Romans 2:28

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh.

Revelation 3:9

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I loved the.

Matthew 23:38

Behold your house is left unto you desolate.

How is all this possible?

  • Where does it say Gentile can be a jew? Do you mean Rev 2.9? Be more clear
    – Michael16
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 8:21
  • @ Michael16. I am so glad you caught that . That was my mystery in a riddle. Please allow a few more people to meditate on that. Yes you got it, but also Rev. 3:9.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 8:26
  • 1
    You have to analyze Jesus words carefully. Only two categories. Those that say and are not. BAD. Thus the ones he loves are GOOD. The key is they are in Jesus. Have I given away to much ?
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 8:31
  • if the synagogue of satan is considered gentiles, then they are called not-jews; so again, where is the ref of non-jews being jews?
    – Michael16
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 9:42
  • The synagogue of Satin are liars that claim to be Jews but are not. Using logic if they said they were Jews and truly were, that would be good. Therefore Jesus is saying false Jews will worship at the feet of true Jews. The true spiritual Jews are addressed in Romans 9: 4-7. Got to go for it is late here.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 9:53

3 Answers 3


The answer to this is provided in Rom 9:6-8

... For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. ... So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.

That is, biological children of Abraham are not the real Israel - the real Israel is composed of those who claim the promises of the new covenant of grace.

Paul illustrates this point further (V10, 11) by Isaac's two sons (both descended from Abraham) but only one of them became of member of the true Israel by receiving the promises of the covenant.

Paul continues this with further evidence from the OT prophets such as that from Hosea (Hos 2:23, 1:10, etc) and much else.

Indeed, this was always the case - see appendix below.

APPENDIX - Israel was voluntary

While Israel was chosen as the instrument to tell and show the world of God’s saving grace, salvation was always available to all people. Indeed, the Old Testament contains many examples of foreigners becoming part of Israel, indicating that the Israelite Covenant was open to all and was never exclusive. For example:

  • Abraham’s own household must have consisted of perhaps 2000 people just to be able to raise an army of 318 men to liberate Lot, Gen 14:14. Indeed, Abraham’s chief servant (from Damascus) was clearly a believer and very devout as shown in Gen 24.
  • The unfortunate story in Gen 38 about Judah and Tamar shows that a foreigner became the mother of the tribe of Judah.
  • When Jacob entered Egypt, his family numbered 75 people (Acts 7:14, Ex 1:5). Some of these were not direct descendants of Abraham such as the wives of the 12 patriarchs, notably Joseph’s own wife. 215 years and four generations later at the exodus, Israel’s army had over 600,000 men, excluding women and children, (Ex 12:37, Num 1:46, etc) suggesting a total population of several million people, requiring many additions. This included a significant mixed multitude (Ex 12:38) showing that Israel obviously consisted of many non-biological Jews had joined. (Note that it is biologically impossible for Israelite numbers to have grown from 75 to several million biologically without many outside additions.)
  • Moses married a Midianite (Ex 2:16-21) also known as a Cushite. Miriam and Aaron were severely reprimanded and punished for displaying racism (Num 12:1, 2)
  • Caleb, who represented and led the tribe of Judah was a Kennizite (Num 32:12).
  • Rahab was a Canaanite (Josh 2:1, 2, Matt 1:5)
  • Ruth was Moabite (Ruth 1:4 16, 17, Matt 1:5) – these last two make King David descended from foreigners (Ruth 4:13-16).
  • Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam 11:3)
  • King David’s elite personal regiment consisted of Gittites, that is, Philistines (2 Sam 15:18-22, 1 Chron 18:17)
  • Isa 14:1 - When the LORD has compassion on Jacob and again chooses Israel, and settles them on their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.
  • Isa 56:6, 7 - And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD to minister to Him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be His servants— all who keep the Sabbath without profaning it and who hold fast to My covenant—I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” See also V3.
  • The Rechabites were Kenites (Jer 35:1-19)
  • Many other foreigners lived in Israel (1 Chron 22:2, 17, 2 Chron 30:25)
  • In Esther’s time “many of the people of the land became Jews” (Esther 8:17, 9:27)
  • Even in NT times, many Jewish synagogues were attended by godly gentiles converted to Judaism (Acts 13:16, 26, 16:14, 17:17)
  • Many Jewish proselytes came to worship in Jerusalem (John 20:20, Acts 2:9-11)
  • Jesus quotes Isa 56:7, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”, Mark 11:17.
  • Further, biological Israelites could opt out of the covenant and be cut-off (Ex 30:33, 38, 31:14, Lev 7:20, 21, 25, 27). Esau and Ishmael (both descendants of Abraham) were good examples of this.

Thus, it is abundantly clear that membership of Israel was always open to all and voluntary.

  • You do understand the meaning of Israel and why God changes his chosen's names I presume.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 8:58
  • @RHPclass79 - יִשְׂרָאֵל is "God strives". Jacob's name was changed to Israel following the wrestling match with the "angel" (Gen 32:28).
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 9:29
  • Israel means Prince of God or one who has authority with God. In order to be a prince you have to be a child of the King. When God gives you a name it becomes your destiny.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 9:36
  • @RHPclass79 - Huh? Are you confusing two different word, namely יִשְׂרָ (stive) with שַׂר (prince). They are spelled differently and different words. Indeed, the "angel" that renamed Jacob actually told him that his new name was to mean, "you have struggled with God" (Gen 35:28)
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 9:45
  • 1
    @RHPclass79 - Strong's (and BDB) have the root as שָׂרָה 8280 = "to persist, exert oneself, persevere" which agrees with yours - this word occurs in Gen 32:28, Hos 12:3 = to strive.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 11:01

There is no riddle here.

