The Spiritual Israelites
When the religious leaders of Israel rejected Jesus Christ, the Lord told the Israelites that their rejection of Him would seal their own rejection as the sons of the covenant. “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). This meant that they lost the privilege of being God’s special people. In the future, God’s plan for the salvation of the world would no longer rely on the Jewish nation.
The Old Testament covenant was then given to the church and the gospel was taken to the world and true Israelites consisted of all those who accept the Savior, whether Jews or Gentiles. Thus, God’s promises to literal Israel in the Old Testament were transferred to the spiritual Israel, or the church.
And the physical temple has now become the spiritual temple of the church, made up of all true believers (1 Corinthians 3:16), who are the “lively stones” of that “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit” (Romans 2:28,29).
And the New Testament Church receives the same promises that were given to Abraham’s descendants: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26, 29).
The True Believers
The true Israelites will be characterized by circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. “Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). The circumcision that the Christians need is an inward change in heart and life typified by their baptism (Colossians 2:12).
True spiritual circumcision, the removal and burying of the evil sins of the mind, is brought about through Jesus Christ. His power alone can remove the old life and create a new person. Thus, in the New Testament, both Jews and Gentiles are brought into the family of God through submission to Christ. And all who accept Christ regardless of their nationality will inherit the promises made to Abraham and become “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).
In His service,