Who is a Biblical Jew?

The crucial question: who is a biblical Jew? The name “Jew” is derived from the name Judah, who was a son of Jacob through whose lineage the Lord Jesus Christ came. It was also the name of the southern kingdom during the divided kingdom period. By the time of Christ, the name became synonymous with everyone living in Israel.

In Scripture there are two types of Israelites: The physical descendants of Abraham and the Spiritual descendants of Abraham.  Romans 8:6-8

 God does have a special relationship with all Israel but what Jesus did and taught opened the Way for anyone who believes in Him to have eternal life.

This is a subject which is avoided because a lot of Christians believe in a pre-trib rapture, so they must maintain a separation between Church and Israel for their theory to work. They confidently believe that Israel in the New and Old Testament is the same Israel which exists in the Middle East at present. This is a tragedy because we will see from many Scriptures, that since universal salvation was offered by Jesus, the emphasis is no longer upon ethnic Israel, but upon Spiritual Christian Israel: The Israel of God.  God no longer has a single nation as His people but instead His nation is worldwide: people from every tribe, race, nation and language. Matthew 8:10-12, Luke 13:28-30, John 10:16, Revelation 5:9-10, Isaiah 66:18b

Before the Advent of Jesus, God called the ethnic nation of Israel the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Joshua 24:3, Deut. 34:4  In this context God was dealing with Jewish Israel on a special favored status because from them would come the Messiah, so it was necessary for God to protect them and deal specially with them.

They served three functions:  First, they were chosen to bring forth the Messiah; secondly, they were a figure or a type of the worldwide church which was to come; and thirdly, their response was to serve as an example to the church today.

In the New Testament, we plainly see that God no longer dwells upon the subject of the physical seed but upon the spiritual seed. The physical seed was important up to the point of the cross. Since Jesus’ Advent, ethnic descent was no longer needed as a type owing to the fact the church would soon be born on a universal scale.

In John 8:38-40, we see the Lord in a hot debate with the Pharisees concerning their status of being Abraham’s seed: The Pharisees are claiming they are Abraham’s seed while Christ is saying they are not.  Keep in mind the ‘works’ of Abraham was faith.

Galatians 3:6-9: Even as Abraham believed God, so it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know therefore that those who have faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.

Here are some examples of how God views the body of believers:

1. Assembly of the Upright – Psalm 111:1

2. True believers in His Name – Jeremiah 12:16

3. The Lord’s delight – Isaiah 62:4

4. Pearl of Great Price – Matthew 13:45-46

5. His Workmanship – Ephesians 2:10

6. His priests – Revelation 5:9-10, 1 Peter 2:9

In these verses we plainly see that now a true Israelite is one who is a born again Christian because only through Christ are we saved and redeemed.

Ref: Ken Matto

.  So then they who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Vs 6 – This tells us what the work of Abraham was. It is belief in God and as a result, God imputed righteousness to him. In other words, Abraham was saved as he received the grace of God.

Vs 7 – This verse tells us plainly that the seed of Abraham in the New Testament side of the cross are all the born again Christians in the world. This is the seed of Abraham that God is now concentrating on because of its eternal nature. There is no way that Abraham’s seed is limited to a single race of people. The Bible will not allow this.

God protected Israel since it was out of her the Messiah came but once Christ came, all the covenants that God made with Israel were transferred to the church. Do you remember the words of the covenants and how they dwelled on eternity? The only way these covenants can find their ultimate fulfilment blessings to nations, not Judaism. According to Galatians 3:10, Judaism is a cursed religion because it attempts to find its fulfilment in the law and not faith. Judaism is also the religion of a single race of people, so the universal blessing could not come through it, but only through Christ.

Therefore we may safely conclude that the Old Testament is as Christian as the New Testament, because it looked forward to the fulfilment of the eternal covenants. I will be bold to say that the term used frequently today, “Judeo-Christian,” is a misnomer since the entire Old Testament was looking forward to Christ. The festivals and covenants have no meaning if you remove the person of Christ from them.

Christianity must never be mixed with any Christ rejecting world religion or else we will lose the entire meaning of what the Old Testament stands for. The festivals and sacrifices of the Old Testament were in no way to stand on their own because they were only temporal foreshadows of an eternal event.

Vs 9 – Every born again Christian is a partaker of the same relationship which Abraham had with God. This is laid out in detail in Ephesians. The same spiritual blessings that Abraham received are enjoyed by every Christian.

 Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

In this verse God puts to rest the question of who is Abraham’s seed. Only those who belong to Christ will partake of the eternal covenants and promises that God made throughout the Old Testament. Judaism will find its end on the last day while Christianity will continue into eternity. This is what the Bible clearly teaches, there is no other teaching in Scripture.


