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Who is a Jew?

22-10-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

8 For not that which is apparent is the Jew, nor yet that which is apparent in flesh is circumcision; 29 but that which is hidden is the Jew, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose applause is not of men, but of God. Romans 2

a tenacious misconception This week, from different angles, I came into contact with the above verses. But in all cases the issue was the same: it was argued that no special role is reserved for the (ethnic) Jewish people. Already from the very first centuries of church history, this is the generally accepted view within Christianity, but an organization like the Watchtower Society claims just as much to be the heir of the promises to Israel. A variant of this idea, Dr. Stephen E. Jones defends in his pamphlet, “Who is a Jew?“. metaphorical Now it is metaphorically true, that since the word ‘Jew’ means “one who praises God”, anyone else who praises God is, in that sense, also a “Jew”. Because physical circumcision pictures “the circumcision of the heart”; anyone whose heart is un-covered can truly claim to be ‘circumcised’. With these metaphorical meanings I have no problem. The apostle Paul, often leads the way, in this regard. reasoning away the literal It becomes a different matter, when, on the basis of the figurative meaning of a concept, the literal meaning is reasoned away. This is a dangerous process. Paul does not do this, as you can see in the verses immediately following the above posted passage:

1 What, then, is the prerogative of the Jew, or what the benefit of circumcision? 2 Much in every manner… Romans 3:1,2

Please note: Paul is referring to the Jewish people and the physical circumcision, concerning whom he acknowledges many privileges in every respect. Later in this letter he confirms this, when he writes:

4 who are Israelites, whose is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the legislation and the divine service and the promises; 5 whose are the fathers, and out of whom is the Christ according to the flesh… Romans 9

what’s the point The important point in Romans 2:28.29 is that a true Jew (= “one who praises God”) not only to the flesh is Jewish, but also to the heart. Here, Paul does not stretch the concept of ‘Jew’, so that even pagans are included, but he limits it to the faithful people of the nation.

6 …for not all those out of Israel, these are Israel; Romans 9

future for the Jewish people! When the temporary hardening of Israel, which is of God, will be lifted, a believing Israel will be saved (Rom.11:25,26). This means that the heart of the people shall be circumcised (read: the covering will be removed, Deut.30:6; cp. 2Cor.3:16) and it will be a nation of people who will praise God! Let no one dare to take away the promises which God, under oath, has promised this nation. ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema