The Bible describes three distinct groups of people with whom God relates differently: the Gentiles (not in covenant with God), the Jews (under the law, the original covenant with God), and the Church (under God’s new covenant of grace through Jesus Christ). First Corinthians 10:32 names the three groups in a single verse, and chapters 9-11 of the Epistle to the Romans describe them rather succinctly in a single book, but of course it takes the Bible as a whole to demonstrate it fully.
May the Lord grant us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to know Him and our exalted position in Christ better as we consider His three distinct peoples herein. Amen.
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A brief temporal account of the three Biblical groups of people
Gentiles have existed since Adam, and of course are earthly because they are not in covenant with God. Abram was a Gentile who responded to God’s call to cross the Euphrates River (that’s the origin of the word Hebrew) and enter the land of promise. He became a Hebrew when he believed God, whereon God credited it to him as righteousness, entered into covenant with him, had him circumcise himself (cut off his flesh), and renamed him Abraham.
Israel descended from Abraham’s grandson Jacob. Because of Israel’s repeated infidelity to God (and despite it!), He promised a deliverer via multiple prophets throughout the centuries. He also promised that ALL peoples of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.
Although the prophets spoke of both a suffering servant and a Messianic king, the great and terrible day of the Lord and His glorious kingdom, it was not clear that deliverance would entail two separate Messianic advents.
As we know, God delivered His only begotten Son, Jesus Messiah, to the Hebrews exactly as promised, but a subset of them who returned from exile in Babylon – the Jews (the word used in the Scriptures actually means Judean, of Judah) – stumbled over the humble Nazarene (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”), rejected Him, and delivered their long-awaited Messiah over to the Gentiles to be crucified.
Resurrected and ascended to the Father’s right hand, Jesus then poured forth His promised Spirit into those who entered into God’s new covenant of grace with Him (see Matt. 26:26-29). The Church – all those people who’d received revelation of Jesus from God and confessed that He was the Messiah (see Matt. 16:15-18) – came to life on earth as they received the breath of God on Pentecost (the Greek word for spirit also means breath; compare Gen. 2:7 with Acts 2:1-4).
To summarize in one sentence using terminology from 1 Cor. 15:48, God has Gentiles (the earthly man), Jews (through whom salvation comes via Jesus), and His Church (in whom the two become one new heavenly man).
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups [Gentiles and Jews] into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace… (Eph. 2:13-15)
Now, some important points:
- IN Christ there is no division – no Jew or Gentile, male or female, etc. (see Gal. 3:28); division is only OUTSIDE of Him.
- JESUS was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 15:24); He breathed His Spirit on His Jewish disciples, then sent THEM forth as His witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
- That salvation would come from the Jews (John 4:22) and then go forth to the Gentiles was not a secret (e.g. Is. 49:6). “The mystery” of which Paul wrote is, as given in Ephesians above, that the two are both reconciled to God in one new creation, the heavenly man: “the Christ” (see also 1 Cor. 15:44-49 and the Introduction to this series).
One Biblical group at a time
It is also important to realize that the Church was hidden from view in the OT, and, in large part, also in the gospels, until Christ ascended into heaven and poured out His Spirit at Pentecost. The two separate advents of Christ and the intervening Church age have been likened to a timeline depicting two mountains with an intervening valley which are all visible from one ground-level perspective, but appear only as a single mountain when viewed 90 degrees from that ground-level viewpoint. This gives us greater compassion for Jesus’ disciples as He told them repeatedly that He must suffer and be crucified: they had understood the prophets to describe only a single advent of their Messiah, and so expected His kingdom to be imminent.
God gave many years of grace to His covenant people, the Jews, before their rejection of the Messiah was complete in His eyes. We see the grace period began to wane when the Lord sent Philip to witness to the Samaritans and to the Ethiopian, and Peter to witness to Cornelius. Paul and Barnabus were sent shortly thereafter. God waited roughly 40 years to render judgment on the Jews via the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. – THAT was the destruction and abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel! (The Hebrew of Daniel 9:27 is usually MISTRANSLATED to imply that the person who confirms a covenant with many sets up an abomination that causes desolation, but that is not how the Hebrew actually reads. The MESSIAH Himself confirmed the covenant with many, and fulfilled ALL FOUR conditions of Daniel 9:24! The best and most complete revelation of that key matter in my opinion is Philip Mauro’s book The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation – A Study of the Last Two Visions of Daniel and the Olivet Discourse if the Lord Jesus Christ (1921).)
