Paul says we are grafted in, but are we supposed to become Christians or Israelites? Also, what do you believe John the Baptist meant in Matthew 3:9?
The Bible speaks about us being grafted into the same promise given to Israel of Old. For example, Paul in Romans 11 states, “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if Elohim spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of Elohim: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off,” verses 16-22.
The olive tree here represents the Hebraic promise that was given to Abraham and the patriarchs of the Old Testament. This olive tree contains both natural and wild branches. The natural branches symbolize natural-born Israelites and the wild branches represent the gentiles who are grafted in. It’s important to realize that the same root, which represents the promise given to Abraham, bears both the natural-born Israelites and gentiles. Paul also warns here not to boast. There are many more passages confirming that we must be grafted into the Hebraic promise to be part of Messiah.
Regarding the word “Christian,” there are questions whether this word was ever used by early believers. It comes from the Greek christianos and means, “…a Christian, i.e. follower of Christ,” Strong’s. It’s first used in Acts 11:26, where it may have been applied to early believers by the local pagans. We also see Agrippa using it sarcastically in Acts 26:28 in reference to himself. Peter also uses the term in 1Peter 4:16. Since there is strong evidence that much of the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew, we choose not to use this term. Also, this term conveys a Greco-Roman religion, instead of the Hebraic faith, which is another reason we abstain from its use. No Hebrews would call themselves a Greek term.
While we don’t believe becoming a “Christian” is important, baptism into Yahshua’s Name is. Paul speaks about this in the sixth chapter of Romans. Baptism is significant for many reasons. Through baptism we find remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38. Also, those immersed into Yahshua’s Name will also share in the likeness of His resurrection, Romans 6:5. In essence, baptism is what seals us as believers in the Messiah.
Regarding Matthew 3:9, the Jews there were responding to John the Baptist and claiming that they were the children of Abraham. From their perspective, this gave them a preeminence as a people. In response, John states that if Yahweh so chose, He could make the rocks cry out. John here is simply confirming that Yahweh is not limited by man and that salvation is based on more than ethnicity, as is also seen in Romans 11.
In the third chapter of Galatians, Paul ties together baptism, the acceptance of all nationalities, and the promise to Abraham: “For ye are all the children of Yahweh by faith in Messiah Yahshua. For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yahshua. And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” verses 26-29.
Paul confirms here several critical points. One, baptism represents a type of adoption as sons of Yahweh. Strictly speaking, we will be sons of Yahweh at the resurrection, when we are changed from heavenly beings. Two, for those immersed in Messiah, there is no separation or distinction in gender or ethnicity. And three, those baptized into Yahshua’s Name are heirs of Abraham, showing the Hebraic tie in the New Testament.
As a child of Yah , taught and ordained only by YHWH I cannot declare myself Christian. The study of etymology is the study of words and their origins which brought me in my personal study to the work Cretan as a stem for Christian. Greek for Cretan being fool or idiot and I cannot declare myself a fool! My father lifted the veil and everyday its harder to bow to the embassy of Baal. Lies fed to us from infancy robbing the most powerful weapon in our possession purposely from our very knowledge. That weapon is the True, Powerful,… Read more »
Good answers. I think the question as to whether one is a Christian or an Israelite can be a red herring because it distracts from whether you have genuinely accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the one, true God and that His Son is Jesus. It distracts b/c the conversation gets diverted to discussing whether one is a Jew, questions of ethnicity, race and identity ensue. We once celebrated Shabbat with a lady from the local synagogue. Afterwards, she said, I don’t know why there is such a gulf between Christians and Jews. There was nothing we… Read more »
On the other hand, Paul’s use of the phrase “Israel of God” is intriguing, and should make readers wonder just who it had in mind.