We received this question:
… Please could you explain something to me, if possible?
What/who is …
a Spiritual Israelite
a Child of God?
Thanks so much.
A Gentile in the flesh is one, such as I, who was not born by blood into the lineage of Abraham through Isaac. I believe I came through Japheth, son of Noah, according to historical records.
A Gentile in the spirit is one who doesn’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not one of those, though I was one, until the Lord apprehended me and gave me His Spirit.
A Christian in the Biblical definition is one who has genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, one who has repented of his or her sins and counts Jesus Christ as the One True God worthy of worship. A Christian is one born by the will of God:
“But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God” (John 1:12-13 MKJV).
Then there are many other definitions of Christian, partly by denominations, partly by doctrine, partly by religious affiliation, partly by simply professing to be Christian or believing in God or Jesus Christ, partly by purely imagined and irrelevant means altogether, but none of these is a Christian.
A Jew in the flesh is one who is born into the lineage of Isaac.
Romans 9:6-9 MKJV
(6) Not however that the Word of God has failed, for not all those of Israel are Israel;
(7) nor because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children. But, “In Isaac shall your Seed be called”
(8) That is, not the children of the flesh are children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for a seed.
(9) For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
There are those who will argue that Jews only come from the tribe of Judah, one of Isaac’s grandsons. Jacob, Isaac’s son, had twelve sons, each becoming a tribe of Israel. While it is true that descendants of Judah are a certain Jew in the flesh, named after their father, Judah, the Bible and general history of the world are full of references to all tribes of Israel as Jews or Hebrews.
For a time, after Solomon, Israel was divided into two parts, Israel with ten or more tribes, and Judah, with two or more. Yet, as you read the Scriptures in both Old and New Testaments, you will find that both were known as Israelites, Hebrews, and Jews.
So a Hebrew is a member of the nation of Israel, otherwise known as a Jew, in the flesh.
But being a Hebrew didn’t begin with Jacob or Israel. Abram (Abraham) was a Hebrew, a descendant of Eber, descended from Shem (Genesis 10:21), son of Noah:
“And there came one who had escaped. And he told Abram the Hebrew, for he lived in the plains of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner. And these had a covenant with Abram” (Genesis 14:13 MKJV).
In Egyptian bondage, centuries after Abraham, as well as throughout all their history, the children of Israel, or Jews, were known as Hebrews:
“Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live’” (Exodus 1:15-16 ESV).
The apostle Paul said he was an Israelite and a Hebrew, as well as a Jew:
“Are they Hebrews? I also! Are they Israelites? I also! Are they the seed of Abraham? I also!” (2 Corinthians 11:22 MKJV)
He was born into the tribe of Benjamin, one of Jacob’s sons by Rachel.
A spiritual Jew is one who is a true Biblical Christian, one who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or if you will, Yeshua HaMashiach, Son of YHWH. I am now a spiritual Jew and have been for nearly 40 years, ever since Jesus Christ revealed Himself to me.
So, in the flesh, I am a Gentile, but in the spirit, a Jew. God looks on the heart – recognizing only the new creation; the flesh means nothing to Him in terms of the Kingdom of God.
Paul Cohen was born a Jew in the flesh, but because he was in unbelief concerning the Messiah Yeshua, which almost all physical Jews have been, he was a Gentile in the spirit. In 1978, Paul became what has been called, rightly or wrongly, a completed Jew, in that Jesus Christ made Himself known to Paul, and Paul became a Jew in spirit. Then he was a Jew in both flesh and spirit, that is, descended from Abraham both physically and spiritually.
The apostle Paul declares that insofar as God is concerned, the true descendants of Abraham are not the physical, but the spiritual, Jews.
Romans 2:25-29 MKJV
(25) For circumcision [being a physical Jew] truly profits if you keep the Law, but if you are a transgressor of the Law, circumcision becomes uncircumcision [a Gentile].
(26) If then the uncircumcision [a Gentile] keeps the ordinances of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision [being a true Jew in God’s sight]?
(27) And the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfills the Law, shall it not judge you, who through letter and circumcision become transgressors of the Law?
(28) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh;
(29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.
Apostle Paul points out that it was not circumcision or bloodline, but faith, that was counted to Abraham for righteousness:
Romans 4:1-13 ESV
(1) What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
(2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
(3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
(4) Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
(5) And to the one who does not work but trusts Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
(6) just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
(7) “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
(8) blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
(9) Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
(10) How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
(11) He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
(12) and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
(13) For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Those who enter into the faith of the Messiah are the true descendants of Abraham. This fact annoys many Jews of the flesh to no end. Why? Flesh is proud and haughty, thinking to have virtue in itself and especially if it “worships” God. But God cares nothing for these things, nothing at all. Faith makes all the difference. To the unbelieving flesh and blood (Gentile) Jews, Jesus said:
John 8:37-59 MKJV
(37) I know that you are Abraham’s seed, but you seek to kill Me because My Word has no place in you.
(38) I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you, then, do what you have seen with your father.
(39) They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus answered them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.
(40) But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I have heard beside God; this Abraham did not do.
(41) You do the deeds of your father. Then they said to Him, We are not born of fornication; we have one father, even God.
(42) Jesus said to them, If God were your father, you would love Me, for I went forth and came from God; for I did not come of Myself, but He sent Me.
(43) Why do you not know My speech? Because you cannot hear My Word.
(44) You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.
(45) And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.
(46) Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe Me?
(47) He who is of God hears God’s Words. Therefore you do not hear them because you are not of God.
(48) Then the Jews answered and said to Him, Do we not say well that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?
(49) Jesus answered, I do not have a demon, but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
(50) And I do not seek My own glory, but there is One Who seeks and judges.
(51) Truly, truly, I say to you, If a man keeps My Word, he shall never see death.
(52) Then the Jews said to Him, Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham and the prophets are dead, and you say, If a man keeps my word, he shall never taste of death.
(53) Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets are dead; whom do you make yourself?
(54) Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father Who glorifies Me, of Whom you say that He is your God.
(55) Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I should say I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I know Him and I keep His Word.
(56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad.
(57) Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
(58) Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM!
(59) Then they took up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus hid Himself and went forth out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and passed on by.
A spiritual Israelite is a true Christian, a Jew circumcised in the heart, a true descendant of Abraham, a child of God. Such are Paul and I and those with us.
A child of God is a descendant of Abraham by faith, a true Christian, which is a true Jew, a member of the Kingdom of God – “an Israelite indeed,” as Jesus referred to Nathanael, who spoke truth. Such are Paul and I and those with us.
We are Hebrews, Jews, Israelites, Christians, children of Abraham, children of God, by faith, which is the true essence of the Nature and Character of God, made only possible through Jesus Christ, Lord of lords and King of kings.
– January 11, 2012