Jew

Who is Biblically Entitled to that Name?

 

By Dr. Ken Matto

 

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, (Romans 2:17)

 

There is great confusion in Christianity concerning the name Jew and who has the right to that name.  One thing that must always be kept in mind is that everything changed at the cross.  Christians always neglect that great dividing line in history for two reasons: 1) they never study their Bibles, and 2) since 1948 there has been an attempt to once again bring the church under the ceremonial law which God himself abolished in 33 A.D. when the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom.  Then in 70 A.D. God completely destroyed the nation of Israel because they were the keepers of the Mosaic Law which is no longer to be observed.

 

Between 33 and 70 A.D. ancient Judah continued to reject the Lord Jesus Christ as the way to Heaven and so for those 37 years they continued to engage in the ceremonial law.  Even within the modern church there are movements by people who think that keeping the law of God will happen on an international scale.  You can tell who these people are because they try to get you to observe the Sabbath which is part of the ceremonial law.  One single nation had the law of God and they couldn’t go a month without committing some type of religious sacrilege.  Can you imagine an entire world trying to keep the law of God?  It could never happen. 

 

Within many of the churches you will see things like an Israeli flag, they partake of Seder suppers, and wrongly interpret the Bible to force the belief that the Bible speaks about a rebirth of ancient Israel.  Then there are prophecy and theology books loaded with the false teachings of Zionism which diverts Christians from the worship of God to the worship of Israel.  Modern Israel has become a modern idol in the church today and that is because pastors do not study their Bibles, instead they read books about the Bible and scour the internet for sermons and those sermons are normally biased by well-financed theological puppets of the Christian Zionist movement.

 

Once again if we are to find out the truth about who has a right to the name Jew, we must go the Bible alone without any bias from Zionist Christians or any books.  The term “Jew” is a shortened term for the name “Judah” which is one of the twelve tribes which Jacob named in Genesis 49.  The Lord Jesus Christ came through the tribe of Judah.  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. (Hebrews 7:14) 

 

There are 14 tribes because Ephraim and Manasseh were added later which means everyone outside of Judah was not entitled to use the term “Jew” because they were of the other tribes.  So those of Asher were not Jews and those of Naphtali were not Jews.  God described them as “the Children of Israel.”  The term “children of Israel” is used 648 times in 604 verses.  That term would have accurately described the descendants of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel.  It would have described their descendancy as being children of Israel or Jacob making them family descendants which would take into account all fourteen tribes.

 

As I mentioned previously everything changed at the cross and many pastors and theologians reject that great dividing line.  With the cross, many definitions have also changed and that includes the names Israel and Jew.  This is very important because if we bypass the cross and the changes it made in history and definitions, then we will continue to believe the lies the dispensationalists and the Christian Zionists keep pouring into the heads of naïve and unlearned Christians. 

 

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Genesis 32:28)

 

The name change from Jacob to Israel is very important because it signifies a work of grace in the heart of Jacob.  The name “Jacob” means “supplanter” and supplanter means “one who eradicates or supplies a substitute for.   And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? (Genesis 27:36)  We know Jacob’s name fit perfectly because he and his mother schemed to take away the blessing from Esau which he did.  He substituted himself for Esau.  However, Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” by God himself.  The name “Israel” means “Prince with God.”  So Jacob’s great dividing line was when God changed his name from “Supplanter” to “Prince with God.”  So like Jacob, the true believer goes from “unbeliever” to “Prince or Princess with God.”  So what we see in Genesis 32:28 is Jacob’s salvation.

 

After the ten tribes were removed permanently from the land by Assyria in 721 B.C., the only tribe left was Judah and Benjamin.  Benjamin was located in the southern part of Judah.  The first time the term “Jews” is used in the Bible is 2 Kings 16:6 which would place it about 732 B.C.  At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day. (2 Kings 16:6)  The timeline coincided with the taking of the ten northern tribes which means after that the term “Jews” was fitting since only Judah and Benjamin was left.

 

So from the time of the reign of Ahaz to the time of the cross, the term “Jew” was apropos and fit the people of ancient Israel.  Now let us progress to the time which comes after the cross.

 

When the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross and was resurrected, it spelled the end of the Mosaic system which used animal sacrifices as a means to cover a person’s sin.  The Lord Jesus Christ removed sin from the soul of the believer.  Now a new relationship to the Father began.  The term “Jew” now took on a new meaning in the New Testament.  The nation of Israel from its inception was a type or figure of the permanent body of believers.  They were a small country among the many empires surrounding them.  It is like today, the true body of believers is surrounded by many unbelievers.

