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Who’s A Real Jew?

The apostle Paul’s letters to the Romans provide significant insights into the nature of righteousness, obedience, and identity. Central to this discussion are Romans 2 and 3, where Paul elaborates on the universal applicability of Yah’s law and the true essence of being a Jew. This article delves into Paul’s assertions that true Israelite identity is not merely an outward designation but an inward reality marked by obedience to Yah’s commands. We will also explore Deuteronomy 28, which prophetically outlines the curses that would befall the Israelites for their disobedience, serving as a perpetual identifier of the true descendants of Israel. By examining these scriptures, we uncover a complete understanding of the covenant relationship between Yah and His people, emphasizing the need for inward righteousness and the universal need for salvation through faith in Yahshua. This analysis not only clarifies the spiritual and prophetic markers of true Israelites but also highlights the lasting significance of the covenant in identifying Yah’s chosen people.


Romans 2:12-16 (ESV):

" 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before Yah, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, Yah judges the secrets of men by Messiah Yahshua."


Paul addresses the principle that both Jews and Gentiles are judged by the law:

  1. All Are Judged by the Law: Paul emphasizes that everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, will be judged according to the law. Jews have the law (the Torah), while Gentiles have the law written on their hearts through their conscience.

  2. Obedience Over Hearing: Righteousness comes not from merely hearing the law but from obeying it. This is a key distinction Paul makes, as many Jews at the time believed that their special status and possession of the law made them inherently righteous.

  3. Natural Law for Gentiles: Gentiles, who do not have the written law, can still fulfill its requirements by nature. This shows that Yah's moral law is universal and not confined to the Israelite people alone.


Romans 2:25-29 (ESV):

" 25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded[ as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from Yah."


Here, Paul elaborates on the concept of true circumcision:

  1. Value of Circumcision: Physical circumcision has value if one observes the law. However, breaking the law nullifies the value of circumcision, making one effectively uncircumcised.

  2. Gentiles Keeping the Law: If Gentiles, who are not circumcised, keep the law’s requirements, their uncircumcision is regarded as circumcision. This means that obedience to Yah's law is what truly matters, not physical markers.

  3. Inward Jew: True Israelite identity and circumcision are inward and spiritual, not merely outward and physical. This circumcision of the heart is done by the Spirit, aligning one's inner man with Yah's law. This does not equate the Gentiles with being a Jew, but that a true Jew is one who obeys Yah’s commands and have a circumcised heart, thereby being able to be led by Yah’s spirit.  The emphasis in these verses is on the physical Jew keeping the written law versus the Gentile keeping the law naturally without having the written texts, and that the physical Jew cannot claim to be Yah’s people on birth alone. This is not saying that the Gentile becomes a Jew. We can see this is the case as we investigate Romans 3, which continues the topic.


Romans 3: Jews and Gentiles in Relation to Salvation

Romans 3:1-2 (ESV):

" Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of Yah.."

Paul acknowledges the advantages of being a Jew:

Entrusted with Yah's Words: The Israelite people have been uniquely entrusted with the Scriptures, Yah's revealed word. This sacred trust is both a significant privilege and a profound responsibility. The Scriptures not only emphasize the distinction of being a Jew but also outline their role in making Yah's name known to the nations.

 

Privilege and Responsibility: Being entrusted with the words of Yah (Romans 3:2) highlights the Jews' unique position in Yah's plan. This privilege goes beyond merely possessing the Scriptures; it involves living by them and demonstrating Yah's wisdom and character through their lives.

 

A Light to the Nations: The Israelite people were meant to be a light to the Gentiles, revealing Yah's glory and truth to all the earth. Isaiah 42:6 states, "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles." This verse clearly shows that Israel's mission was to shine Yah's light beyond their community.

 

 

 

Proclaiming Yah's Deeds: The Psalms also reflect the Israelite mission to proclaim Yah's greatness to the world. Psalm 96:3 declares, "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." The call to spread Yah's glory is intrinsic to their identity.

 

A Kingdom of Priests: In Exodus 19:5-6, Yah describes Israel as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Priests serve as mediators between Yah and people, suggesting that Israel's role was to mediate Yah's blessings and knowledge to the rest of the world.

