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God’s Unchangeable Purpose with Israel, part 8

Dec 6, 2019

The Apostles obediently went to the lost sheep of Israel

We have been proceeding through the books of the New Testament, beginning at Acts, with the purpose of showing that each and every one was addressed primarily to Israelites.

In so doing, we are showing that God’s purpose with Israel did not change in the New Testament just because the Jewish nation rejected Him. We are demonstrating that all the apostles were fulfilling the command of Christ to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and in so doing to make disciples of all nations.

But to do that, they went to Israel first. They went to teach the teachers. To teach those who would in turn go forth and teach the nations. Thus, within each epistle, we are finding evidence and clues which show that each letter was addressed to the lost—from the Greek word meaning the “the put away, the divorced and punished”—lost sheep of the House of Israel.

We are now up to Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. The salutation in verse 2 is by now an open secret for us because of the use of the word saints. But more than that, let’s look at

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

A study of the Scriptures will show that God was Israel’s inheritance and Israel was God’s inheritance. For example, consider this from Psalm 33.

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Paul is telling these Colossians that they are partakers of that inheritance; hence, they have must be Israelites. Another indication that Paul was knowingly addressing the lost sheep of Israel is shown by the following:

Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

That word “elect” is key. It is the doctrine of a nation being elected or chosen by God. It is a national election. It applies to the nation of Israel. Because as it says in…

Isaiah 45:4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect

Paul is saying: You Colossians are the chosen of God. It is obvious he is referring to their being Israelites. On to 1 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

The King James Version is a bit awkward there; it does not mean our electing or our choosing God. More properly today, we would have translated it “your election by God.” It’s about God choosing Israel, not Israel choosing God. So again, this is a clear proof that these Christian believers in Thessalonica were part of dispersed and scattered Israel.

Now to 1 Timothy. Timothy was very dear to Paul. He was the son of a Judahite mother whose name was Eunice, and a Greek father. Chances are good that his father was a member of lost Israel. So, this personal letter to Timothy was obviously to an Israelite or at least a half-Israelite, if his Greek father happened to be not of the lost sheep, but I am guessing he was. …Next, Paul’s letter to Titus.

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

The phrase there “peculiar people” is used only of Israel. Exodus 19, Deuteronomy 14, Deuteronomy 26. It is, of course, another way of saying “chosen people.” The definition of the Greek word for peculiar is this: G4041 “{per-ee-oo'-see-os} a people selected by God from the other nations for his own possession.”

What we’ve been doing here is really not that difficult to understand, is it? It’s just a matter of getting that dark curtain of modern church blindness off our eyes. Once you see it, it’s clear as glass.

Paul also wrote a very short letter to a man named Philemon. According to Dr. E. W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible, Philemon lived near Colosse. Verse 2 tells us that a church met in his house. It is quite conceivable then that the letter to the Colossians was a letter to the whole church which met in Philemon’s house. If so, then we have already shown it was addressed to Israel.

Next is the letter addressed to the Hebrews. Any questions about who that is addressed to? After that comes the letter from James. There were several men named James in the New Testament, the most prominent being James the brother of John, and with Peter, part of Jesus’ innermost circle. He is commonly called James the Greater or James the Elder.

The other most prominent one is James, whom Paul calls “the Lord’s brother,” who was head of the church at Jerusalem, whom Paul referred to as a pillar of the church. This is the James that wrote this epistle.

This is called one of the General Epistles because it was meant to be circulated among a number of churches in a widespread geographical area. Therefore, look in the salutation and we discover to whom James was writing.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

I would again ask: Any questions? But if I may express my exasperation, for heaven’s sake, the way that study Bible notes and commentaries treat this verse, they might actually have succeeded in clouding the minds of believers with all kinds of nonsense.

I mean, is it not utterly clear to whom James is writing? He was writing to descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Issachar, Zebulon, Naphtali, Asher, Gad, Joseph and Benjamin. At the time of Christ, the Jewish people—leaving out the Edomite faction—were from what tribe or tribes? Judah, Benjamin and Levi.

But yet James addressed it to all twelve tribes, didn’t he? Now observe this note from a popular study Bible. “It was addressed to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. These were Jewish Christians…” Stop there! Wait a minute! Excuse me!? 

The word “Jew, Jewish,” etc. are derived from the word “Judah.” What he is saying then is that descendants of Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Joseph, etc., are all descendants of Judah. What idiocy! What double-mindedness! Is it any wonder people are confused?  The note-writer goes on to say:

“If we understand the Christian church as the New Testament successor to God’s chosen people of the Old Testament, …

Well, you see, therein lies a problem and therein lies more confusion. It is called “Replacement Theology.” It teaches that the church replaced Israel. In so doing, replacement theology teaches that God has had to change his purpose with Israel because the Jews rejected Christ.

You see what happens when you confuse Jew with Israel? If they understood the distinctions between the Houses of Israel and Judah, they wouldn’t call them all Jews and they wouldn’t make the grievous error of thinking that God had to change his Plan.*

No, God’s purpose with Israel is unchangeable. The Jews as a nation rejected Christ. Yet many individual Jews or Judahites did become Christians and millions more of lost Israel accepted Christ because of the work of the apostles and other disciples. On to 1 Peter 1:1.

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,


Map of Asia Minor in Roman Times

This is the same general area where Paul had gone through on his missionary journeys, but Peter is aiming more at what is modern northern Turkey whereas Paul’s work appears to have been more in central, southern and western Turkey or Asia Minor, as it was formerly called. Notice that word scattered. It is from the Greek G1290 diaspora {dee-as-por-ah'}.

It is where we get our word dispersion. Observe these two definitions from my BibleWorks software. 1) a scattering, dispersion 1a) of Israelites dispersed  among foreign nations 1b) of the Christians scattered abroad among the Gentiles 

I tell you that the two are saying the same thing. The siege of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus was still some years off, so this could not possibly be referring to the dispersion of the Jews.

Just as Paul did, Peter was carrying the good news to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He knew that many of these “strangers” or “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” were now living in those areas of northern Turkey.

And yet, listen again to the note in this study Bible. For this phrase, “strangers scattered,” it has the note: “God’s people live in this world, but their citizenship is in heaven.” While there is some truth to that statement, it deflects from and obscures the truth of the identity of those to whom Peter was writing.

1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

“Elect” is again a clear reference to Israel. Chapter 2, verses 9 & 10 are unmistakable references to Israel. But so many Christians today are so unfamiliar with the Old Testament, that they would easily miss it. It says:

1 Peter 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people

Those are all phrases which were used in the Pentateuch to describe Israel and no other people. (E.g., Exodus 19:5, 6.)

1 Peter 2: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

That is a quote from Hosea 1:10 which Peter is applying to these people. When they were cast out of God’s house and divorced, they were no longer a people; they were scattered among many other nations. Now that Christ has come and redeemed them, they are now once again the people of God!

We now turn to the epistles of John. Concerning 1 John, Halley’s Bible Handbook states: “From the beginning it has been recognized as a circular letter of the apostle John to the churches around Ephesus…According to a long received tradition, …after the destruction of Jerusalem, [John] made his residence at Ephesus, which by the close of the apostolic generation had become the geographic and numerical center of Christian population.”

If this then is written to John’s home church of Ephesians, as many scholars guess, then we already know from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that they were clearly Israelites.

We will continue next time with more evidence of God’s unchanging purpose with His people Israel, showing how the entire New Testament was written to Israelites.


* For an extensive study on the differences between Israel and Judah, see my lecture series called The Kingdom of God, especially lecture numbers 10 through 13


Click here for part 7 of this series.

Category: Teaching