 

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)

 

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 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. (Romans 2:28-29)

 

Moses was still recording the law of God in Deuteronomy when the LORD gave him this portion found in Deuteronomy 30:6.  It is a promise to the true believers within the nation of Israel.  Remember, ancient Israel was a foreshadow of the visible church because in Israel there were many who were not believers such as King Saul, Dathan, or Korah and others.  These unbelievers gave the true believers a hard time such as Moses or King David.  So in Israel there were both believers and unbelievers.  When we make that distinction, we will better understand verses like Deuteronomy 30:6.  In the visible church today, there are both believers and unbelievers.  It is the unbelievers in the local churches which cause most of the problems simply because they are still in the kingdom of Satan while sitting in a church congregation with the Lord’s children.  In every local church there is both light and darkness.  The Lord called them wheats and tares.  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30) 

 

Back to Deuteronomy 30:6.  That verse is a picture of salvation because the circumcision of the heart is a synonym for a person becoming saved.  Once a person becomes saved, they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them allowing them to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul because they are in a regenerative state.  This personal regeneration or salvation will give them the ability to live and that means live forever. Within that verse is also the promise that it will be extended to their seed.  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)  This is not a promise that because they are part of national Israel that automatically their physical descendants will be saved.  The seed is speaking about the Elect within the nation of Israel and also the Elect to be saved in Gentile countries after Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

 

In connection with Deuteronomy 30:6, we read Romans 2:28-29.   We already saw that the name “Jew” is a shortened term for “Judah.”  It was a requirement in Israel that all the males be circumcised according to the law of Sinai.  This included those who would become true believers as well as those who were unbelievers.  In Romans 2:28 Paul describes the true Jew or the true believer.  First of all, Paul states plainly that a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly nor one that is circumcised in the flesh.  Remember what the Lord said.  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)  The flesh profits nothing because physical circumcision could not save those Israelites who opposed Moses. Physical circumcision also has lost its meaning since Christ went to the cross.  It was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant but now since Christ went to the cross, it has no significance.  So for nearly 1500 years there was physical circumcision but now we invoke Deuteronomy 30:6 in conjunction with Romans 2:29.

 

Paul states that a person is not a true Jew by means of outward physical circumcision but he is a true Jew who is one on the inside and having their heart circumcised in the spirit and not in the letter of the law.  The true Jew is one who has become saved and has the indwelling Holy Spirit within them.   Paul states that a true Jew is one who is born again of the Spirit of God under the eternal covenant of Grace in contrast to the covenant that Israel made with God at Mt. Sinai which they could not keep. Only Christ was able to fulfill every demand of God’s righteous law and those who are in Christ, are as those who had kept the law in its entirety and perfectly. Thus because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are now members of Spiritual Israel or the Israel of God. This is borne out in quite a number of other verses:

(Isaiah 45:17) But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

(Romans 9:6) Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

(Galatians 3:7) Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

(Galatians 3:16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

(Galatians 6:16) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

(Ephesians 2:12) 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:

It is very important to keep in mind that Christ came through the tribe of Judah which makes every true Christian a true Jew whether they are born in the USA or New Zealand.  The true Christian is under the covenant of Grace whose heart has been circumcised by the spirit of God.  So Romans 2:28-29 gives clear evidence that the definition of the name “Jew” changed after the cross and now it describes every true believer in Christ without regard for nationality or lineage.  Then in the final phrase of Romans 2:29, it speaks about our praise is not of men but of God.  That phrase is better understood from John 15:25.  But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:25)  Christians will be hated by the world but will be loved by God because we love his Son and are redeemed unto salvation.

 

Every verse in the previous list speaks of the eternal covenant of Grace which comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the eternal Israel which God speaks of in Isaiah 45:17. The true Jew is the one who is saved through the Lord Jesus Christ, who was of the tribe of Judah. Those who are of the physical tribe of Judah who boast in their circumcision are as those who are uncircumcised, or unsaved. Those who are in the Lord Jesus Christ are of the spiritual tribe of Judah, which is the eternal Israel or the true Jew who is circumcised in the heart.

 

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:2-3)

 

Here is one of the most revealing verses in Scripture concerning the Christian. Normally circumcision is attributed to Israel but here Paul is giving a new definition of it. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy 10:16) As far back as Deuteronomy, we read about circumcising the foreskin of the heart and that is an allusion to salvation by grace, which Moses was a recipient of. This means that salvation did not come through physical circumcision but came through the circumcision of the heart. Now back to Philippians 3:3 where Paul now states that the Christian is the circumcision and the result is that we worship God in the spirit, whereas Israel had worshipped under the Mosaic law and that was according to the strictures of the law. Those under grace are the only ones who worship God in the Spirit. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)  Those who do not possess the Spirit of God will be unable to worship Him because they are unsaved AKA spiritually dead.

 

Another aspect of this verse which is important is that Paul is changing the meaning of “circumcision.” He is now calling the believers “THE circumcision.” Notice the definite article “the” which means there are no others. Just because one still practices physical circumcision does not mean that God recognizes it. The age of the ceremonial law is over because it was fulfilled in Christ. The only circumcision that God now recognizes is that of spiritual circumcision which is salvation by grace. Paul is now referring to Christians as spiritual Israel.

