"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Old Testament Israelites and New
Testament Christians Are All One Church


by Stuart DiNenno


The Bible does not support the delineation, which many maintain, that there are two peoples of God: the Jews who constituted the nation of Israel under the Old Testament and the Christians who constitute the church under the New Testament. As a consequence of adhering to this erroneous view, many have drifted into further error by believing that the modern nation which calls itself Israel — a heathen, anti-Christian nation comprised of many who falsely identify themselves as Jews — is the Israel of God, and that its establishment in the 20th century was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Furthermore, it is taught by many that the scripturally-prophesied rebuilding of the Temple refers to a building soon to be constructed in that nation. Some will even go as far as to say that the Old Testament sacrificial rites of the Temple worship will be re-introduced in accordance with biblical prophecy.

At the root of all of the aforementioned errors is a carnal misconception of what it means to be a Jew, of which the Israel of God collectively consists. Being a Jew is not dwelling within a certain political or geographic zone, partaking in certain outward religious ceremonies, or having the ancestry of a certain blood line. Being a Jew is a spiritual condition and the Israel of God is a spiritual kingdom.

A true Jew is one who has experienced an inward change wrought by the Spirit of God, rather than one who has merely received outward fleshly tokens of that inward change. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. 2:28-29) Just as baptism under the New Testament is an outward symbolic representation of an inward spiritual cleansing and renewal, and does not make one a child of God, so it was with circumcision under the Old Testament. The true circumcision is — and always has been — that “of the heart, in the spirit”. It is “the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11) Those who have been born of the Spirit, though they were “in time past Gentiles in the flesh” (Eph. 2:11), now “are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil. 3:3) It is faith in Christ — produced by the true spiritual circumcision of God, not the fleshly circumcision of man — which makes one a true Jew: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” (Gal. 5:6); and the outward evidence of that true faith is the keeping of God’s commandments, not fleshly circumcision: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19) The true Jew is a believer in Jesus Christ and a keeper of God’s commandments. The true Jew is a true Christian.

The true Israel has existed since at least as far back as when Abraham was called out from among the heathen. It is the church, called the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) in the Scriptures. The true Israel consists of all those who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, not the fleshly seed: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:8) Israel does not consist of those who call themselves Israel nor of those who are the fleshly seed of Abraham: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:” (Rom. 9:6-7) The true Israel, the spiritual seed of Abraham, consists of those who are Christ’s: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29) Christians are the heirs of the promises made to Abraham (Heb. 6) in which God promised to bless and multiply his offspring, and make him “a father of many nations” (Heb. 6:14, Gen. 17:4-5, Rom. 4:17-18, Gen. 22:16-18). “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” (Gal. 4:28)

It is an error to divide God’s people into two distinct groups — Old Testament Israelites and New Testament Christians — when they are in reality one. The Bible is not Judeo-Christian as many claim, it teaches one faith. It is Christian from beginning to end. It has to do with the redemption of fallen man, by God’s Redeemer Jesus Christ, from Genesis through Revelation. The Old Testament saints were the church as well as the New Testament saints are the church. Though the Old Testament saints were never specifically called Christians, they certainly were Christians because they were trusting in a Redeemer (the Messiah or Christ) to come: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25, see also John 1:41, 4:25), just as today’s Christians trust in a Redeemer who has come, and will return. God’s Israel are the elect of God, the redeemed in all generations. New Testament believers are fellow citizens with the Old Testament saints: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19) Through Christ, Gentile believers are part of the “commonwealth of Israel” and partakers of “the covenants of promise” from which they used to be aliens: “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 sometimes were far off are made 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” (Eph. 2:12-14)

Christ’s work was a work of “reformation” of the church and of the true religion (Heb. 9:10-11), not a work of establishment of a new church and religion. Christ did not come to abolish, add to, or diminish from the law, he came to fulfill it, strengthen it, and correct the perversion of it. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat. 5:17-18) Much of Christ’s teaching was devoted to correcting the errors of the false teachers of His day (see for example Mat. 5:21-48), and revealing their hypocrisy (see for example Mat. 6 & Mat. 23). And He also further expounded on biblical principles, and gave additional revelation regarding the nature of the kingdom of God and its furtherance in the world. But He did not establish a new law, religion, or church. Both the carnal ordinances of the Old Testament sacrificial system, along with the priesthood which administered them, and the earthly Tabernacle/Temple in which they were administered, have been abolished — being fulfilled in Christ (see Hebrews 7-10). And the kingdom is now to be enlarged to all nations (Mat. 24:14, 28:19) rather than confined to national Israel. In addition, some other outward forms have changed (change in the Sabbath Day to commemorate Christ’s work of re-creation, baptism instead of circumcision, and the Lord’s Supper instead of the Passover celebration). But the church is one throughout all generations. Consider the following list of biblical passages that make this truth obvious:

Promised to Israel:

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (Hosea 1:10)

Fulfilled in the church:

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (Romans 9:22-26)

Promised to Israel:

And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. (Hosea 2:23)

Fulfilled in the church:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.(1 Peter 2:9-10)

Promised to Israel:

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: (Amos 9:11)

Fulfilled in the church:

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:14-18)

Promised to Israel:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:28-32)

Fulfilled in the church:

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:16-21)

Spoken to Israel:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)

Applied to the church:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)

Spoken to Israel:

My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Ezekiel 37:27)

Applied to the church:

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Corinthians 6:16)

Spoken to Israel:

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)

Applied to the church:

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16)

The unity of the church under both the Old and New dispensations is also clearly illustrated in the book of Revelation. “The holy Jerusalem,” in verse 10 of Revelation 21 is also called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” in verse 9. This is a representation of the church, which is often portrayed in the Scriptures as the bride or wife of Christ (see Isa. 54:1-5, 62:4-5, John 3:29, 2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:22-32, Rev. 19:7-8) The wall of “the holy city, new Jerusalem” in John’s revelational vision, which was “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” (verse 2) “had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (verse 14). But it also “had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (verse 12).

The two truly biblical divisions of people are not Old Testament Israel and New Testament Christians but the godly and the ungodly. There have always been the Abels and the Cains, the Jacobs and the Esaus, the righteous and the wicked, the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the chaff, etc. but God’s redeemed are one church both on earth and in heaven. But just as many of today’s professing Christians who receive the outward rite of baptism have not received the inward baptism of the spirit, many of the professing Jews who received the outward rite of circumcision had not received the inward circumcision of the heart (Jer. 9:26, Acts 7:51)

Christians should not look for “a worldly sanctuary” which was part of the Old Testament system and has been done away with: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” (Heb. 9:1) It would be a mistake to re-institute “carnal ordinances” (Heb. 9:10) “which was a figure for the time then present” (Heb. 9:9), which only served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5), and are mere “patterns of things in the heavens” (Heb. 9:23), now that Christ has come “by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (Heb. 9:11)

God is, and has been, building the true Temple which is the body of Christ: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19) The church is the body of Christ: “the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23) And the temple is the church: “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22) Just as almost everything else in the Old Testament worship was a carnal representation of a spiritual truth, so the Temple was a carnal representation of the true spiritual Temple: the body of Christ, also known as the church.

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