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Bible verses about Spiritual Israelite
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 12:1-3

God tells Abram to head toward a different land, which is linked with his people becoming a great nation. We usually interpret this as meaning a vast number of physical descendants, and God has certainly fulfilled that, considering the teeming populations of his offspring. However, the real meaning of being Abraham's children has to do with those who have the faith of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).

The Jews boasted that Abraham was their father, yet they were concerned only with physical lineage. Jesus told the priests and Pharisees that the kingdom would be taken from them and “given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). That nation is defined, not by a physical bloodline, but by a certain faith and a different spirit. Peter calls those with the faith of Abraham “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (I Peter 2:9).

Genesis 12:3 says that in Abraham “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Paul explains this promise in Galatians 3:8: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.'” From the Genesis 12:3 promise, Paul derives the idea that justification by faith would become available. In addition to foretelling a spiritual nation, God's promise of the land also suggests many being brought into alignment with God's standard of righteousness based on belief in Him.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)


 

Exodus 12:48

The Hebrew language lacks an exact equivalent to the Greek noun proselyte, which means a newcomer (Strong's #4339). However, in the Old Testament, God's law does allow the ger (Strong's #1616), usually rendered "stranger," to become a full-fledged citizen of Israel. To do this, he needed to become circumcised. Exodus 12:48 addresses this changing of belief system in reference to the Passover.

The stranger "wants to keep the Passover." There is no hint of God expecting Israel to seek converts among the heathen by actively preaching to—or, at—them. Here, there is no coercion, subtle or otherwise; the Gentile convert voluntarily gives himself to come under the Old Covenant. Deuteronomy 4:5-7 states the dynamics of this conversion.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)


 

Leviticus 11:44-47

Both sanctification and holiness imply being "different" or "set apart" for a special purpose. God instituted His law of clean and unclean to show the difference between His people and the nations around them. Paul calls the church "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). I Peter 1:13-16 shows very clearly that Christians, spiritual Israelites, now have a responsibility to be holy as God is.

Staff
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

1 Kings 18:31

Here appears "the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob" again. We never seem to stray very far from God's identification with Israel. In Galatians 6:16, the church itself is called "the Israel of God." God identifies Himself, not just with physical Israel, but with spiritual Israel. The stones used to prepare the altar are, in this case, representative of physical Israel. And in the time of the book of Revelation, the time of the end, those stones will be made up of spiritual Israel (see Revelation 7:4-8; 12:1; 21:12).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 6)


 

Isaiah 66:7-8

The New Testament shows that God has not broken His pattern. A new Israel is being formed—a people from all ethnic backgrounds. The Kingdom of God is expanding through the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16)! This ties directly into Revelation 19 and the Marriage of the Lamb, because it is this Israel—the Israel of God—the spiritual organism consisting of people of all nations, that will marry Christ, the Lamb.

We can see a progression. First, there is one man—Jacob—whose name was changed to Israel. He was chosen by God, even though his brother was firstborn. Next, the descendants of Israel were chosen from the nations of the world, even though other nations were larger, greater, and stronger. Then, as God's plan takes off with the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, God first chooses from among the Israelites and then from all ethnic groups, choosing and putting them into the Body of Christ, though He says the members of His church are foolish, weak, and base.

So the Israel of God is formed to marry Jesus Christ. This is why Gentiles have to become Israelites. In fact, all of us have to become real Israelitesspiritual Israelites—even though we may be genetically "of Israel."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Luke 16:22

God promised Abraham's descendants land on earth—the land of Canaan, and later it was all the land he could see (see Genesis 12:5-7; 13:15; 15:18; Romans 9:6-8). God even included the actual boundary line of the property in His agreement with Abraham. "Your seed" refers primarily to Christ, the chief of "Abraham's seed, and heir according to the promise." Since God's promise of the land of Canaan was forever, it is an eternal inheritance and includes eternal life (Hebrews 9:15). Because the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, he became one of Abraham's children and thus an heir to the Promised Land on this earth—not in heaven—and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Romans 2:26

This verse begins to clarify what makes a person circumcised or uncircumcised.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 7)


 

Romans 2:26-28

"The uncircumcision," here referring to non-Israelites, is ethnos in Greek—those of a different ethnic background. Paul asks, "Shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?" as if he were an Israelite, and part of the Covenant. The one "who . . . [is] a transgressor the law" is the Jew or the Israelite.

