No more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens

Discussion in 'NT Epistles' started by blhowes, Sep 14, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    Somebody recently sent me the following to think about. I thought it was interesting and wanted to see what others thought.
    [quote:c251f4ae59]Consider the proselytes of OT Israel. When a stranger joined himself to the people of God, professing the God of Abraham to be his God, was circumcised (with his household), kept the feasts and was likewise 'grafted into' the olive tree/Israel, that is, was "as one that was born in the land" (Ex 12:48); what became of his children, and his children's children? I.e., were the children of such a one in the olive tree by birth? If so, how does that relate to the Gentiles, who being once strangers have now been brought near (Eph 2:11-19) and have been ingrafted into the olive tree? Are their children, born into the olive tree/Israel as were the Hebrew children, and the children of proselytes in the OT, or must they be grafted individually?[/quote:c251f4ae59]

    In the OT, strangers joined (were grafted into?) the people of Israel through circumcision. They were allowed to partake of the passover and were expected to follow the law. They became a part of God's covenant people.

    A couple of questions to consider:

    [list:c251f4ae59]Do you think Paul had the Exodus 12 passage in mind when he penned Ephesians 2:11-19?
    What aspects of the OT practice should carry over...and which ones shouldn't...and why/why not?[/list:u:c251f4ae59]

    Exo 12:48,49 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

    Eph 2:11-19 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 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: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
  2. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    ...So, I'm thinking again that, if CT is right about the connection between circumcision and baptism, that this (the Eph 2 passage) would have been an ideal place for Paul to come out and say it. And again I'm at the point where I ask myself if its proper for me to go beyond what I read in the scriptures and 'force' a continuity between the OT and the NT that seems to make sense, but may not be intended.

    On the one hand, it makes sense that God would deal with his people the same way in the NT as he did in the OT. Circumcision was a covenantal sign given to 8-day-old infants for centuries and it makes sense to continue working in families that way, unless the scripture indicates a change.

    On the other hand, a lot of other things drastically changed for Jewish believers - things that were fulfilled by Jesus. For centuries, they had been accustomed to regularly bringing animals to the priests to be sacrificed.

    I'm wondering if circumcision was also fulfilled in Christ, so that there was no need for something to replace it. That's the impression I get when I compare and think about the two passages (Eph 2 and Ex 12).

    Both passages deal with strangers joining the commonwealth of Israel. If you or I had lived during the OT times, there was something that we would have to do if we wanted to join. We (men) would have to be circumcised. Not only that, our children would have to be circumcised as well.

    There is quite a contrast in the NT passage. There's the absense of a command for us to do anything. There's no work that I need to do. All is done by Jesus. The criteria for being part of the commonwealth of Israel in the NT is simply to be in Christ. That's it. There's no action required on my part. If infant baptism was something that God expected us to do as a replacement for the rite of circumcision, it makes sense that he would have mentioned it here. There's no hint that baptism replaces (or however you want to say it) circumcision.

    I'm sure I'm missing something...any idea what?
  3. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    [quote:390168e7e3]The criteria for being part of the commonwealth of Israel in the NT is simply to be in Christ.[/quote:390168e7e3]


    Was this not true in the OT?

    How was it different in the OT - where they not "in Christ?"
  4. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    [quote:4d65495da4="webmaster"][quote:4d65495da4]The criteria for being part of the commonwealth of Israel in the NT is simply to be in Christ.[/quote:4d65495da4]

    Was this not true in the OT?
    How was it different in the OT - where they not "in Christ?"[/quote:4d65495da4]
    Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how to answer the questions. I've never really thought about it past what I've been taught in the dispensational churches - that the OT saints looked forward to Christ's finished work on the cross just like we look back to what he's done.

    I agree that if we equate becoming a part of the commonwealth of Israel with being saved, then, since there's no salvation outside of Christ, it must be true that there's no difference between the NT and the OT - you must be 'in Christ' to be saved. I guess the differences that I see are just the external things that are required for us to do. It seems that in the OT, to be truly a part of the commonwealth of Israel (in the spiritual sense) you would have had to have been circumcised physically by man and to also have been spiritually circumcised by God. The physical circumcision was a sign pointing to (representing) the spiritual reality. In the NT, since Jesus fufilled all that the types represented, all that is necessary is to be spiritually circumcised by God (to be in Christ).

  5. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    [b:276a76dfa5]2 hours later...[/b:276a76dfa5]
    ...So on the train ride to work I thought I'd try to tie up some (of the many) loose ends. I started reading and thinking about Galatians 3. Have you ever tried to follow the flow of a chapter and everything seems to be fitting together pretty good, until you get to one verse that seems out of place. That happened to me as I was reading Galatians 3.

    The whole chapter is talking about the law and the promises made to Abraham, about how Jesus is the seed. It talks of the relationship between the law and the promise and about how the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Everything seems to be focused on explaining things related to the OT to show their true meaning and why the Judaizers were wrong in what they taught.

    Then I read this verse:

    Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


    When I read this verse, it struck me as being very out of place. The whole chapter is explaining OT stuff and seemingly out of the blue Paul mentions baptism. And the verse begins with the word 'For', which ties it into what was said before.

    These questions are mostly for my Baptist brother/sisters ('cause I think I know the CT answer), though all responses are welcome. Why would Paul, in a discussion so focused on OT practices, add this verse that talks about baptism? Doesn't it seem a little out of place? Given the context and the flow, you (I) would almost expect that he'd say something like "For as many of you as have been circumcised into Christ have put on Christ" - (along the same lines as Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands).

    Any thoughts?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page