 

Witnesses to Yah's Power: Deuteronomy 4:6-8 emphasizes how Israel's obedience to Yah's laws would display His wisdom to other nations: "Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'"


The Israelite people's calling involved not just being recipients of Yah's word but also its ambassadors to the world. Their role was to live out Yah's commands, embody His holiness, and declare His glory among the nations, showing that Gentiles do not become Jews but are invited to see and experience the truth of Yah's covenant through Israel's example.


Romans 3:9-12 (ESV):

" 9 What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;11  no one understands; no one seeks for Yah.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Paul asserts that both Jews and Gentiles are equally under sin:


No One Righteous: Paul emphasizes, drawing from the Psalms, that no one is inherently righteous. Both Jews and Gentiles are under the power of sin, underscoring the universal need for salvation. This continues the argument made in Romans 2 that being a descendant of Abraham or Jacob alone cannot save; we must obey Yah.

 

 Old Testament: The Psalmist declares, "The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after Yah. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2-3, ESV). This passage clearly states that no one is righteous by their own merit.


New Testament: Paul reinforces this in Romans 3:10-12, quoting the Psalms: "as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for Yah. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one'" (Romans 3:10-12, ESV). This highlights that all humanity, both Jews and Gentiles, are under the power of sin and in need of salvation.


Universal Need for Obedience: In Romans 2:13, Paul states, "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before Yah, but the doers of the law who will be justified" (Romans 2:13, ESV). This shows that mere heritage or knowledge of the law is insufficient; obedience is essential.


Faith and Obedience: In the New Testament, Yahshua emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith. In John 8:39, He says to the Jews, "They answered him, 'Abraham is our father.' Yahshua said to them, 'If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did'" (John 8:39, ESV). This underscores that being a true descendant of Abraham involves living a life of faith and obedience to Yah’s commands.

Both the Old and New Testaments affirm that no one is inherently righteous and that all are under the power of sin. Salvation is universally needed, and being a descendant of Abraham or Jacob alone is not sufficient for salvation. True righteousness comes through faith and obedience to Yah's commands.


Romans 3:21-24 (ESV):

" 21 But now the righteousness of Yah has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of Yah through faith in Yahshua Messiah for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Yah, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Messiah Yahshua."

Romans 3:21-24 highlights a crucial aspect of the gospel message: both Jews and Gentiles are justified solely by Yah's gift of grace through faith in Yahshua Messiah. This message centers on salvation, emphasizing that neither heritage nor adherence to the law can save; only Yah's grace can.

 

Old Testament Foundations: The Old Testament lays the groundwork for understanding humanity's universal need for Yah's grace. Isaiah 53:6 states, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (ESV). This prophecy points to the need for a savior to bear the sins of all people. 

Furthermore, in Habakkuk 2:4, it is written, "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith" (ESV). This highlights that righteousness comes through faith, not through human effort or lineage.


New Testament Confirmation: The New Testament continues this theme, showing that both Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace through faith in Messiah. Ephesians 2:8-9 emphasizes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of Yah, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (ESV). This underscores that salvation is a gift from Yah, not earned by human actions.

In Romans 10:12-13, Paul writes, "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (ESV). This passage specifically addresses salvation, indicating that both Jews and Gentiles must come to Yah through faith in Yahshua Messiah and receive the gift of grace. It does not address the promises made to Yah's chosen people but focuses on the universal need for faith in Messiah for salvation.

 

Faith in Messiah: Righteousness is available to all who believe in Yahshua. This means that both Jews and Gentiles can be saved through faith in Yahshua, regardless of their background. This statement is about salvation and does not address the covenant promises still to be given to the descendants of Jacob.

 

Universal Sin and Justification: Since all have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles need Yah's grace. Justification is a gift from Yah, made possible through Yahshua's redemptive work. This salvation is available to everyone who believes, emphasizing that it is through Yahshua alone that we are saved, not through heritage or the law.