Paul is carrying the pattern that God established through Israel to a clearly higher level than it had been before. The real Jew—Israelite—is what one is inwardly. What is he talking about? Spiritual conversion. This neatly ties with Galatians 3:26-29.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 2:28-29

Most commentaries will interpret these verses correctly, as it is so obvious what Paul means. Much of the Bible is written in what can be styled as "different levels." In terms of ceremonies, there is a physical and a spiritual level. The ceremonies have not been done away, but they have been raised—elevated—from their physical application to a spiritual application.

Many names and words carry a literal meaning as well as a symbolic meaning, implying that God intends a spiritual application too. Jesus used many parables in this dual way quite effectively. In addition, many prophecies have both a literal, former fulfillment and a final, latter fulfillment. It is easy to see that there is a physical level and a spiritual level to this subject of "the Israel of God" (see Galatians 6:16).

God's promises to Abraham have both a "race" (national) and a "grace" (spiritual) aspect to their fulfillments. Thus, Abraham's physical descendants—Israel—are greatly blessed with material wealth, but all of mankind is spiritually blessed through Abraham's one great Descendant, Jesus Christ, and so the grace aspect is gradually being fulfilled as each judgment unfolds.

Here in Romans 2:28-29, Paul is using "Jew" in its spiritual sense. In this sense, "Jew" includes any converted person—even a Gentile. It indicates the church as the body of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18), when we recognize what is written in Hebrews 7:14: "It is evident that our Lord was of the tribe of Judah." He—Jesus Christ—was a Jew by birth. Therefore, since He was a Jew, and we are part of "the body of Christ" in the Bible's imagery—therefore we are spiritual Jews. And because we are spiritual Jews, we are spiritual Israelites.

It does not matter what race or ethicity we are. If we are converted, we are a Jew in the eyes of God because we are part of Christ's body. That is the spiritual application. If we are a Jew, we are an Israelite too, and because the promises were given to Israel, the descendants of Abraham, the promises then apply to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 3)


 

Romans 3:1-2

Paul extends the meaning of oracles here in two ways—in content and audience:

The content of the message includes the entire Law. Since the general context is circumcision (see chapter 2), we can conclude that the oracles given to the fathers included the covenants and hence the promises that attended them. The context does not limit the oracles to the revelation of God in the Pentateuch, but can include the Writings and Prophets as well.

The audience of the message includes those outside national Israel. Just before he writes of the oracles being committed to the Jews, Paul informs us that "he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; . . . but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly" (Romans 2:28-29). Paul is speaking of the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). In this regard, Peter makes an instructive statement in his conversation with the gentile Cornelius:

The word [logos] which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John [the Baptist] preached. (Acts 10:36-37)

Peter came to recognize that the oracles of God are for all men, God showing "no partiality" (verse 34).

Charles Whitaker
The Oracles of God


 

Romans 4:13-17

The promises to Abraham include that he would be heir of the world. Jesus Christ confirmed those promises and became Heir of them. "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29)! From the time of Abraham, God has been working to establish, preserve, and expand Abraham's family and fulfill His purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Promises Are Sure!


 

Romans 9:6

"It is not that the word of God has taken no effect" must be understood in light of why he is writing this. The silent question is, "What about Israel?" as God seems to be setting Israel aside. It appears as if God has been a failure in His dealings with Israel. He gave them the Covenant, but the people did not want to keep it. But Paul argues that, no, Israel is not being set aside. He is saying, "No, you don't really understand what's going on." It is not that the word of God has taken no effect.

"For they are not all Israel who are of Israel." Who is a Jew? Who is really part of Israel? Only those whose heart has been circumcised (Romans 2:29)! If a Gentile is circumcised in the heart, in God's eyes he is an Israelite!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 9:7

In Matthew 3:9 and Luke 3:8, John the Baptist tells the Jews gathered to hear him not to think that they had it made because they were sons of Abraham, for God can raise children up out of the very stones. In John 8, Jesus encountered the same argument from the Jews, and He said, "Don't think because you are descendants of Abraham that you are Abraham's heirs. He never did the things that you're doing. You want to kill me. Your father is Satan the Devil, not Abraham" (see John 8:37-44).

What we see in Romans 9 is a much bolder and clearer explanation of the same pattern. Paul is explaining what God has been doing all this time and why He will continue to work through Israel. He is not all that concerned about the physical nation. Perhaps He is to some degree, but only because within the physical nation He established through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the real Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 9:7-13

"The children of the promise are counted for the seed" means Abraham's seed, and "the children" are Esau and Jacob. Jacob was chosen or elected by God, but Esau was not. So through whom would God work? Obviously, it was Jacob, who on the surface was the weaker of the two—perhaps in character and certainly bodily. The question immediately arises, "Is it fair of God to do this?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Galatians 3:7

When Paul says, "know you therefore," he is instructing them to learn from this case (Psalm 100:3; Luke 21:31; Hebrews 13:23).

