Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Ro 2:28–29)
Transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant can be disorientating, especially when it comes to language. Take for example “Jew.” This word can be very confusing to understand as it has multiple meanings and ways in which it is used.
Most [ethnic/religious] Jews in Jesus’ day were nominal, i.e. they were outwardly conforming to the Old Covenant (+ their added traditions, Mk 7:7). However, they were not inwardly hoping in the Messiah or abiding by the Old Covenant in faith. Though many sat under John’s preparatory ministry it is difficult to know the depth of their repentance and faith; especially when Jesus often called them “an evil generation.” The Mosaic Covenant was a mixed covenant of the visible and invisible, unbelievers and believers. In Jesus day there were few true Jews. Yet during His ministry, slowly, many began to believe in Him as the promised Messiah/King (or be positively inclined toward Him). Some overtly followed Him (11/12 disciples) and some secretly (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea). The best phrase to describe this group would be “the faithful remnant.” (Mal 3:16–18).
As the New Covenant was fully inaugurated through Jesus’ life/death/resurrection/ascension/Pentecost the Jews of the faithful remnant were the ones who embraced Jesus as their Messiah/King. It began with the 120, grew by 3000 at Pentecost, then by others (Acts 2:47), five thousand (Acts 4:4), etc (this continues with the later missionary journeys). Until Acts 8–11:19 the New Covenant community was exclusively ethnically Jewish. It was made up of ethnic Jews who were true Jews through faith.
As time progressed, and as Gentiles were added to this body, various names developed: disciples, believers, followers of the Way, Christians, etc. It was becoming clear that the New Covenant community was different from that of the Old Covenant community. The linguistic challenge is Paul was a Jew ethnically but not a Jew [in the old covenant sens] religiously or spiritually, yet was a true Jew because he believed! He was a Jew but not an “unbelieving Jew” (Acts 14:2).
In Ro 2, to show the ethnic-religious Jews were lost and in need of saving, Paul said those who trust in Jesus, Jew and Gentile, are the true Jews. Thus, while we may speak of ethnic or religious Jews or members of Judaism today the true Jews are all those who follow Jesus and are part of the people of God, the New Covenant community.
A similar article is titled, Galatians & Israel
 Jew can mean: of the tribe of Judah, resident of Judea, a synonymn for Israel, ethnic descendants of Abraham, those who practice Judaism or God’s people.
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