature; the kingdoms are inhuman, monstrous. But the son of man, the messenger says, represents /the saints/; it is the people of Israel being depicted as true humanity. The son of man’s ascension to God’s throne is explained by the messenger to symbolize the saints’ reception of God’s favor in the judgment of the fourth kingdom; ‘the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven’ is a symbol for Israel’s vindication over its oppressors.

    Jesus definitely draws on the ‘son of man’ language from Daniel, but the Danielic background doesn’t lend to a specific messianic message, or that the son of man is or becomes divine (though there could definitely be ‘divine’ connotations invested in the title from the intertestamental material). Instead, Jesus REapplies the ‘son of man’ title from Daniel 7 upon himself because he (as the messiah) represents the whole of Israel: he is to be oppressed (through his crucifixion, and through his Church’s suffering), but God will vindicate him (and his Church) against those who oppress him.

    Although the approach I make here is quite the opposite of Boyarin, the end result is the same: Jesus calling himself the ‘son of man’ would have been a very Jewish thing to do, since he would effectively be identifying himself as the personification of the Jewish community (i.e. Israel).

  • Matt

    Jesus use of “son of man,” when there is a connection to Dan 7, is to identify with, stand with/ in place of Israel. In Dan 7, the son of man is not a messianic figure but a symbol for Israel. That it took on messianic overtones in the two centuries before Jesus is not the antithesis of the original intent, but Jesus seems to have used both understandings (in conjunction with Isa 53 and 61) to his full advantage and to shape his mission. In a sense, Jesus turns Dan 7 on its head in Mark 10: the son of man is not served but serves. Vindication and glory as per Dan 7? Yes. But not before suffering and servanthood. Just as it goes for “the” son of man, so it goes for “the one like a son of man,” which according to Dan 7 = (the people of) the saints of the Most High.

  • Scot McKnight

    Matt, Boyarin thinks the second part of Daniel 7 interprets the first part, is later, and does equate SoM with Israel but first part did not. So he sees diversity in Dan 7 itself. If SoM is only Israel his theory is weakened.

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    Boyarin has also written appreciatively of John Howard Yoder’s book, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited. See his essay, “Judaism as a Free Church: Footnotes to John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited,” in The New Yoder, ed. Chris Huebner and Peter Dula.

  • Matt

    Thanks, Scot. Does he say why he thinks the second part of Dan 7 is later? The unity of Dan 7 is a heated topic (Collins’ commentary has a good discussion).

  • Matt

    One more thing: the similarities between the kingdoms of Dan 2 and the beasts of Dan 7 may suggest that the beast/kings and the son of man are collective figures.

  • Norman

    IMO the Son of Man (adam in Ezekiel) represents the intent of Israel’s priestly calling through the Adamic figure. I believe this is why Paul picks this theme of Adam up in his writings. Ultimately Christ represents what might be called true humanity in relationship with God. This is why Christ was considered the True Image of God as envisioned for Israel and also redeems the faithful of humanity at large to become bearers of God’s Image as was the intention from the beginning. (Gen 1:26)

    I believe Dan 7’s “one like the son of Man” is indeed the messiah figure but the Messiah figure is embodied not only through the individual Christ but also composed of the members of that Body in which all the faithful are also embodied. See 1 Cor 12. Therefore indeed “one like the Son of Man” represents true Israel as Paul amply defines whom make up true Israel in Rom 9:6-9.

    Rom 9: For NOT ALL WHO ARE DESCENDED FROM ISRAEL ARE ISRAEL. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, IT IS NOT THE CHILDREN BY PHYSICAL DESCENT WHO ARE GOD’S CHILDREN, BUT IT IS THE CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

    I believe the end of Dan 7 reaffirms the cohesiveness of the messianic message and the embodiment of the faithful as co heirs. What Christ accomplishes will also be found in those who share in co regency. One must remember though how Christ defines ruling to His apostles, its not lording it over them like the rulers of the Nations but serving and ministering them. Many people get skittish when they see language like we have in Dan 7 below.

