Old Covenant Gentiles?

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ForHisGlory

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between the old/new covenants since salvation was available to both Jews and Gentiles prior to the "new covenant" (ex. God's compassion and salvation for the Ninevites). Can someone please explain? Or provide some good succinct articles on this topic?

Ephesians 2 states that Gentiles were "separated from Christ, alienated...strangers to the covenant....having no hope...without God in the world". I thought Paul was meaning ethnic Gentiles (as opposed to spiritual Gentiles/unbelievers) by referring to "Gentiles in the flesh", but the succeeding points seem to contradict Old Testament scripture of God's salvation for Gentiles.

Help!
 

Theognome

Burrito Bill
I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between the old/new covenants since salvation was available to both Jews and Gentiles prior to the "new covenant" (ex. God's compassion and salvation for the Ninevites). Can someone please explain? Or provide some good succinct articles on this topic?

Ephesians 2 states that Gentiles were "separated from Christ, alienated...strangers to the covenant....having no hope...without God in the world". I thought Paul was meaning ethnic Gentiles (as opposed to spiritual Gentiles/unbelievers) by referring to "Gentiles in the flesh", but the succeeding points seem to contradict Old Testament scripture of God's salvation for Gentiles.

Help!

Note that the context of Eph. 2 is that of the Word. Israel had the Word of God, which other nations lacked until the incarnation. 'Gentiles' could still be saved, even in OT times (Ruth, for example) through being given the Word. A process was defined in the Pentateuch for such conversions.

Theognome
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
In many ways salvation was not available to the gentiles,as Satan was not yet bound. look at Jonah's negative reaction to going to Nineveh.
For God's purpose and design salvation had been mostly limited to the nation of Israel for a variety of reasons. Amos 3:2 Deut 7:6 God dealing in covenant with the remnant of the Israelites he preserved,until the true Israel is Come- Isa.49:1-8
Israel's failure results in the gospel being spread read Acts 13. The curses of Deut 28-32 come to pass upon that nation .
satan is bound at the cross, the gospel goes worldwide now. 1Jn.2:2:book2:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
------> [ Christ ] <---

The above is the story of the Bible. Starting in Genesis, the story is getting narrowed down to Israel, and the birthing of the Seed of Promise. The rest of the world is being left alone largely as pawns of Satan.

If you want to be saved, the message during the OT is: you need to come to Israel.
There were a number of people who did (along with no doubt a few false converts).

My personal favorites are the Pelethites, former Philistines led by Ittai of Gath, who said to David, basically "Whithersoever thou goest, we will go."
2Sa 15:18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men that came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
2Sa 15:19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return, and abide with the king: for thou art a foreigner, and also an exile; return to thine own place.
2Sa 15:20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us, seeing I go whither I may? return thou, and take back thy brethren; mercy and truth be with thee.
2Sa 15:21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, even there also will thy servant be.
Awesome? You bet. They were following the father of the Seed, while his own people "did not receive him."

Jesus is the true "Israel."

The message of the NT is: You need to come to the True Israel if you want to be saved.
 

ForHisGlory

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems then if salvation was for (believers/Israel) all along, then technically there is not an old covenant and a new covenant.....correct? Technically, nothing has changed....there has been harmony all along..... and Jesus' role was to come and redefine people's understanding of "Israel" as "believers".....and correct many false teachings during that day.

Are we to read the old testament with a replacement of "Israel" as "elect" or "chosen ones" then (when the term does not explicitely refer to ethnicity)? :think:

How then should one read the new testament? Paul seems to reiterate that something was accomplished through Christ and that now a barrier is gone for Gentiles. What barrier is he talking about if Gentiles were free to become believers in the old testament? :confused:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
"New" is new relative to Moses, the "Old". Not "new" relative to Abraham, which was always of faith, always at the core of true religion. It was important to maintain the separation prior to Christ. He was supposed to be born of a certain heritage. The world was supposed to know where to look for salvation. It wasn't coming from "just anyplace."

There were "barriers" to the Gentiles prior to Christ. They had to come to Israel. They had to submit to the Mosaic mediators to approach God. God sets the rules of how he may be approached (which he has changed in terms of manner from time to time).

Now, we come to God--Jew or Gentile (there is no more division)--through the Mediator of a New Covenant. The special legal hurdles have fallen. There's no more reason for a "separate" people. Israel according to the flesh is just the church now (as it was then, albeit in a different way).
 

ForHisGlory

Puritan Board Freshman
hmmmm.......:think:......:scratch:

There were "barriers" to the Gentiles prior to Christ. They had to come to Israel. They had to submit to the Mosaic mediators to approach God. God sets the rules of how he may be approached (which he has changed in terms of manner from time to time).

1) How does this coincide with Ninevah?

2) Aren't there still barriers now.....as Gentiles/unbelivers still have to come to Israel/believers to get the truth, repent, and trust God? Or vice versa, doesn't Israel/believers have to bring the truth to the Gentiles/unbelievers?


