God's Chosen People
(Are the Jews still God's chosen people?)

QUESTION: Are the Jews still the chosen people of God, in light of Galatians 3:28?

ANSWER: The Bible tells us that the Lord has chosen the nation of Israel to belong to Him, and be blessed by Him in a special way. As Moses says to them, "You are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deut. 7:6).

This is restated in various ways, many times. For example, in: Deut. 32:9; I Sam. 12:22; I Chron. 16:13; Ps. 33:12; 135:4; Isa. 41:8-9; and 44:1-3. And it is a permanent relationship. Jehovah God's love for Israel is "everlasting" (Jer. 31:3). I do not agree with those who teach "replacement theology"--that somehow the church has taken over, in some spiritualized form, all God's promises to Israel.

However, the nation is currently under God's chastening for her disobedience. For centuries, the Jews have been scattered across the world. Only recently have they begun to return to the Promised Land–but there they continue to be opposed and harassed by other nations. We are in what the Lord Jesus called "the times of the Gentiles" (Lk. 21:24), which began with the Babylonian Captivity and will end at Armageddon, with the return of Christ.

The Jews are hated by many today, but they are God's chosen still. (A disobedient child who is sent to his room as a punishment is still his father's son.) And one day, when her Messiah-King comes to reign, Israel will once more be restored to her land in glory and blessing. The Old Testament prophets spoke of this.

Amos quotes the Lord saying, "I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them" (Amos 9:13-15). Jeremiah prophesies the future rebuilding of Jerusalem, and says, "It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever" (Jer. 31:38-40). And the Lord Jesus promises that when He comes to reign the apostles will "sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28).

What is happening today is something different. In a sense, the Church Age is a kind of parenthesis in God's program for Israel. With Israel's rejection of her King at His first coming, the Lord opened the door to the Gentiles. We even get a hint of it on the Day of Pentecost, when the church was born. Many from various nations had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast. I think there are fourteen or fifteen people groups mentioned in Acts 2:9-11. And by a miracle, each heard the Word of God in their own language (vs. 7-8).

It was not new that Gentiles could be saved. They could, of course, trust in Jehovah God and become Jewish proselytes. But what was new after Pentecost is that now, through faith in Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike are bound together in one spiritual body in Christ, "that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6). That is what you are seeing in the Galatians text you refer to.

In Christ, things such as a difference in ethnicity (Jew or Greek–i.e. Gentile), in social standing (slave or free), or even in gender (male or female) do not make us any more or less acceptable to God. All are saved alike and become one body in Christ. But that does not cancel God's future plans for Israel as a nation. "Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom. 11:25). Today, individual Jews are being saved, but the nation as a whole, in blindness, has not turned to Christ in faith as it one day will.

The passage in Romans goes on: "So all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.' Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your [i.e. you Gentiles'] sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers [i.e. God's covenant with Abraham, repeated with Isaac and Jacob]. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [God will not change His mind]" (Rom. 11:26-29).