How Jewish?

I live in a community of faith that has a love affair with Judaism.  I even had a seder (Passover) dinner because we need to remember that Jesus was Jewish and was bringing Jewish custom to fruitino when he gave new meaning to The Passover by instituting The Lord’s Supper.  However, I don’t have to work at being really Jewish.  Although the Jewish culture is the foundation for Christian truth, I am not saved by observing the Jewish atonement rights.

There was a time, like during the Crusades, when Christians didn’t respect Jewish culture and hardly thought of Jesus as Jewish.  They thought that he was killed by Jews, but that he wasn’t really Jewish himself. 

Paul makes the point in the following passage that we should, as Gentiles, be blended into the nation of God’s Holy People and that a renewed people of God will have an authentic relationship with God through Christ.  Christians should know about and respect Jewish culture without becoming Jewish to earn atonement through the Law.

Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Questions

  1. What words does Paul use to distinguish Jews from Gentiles?  In the light of our study on Galatians, why would he use these terms?
  2. How does Paul show that the goal in life is decreased distance from God?
  3. How does Paul emphasize relationship?
  4. How does some Christianity fail in moving people closer to God?
  5. What would be a remedy?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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