The Greek word translated "of" here is "a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds)." In this case, it is referring to those people whose origin or source is faith—those who have the right faith, which have been justified by God. This is the starting point of their spiritual life. Paul is showing that we are children of Abraham based on what we believe (have faith in), which is then evidenced by the way we live our life.

One of the many disputes that Christ had with the Jews during His time was over lineage. The Jews traced their physical lineage back to Abraham, and thus considered themselves to be children of Abraham. Christ disagreed with this because, if they were Abraham's sons in the fullest sense, they would have believed and acted just as Abraham did. The real children of Abraham are not his natural descendants (Matthew 3:9), but those who share his faith. This is why Abraham is called the "father of the faithful" (see also Luke 3:8; Romans 2:28-29, 9:6; James 2:21-23).

It is interesting to note again the link between faith (belief) and works (action). In this verse, Paul says that the true children of Abraham are the ones who have the same faith that Abraham had. Yet in John 8:39-41, Christ says the Jews really are not Abraham's children because their works—their actions—were not in accordance with what Abraham had done. There certainly is no contradiction here; the faith that made Abraham remarkable is the faith that motivates people to do good works (James 2:17-26)!

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:20

A mediator is only necessary when there is an agreement for two or more parties to agree to or discuss. God's promise to Abraham, and the inheritance that will come from that in the future, was not something that had to be negotiated. A mediator was not necessary, because there was only one party—God—who was agreeing to do a certain action. God's promise was His intent to carry something out, and so it was not necessary for there to be a mediator.

The Mosaic covenant required a mediator. Moses stood between the Rock and the children of Israel. The Israelites did not want to deal directly with God (Exodus 20:18-21) and instead requested that Moses speak with God and then speak to the children of Israel. The Old Covenant was set up with a high priest as an intercessor, who would stand between God and the people. The system, the covenant, did not allow for a personal relationship to develop between God and an individual, except in the rare exceptions where God made it happen. But it was not available to the average Israelite.

God's promise is sure! Abraham and the others in the "cloud of witnesses" all died without receiving the promises in their entirety. But the spiritual children of Abraham still stand to inherit eternal life, the earth, etc. This was not an agreement or covenant, but a promise.

When the covenant was ratified at Sinai, Moses was the mediator for only physical Israel. The Gentiles, the rest of the people who would be the spiritual descendents of Abraham, were not represented. Because of this, the agreement made at Sinai could not affect the unrepresented people. This is why the Old Covenant, or the Mosaic Covenant, is not binding anymore: Christ, the Seed, came to earth as a man, and the temporary covenant between God and Israel became obsolete.

God's law did not become obsolete, though—God does not change, and so His definition of what is right and what is wrong does not change. If it was wrong for the Israelites to commit adultery or fornication, it is still wrong now. If it was wrong for the children of Israel to break the Sabbath, it is still wrong now. Obedience to God's law was a condition of the covenanted agreement, but doing away with the covenant does not do away with God's law!

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:25-27

Since Christ has come, the Old Covenant rules and regulations that isolated Israel from other ethnic groups are no longer needed. Israel no longer needed a guardian. The time had come to put away the need for the practices that separated Israel from other nations and caused such hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles. Christ had brought a totally new approach. The church, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), is a spiritual organism made up of people of all races and nationalities who repent and keep the spiritual laws of God as Jesus had magnified them.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
What Was the Law 'Added Because of Transgressions'?


 

Galatians 3:26

This statement would have been a bombshell - and high heresy - to the average Jew of Paul's time, who would have had it in his mind that the people of Israel were the only children of God. Paul here is beginning to explain that physical lineage is not relevant where God's calling is concerned, because under the New Covenant only God can give the summons (John 6:44), and if He summons a Gentile, it is just as valid as if He gave it to an Israelite.

