Let's study the "mystery" of the Jewish dimension in the Biblical message (3/3)



Harald Eckert

Let's study the "mystery", Harald Eckert says. Photo AFP, Attila Kisbenedek

Paul is correct when he speaks about a "mystery" in Romans 11, because the second dimension of God's redemptive work is usually not understood. Harald Eckert stimulates Dr Steven Paas to study that mystery, in a last discussion round at CNE.

In responding to Dr Steven Paas, I aim to make readers aware of the Jewish dimension of Christ, the Messianic kingdom and God's faithfulness based on God's eternal covenant with the Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaak and Jacob.

Let's go to the key scriptures of the New Testament in Romans 11. We find clear indications that God's eternal faithfulness to the Jewish people is based on the Abrahamic covenant:

Romans 11,1: I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!

Over many centuries, Christian leaders have rejected the Jewish people as "Christ-killers". But God has not rejected his people. Paul confirms this in Romans 11,28-29:

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Even though the majority of Jews at the time of Jesus rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God's "gift and his call" towards the Jewish people is "irrevocable." Paul calls this a mystery in Romans 11,25. And he warns the gentile believers on that background in the context of the picture of the Olive Tree not to become arrogant (Romans 11,17-22):

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and how are in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to these other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in. Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."

These are serious words. Sadly (and to our loss as the Christian church), most of the Church Fathers, scholars and even Reformers did not grasp nor adhere to these words. They see a contradiction between the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus (which I fully support) and covenant theology (which I fully support as well).

Biblically, there is no contradiction; they are two strings of redemption from the only loving Father in heaven and his Messiah Jesus, who is both King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19,16) and "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (Matthew 27,11) (as written on the cross at His crucifixion).

Even though Paul calls the second covenantal dimension of God's redemptive work for mankind a "mystery" and is often not understood, it is still wholly Biblical and highly relevant. I want to encourage Dr Paas and all our readers to pursue a deeper study of this line of revelation, which is connected to Israel, to the "gifts and calling" of the Jewish people and towards global blessing and redemption – for those who bless and honour those gifts and callings (Genesis 12,1-3).

Harald Eckert (MA Phil) from Munich, Germany, is author of several books (in German) and has been for many years board member and president of the board of "European Coalition for Israel".



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