Paul’s Message on Salvation: Paul's message in Romans is about the Gentiles' access to salvation and how both Jews and Gentiles must receive salvation by the gift of Yah, which is Yahshua and His blood sacrifice. Paul clarifies that no one can earn righteousness through their own efforts or by merely being a descendant of Abraham. Instead, both Jews and Gentiles must come to Yah through faith in Yahshua, whose sacrificial death and resurrection provide the only means for true justification and redemption.

Paul writes, "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Yah, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Messiah Yahshua" (Romans 3:22-24, ESV). This emphasizes that salvation is a gift of grace available to all who believe, highlighting the inclusive nature of Yah's salvation plan through Yahshua.

 

In summary, Paul's message is that salvation is accessible to all—both Jews and Gentiles—through faith in Yahshua. This discussion is specifically about salvation and does not address the covenant promises still to be given to the descendants of Jacob. Both groups must rely on Yah's grace and the redemptive power of Yahshua's sacrifice for their justification.

 

Who are The Real Jews According to Scripture:

 

Deuteronomy 28:45-46

45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your Yah, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. 46 They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever.


In the context of Deuteronomy 28, "they" refers to the curses that would befall the Israelites if they did not obey Yah's laws. These curses, detailed throughout Deuteronomy 28, include a wide range of calamities such as diseases, defeat in battle, exile and slavery, and various forms of suffering and humiliation.

To understand how Deuteronomy 28:46 serves as a sign that identifies true Israelites, consider the following points:


Historical Fulfillment: The curses described in Deuteronomy 28 are seen as having historically come to pass for the Israelites. Throughout history, they have experienced exile and slavery, persecution, and various hardships, which many interpret as the fulfillment of these prophetic warnings. This historical suffering is viewed as a sign of their identity as the true Israelites who are under the covenant described in the Bible. We see the complete fulfillment of these curses in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

 

Continuous Presence: The phrase "forever" in Deuteronomy 28:46 suggests that these signs and wonders (the curses) will persist throughout generations. Even if the true Israelites are no longer under these curses and eventually become the head and not the tail, these signs will remain as an identifier of who the descendants of Israel are.

 

This means that the world can look back at their historical treatment and know who the people of the covenant are.

Furthermore, if Gentiles want to be considered part of Israel, they must have this identifier in their family line. The enduring nature of these curses serves as a continuous identification marker, demonstrating the ongoing connection to the covenant made with Israel.

This version clarifies that the curses serve as a sign of who the descendants of Israel are and that this identifier will persist as a marker of their covenant relationship, even if their status changes in the future.


Covenant Relationship: The verse underscores the special covenant relationship between Yah and the Israelites. The curses are not random but are specifically tied to the Israelites' disobedience to the covenant. This unique relationship, marked by both blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, helps identify the true Israelites as those who are under this specific divine covenant.

Ethnic and Cultural Identity: For some groups, especially those who believe they are descendants of the Israelites, the experiences and hardships they face are seen as fulfilling the signs described in Deuteronomy 28. This identification is used to affirm their ethnic and cultural identity as Israelites.

Spiritual and Prophetic Insight: Some interpretations emphasize a spiritual and prophetic understanding, where the curses are seen as a sign from Yah that points to a deeper spiritual reality. This perspective often involves recognizing the patterns of suffering and redemption as part of a divine plan for the true Israelites.


Deuteronomy 28:46 is considered a sign that identifies true Israelites because it points to the historical and ongoing experiences of suffering and hardship that align with the curses outlined in Deuteronomy 28. These experiences serve as markers of the covenant relationship between Yah and the Israelites, helping to distinguish them as the true descendants of the biblical Israelites. The fact that these signs (curses) are not on Gentile believers validates the continued uniqueness of being born a descendant of Jacob.


In summary, Paul’s teachings in Romans 2 and 3 highlight the universality of Yah's law and the need for true, inward obedience to achieve righteousness, transcending ethnic boundaries, as salvation through faith in Yahshua is available to both Jews and Gentiles alike. Deuteronomy 28:45-68 underscores that the true identity of the Israelites is marked by their enduring covenant relationship with Yah, evidenced by the historical and ongoing fulfillment of prophetic curses due to disobedience.






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