In Genesis 17:11, God commanded Abraham that he was to undergo circumcision as a sign of the covenant God made with him. Circumcision in Israel is akin to infant baptism in the church. It did not guarantee anyone’s salvation, instead it was an indication that the person was identified with the nation of Israel, or in the church it identified the person with their specific congregation. Physical circumcision was only a sign of the covenant and guaranteed no one’s salvation. Physical circumcision was an earthly act while spiritual circumcision was a heavenly act. Let us examine some Scripture to see if we are correct.

In Deuteronomy 10:16 Moses elevates circumcision to a symbolic deed. The word “circumcise” may also be translated “cut short,” and in a figurative sense means “destroy.” Moses is telling the Israelites to destroy their hard hearts toward God. Only those who are unsaved can have a hard heart. Pharaoh proved that point well. Let us go to the New Testament and see if we are on track. Ephesians 2:11-13 speaks of the Gentiles who were considered outcasts from the kingdom of Israel and who were not partakers of the covenants in times past. But in verse 13, because of being under the blood of Christ, they were considered partakers of the covenants and members of the commonwealth of Israel. Now did that mean the Gentiles were to convert to Judaism, and were to keep the law so they could be included in the keeping of the covenants? The answer is no, because the fulfilment of all the covenants are found in Christ and the Israel in view here is not national Israel but rather Spiritual Israel, which is the church. (Gal. 6:15-16)

 Paul gives a distinction between the true and false circumcision. Paul tells us what the true circumcision is:

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

They are the ones who worship God in spirit, and are in Christ, and who put no trust in the flesh. The circumcision that was given to national Israel was a foreshadow of the circumcision that was to come, namely salvation. Physical circumcision showed that you belonged to national Israel, while spiritual circumcision shows you belong to Christ. So God again makes it very clear that national Israel is no longer carrying on a special relationship with Him. To be in God’s grace, you must be born again but the opportunity for salvation will cease on the last day. A true biblical Jew is one who is born again.


This section deals with what the Bible considers a true Jew. These passages also tell us who makes up the Israel of God that Paul speaks of in Galatians 6:16. We have discovered that the Bible speaks of born again Christians as the true circumcision, the seed of Abraham, and the recipients of the eternal covenants. Now we will look at some passages which are very open on the subject of who a true Jew is.

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

In this verse Paul is admonishing the physical Jews concerning their religious life and how one who tries to keep the law will never be able to do it. So Paul concludes this chapter with two revealing verses.

Romans 2:28-29  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.

In verse 28 Paul is openly stating that a person is not a Jew who is one that tries to keep the law. He also states that physical circumcision does not make a true biblical Jew. Circumcision has no spiritual value at all. Paul goes on to say in Verse 29 what a true Jew is. Verse 29 details four ways to identify a true biblical Jew.

A. “ONE INWARDLY” – A true Jew is one inwardly. The word “inwardly” may also be translated “secret, hid, and hidden.” A true Jew has his identification with God in the secret places of the heart, not on the outward physical body. Is it biblical that our relation to Christ is hidden? Let’s look at Colossians 3:3:

(Col 3:3 KJV) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

B. “CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART” – A true Jew is one whose heart is circumcised toward God. As physical circumcision showed one belonged to the corporate nation of Israel, so circumcision of the heart shows that one has a special relationship to God, and this comes through Christ.

C. “NOT IN THE LETTER” – A true Jew does not keep the law for salvation as in the days before the cross because when a person is in Christ, they are considered keeping the law through Him, as He is the fulfillment of the law. Those who are in Christ have satisfied God’s requirement of keeping the law in its entirety. No human being on their own can ever fulfill the law because we are all tainted with sin but through Christ’s perfection it is attainable.

D. “PRAISE OF GOD” – This can only be borne out as one reads the Scriptures and notices in both the Old Testament and New Testament how God views the born again Christian. We also are given a new song as Psalm 96 and Mark 16:17 proclaim as we will speak with new tongues.

Romans 9:6-8  Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. {8} 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.

In this set of verses, God is making a clear distinction between physical and spiritual Israel. He is giving us clear indication that the blessed Israel is the spiritual Israel as we will read.

Vs 6 – Here God is stating that not all Israel are of Israel. A strange statement indeed but we have insight as to what God means because of our previous studies. He is simply stating that not every physical Jew is a saved spiritual Jew. God has in mind that just because one is a physical Jew, this does not give him a special standing with God. The ones who have the special standing are the spiritual Jews or the born again Christians. Are we on the right path? God makes an identical comparison in the next verse.