Again, much of God’s dealings with Israel regarding their rejection of their Messiah is addressed in Romans chapters 9-11. The bottom line therein is that God, having grafted our wild (Gentile) branches in, WILL eventually graft the natural branch of Israel back into their own olive tree (see Ro. 11:11-24), as prophesied in various OT Scriptures. This will occur during Christ’s literal 1,000 year reign, the Millennial Kingdom. (Ed.: The Lord has since given me greater understanding of this since this series was originally published. Please see more recent series, Resurrection, Rapture, Judgment, and Millennium for THAT whole matter!)
Interestingly enough, the apostle James recognized that God was rebuilding David’s fallen tent and taking from the Gentiles a people for Himself when he quoted Amos 9:11 at the Jerusalem council: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon [Peter] has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. It’s ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it…’ “ (Acts 15:13-16). The Church IS that restoration! (Ed. note: This is unraveled in the more recent article Abraham’s Children of the Promise (the True Israel) – Saved According to Faith in the Word of God – please do read it, for the understanding therein is key!)
The fullness of the Gentiles IS coming into Christ (Ro. 11:25), and the Church is attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (see Eph. 4:13). His Bride is making herself ready…
17 thoughts on “Part 1: Three Distinct Groups of People”
Thank you for your time and research and helping us experience a deeper walk of faith!
Thank you for this, Rick. Gratitude is such a blessing to both the giver and the receiver. You have caused me to reflect on this for quite a while here this morning. Our gratitude for what God does through His servants displaces so many subtle evils such as discouragement, just as light displaces darkness. Ingratitude is an under-recognized root sin behind so much of what ails us.
I often go back during the day or next day to re-read your posts. My thanks is heart-felt. I believe in order for us to receive we must have a heart of gratitude. Your investment of time and research separates you from so many other Christian bloggers.
In my re-reading tonight the scripture “you who formally were far off…” Touches my heart as I write about my years of walking away from faith but by God’s grace seeing how God never walked away from me. He gently waited for my return. Blessings. Ps: your observation about ingratitude could be a topic we could both write about in the future!
“…by God’s grace seeing how God never walked away from me. He gently waited for my return.” Beautiful, Rick!
So grateful to know the Lord is speaking to you through these pieces. After teaching me so much about our individual identity in Christ (as the Dan Mohler transcripts cover well), the Lord has had me in an intensive season of learning about our blessed corporate identity in Christ (the Church). As I have come to apprehend what He teaches us through Paul regarding this mystery of the corporate Christ, the Scriptures addressing the end times are finally coming into alignment for me: after years of pressing into Him about them, the progressive revelation has brought much clarity, and it’s absolutely tremendous!
