How Did The Church Become A Gentile Body?

Q. I had a question about a comment you made in one of your commentaries. You said, “Not all of Israel rebelled, only parts. For 20 years after the cross, the Church was mostly composed of Jewish believers.” I’m well aware that there were Jewish believers, I’m also aware that it was prophesied that they would reject the Messiah. I guess what I’m not all that clear on is how that played out historically. Did the majority of the Jewish population (except for the leaders) embrace Christianity? Why or why not? When, where and why did the Jewish people start to fade away and how does that affect the Jewish people today?

A. Many among the poor and downtrodden of his time embraced Jesus as their Messiah and became His followers. It was the establishment that rejected Him. Remember, under the Old Covenant the Lord’s relationship with Israel was determined by His relationship with the High Priest. When he and the other leaders rejected the Messiah, the whole nation suffered.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 4th Century, when Rome recognized Christianity, first as a permitted religion and then as the Empire’s official religion, that the Church became known as a Gentile organization. At that point there was a concerted effort on the part of Church leaders to distance themselves from Christianity’s Jewish heritage.

Down through the age more persecution of the Jews has taken place under the sign of the cross than from any other entity. As a result, many Jews today who’ve discovered their Messiah will not think of themselves as part of the Church. And undoubtedly many more have refused to consider that Jesus is their Messiah because of the Church’s historical animosity toward Jews.

But I’m convinced that down through the years, a much larger group of Jewish people than we might imagine has given their heart to the Lord Jesus and been saved.

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