As with many things in the bible, a visible, physical picture of the spiritual concept comes first. Circumcision of the flesh came before the circumcision of the heart. The earthly Jerusalem was only a cheep imitation of the heavenly one. The same principle applies to Israel. We have the physical Israel, whose surviving remnant are the unbelieving Jews. It was merely the shadow of the true people of God. And, we have the true, spiritual Israel constructed of the believing Jews and the gentiles.

That is why Paul calls the unbelieving Jews only "kinsmen according to the flesh" in Romans 9:3. But he describes the believers as the Israel of God (6:15-16). That is the reason why he baldly calls all the believers the true "Jews" and the true circumcision in Romans 2:29 and Philippians 3:3.

John tells us the same thing. In the 8th chapter of his gospel, we read:

37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. ... 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

One can be a physical descendant of Abraham and the son of the devil at the same time. The status of the sonship depends on the faith in Jesus Christ, not the genetics.

In the Book of Revelation 3:9 John continues:

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

Typologically, Jacob as a shadow of Christ had two wives. The older, which represents the unbelieving Jews had weak eyes (they did not recognise their Messiah) and the younger, which represents the believers, the Israel of God, he loved.

In the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus (John 3) John recorded:

23 And when He was in Jerusalem in the Passover, in the Feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs that He was doing. ... 1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Him by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one is able to do these signs that You do, unless God should be with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except anyone be born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus says to Him, “How is a man able to be born, being old? Is he able to enter into the womb of his mother a second time, and to be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless anyone be born of water and of the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That having been born of the flesh is flesh, and that having been born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not wonder that I said to you, ‘It is necessary for you all to be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know from where it comes and where it goes. Thus is everyone having been born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How are these things able to be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel, and do you not know these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you that we speak that which we know, and we bear witness to that which we have seen, and you people do not receive our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 And no one has gone up into heaven except the One having come down out of heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus it behooves the Son of Man to be lifted up, 15 so that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life.

Jesus clearly tells Nicodemus that being a Jew (being born of water means the exodus from Egypt (1 Corinthians 10)) is not enough to enter the kingdom of God.

Jacob adopted his two grandsons with the arms crossed as a shadow of adoption of the peoples from the nations through the cross. And he blessed Ephraim to be the fullness of the gentiles that Paul writes about in Romans 11. As we know, the physical Ephraim (the 10 lost tribes) were divorced by God and scattered among the gentiles, with whom they mingled. They are indistinguishable genetically now. But in a spiritual sense, all the gentiles coming to Christ are the Ephraimites returning from the exile. That is why both Peter (1 P 2) and Paul (Romans 9) confidently use Hosea 2 in the context of repenting gentiles.

The shift from Israel being an ethnic group to something else was prophesied in Isaiah 49. We have there an individual that is called Israel, who is obviously Jesus. He would be the saviour of His people and the light to the nations. Christ Himself is the new Israel. He redefines the meaning of being Israel. The genetics does not matter. What makes one an Israelite is the belief in Him. That is why Matthew can apply the words of Hosea 11:1 to Jesus. That is why Christ replayed the events from Israel's past. That is why Jesus remodels Israel when He called the twelve, who did not represent all the original tribes. That is why the New Jerusalem has its foundations build on the apostles of the lamb, not the twelve sons of Jacob.

  • Hard to post the @ Screen Name for you. Great answer . I can tell how much time and thought you put in on it, as opposed to a quick cut and paste .
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 18:27

We may need to review the origin of circumcision, which is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant.

Genesis 17:9-13 NIV

9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.

Further in Galatians 3:16-17, Paul elaborates that Jesus is the sole inheritance of the Abrahamic covenant.

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

From the above, we can conclude that circumcision does not automatically inherit the Abrahamic covenant. The inheritance is given on the promise, and is given to only one person who is Christ. The believers of Christ are the spiritual offspring, for they are bought by Christ with His blood. In Ephesus 1:7, Paul said, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace".

From the day of Exodus to the present, we know that the name Jews is not only given to direct descendants of Abraham. Gentiles who follow the rituals of the Jews can become Jews. Jews is a name that is merely outward and physical. They do not automatically become heirs to God's covenant. By the promise, it is given to Jesus Christ only, and to those Jesus Christ bought with His blood.

  • I am not sure I can agree with your statement " Gentiles who observe Jewish rituals can become Jews." Other than that I appreciate your answer.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 19:00
  • @RHPclass79 - when I call 'Gentiles', it means they are not direct descendants of Abraham. In Exodus, there were Egyptians. In Canaan, there were Kenites. Chabad.org has this statement, "The most important thing is that when you convert to Judaism you will be Jewish". chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2972927/jewish/… Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 3:47
  • Thank you Vincent. What are your thoughts on the fact that Jesus is addressing gentile churches but referencing those masquerading as Jews. I mean why not just say they claim to be Christians, but they lie.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 5:50
  • @RHPclass79 - I believe that the seven churches in Revelation were a mix of Jews and Gentiles. However, the teachers should have been mostly Jews for the Gentiles did not have the same knowledge of the scripture. When Jesus rebuked some Jews for claiming to be Jews when they were not, the same logic apply to present day. Some people who claim to be Christian are liars. However, we are taught not to judge, and to let God be the judge. Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 15:41

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