I believe Jews are God’s chosen people, and in this post I’d like to explain why I believe this. Jews are described very well in Peter’s first epistle:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).
Indeed, Jews are called out, chosen, made holy, have received God’s mercy, and are walking as light in the midst of darkness. Here are a couple more passages which mention and describe God’s chosen people:
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined* according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
“Therefore, as the elect* of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).
*Some translations use the word “chosen” here.
Would you agree that each of the above passages describe Jews? Why not? After all, the apostle Paul, an ethnic Jew, says that true Jews are those whose hearts have been circumcised:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).
Statements abound on the internet, made by Christians, claiming that all Jews are God’s chosen people, and by this they mean ethnic Jews. This flies in the face of what Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly.” On the other hand, Paul affirms who really is a Jew: “…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit.”
Only those who are circumcised in heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can live out the callings of God’s chosen people described in I Peter 2, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 3. Are some ethnic Jews part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes. Is this true of all ethnic Jews, or even a majority of them? No. Are some non-Jews (ethnically speaking) part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes.
Notice the verses immediately preceding Colossians 3:12 where Paul speaks of God’s chosen (or elect) people. He says that God’s people “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11). He then goes on to say, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…” God’s chosen ones are simply those who are in Christ, and ethnicity is not a factor at all.
Circumcision of the flesh (a major identifying trait of ethnic Jews) is meaningless under the new covenant, and meaningless when it comes to the role and identity of God’s chosen people:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15-16).
Remember that true Jews, Paul says, are those who are circumcised in their hearts. And Paul says elsewhere, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3).
Ultimately, why is it that God’s chosen people are chosen today? It’s because we are in Jesus, and Jesus is the chosen One!
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1).
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:16-17).
The following passages further demonstrate why all ethnic Jews are not God’s chosen people, but why all who are in Christ are God’s chosen people:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire‘” (Matthew 3:7-10).
“And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
“Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’ …They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’ …You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:19, 39, 44).
“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’” (Acts 3:22-23).
How can those who are in outer darkness, who don’t receive Jesus (God’s chosen One), whose father is the devil, and who are “utterly destroyed from among the people” — how can they be God’s chosen people? And how is it that thousands of Christians are ready to roll out the accusation of “replacement theology” as soon as someone says that Christians are God’s chosen people? It’s a phenomenon of our time.
1. God’s chosen people are a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s light, proclaim God’s praises, have obtained mercy, have an inheritance, and are called and empowered to obey Christ’s commands.
2. Ethnic Jews, who are only outwardly Jews or circumcised in the flesh, are not Jews in the eyes of God. Those who are circumcised in their hearts are Jews inwardly, and are Jews in the eyes of God.
3. Among God’s chosen people, there “is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,” and all that matters is being made a new creation in Christ.
4. The circumcised in heart, who Paul says are Jews in the eyes of God, are those who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ.
5. All ethnic Jews (and others) who reject Jesus are children of the devil and not Abraham, are in outer darkness, do not know the Father, and are utterly cut off from God’s people.