Regarding your P.S., has the Holy Spirit yet led you to the Bible study on the Cause and Eradication of Disease? His word on the matter “uproots and tears down, destroys and overthrows” our worldly modern Western mindset on it…
I did write a comment but lost internet connection so lost my reply! Anyway here goes ….. my first amazement was the truth of the three groups! That truly was a revelation to me. Again I followed your links and there it is! I always thought it was just about the Jews and Gentiles but my context was all wrong. The Church combining the Jews and Gentiles into one under a new covenant as a separate group is astounding to me. Most churches I have attended never mention Israel or the Jews [even though I am a Jew] by birth and also as a person believing In Jesus the Son of God. These separate groups as you say makes the telling of prophecy of end times very different. I thank God for His grace towards my ignorance on this matter. Just so I am right in thinking the two separate advents are Jesus coming the first time and then the final and second time yes? …. jacky x
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Yes, and catch this (it will be addressed in detail later as the series progresses): just as most OT Jews did not appreciate that Messiah was to come first as a suffering servant (first advent) and then as Lion of the tribe of Judah (second advent which they focused on), many Christians today do not see the Scriptures prophesy two stages to His second advent: (1) His coming FOR His Bride BEFORE antichrist and the great tribulation to save her from the coming wrath and (2) His coming in glory WITH His Bride from heaven to earth to END the tribulation and begin His literal millennial reign on David’s throne. Here is a link to a chart on a website that may help: http://www.preceptaustin.org/the_second_coming_of_christ.htm
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Thanks Deanna! I’ve saved your other links too under ‘bible study’ I’ve heard much discussions on this and yes much division on it too. I have not had the mind to go study this myself Ii wouldn’t know where to start. I wanted to ask many questions about Daniel and the 70th week stuff. I get the gist of it but would like the finer details as it were with timing etc….. is it necessary to do you think Deanna? I just want to understand it since it is the time of Daniel I feel to understand these late hour messages. In one sense I am out of my depth in that I am not confident in understanding this. Very nervous, very unqualified Deanna in learning. xx
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So glad it raised those questions for you! The Lord had me do some more ground level work before getting into Daniel’s 70th week, but it IS addressed later in the series, so keep reading at the proper pace.😊
Regarding your saying, “In one sense I am out of my depth in that I am not confident in understanding this. Very nervous, very unqualified Deanna in learning,” I assure you: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth… As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:22,27). Also as Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13-14).
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Thank you Deanna! Yes He will guide me each step of the way God Bless you xx
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Reblogged this on The Lord Is With Us and commented:
And so here is Part 1 for those who missed it, and to refresh memories for the rest of you… God bless you!
Hey Deanna. Question I have always had is about the Jews and their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. It is my understanding when Jesus returns, the Jews will see Him in truth as the Son of God and salvation will come. But is that for all Jews in history or just those that are alive at His coming? I hope that makes sense. In other words when an unbelieving Gentile dies they will perish. So if an unbelieving Jews dies, my thought is they will perish too or will they be saved at His second coming because that is when the spiritual eyes of the Jews will be opened?
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Hi Greg! Only the remnant of Israel will be saved (Rev. 7:4-8). Zech. 13:8 prophesies that “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.'”
These are the Scriptures that were brought to my mind regarding the second part of your question:
Ez.18:20 “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.”
Jer. 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
Perhaps you have Paul’s words in mind from Romans 11:26 “So all Israel will be saved…” Since Scripture does not contradict itself, and since there are numerous Scriptures I am not including here that address that we are accountable for OUR actions, I conclude that the Holy Spirit did not mean in Ro. 11:26 that even the Israelite sinners will be saved, but just that the nation as a whole shall be saved through the great tribulation via the remnant (again, Rev. 7:4-8).
Hi Deanna! Yes Romans 11:26 is exactly what I had in mind. I did not realize Paul here is speaking of the Nation of Israel. So then is it correct to say the remnant of Israel that will be saved through the tribulation is the one-third Zechariah prophesies about in 13:8? I had a friend of mine make a statement of how radical the world would change if Israel would turn to God. My thoughts are that is what is to happen during the tribulation if my thoughts are correct. Thanks Deanna
Hi Greg! Yes, that is my understanding of the matter. Rev ch 7 tells us that one third remnant is 144,000, and that’s where I’m still pressing into the Lord about it, for a literal interpretation then means ALL of “Israel” at the time will be only three times 144,000. Given that the twenty-four elders on the thrones is not the literal number of raptured Church overcomers but is a double portion of twelve (God’s number for government), I see that the 12,000 from each of tribes of Israel is representative of a thousand times God’s number for government, and not literal either.
We’ve had sketchy internet during the times you started sending this out. So I’ve saved them for when we had a strong connection – and I had peace and quiet to absorb your in-depth writings! So just starting to read them, starting here!
Interesting as today Bill and I read Acts Chapter 14! Fits perfectly with our discussion….but I didn’t see it as clearly as i do now!
Excellent post sister!
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Hello Deb! So blessed to hear from you again! Thank you, and thanks for passing along that God has you two reading Acts 14. Two key verse therein for me are 14:3 (oh how I need to know God doing this now) and 14:22. May God continue to bless you and your family!
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I want to mull them over again: “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” Acts 14:3
“….strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 12:22
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