by Al Benson Jr.
In the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians, verses 15 and 16, Paul states: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
Many in our day have struggled over what this passage means. Many think this can only refer to national Israel, who, we have been informed for many generations, are the "chosen people." Those who have read the old Scofield Bible and searched for Scofield's comments on this passage in his running commentary will be disappointed as I was. They will find no commentary from Mr. Scofield. He chose not to comment on these words.
While I am far from being an avid fan of Bible commentaries, especially those published in the 20th century, I do have a set of Matthew Henry's commentaries that was given to me as a gift. Henry, writing in a saner day than ours, theologically speaking, had no trouble with this passage. In fact, his comments, in light of much of what we read today, are quite enlightening.
In speaking of the peace and mercy mentioned in verse 16, Henry stated: "These, he declares, shall be the portion of all the Israel of God, by whom he means all sincere Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, all who are Israelites indeed, who, although they may not be the natural, yet are become the spiritual seed of Abraham; these being heirs of his faith, are also heirs together with him of the same promise, and consequently entitled to the peace and mercy here spoken of."
If Matthew Henry could see the plan truth of this passage of Scripture, why can so many Christians today not see it? It was no secret in Matthew Henry's day that all who trust in Christ Jesus for their salvation constitute the Israel of God. How, then, in our supposedly advanced age, can so many have forgotten such an essential truth?
Abraham's true descendants have always been only those who were of faith. The name "Israel" unfortunately has many meanings for many people today. Sadly, most of those to whom the name really belongs have unconsciously passed along their birthright to others who are not currently believers and have become willing to settle for being nothing more than a parenthesis in history. They have forgotten, or been led to forget, that all history revolves around God's true Israel, those who are in Christ.
The world will ultimately not be judged by how it responds to natural Israel in the Middle East, but by how it responds to the true Israel--Christ's Church. God has never had two "chosen people", one earthly and the other heavenly. From the start, God's chosen people have been those who have responded to Him in faith (Galatians 3:29).
Think about this, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and discernment that you may know the truth. It is in knowing the truth that you will be set free.