    Dan 7: 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven WILL BE HANDED OVER TO THE HOLY PEOPLE of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

    It doesn’t really matter what group one claims to be a member of cultural wise but what group one is a member of covenantaly in regards to Christ/God. The Bible constantly frames the contrast of the two seeds of the faithful starting with Cain and Abel and on throughout Genesis by illustrating the two contrasting sons of the promise. Christ picks up on this contrast in His prodigal son parable to continue the illustration. John’s letters also illustrate how a true son of God is to be determined and it’s not to be like Cain and the Pharisees who were deemed ill-conceived offspring of the seed of Satan instead of the Seed of the Promise given to Eve. That is what Paul is essentially stating above in Rom 9. We get too wrapped up in trying to identify cultural manifestations when the corporate Body of Christ is monolithic in scope and can’t be divided.

    The apostate Jews of the first century believed in YHWH the God of Israel but they rejected and persecuted the faithful in Christ who represented the true manifestation of Israel. People cut themselves off from the fullness of God as depicted through Christ when they reject His incarnation. It doesn’t mean they are not religious and God seekers but that they simply refuse to come to His highest revelation for them.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    He says in Daniel 7 the one “like a Son of Man” (simile, not just title) is a divinity whose exact relation to the Ancient One is not clear — but parallel thrones suggest equality of being if not role. But a later editor (redactor) was uncomfortable with the Divine Deputy implications and reinterpreted Son of Man as a figure for the saints (the righteous in Israel), so that where the kingdom is given to the Son of Man in vs. 14, it is given to the saints in vs. 18 and vs. 22.

    My review is on amazon or you can see it at my blog.

  • http://www.netzarim.co.il Eliyahu Konn

    “Sanders was a lightning rod and at the same time a lighthouse for scholars in the late 70s and 80s, and his legacy — usually called the “new perspective” (language used by Tom Wright and Jimmy Dunn) — has been that while there is a clear difference between “Judaism” and “Christianity,” that relationship in the 1st Century — and perhaps a lot longer — was not so much two kinds of religion but varieties within one religion, namely Judaism.”

    James Parkes, Oxford scholar, wrote convincingly in 1934 about the “new perspective,” in his book, “The Conflict of the Church and Synagogue.” Maybe that is where Sanders got the idea that the 1st century Ribi Yehoshua, an Hebrew name btw, was a total Torah Israeli. If one will take the time to read Parkes, early on you will see that it is Torah/Tanakh that Ribi Yehoshua taught, which was 1st century Judasim.

    netzarim.co.il

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Eliyahu:

    I am quite familiar with the Netzarim movement today, but for the benefit of Jesus Creed readers, let me point out that oftentimes Netzarim views are quite different from Messianic Jewish and Jewish views. For example, your decision to call Yeshua “Ribi Yeshoshua” is problematic on multiple levels.

    I’ve not read Parkes, but no one is claiming that Sanders was the first to dream up a pro-Judaism Jesus or Paul. However, he wrote convincingly enough about it to change scholarship, whereas previous writers had not yet delivered such a paradigm shift to New Testament scholarship.

  • Norman

    Possibly a good investigation is to determine which brand of Judaism prevailed into Christianity during the first century. The DSS develop a picture of Judaism that appears closer to some of the writings of John, Peter and somewhat of Paul than it does to the form of Judaism that Prevailed with the larger group of Jews who counciled around 90AD to reaffirm their stipulations. The DSS scrolls illuminate a form of Judaism that was much more inclined to following the Messianic literature of Enoch, Jubilees etc. than were the AD90 group which abandoned those highly messianic writings. This larger group of Judaism is the one which persecuted the infant church so it may be problematic to saddle up next to them as our role model of Judaism. Perhaps the historic church has become somewhat confused in recognizing the true parentage of what Paul calls true Israel and has gravitated back to a degree toward what was repudiated by the earliest infant church as led by Paul.

    If we intently study the second Temple literature that heavily influenced the climate for the messianic appearance of Christ then it seems to indicate 2T Messianic Jews were the most fruitful in receiving and embracing the Messiah. Both Jewish groups were often progeny of the biological seed of Abraham but Paul makes it ever so clear that it’s not biological or cultural that is the determining factor. Anthropology from the physical equation doesn’t really shed the proper light on this issue. If we want to emulate the purity of the first century Christians then it doesn’t appear to be about our particular cultural heritage that we need to be concerned with but our grasping of the nuance of the Spirit of Christ which enlivens us to the fullness of God’s Image.

