Not Every Gentile is in the Church

By Justin Johnson

A common mistake made when first learning to rightly divide is to divide Jew and Gentile into different dispensations.

Salvation was of the Jews in time past (John 4:22), and is sent to Gentiles now (Rom 11:11). Armed with only these verses muddled minds jump to the wrong conclusion that only Israel had access to salvation in time past, and only Gentiles have access to it now.

This error is perpetuated by oversimplified or simply wrong statements like these:

“Prophecy is about Israel, and mystery about the Gentiles.”

“Israel inherits the kingdom, and we [Gentiles] the Church.”

“Israel was promised the earth, and Gentiles inherit heavenly places.

Actually, there are Jews and Gentiles in both prophecy and mystery, and also in both God’s purpose for Israel and for the Church.

Jews in the Church

That there are Israelites in the church of today, which is the body of Christ, has been discussed before and should be obvious. The new creature is neither Jew nor Gentile, but is made up of both (Gal 3:28, 1 Cor 12:13).

Paul himself was a Jew (Phil 3:5), and there were not a few of his kinsmen that participated in the gospel of the grace of God that were Israelites (Acts 17:4).

Any Israelite who desires salvation in the present dispensation of God will be saved only by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, just as every Gentile today, not through covenants or circumcision.

Gentiles in Prophecy

Not every faithful Gentile in the Bible was a member of the church the body of Christ first revealed to Paul in a mystery. Many were part of Israel’s earthly purpose. God had always made provision for these faithful Gentiles.

Although Israel was the chosen nation of God, and to whom God gave the oracles, the purpose of God raising up Israel is so through them the world would be blessed.

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. “ – Genesis 12:3

Though blessing was available to all, Gentiles had to go to the nation Israel to access it, as they were the trustees of God’s word and promises. So, truly, salvation was of the Jews.

Gentiles Blessed through Israel

Throughout the scripture there are examples of Gentiles faithful to God’s instructions and received blessing by blessing the God of Israel.

Consider righteous Abimelech who provided protection for both Abraham and Isaac, testifying that God was with them.

“And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;” – Genesis 26:28

Remember the Gentile harlot Rahab who by faith in the God of Israel did not die in Jericho, and lived among the Israelites (Heb 11:31, Josh 6:25).

The Ninevites repented of their sins and cried unto the God of Israel for salvation (Jonah 3:7-10).

The Gentile queen of Sheba blessed Solomon and the God of Israel when she saw the wisdom that he spoke, and his righteous acts.

“Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.” – 1 Kings 10:9

Gentiles in the Kingdom

Prophecy even tells of Gentiles in the future kingdom of Israel. After all, to whom would the priests of the Lord minister if there were not other saved nations on the earth?

“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it [the New Jerusalem]: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” – Rev 21:24

The Gentiles would come to Israel’s cities to receive blessing, healing, and instruction (Isa 2:2-3).

In Jesus’ kingdom ministry to Israel there were Gentiles who showed their worthiness of entering the earthly kingdom by their faith in the Messiah.

Remember the Gentile centurion who did not think himself worthy of being in the presence of Jesus, but knew he could heal him.

“When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” – Luke 7:9

Or the Gentile Canaanite woman who recognized that although she was not among the people to whom Christ came [Israel], as a Gentile she could be blessed through Israel.

“Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” – Matt 15:28-29

Gentiles before Paul

All of this should teach us that Gentiles could be blessed through Israel even before the revelation of the mystery of Christ was revealed to Paul in mid-Acts.

That Paul was sent to the Gentiles directly (as well as unbelieving Israel), only showed that the message he taught did not put the Gentiles under the covenants of promise which required them to go through Israel to receive a blessing.

There were faithful Gentiles before Paul. There were faithful Gentiles who followed Christ before Paul according to prophecy. Peter spoke to some in Acts 10. Paul speaks to these Gentiles in Romans 9:24 and Romans 11:13.

[For more details about the Gentiles in Romans 9-11 listen to our verse by verse series here.]

The prophecy given to Israel would bless both Jews and Gentiles in the earthly kingdom.

The mystery of Christ given to Paul spoke of God’s new creature for heavenly places. By the preaching of the cross salvation, blessing, and inheritance was freely offered to all men apart from Israel’s kingdom, covenants, and law.

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Published: August 17, 2013
Last Modified: August 17, 2013
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