Posts Tagged ‘gentiles’

Emerging Church Lesson for the Day: What Did Paul Mean That He Became All Things to All Men?

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
What did the apostle Paul mean that he became all things to all men for evangelism? This is his summation after he describes his goal and those people whom he wanted to reach. He adapted his teaching to their thought in their culture to reach them. He divides the world into the religious with the law (Jews), and the Gentiles, without the law.
According to 1 Corinthians 9:20, Paul was emancipated from the law as a means of salvation, yet he knew how to speak to them because of his former beliefs and life with them (Galatians 4:21). He knew how to put the Gospel to them without compromise and without offence.1
To the Jews, he would observe the Mosaic customs as long as it did not affect his duty to Christ. There was no compromise of principles or the law though Paul was a Jew among Jews. He did not act as a person obligated to the law with the Jews, nor as a lawless person to the Gentiles, but always made it evident he was serving them under the law of Christ.
In Acts 17, Paul showed the philosophers they were wrong from logic, their own history, and the Bible and explained to them what is right. He used what the Athenians did not know, an altar to an unknown god, to make known to them what he knew. Paul was not complimenting their religious worship as they were idolaters. These religious men of prestige were offended as he told them they would be judged by a man who came back to life. Yet, Paul’s continual quest was to persuade men to turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Paul certainly made a distinction (as did Jesus) between those who knew what God required and those in ignorance. Paul even pitted the Gentiles against the Jews to humble them from pride. Romans 2:14-16:
[F]or when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (giving the same summation as he did in Acts 17).
In 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul said, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
If this statement by Paul were isolated from the rest of Scripture, one could assume Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost, including adopting their lifestyle and compromise his ethics, morals, and beliefs. This is a doctrine that is popularized among the seeker-friendly, emerging church evangelism crowd today. If we use this logic, then for one to reach a drug addict, he must become one; one cannot reach a drunk unless he becomes a drunk, etc.
When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean this. In order for a doctrine to be biblically sound, it cannot contradict other verses. Paul taught that believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Paul would not have done anything contrary to Christ and His ways in his own life and ministry. Remember he rebuked Peter for compromising of the Gospel when Jewish brethren came to visit him in Antioch. Galatians 2:11-13, speaking of the Judaizers: “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.” Saying to Peter in Galatians 2:14: “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

So Paul did not mean that we can act one way with one group of people and another way with another group to win them.

We have good examples that Paul did not act lawlessly among the pagans who were outside the Mosaic law: Romans 2:14, 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Paul simplified the message, knowing his audience, so they could understand and receive.
Paul explains that he is always under the law to Christ, and he is never free to do things that would be contrary to the new covenant. And in Galatians 5:13, he says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Paul’s liberty in his evangelism was not a freedom to sin or to serve the flesh in any way. Paul was always strict in regard to sin, and he did not allow anything in his life that would bring the result of sin by spiritual carelessness.
Notes:
1. From Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament.

Do Gentiles Become Jews When They Believe?

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

When a Gentile becomes a believer in Christ, he becomes part of the body of Christ, not Israel. He is a spiritual Gentile, not a Jew.  Israel is a nation consisting of Jews; Hebrews are an ethnicity who are from the linage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the twelve tribes). A Gentile (both believer and non-believer) is from Abraham, not Isaac and Jacob.

Being Abraham’s seed does not make one Jewish; this is where people have been taught wrong. Its Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (from whom came the 12 tribes); otherwise the Arabs are Jewish too. Selah.

John 18:35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me.”

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

It is written “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23). Two groups of people. Later it was Saul who was specifically called to this other group while the original apostles worked among their people, the Jews. Paul was also going to the Jews first as his priority, but they rejected the message from him and said in Acts 28:28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

Romans 11:12-13: “Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” He spoke of himself as “a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).

Paul made the distinction between Gentiles and Jews before their salvation and continued this distinction afterwards in Romans 2:9,10.

Romans 10:12-13: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

He is not saying Jews and Gentile are no longer valid or erased, but that both call upon the Lord for salvation.

Under the new covenant.

Romans 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

In other words, one must have faith to be a Jew, not just in their lineage. It was also a matter of the heart.

Speaking to the Gentiles, Galatians 3:29: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” He refers to one being of the seed of Abraham as one exercising faith.

Paul had to rebuke Peter:

Galatians 2:14: But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

Clearly, there were distinctions; yet he also said of those who were in the body of Christ to not see each other as they did before.

Colossians 3:10-11: “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What he is saying is that as the body of Christ we are all children of God and that any differences should not be used to divide (2 Corinthians 12:13). Jew and Greek is a more specific substitute for the distinction of Jew and Gentile. There were still slaves and masters existing at the time just as there were still men and women. But this was to be overlooked in defining a person who is now in Christ.

In the same way Matthew 19:6 says: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.” This does not mean one literal person, but speaks spiritually.

Jesus says in Revelation 2:9: “and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

Clearly there were those who claimed to be Jews but were not believers and were against the Messiah (as in Acts 14:2).

The Gentiles as said to be called by His name (Acts 15). Acts 21:25: “Gentiles who believe.”

Paul never said Gentiles were Jews after they believe.

Romans 15:10-11: And again, he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”

Galatians 3:14 says that the “blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Ephesians 3:6 explains that “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.

Acts 17:17: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”

Just as Gentiles were not called Jews when they worshiped God in the synagogue, they are not called Jews when they believe in Messiah Jesus. Rather, they are fellow heirs; they become believers, spiritual Gentiles. this distinction continues through the Scriptures.

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