    Just to remind; the Pharisees were not devoid of the faithful as illustrated by the progressive story of the recognition of Christ by Nicodemus who came out of the Dark into the daylight to help recover the Body of Christ after the crucifixion.

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    If Jesus did not come to start a new religion but to reform Judaism, then it seems like what we have done with modern Christianity being a totally separate, multi-divided, and throughly greek distinct religion should be challenged rather than defended. Here are a few things to consider in response to Boyarin’s challenging thesis.

    1. Christians need to rethink not only the relationship between Israel and the church but maybe we should think of the church more as branches within Israel rather than separate from it?

    2. The hellenizing and pagainizing of the Christian faith thesis or Jewish Christianiy thesis looks persuasive at first but it does not do real justice to what we actually find within history. Everything we find in early Judaism history was it was very resistant to pagan and hellenistic ideas taking over their religious worldview. Does not the Maccabean revolt in 70CE and the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty give evidence how resiliant and serious these early Jews were to syncretism and paganism?

    3. Nor do I see how Boyarin can suggest as he does that the split between Christianity and Judaism happened in the fourth and fifth centuries. If Jewish Christians had been so Hellenized and paganized as Boyarin suggests, why were these early Jewish Christians being allowed to worship in Jewish synagogues? One can see the beginning of the rift all the way back to Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts. It was actually after the destruction of the temple in 70CE that Rome begins seeing them as two separate and distinct groups. The rift really was complete early on in the second century when Judaism wanted to get rid of these Messianic followers of Jesus out of the synagogue. A new prayer they adopted was calling Jesus “accursed.” After that, Jewish followers of Jesus went outside the synagogue when it came to their worship. Up till that point, whether meeting in house churches or going to synagogue worship was not a major problem for many of these early Jewish Christians.

    Shalom! – Chris C.

  • CGC

    Hi Norman,
    If you could recommend one book on further study on this important area of study, what would it be?

  • Norman

    Chris C.

    I don’t have one comprehensive book to recommend as this analysis is really a systematic study involving so many aspects of earliest Christianity. One of the best investments is to start reading the literature of 2T Judaism that we typically ignore but they didn’t (try to find readable translations at first). I recommend studying 1 and 2 Enoch, Jubilees, Psalm of Solomon, 4 Ezra and then read possibly the earliest Christian commentary of sorts we can find called the Barnabas Epistle circa 70AD. Nest, delve into some of the DSS writings and compare notes. What I don’t recommend is trying to wade through the vast history of the churches historical exploration because you essentially end up having to consume mass amounts of time filtering out presuppositions instead of going to the horse’s mouth. We have a lot more tools today than the ancient church ever imagined and so to depend upon them is problematic to say the least.

    I’m sure there are current scholars who are exploring these avenues but like many other issues so many of them bring their own heritage values that it’s hard to get unadulterated analysis. If they filter their work through acquired or appropriated worldviews that embody them then again you need to be able to recognize when that happens. What dog to they have in the hunt should always be one of our first questions when sizing up a scholar on any particular subject. In fact we need to continually ask ourselves the same questions about our own prejudicial views and leanings we might bring to the table. Because it’s easy and natural to do so.

  • CGC

    Thanks Norman,
    I kind of did things backwards by reading a huge amount of secondary litature (took about ten years of my life) and it’s only been in the last five years I have been reading more of the primary literature. I know I have only begun to scratch the surface . . .

  • Robert

    The Son of Man figure in Daniel 7 is clearly divine or angelic, if there’s any difference, but it’s not God. the Ancient of Days has that role in the vision. The most we can say is that angels can be a way of representing the divine presence – like the angel which morphs into God himself in the story of the burning bush – and that there can be extensions of God; his word, his wisdom, his spirit, etc. There are also uses of ‘son of man’ which clearly refer to human beings; in Ezekiel 1, for instance. some NT uses clearly refer to Daniel, others are at least ambiguous.

  • Norman

    Chris,

    Well if you have already invested the time then it’s money in the bank. ;-)

    Remember that part of the object of reading this 2T literature is to develop an artistic view of Hebrew literature that will help you read between the lines like we moderns like to say. Don’t go at it to read for the sake of reading but read it to see the common motifs and figures that you will recognized from the OT and NT.

