There is a mystery, hidden in God, from ages past that has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Paul speaks of this mystery in the book of Ephesians. He gives a clear and specific statement of the Mystery of Messiah – that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promises in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) through the Gospel.

This mystery unfolded in the events described in the Book of Acts. It is difficult for many Christians to appreciate the impact of this mystery, even though it is foundational to our inclusion in Messiah. This is because we read the Biblical texts (Both Old Testament and New) as if they are directed to us (Replacement Theology). But they are directed to the Jew first. This is true of the entire Biblical revelation (Torah, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, and Epistles). It is true of the Gospel message and the coming Judgment of God that was preached by Jesus and His apostles.. We Gentiles are included but we do not replace Israel. Even the writings of Paul can be misunderstood if read as a text written to Christians. They are texts to followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua, both Jews and Gentiles, bound together in Messiah in anticipation of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel which includes the blessing of the nations.

So the common error of Christians is to read the Biblical texts, not as extended to us, but as directed primarily to us, and only to Israel if they become like us. That is the fundamental error of replacement theology. And to make things worse there is emerging in the Messianic movement an overreaction to replacement theology that treats Gentile believers as virtually the same as Jewish believers. This is also an error. The Gospel is good news to Israel that the promises made to them through the fathers is about to come into fullness. And the mystery of the Messiah includes the blessings extending to the Gentiles so that we are fellow recipients as Gentiles.

Paul describes this mystery this way. We Gentiles are fellow heirs. To be fellow heirs is not to say that the inheritance is identical. A firstborn often inherited more than other brothers. It does mean, however, that we Gentiles are included in the inheritance. Paul further states we are fellow members of the body. In Messiah, we are included in the people of the messiah and members of one another. But we have gifts, functions and roles that differ. Equal membership does not imply that we are the same. Finally, Paul says we are fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel. The promise of the Spirit, the forgiveness of sins and resurrection at the last day are also ours along with Israel. We will sit down in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not as a replacement of Israel but as an extension of God’s people, called for His Name.

The mystery of Messiah is an important concept. It is the realization that the promises made in the covenants with Israel include a blessing of the Gentiles and our inclusion in the Kingdom restoration and the world to come. We are an expansion of the people of God, not a replacement of Israel. And we (Jew and Gentiles) are unified in Messiah. But what does that mean? What is the one new man in Messiah? That will be the subject of the next post.

H Bruce Stokes, PhD