occurred to me the other day that I have been taking this matter of the
Old and New Testaments all wrong. For years I heard terms like
"Torah Story" and "Whole-Bible Approach" from people
like Dr. Charles Dorothy, but being a little slow on the uptake, the
implications of such concepts found somewhat shallow soil in my brain. I
had for too long been locked into the belief that we have Israel in the
Old Testament and the Church in the New -- a sort of divine
Then one day I was listening to a friend explain that the Old Testament
was inadequate for the preaching of the gospel; that's why God gave us
the New. Only then did the absolute illogic of his statement and the
absurdity of our belief in this mythical wall of separation between
Israel and the Church hit me right between the eyes.
Finally, I realized that it is not that there is no difference between
the Old and New Testaments or the Old and New Covenants. Differences
abound. The problem is that we have separated the Church of Jesus Christ
from Israel. What I failed to see is that the Church is the promised
faithful remnant of the nation of Israel -- complete with gentiles
grafted in. The apostle Paul did a wonderful job explaining how all this
works, but it seems that when we read Romans, chapters 9 through 11, the
veil is over our eyes.
To be sure, we come by this misunderstanding naturally. First, many Jews
were hostile to this new "sect of the Jews" called
Christianity, so there came a point at which Christians were no longer
permitted to worship in synagogues. Then came the Catholic Church with
its abhorrence of anything Jewish. The bishop of Rome, making good use
of the powers of the emperor himself, made sure that the practices of
the Apostles and first century Church were subverted and exchanged for a
variety of "Christianized" pagan practices such as the
observance of Easter, Christmas, and Sunday in place of the Sabbath and
other God-ordained observances. (Please refer to the article, "Sunday
Roots," by Dr. Sidney Davis on the main page of my
Getting back to my friend's statement that the Old Testament was
inadequate for the preaching of the gospel, just a little reflection on
the circumstances of the Apostles' day should be convincing enough as to
why such a statement is not only absolutely false, but bordering on
The Scriptures from which Jesus taught the Apostles the gospel were what
we call the Old Testament. There was no other "Bible" from
which to quote. The entirety of the gospel came from Jesus' and the
Apostles' understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. They understood that
Jesus was not starting a new religion, but that in Him and later in the
Church were fulfilled the promises of redemption for Israel made to the
As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 11:5, "there is a remnant
according to the election of grace." The remnant is made up of
those Israelites who accept Christ and God's salvation through Him by
faith, together with gentiles who likewise accept Christ through faith
and become grafted into this tree of the remnant of Israel.
Let's look at a few scriptures that exemplify this point:
Galatians 6:16: And as many as walk according to this rule,
peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Ephesians 2:12,13: at that time you were without Christ,
being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the
covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But
now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near
by the blood of Christ.
[Comment: The implication here, of course, is that the gentiles are
no longer aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.]
Hebrews 8:8: For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the
days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the
house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Hebrews 8:10: 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 write them in their hearts: and I will be to
them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
[Comment: Through this new covenant made with the blood of Christ,
the gentile becomes a member of the houses of Israel and Judah, who are
being brought together again into a single nation through Christ. The
New Covenant, that Christians talk about so often, is made with Israel
-- the seed of Abraham, and in order for non-Israelites to become
partakers of this New Covenant, they are, through faith, grafted into
the tree of Israel through the root of Jesse -- Jesus, the son of
Romans 2:28-29: For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor
is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 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 from men but from God.
When we are "in Christ," we take on His lineage, that is,
we become the descendants of Abraham, whether or not we are Abraham's
descendants "in the flesh."
Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's
seed, and heirs according to the promise.
At this point we should take a look at some of the verses in apostle
Paul's lament for the Jewish people in Romans 9 through 11: I
have highlighted and commented on some of the verses that pertain
directly to the subject of this article. I have certainly not exhausted
the richness of the apostle's narrative.
Romans, chapter 9 (RSV):
3: For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from
Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race.
4: They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the
glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and
5: to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the
flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.
6: But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who
are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
[Comment: Notice in verse 4 that to the Israelites belong the
covenants. Observe also that the apostle Paul states that not all who
are physically born as Israelites belong to Israel. To put it another
way, true Israelites are those who cling to Israel's Messiah by faith.
Also in verse 4: The sonship belongs to Israel. To be a son of God,
you must be an Israelite. That is to say, Israel is God's family. Tie
this together with verses 24 - 26 in which gentiles are referred to by
God (quoted from Hosea) as "my people" and "sons of the
24: ... not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
25: As indeed he says in Hosea,
"Those who were not my people
I will call `my people,'
and her who was not beloved
I will call `my beloved.'"
26: "And in the very place where it was said to them, `You are
people,' they will be called `sons of the living God.'"