    Biblical Hebrew literature revolves around an art form and the object is to learn discernment of their proprietary literary art. Then you are able to start seeing their imagery in the colors they expected. It’s very difficult for Evangelical literalizing Christians to gain comfort at first. It will take time. If you have much difficulty with Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation then this will enhance your ability to read those pieces as well. And I might add that Genesis fall’s into that genre as well but folks aren’t quite adept yet at recognizing it.

  • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/03/19/why-worry-about-women/ Tim

    “the big vision is right: Christianity was part of Judaism and everything about Jesus was within the Jewish story.”

    I’d say, rather, that Judaism was part of Christianity, since Christ created all including Judaism. All true faith in God is faith in Christ, even under the Old Covenant.

    Tim

  • Jeff Martin

    Even though Paul does not use the term, “Son of Man” I wonder if he refers to it in Romans 5:14-17, the Second Adam?

  • steve jung

    In my Luke/Acts class I refer to “the Jesus Movement” or the church all throughout the course. I try to cover the historical context until 135-138 CE (end of Bar Kochba and end of Hadrian). It helps the students understand the complex relationship between the two faiths. I also stress that the split occurs at different times in different places. I think that the split was fairly early around the empire, but that it stayed as one into the 2nd century in Judea. I’m no expert, but I tend to put the big split during the Bar Kochba time frame.

  • Norman

    I think we sometimes fail to grasp some of Paul’s clear ideology concerning his ANE and Jewish manner of looking at humanity. Better yet is to recognize that in the mind of a Jew there was a division of humanity contrary to the way we look at the subject. Probably one of the clearest evidences of this mindset is found in Paul’s classic statement in Eph 2 where the two separate humanities of Jew and Gentile are formed into the single humanity found in Christ.

    Eph 2:12remember that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, HAVING NO HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD. But now in Christ Jesus, ye who once were far off have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, WHO HATH MADE BOTH ONE, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that He might MAKE IN HIMSELF ONE NEW MAN OUT OF THE TWO, so making peace, and that He might RECONCILE BOTH UNTO GOD IN ONE BODY by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

  • CGC

    Hi Steve (#20),
    I’m with you on this . . . The Bar Kochba event was huge. Jewish Christians were not only looked at as a separate sect but now they were viewed as traitors to Israel.

  • C

    Hmm…I’m gonna have to reread this one a few times.

  • Norman

    Theologically speaking the early Christians saw the destruction of the second temple by Rome in the same light as the destruction of the 1st Temple by Babylon. They understood this as fulfillment of prophecy from the OT and 2T writings and vindicated Christ concerning His Olivet discourse predictions. The idea was that with the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem, effective priesthood, sacrificial system and the ability to refer to genealogical records that Old Covenant Israel was essentially dead.

    This event was considered a judgment and would seal off the Law abiding Jews from God’s Grace unless they changed and came into the fold of believers in Christ. So practically speaking the division was fought out from around the time of the crucifixion (AD30 to AD70) and after that the church was considered the established remnant. The Bar Kochba event was theologically a non-event to the Christians except to continue illustrating the disapproval of God concerning those who continued adhering to Mosaic Law in lieu of Grace through Christ. There is really no OT or NT prophecy’s detailing God continuing with Jews after AD70. They were cast out into outer darkness where there would be gnashing of teeth. This simply means they were excommunicated from God’s Covenant chosen people.

    Matt 8:10 … I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM SHALL BE CAST FORTH INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

    Jesus constantly tells parables illustrating that He would be rejected by the majority of the Jews and that they would suffer because of that and their penchant to kill the believers from AD30 -70AD. After that they were in no position to persecute the church as they were more worried about their own survival under the thumb of Rome.

  • CGC

    Hi Norman,
    I know that the significance of the Bar Kochba revolt has been debated so whether it was the seeds that came to blossom later or simply smoke in the wind, I’ll let others discuss that. I am wondering about your comment about the excommunication of the Jews from God? How do you understand or reconcile that with Paul’s words in Romans 11? I will be traveling the next few days so I am not sure how much I will be able to participate or how quickly I will be able to respond? Blessings to all . . .