 

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also 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 2:10-11)

 

Since all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ, the believer is complete in Him. The word “complete” is in the perfect tense which means that we have become totally complete in Christ. Every single believer no matter how strong or how weak they are in body are complete in Christ. One way we know we are complete is that our souls have been qualified for Heaven, that is, eternal life. How much more complete can we get than to live eternally? Then Paul tells us that Christ is the head of rule and the head of all authority. This means that Christ is not only the head of the church, but He rules over all earthly kingdoms and kings.

 

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy 10:16)

 

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)

 

As we previously saw back in Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6, God was already giving insights about His salvation program. Physical circumcision was the sign of the covenant that one belonged to God but it was only a temporary foreshadow of the circumcision of the heart which was a description of salvation by grace. Deuteronomy 30:6 states that the Lord God Himself will circumcise the heart, that is, He will be the one who will be doing the saving. As we read further in that verse we see that this circumcision of the heart will enable the believer to love the Lord God with all their heart and soul, so that they may live. It is referencing eternal life when it says “that thou mayest live.” Salvation is eternal and it is never to be lost, for once God saves someone, it is forever. In Colossians 2:11, the rest of the verse states that we will be putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. This means that no longer will the true believer be a slave to the sins of the flesh while on earth. The fallen nature can be overcome by the inward regeneration from Christ.

 

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)

 

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)

 

There are two verses in the book of Revelation which we need to look at to get clarification.  The Book of Revelation covers the time period from the cross to the second coming of Christ on the last day.  We have also discovered that the Christians are the ones who are of spiritual Israel and called “the true circumcision.”  In the above two verses we find two phrases which we must look at.  They are in both verses.  They are a warning to the Christians to be very discerning with people.  The first phrase is “which say they are Jews.”  We have already seen that the true Jew is one who is born again in Christ.  This phrase warns the true believer that there are going to be people who claim to be true Christians and are not because they have never become saved.  They will seek to deceive the true believers.  The second application is that there will be those who will claim to be physical Jews, that is, tied to the nation of ancient Israel.  When Revelation was penned the destruction of Jerusalem happened 25 years prior and all the Jews were either killed or taken into slavery by the Romans and no one knows who they are because they were assimilated into the empire.  What survived from them was the false cult of Judaism which saw a major expansion in the Eighth Century in the area of Khazaria which is known today as Kazakhstan.  Those who are members of this cult are not connected to ancient Israel but are converted Gentiles.  Therefore, they are not real Jews but converts to the false religion of Judaism which is Talmudic based and not Old Testament based.  In Smyrna, which Revelation 2:9 is addressed to, there was an alliance between the Romans and the Jews to persecute the Christians. In fact, Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna by a consortium of both Jews and Romans. There was major hatred in Smyrna for the Christians by both Jews and Romans. The Jews did not have much trouble in accepting the deity of the Emperor of Rome alongside the worship of the true God. Their history will attest to how easily they accepted idolatry and here would be no difference because an alliance with Rome would divert any persecution away from them. They also considered the Christians to be committing blasphemy by worshipping Christ, whom they considered to be just a dead criminal. The Lord was well aware of those who were blaspheming in the church claiming to be Jews but were really of Satan’s people. These people were not claiming to be the physical Jews but were claiming to be Christians. Now they may have been Jews who were making believe they were saved and joined the church.

 

The second phrase is “the synagogue of Satan.”  The synagogue of Satan is mentioned also in Revelation 2:9. The word “synagogue” in the Greek simply means “a place of assembly or a congregation.” It does not necessarily point to a congregation of Jews. What would be a congregation of Satan? It would be any body of people that deny the cardinal truths about Christ and Christianity.

 

Summary

Let us summarize what we have learned from the Scriptures on this subject.  Remember there is a big difference between the biblical Jews and the political Jews.

·         The True Jew is the Born Again Believer

·         No member of the false cult of Judaism is a true Jew, they are political Jews

·         The true believer in Christ is “the” true circumcision

·         Jew is a shortened term for Judah, the tribe from which the Lord Jesus Christ came through

·         The term “Jew” was apropos when it started being used in the time of King Ahaz when the northern kingdom was taken by Assyria and the only ones left was the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and were known as Jews. 

·         No one knows who the descendants of the ancient Jews are after they were taken to Assyria, Babylon, and Rome because of assimilation

·         The term “Jew” changed definition after the cross and was now applied to the true believer who is a true Jew “inwardly” as written in Romans 2:28-29.

 

People who read this study that are steeped in Dispensationalism will believe their prophecy books instead of the Bible.  If you do not like what you read, then you must prove me wrong according to the Scriptures and not your man-centered prophecy and theology books.  Everything changed at the cross and if you choose not to believe that, then you will rob yourself of truth in favor of a fake people who have been deceiving the Christians for millennia and will continue to do so unless Christians choose to return to the Bible.  The modern Jews are members of the false cult of Judaism and do not belong in the exalted position the church has placed them.  They are a mission field. Your salvation does not depend upon them because Genesis 12:1-3 is not about them but the body of believers.  Your salvation depends upon Christ, the very one they hate and the very ones who are praised and exalted by the church.  No wonder the church has become a weak entity because if their exaltation of the enemies of Christ.

 

Back to Israel Studies