The faith of Jesus Christ is the important factor rather than heredity. This faith is also a part of what God gives (Ephesians 2:8) - again, only to those whom He chooses. But if God has given this living faith (James 2:20) to a man, that man is then a begotten - but not yet born - child of God. God is the real father, rather than Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:26-29

True Christians exhibit the faith and righteousness of Abraham. God considers them to be the patriarch's spiritual descendants regardless of their race or sex. Consequently, they will inherit the same promises made to Abraham.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Galatians 3:27-29

In making the New Covenant—once we have proceeded through the process of repentance and baptism and have received God's Spirit, which baptizes us into Christ—we are then Abraham's children. We become Abraham's descendants regardless of race or national origin. We become, therefore, part of the one Family into which God is drawing all of mankind, and we become heirs of the promises made to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. All the Old Covenant did was bridge the gap from the time the Israelites were released from their bondage until the promised Seed came.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Galatians 3:29

The apostle directs our understanding of Abraham's offspring away from the usual biological definition and toward one pivoting around a relationship with Christ. A few verses earlier, he shows that faith is the crucial substance (see Hebrews 11:1) of that relationship: "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7).

Operatively, then, "the faith of Christ" (Galatians 2:16, KJV), not a faith we inflame within ourselves, is the source—we could even say, the functional cause—of our spiritual kinship with Abraham. Through our exercise of Christ's faith in us, we become Abraham's children. Regardless of lineage, we are not his spiritual children by birth. For the purposes of spiritual salvation, reconciliation with God by the faith of Jesus Christ renders irrelevant the genetic, national, social, and gender differences among Homo sapiens (see Galatians 3:26-29).

Thus, the apostle stresses the importance of faith over genealogy. Israel, from God's viewpoint, is first and foremost a spiritual entity, a nation and people (I Peter 2:9) of faith, and only secondarily—subordinately—a physical or natural entity.

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act II: God's Gift of Faith


 

Galatians 3:29

Abraham is the father of the physical nation God elected to work in and through, and he is also the father of those He calls to be part of His forming spiritual nation. Appreciating Abraham as the father of the physical nation is easy, but seeing him as father of the spiritual nation is not so simple, as we are more apt to think that, because God begets us, He is our spiritual Father. We must therefore see Abraham's spiritual fatherhood in a different light.

The Jews of Jesus' day did not grasp Abraham's spiritual fatherhood correctly. Jesus gives the answer to this perplexing title in John 8, where a great deal of the dialogue involves ancestry.

"And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. . . . I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." They said to Him, 'Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." . . . Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (verses 16, 18-19, 28-29)

Abraham's spiritual fatherhood soon becomes the focus of Jesus' instruction:

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" . . . "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this." (John 8:33, 37-40)

Members of the same family bear a likeness to one another. It is this principle that designates who is a spiritual child of Abraham. It is not a matter of physical resemblance but a similarity of moral and spiritual attitude and behavior. Christ designates that resemblance to be believing God as Abraham did, as well as doing the works that he did. In the larger picture, a spiritual descendant of Abraham will grow and overcome, gradually changing into the spiritual image of Jesus Christ.

The factor that set Abraham apart above all others was that faith drove, motivated, inspired, and guided—sometimes dramatically—what he did with his life. Thus, Abraham is not only the physical progenitor of Israelites but also the spiritual, moral pattern that his descendants are to conform to.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Galatians 6:12-16

Some had taught the Galatian Christians that "Gentile" Christians should become physically circumcised. Paul disagrees. He makes it plain that the real motive of those teaching this doctrine is to "make a good showing of the flesh . . . that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ" (Galatians 6:12; 5:11; I Corinthians 7:19; Romans 2:28-29). In verse 15, he asserts that "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but the new creation." Paul reiterates what he says in Galatians 5:6: What is important is a walk of "faith working through love." Upon those who so walk, the apostle concludes, will be "peace and mercy" (verse 16).

Physical descent - whether one is a Gentile or an Israelite - matters nothing. What matters is whether a person is nurturing the new man, once established by God, through a renewal process which involves walking in His law.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)


 

Ephesians 2:11-12

This makes this principle regarding Gentiles very specific. Not only were they "without Christ" before conversion, they were also aliens from Israel. Tying this together with Romans 9:4-5, they were also separated from the Covenant, were they not? Now, because of their conversion, they were near to the additional blessings that would come from being near to Israel. The inference is that they were no longer aliens.

Gentiles must become a part of Israel because that is with whom the New Covenant is being made (Hebrews 8:8)! Conversion, then, having access to God, putting on Christ, entering into the Covenant, having promises and hope, and being part of Israel, all go together in one package. God does not disrupt the patterns that He Himself established.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

Hebrews 8:8

The New Covenant will be made with Israel and with Judah—without any mention of the Gentiles. Yet, other areas of the Bible contains a great deal about the Gentiles—so much that Jesus Himself says that we were entering into the "times of the Gentiles." Paul's ministry was to the Gentiles, so the Gentiles are certainly a part of the New Covenant. But in the discussion of the New Covenant in Hebrews 8, the New Covenant is made with Israel and Judah.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

 




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