  • Norman

    Chris C.

    Good questions that you ask. I thought using the term “excommunication” might raise a few eyebrows. Again my positions are derived from considering extensively the messianic biblical theme. Throughout the OT and 2T literature the coming of messiah is almost always coupled with judgment upon unfaithful Israel at the same time. The coming of messiah means judgment that has been prophesied against the corrupt rulers and people of Israel is going to be fulfilled. It happened once around 600BC when the First Temple was destroyed and the leaders and people were exiled for 70 years. You can think of that period as a dry run for what would come about when messiah does come. In fact I would venture that most of Israel’s literature was influenced by the exile and especially the 2T literature that was even more vividly messianic in nature. In fact it’s hard to read 1 Enoch without being overwhelmed by the constant drumbeat of judgment language that was to accompany the coming of Messiah.

    This theme is picked up by Christ and the Apostles if we pay attention and quit thinking it’s talking about the anti-Christ in some far off distant future. Apostate Judaism was the anti-Christ of the NT.

    Mat 23:36-38 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. (Then Christ explains how the Temple is going to be destroyed in their generation)

    You can also go back to the story of Cain and Abel which the NT writers use typologically to illustrate their murderous brethren. What happened to Cain after God dealt with him was to cast him out and away from God’s face. Cain exclaimed that it was more than he could bear. IMO the Cain and Abel story was fashioned by exilic Jewish Prophets to illustrate the theme of the unrighteous jealous and murderous brother being cast out and away from God’s providential care. We see this very same theme in the NT here where Paul is telling his audience that relief will come for them from those who were afflicting them. Now it’s common to misappropriate this language and fantasize that it’s still somewhere off in the future but it is not. All its doing is reaffirming prophetic declarations that those who persecuted them will receive their due judgment on the day of destruction and judgment for Israel. It is using the same language that the OT consistently used to describe judgment upon Israel or the nations but people don’t know their literature and start speculating.

    2Th 1:6-10 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS. They will suffer the punishment of ETERNAL DESTRUCTION, AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

    So when I say the Day of Judgment was the day that Old Covenant Mosaic Judaism was excommunicated away from God’s presence, I’m not stating anything new that the bible hasn’t stated over and over. What this essentially means is that Legalistic Judaism as practiced by Israel is not going to be incorporated into His Covenant way to compete with the New Kingdom covenant of Christ. It is being relegated to the ash heap of history and is to be considered as Darkness instead of Light. They are no better off covenantally with God than the Gentile pagans who know not God and reside in Darkness. There will be no compromising the Gospel message of Christ with Legalism in the eyes of the First century Apostles.

    We need to keep in mind though that a large segment of Judaism became faithful and along with the Gentiles formed the New Man out of the two humanities. As I have stated before Rom 9:6-9 makes it clear that the new Israel was going to not be considered as biological descendants but as spiritual descendants of Abraham’s faith. So when Paul says that all Israel is going to be saved in chapter 11 he has set the qualifier earlier for whom Israel is composed of. All Israel being saved means the fullness of the NT period of spreading the Good News will mean that the consummation of the New Kingdom has been completed and it’s reign is fully in force. It’s talking about their time of the New Exodus they were going through and just like under Moses they wandered in the desert for 40 years so to do these first century believers before they officially entered into the promised land of the completed new kingdom. See Hebrews 3 and 4 for a Hebrew view of this and count the years from Pentecost AD30 to Judgment Day on Israel in AD70.

    Heb 4:6-9 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,

    The Bible is challenging is putting it mildly but it is consistent on the big picture themes and one theme is that the good guys are going to win in the long run. The good guys are the ones who place their faith in the blood of Jesus Christ and not in the blood of sheep and goats with an earthly priest. We have a Priest who reigns in Heaven. It’s a covenantal story much more than it is a cultural and nationalist story. It’s not about Nations being saved but about God’s people being saved and Israel is no different than any other people then or today. We all need the cleansing blood of Christ to purify us. If people refuse that then it’s their loss and they do not reap fully the benefits of the closeness and intimacy of God as revealed through the Son. If we don’t believe that then we are really joining in degrading what Christ did for us. It may not be PC to think that way but that is the story we find in the scriptures.


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