Peter made mention of some things Paul taught that were hard to be understood causing the ignorant and unstedfast to wrestle with:
2 Peter 3:15-16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; (16) as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
One of those subjects Paul so eloquently proved but the church so violently opposes is the understanding of who the “Israel of God” is today:
Galatians 6:15-16 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (16) And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Let’s pull some key scriptures together to help lay the ground work for what Paul was saying :o)
Almost 2000 years before Christ, our Father made a covenant with a Gentile named Abram that he would be the father of a multitude of nations:
Genesis 17:1-8 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, (4) As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. (6) And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. (8) And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Father required every male throughout Abraham’s generations that were born in his house, bought with money, or any foreigner in his house that were not of his seed were to be physically circumcised as a token of the covenant:
Genesis 17:9-14 And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. (10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. (11) And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you. (12) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed. (13) He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (14) And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Yes Abraham was a Gentile:
Acts 15:14-18 Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (15) And to this agree the words of the prophets;
So was Abraham’s son Isaac for it was not until Abraham’s third generation that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel:
Genesis 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
This covenant was made with Abraham around 1900 BC. But it was not until 1200 years later, during the reign of king Ahaz, about 700 BC, that the word “Jew” was first recorded in the bible as being used to refer to the people of Israel:
2 Kings 16:5-6 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. (6) At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jewsfrom Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day.
About 200 years later many foreign peoples in the Medo~Persian empire became Jews for fear of the Jews which is also a prophecy of the Gentiles coming into the commonwealth of Israel through Christ:
Esther 8:17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.
The Holy Spirit moved Isaiah to prophecy that Jesus Christ was going to be a light to the Gentiles so that salvation spreads to the ends of the earth:
Isaiah 42:1-6 Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. (2) He will not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. (3) A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice in truth. (4) He will not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law. (5) Thus saith God Jehovah, he that created the heavens, and stretched them forth; he that spread abroad the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: (6) I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isaiah 49:6-8 yea, he saith, It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. (7) Thus saith Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Jehovah that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee. (8) Thus saith Jehovah, In an acceptable time have I answered thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages:
After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the nickname of a “Jew” is now assigned to those who are circumcised inwardly in their heart in the spirit not in the letter:
Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: (29) 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 of men, but of God.
So the gospel that was preached to Abraham 4000 years ago was a prophecy of the Gentiles becoming Abraham’s seed through faith in Christ:
Galatians 3:7-9 Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham. (8) And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed. (9) So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.
The fact that this gospel was spoken by God to a Gentile named Abraham 2000 years before Christ proves our Father always intended to bring Gentiles with the Jews into one man in Christ Jesus:
Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. (28) There can be neither Jew nor Greek(Gentile), there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. (29) And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
The church existed 1500 years before Christ when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness:
Acts 7:37-39 This is that Moses, who said untothe children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. (38) This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received living oracles to give unto us: (39) to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and turned back in their hearts unto Egypt,
So if Paul referred to the children of Israel as the church and the NT covenant is with the house of Israel who is also the church then we are all the house of Israel as God’s chosen people:
Hebrews 8:9-10 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers In the day that I took them by the hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt; For they continued not in my covenant, And I regarded them not, saith the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, And on their heart also will I write them: And I will be to them a God, And they shall be to me a people:
Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek(Gentile): for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him:
Colossians 3:10-11 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: (11) where there cannot be Greek(Gentile) and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
Under the old covenant the Gentiles were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel but the new covenant reconciled both the Jew and the Gentile into one body. The Gentiles became fellow-citizens of Israel as fellow saints of the household of God:
Ephesians 2:11-22 Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; (12) that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (13) But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off(believing Gentiles) are made nigh in the blood of Christ. (14) For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, (15) having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; (16) and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (17) and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: (18) for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. (19) So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, (20) being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; (21) in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; (22) in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Zechariah prophesied 800 years before Paul that Gentiles who were “afar off” are now a part of the commonwealth of Israel as the temple of God when they put their faith in Jesus Christ as believers:
Zechariah 6:9 & 15 And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying,….(15) And they that are far off(believing Gentiles)shall come and build in the temple of Jehovah; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me(the Word made flesh who is Jesus) unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Jehovah your God.