Vs 7 – God tells us that just because the nation of Israel descended from Abraham, does not make them the children of promise. What is the promise? The seed of Abraham came through the lineage of Isaac. The seed in view here is the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not making a statement to the effect that the chosen people will not come through Ishmael. The Arab nation being another descendant of Abraham is not the issue of this section, rather God is making a definite distinction between the physical and spiritual aspects of Israel. God continues in verse 8 and clarifies the matter.

Vs 8 – Those of the nation of Israel who are not born again are not the children of promise but the children of promise are those who are born again. The promise being the coming of the Messiah and those who are in Him are the recipients of the promise of eternal life which was so beautifully displayed in the covenants.

So God tells us that one single nation is not specially favored by God, namely national Israel, because God’s favor or grace is given to all those who have become saved throughout the entire world. In the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3, which could also be considered seven warnings, God places two verses in there which would seem strange if we isolated them. Since we have a good understanding of this subject, we will not find interpretation difficult.

Rev 2:9  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.

God warns the church of Smyrna to beware of those who say they are Jews but are the synagogue of “Satan.” The early church was made up of mostly Jews, and we already saw that God’s definition of a true Jew is one that is saved. So here God is warning this church to beware of those who claim to be Christians but are unsaved. Only the unsaved in the Bible belong to Satan. These people who are unsaved in the churches are the destabilizing element in every church. Instead of the church leaders rejecting their unchristian attitudes and actions, they will embrace them, especially if they are the power brokers in the church or we don’t want to offend them. (Remember in Acts 5, God took the lives of two liars to keep the church pure.) This is probably why God is warning this church of coming tribulation owing to the unsaved elements in the church. This is explained easily by the parable of the Wheat and Tares.


One of the most unbiblical and destructive doctrines being taught today is the belief that all the physical Jews will become saved when Christ returns. In essence Pretribulationalism teaches two separate salvation plans, one for the physical Jews and one for the rest of the world. It seems they believe Gentiles are saved through the blood of Christ and the physical Jews are saved at the return of Christ en masse. This is a cruel doctrine because the Jewish people have been lied to by a false doctrine. Jewish evangelism is not a priority because many believe that since they will be saved anyway, they should concentrate on other people groups who won’t be saved. Nowhere in the Bible is this even intimated. It is here because of personal beliefs of some theologians of years past who believed and built on a vision rather than Scripture. This doctrine is built on an isolated verse without biblical substantiation.

Romans 11:25-26  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

This verse seems to be telling us that the entire nation of Israel will be saved. Some believe it is a restoration to the glory she once had during the reigns of David and Solomon. The answer to this puzzling verse lies in verse 25 where we read, ...until the total number of the Gentiles are saved. The word “Gentile” may also be translated “ethnic or nation.” This means that before Israel can be saved a multitude of other races must be included in God’s salvation plan. Once God has saved the last person He plans to save, then Israel will be completed. Who is the Israel of God ? It is the entire body of believers. In verse 26 God has in view the completion of His salvation program. The Israel of God is complete with all those in the body of Christ. No single nation is chosen for mass salvation because we read in Acts 10:34 that God is not a respecter of persons. Only those who are saved in Christ before the last day are included in this “all Israel.”

As we saw in Romans 9:28 that God was going to make a short work on the earth. National Israel will not have a restoration in its entirety because the Bible contradicts that in many places.

We have seen that twenty-one verses of Scripture declare that only a remnant of ethnic Judah will be saved. Since God specifically states that a remnant will become saved, how can theologians continue to teach that all Israel will be saved, when the rest of the Bible contradicts that theory. So we go right back to the root question again, do we believe the Bible or prophecy books?

As we continued in our prophetical investigation, we have discovered that the Bible continually refutes the pretribulational view. The modern nation of Israel is not the focal point of prophetic events, rather, it is spiritual Israel or the church.  When Israel was formed in 1948, that was not a sign of the end times nor was it to become our focal point or the Mecca of Christianity. God is no longer dealing with only one race but is dealing with them all. Salvation is being proclaimed throughout all the earth and Christianity is the vehicle.

We have approached the subject of Israel from seven different ways and all the biblical evidence points to the fact that God is dealing with Christianity as His vehicle for salvation.

Let us recap our Biblical conclusions:

1. Abraham’s seed is the Christian.

2. The true circumcision is the Christian.

3. The promise of the land was never totally fulfilled in Joshua’s time.

4. A Messianic Jew is a Christian

5. The everlasting covenants find their fulfilment in Christ, not a future golden reign.

6. The Israel of God is the Church.

7. The “all Israel” that God has in view for salvation is not national Israel but it is the completion of the body of Christ at the last day.