Now, we come to God--Jew or Gentile (there is no more division)--through the Mediator of a New Covenant. The special legal hurdles have fallen. There's no more reason for a "separate" people. Israel according to the flesh is just the church now (as it was then, albeit in a different way).

1) So the barrier that Paul mentions in Ephesians 2 is physical hoops/requirements Gentiles had to accomplish to approach God......and the New Covenant abolishes physical requirements? (where are the extra physical requirements for Gentiles in scripture? Not sure where they are specifically.)


BTW.....I'm not being smart at all.....just trying to wrap my mind around all of this. I really appreciate your comments Bruce!.....everyone's comments for that matter!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
When I say "come to Israel," I'm speaking mainly metaphorically and not geographically. Nineveh had to abandon its gods, and believe in the threats of the God of Israel. Jonah wasn't just telling those Ninevites they were facing judgment, but also where it was coming from--so to speak, from the Temple in far-off Jerusalem.

I think there was probably more than a little saving faith that was evidenced among the Ninevites, although it seems clear to me also their turning to Jehovah was a lot like Israel's frequent "returns"--more style than substance. But God has a long record of sparing judgment for the sake of a few.

We need to understand that despite the fear and reverence that was given by Nineveh's king and people, few were willing to pay the price for fullness of fellowship with God through sacrifices and offerings, through the priestly atonement--only available to those who submitted to circumcision and reception into the Jewish nation.

Those who professed faith in Jehovah, but who remained aloof from the People of God remind me of believers today who stay in false communions, with corrupt ministry and discipline and lack of preaching--Nicodemites, if you will--for lack of will or other bonds, they do not join themselves to the true church. Naaman didn't stay with Elisha--although he interestingly tried to compensate for his departure by taking Israelite soil along with him to Nineveh on which to kneel and show his devotion to his new (presumably exclusive) God.

Bottom line: the high priest made an annual atonement for the sins of the People, not the sins of every individual in the world. While we understand there is an invisible church, not just a visible one, those outside the visible church and the means of grace are "outsiders" for all anyone can see.

So, yes, there is a "condition" to salvation: faith in Christ. And expectations for the believer, namely a life of repentance. But compared to the Law of Moses, the barriers that demanded becoming a new earthly nationality, so as to receive the full blessings of communion with God in this life, have been removed.

Instead, Christ is brought to the nations, so as to set up his kingdom in every place and assert his dominion by subjecting all believers to universal, transcultural rites--simple, and undistinguished. Just consider the nature of preaching, sacraments, and discipline. These are nothing like the hoops necessary to be jumped in order to become an OT Jew.

Imagine having to move to Israel/Judah. Or at minimum to go to Jerusalem one time (or more) every single year--from your house at, say, the ends of the earth. These are Mosaic requirements, if you want the benefits.

As for what the Gentiles had to do, just read Ex.12, the institution of the Passover--which only echoes Gen.17. Aliens gave up one nationality to become part of the People of God, Israel, the Church.
 

ForHisGlory

Puritan Board Freshman
Bruce......great explanation. I think I'm starting to get it now.

To sum it up...
Prior to Christ, a Gentile had to forsake their heritage, nationality, and sin...move to Israel (or at least visit)...become circumsized....thus becoming a "Jew" and "believer", correct? (was their any benefits not provided to them for not being a Jew by birth? Or were they given all privileges for following all the laws?) Now, Paul teaches that Christ is available to all nationalities and that such laws for Jewish citizenship are no longer required to come to Christ, correct?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
1. Yes, if you wanted to live in the ambit of the earthly mediation of God's grace.

2. (no, and how could anyone tell the difference? and in another generation, their sons and daughters would be married into the rest of the nation. so, now their children are potential members of Messiah's heritage.)

3. Yes, the church is no longer geographic or ethnic. You still need to be subject to Christ's dominion (law), and his rites (baptism, L.S.), but no more the copious and detailed regulations, the extraordinary high challenge to entry.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
By the time of the Apostles there were two groups of Gentiles associated with the Covenantal Religion:-

(a) Proselytes: These were Gentiles who had become full Jews by circumcision and baptism, and who followed the kosher laws, and the rest of the Mosaic law.

(b) "Godfearers" like Cornelius the Centurion, who were not circumcised and did not eat kosher but followed the moral law and the Noahide laws. On visiting the Temple, these would have to remain in the Court of the Gentiles.

In the Old Covenant you had to become a full Jew to have full spiritual priviledges, but not in order to believe. But if you did really believe, then maybe you would want to become a full Jew.

Being a Jew has both a national and religious aspect to it.

Proselyte - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Correct. And (b) had no mediatorial access to the benefits of the Covenant of Grace.

They were like styled Christians today who providentially cannot (or obstinately will not) avail themselves of a proper church. God alone knows if they are beneficiaries of the Mediator (capital M). But they are discernibly separated from the administration of the means of grace. In those days, perhaps it was more understandable (but not advisable). These days, there would seem to be far less excuse.
 
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