Father never intended for His children to be just from the physical seed of Abraham but the children of His promise:
Romans 9:6-8 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: (7) neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (8) That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.
Christ redeemed both the physical Jews and the Gentiles so that both might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith:
Galatians 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
As our Father chose us all before the foundation of the world and foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 1:3-11 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: (5) having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: (7) in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, (9) making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him (10) unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, (11) in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will;
We must never forget it was Father who declared from the beginning of the world who His sons will be in the end:
Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me; (10) declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;
He declared in Isaiah that only a remnant of physical Israel will be saved when He is about to finish His Word upon the earth:
Romans 9:27-28 And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved: (28) for the Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.
But two chapters later Paul is declaring “all Israel” shall be saved:
Romans 11:26 and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
The only way for this to be true is if Father declared from the beginning that the commonwealth of Israel will be made up of many Jews and Gentiles grafted into ONE olive tree:
Romans 11:7-28 What then? That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened: (8) according as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day. (9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, And a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them: (10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back always. (11) I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall? God forbid: but by their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. (12) Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (13) But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; (14) if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them. (15) For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (16) And if the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches. (17) But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree; (18) glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee. (19) Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. (20) Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not highminded, but fear: (21) for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. (22) Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (23) And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. (24) For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (25) For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; (26) and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (27) And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins. (28) As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake
So the mystery is the commonwealth of Israel is made up of only those Jews and Gentiles who are not broken off of that ONE olive tree called “all Israel”!
Some try to accuse this inclusion of the Gentile church into the commonwealth of Israel as replacement theology but Paul made it very clear that God always intended on making both believing Jews and believing Gentiles one people:
Romans 9:22-26 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction: (23) and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory, (24) even us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? (25) As he saith also in Hosea, I will call that my people, which was not my people; And her beloved, that was not beloved. (26) And it shall be, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, There shall they be called sons of the living God.
The new covenant was made through Jesus’ blood and includes the salvation of souls from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation including physical Israel who all become one holy nation in Christ:
Revelation 5:9-10 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, (10) and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Jesus declared that both the flock of believing physical Israel and the flock of believing Gentiles will become ONE flock with ONE shepherd:
John 10:16 And other sheep(Gentiles) I have, which are not of this fold(Jews): them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd.
The Holy Spirit moved the high priest, who oversaw Jesus’ death, to prophesy that Jesus was to die for both the physical nation of Israel as well as all other Gentile children of God into ONE body which is the ONE olive tree called “all Israel”:
John 11:51-52 Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; (52) and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad.
Many bible teachers believe the tribulation is only for Old Testament Israel but the Word of God proves the church is the woman that as ONE flock must again flee out of spiritual Egypt that is a type of the world into their wilderness to prove who is worthy to be a part of “all Israel”:
Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Acts 14:22 confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.
Mark 13:19 For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be.
For more understanding on who the tribulation is for please see this link:
An angel shows John the bride, the wife of the Lamb which is the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven after the tribulation. She has twelve gates named after the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Revelation 21:9-12 And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. (10) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: (12) having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve(dōdeka) tribes(phylē) of the children of Israel:
The phrase “twelve tribes” comes from two Greek words: “dōdeka” which means twelve and “phylē” which means an offshoot, i.e. race or clan:—kindred, tribe:
Most bible teachers declare the bride is a part of the NT church so if the holy city of new Jerusalem is the bride with the gates named after the twelve tribes then they must be twelve spiritual tribes made up of both Jew and Gentile believers as “all Israel”:
Revelation 5:9-10 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe(phylē), and tongue, and people, and nation, (10) and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.
Here are the only other verses in the NT where the phrase “twelve tribes” is found that comes from the two Greek words: “dōdeka” and “phylē”:
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Luke 22:30 that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and ye shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting.
There is only one NT verse where the phrase “twelve tribes” comes from one Greek word: “dōdekaphylon” which means “the commonwealth of Israel” and speaks directly of the OT twelve tribes:
Acts 26:7 unto which promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king!