27: And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of
the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant
of them will be saved;
30: What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue
righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith;
31: but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on
law did not succeed in fulfilling that law.
32: Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith,
but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the
33: as it is written,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall;
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame."
Romans, chapter 10
10: For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he
confesses with his lips and so is saved.
11: The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put
12: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same
Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.
13: For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be
15: And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"
16: But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says,
"Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
17: So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the
preaching of Christ.
18: But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for
"Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world."
19: Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
"I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry."
20: Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
"I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."
21: But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and contrary people."
[Comment: Notice in chapter 10 that the apostle Paul
demonstrates how the gospel is deeply rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures
and is the proclamation of the fulfilled promises of God given through
the prophets to Israel. To the apostle Paul the Hebrew Scriptures were
fully adequate for the preaching of the gospel.]
Romans, chapter 11
1: I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am
an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of
2: God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew...
7: What then? Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect
obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
11: So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But
through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to
make Israel jealous.
12: Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their
failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full
I would urge the reader to study the entirety of Romans 9 through 11.
It is a wonderful outline of how the true "Israel of God," as
the apostle calls it, came into being. It truly is a remnant of faith.
Going back to the erroneous notion that somehow the Church and Israel
exist in two different worlds, it can only be described as an illusion
constructed out of whole cloth. All one has to do is examine the history
of the apostolic Church to realize that wherever the Church was planted,
the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, were an integral part of
preaching the gospel and teaching new Christians to "observe all
things I have commanded you."
Over the past century there has been a tremendous amount of historical
and archeological research that verifies the conclusion that the
earliest Church of God followed the law of God and the precepts given to
the people of Israel as they were interpreted by Christ and His
apostles. It was only through the coercion of the bishop of Rome and
what later became the Catholic Church that pagan practices and holidays,
borrowed from the sun-worshipping Romans, were eventually sanitized and
substituted for the Sabbath, the quartodeciman Christian Passover (kept
on the 14th of the first Hebrew month) and the Holy Days which God gave
Jesus made a statement in His Sermon on the Mount that few Christians
believe today. "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the
Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say
to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by
no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore
breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall
be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches
them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew
Jesus made a point of saying that His followers could not put aside the
Law and the prophets. One things that every Christian should remember is
that heaven and earth have not yet passed away. Jesus saw the law and
the prophets as a very integral part of the gospel -- and so did His
Historically we see the Church of Jesus Christ in its infancy keeping
the law, evidenced most often by their keeping of the Sabbath. It must
be noted, however, that the early Church kept the Sabbath not in
imitation of the Jews, but because Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath. That
fact is noted even by the early enemies of the Sabbath-keeping Church.
So, where does all this lead us? We are led to the conclusion that the
rules which God made for Israel also apply to the Church. Please
remember: The apostles and early evangelists did not have the New
Testament. It was taken for granted that the gospel derived from the
Hebrew Scriptures. To them the gospel meant the good news of the
fulfillment of the promises concerning Christ and His kingdom made to
the patriarchs and prophets.
Christians in places as far apart as China and Britain kept the Sabbath,
and we know for sure that in the case of Celtic Britain, there were many
who avoided unclean meats, observed a quartodeciman Passover, and kept
the Holy Days outlined in Leviticus 23. Even Saint Patrick, the great
patron saint of Ireland, held up by the Catholic Church as one of their
own, was a Sabbath-keeper. Once the Celts embraced Christianity, they
established the law of Moses as the basis even of their civil law in a
code known as the Liber ex Lege Moisi.
Evidence of other commandment and Sabbath-keeping congregations has been
found in India, Persia, the eastern Gothic empire, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
Apparently, the farther the early Church congregation was from Rome, the
more likely it was to value the keeping of the commandments, including
the Sabbath. In all this we find proof that the apostles obeyed their
Lord and preached the gospel in all the world during their time.
What we can conclude from all this is that the Church, including its
Jewish and non-Jewish members, was treated as an extension of Israel --
a latter-day remnant of God's holy nation. It is very unfortunate that
the understanding of this seminal concept has been lost. The Protestant
Reformation was a good start in recovering the truth of salvation
through faith in Jesus Christ. The Church of the 21st century needs to
continue on with the Reformation and allow itself to be drawn back to
its apostolic roots.
A general history of Sabbath-keeping churches can be found at
international site of the Christian Churches of God: http://www.logon.org/
For a historical overview of how antisemitism motivated the Church in
the West, under the control of the bishop of Rome, to repudiate the
quartodeciman Christian Passover and the Sabbath in favor of Easter and
Sunday, see the Ryland
Email Ken Ryland at firstname.lastname@example.org!