Q. In Acts 15:14-18 James said that before returning to rebuild David’s fallen tabernacle, Jesus will first take from among the Gentiles a people for himself. I have always believed he was referring to the Church which includes Jews who believe in Jesus during the church age even though they are not Gentiles. Is that correct?
A. Up until the time of the Council in Jerusalem, about 50 AD, the Church had been almost entirely Jewish. Through James, the Jewish leaders of the Church were being told the Lord was going to reach out to the Gentiles as well. Their conclusions about this are contained in Acts 15:1-35. Today the Church is mostly gentile, but all Jews who become believers during the Church Age are also considered to be part of the Church.
It’s important to remember that God doesn’t see believers in Jesus as being either Jewish or Gentile but an entirely new race of mankind. In Ephesians 2:15-16 Paul said God’s purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, reconciling both of them to Himself through the cross. And in Galatians 3:28 he said in the Church there is neither Jew nor Gentile but we are all one in Christ Jesus.
These days some people teach that Israel can only fulfill its destiny through the Church. Others say the Church can only fulfill its destiny through Israel. But neither statement is true. Israel and the Church are distinctly different in their origins and in their destinies, and both will exist at least until the end of the Millennium.
What the above verses mean is that during the Church Age every believer in Jesus, whether from a Jewish background or a Gentile one, is considered by God to be part of the Church and is therefore entitled to receive all the rights and privileges promised to the Church. Chief among these is the the right to become born again as a child of God and inherit eternal life (John 1:12-13 John 3:16).