Q. I am of the understanding that when we become a Christian we are baptized into Jesus Christ, yet there is a ‘Messianic’ Jewish teacher on television who teaches that when we accept Jesus Christ we are grafted in and become that “one new man”as a Jew. I think he says ‘a spiritual Jew’. While reading Romans 2:29 it says “He is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” I understand the circumcision of the heart part, but I am not understanding the connection between the Jew inwardly. As Christians we don’t keep the law, so I don’t understand how this applies.
A. I believe this teaching is intended to be a rebuttal to another false teaching called replacement theology. For generations now some Christians have been teaching that Jews can only find spiritual fulfillment through the Church. Now some Messianic teachers, especially those who relate to the Hebrew Roots movement, are saying Gentiles can only find spiritual fulfillment through Israel. Neither position is correct.
If you read Ephesians 2:11-22 carefully you can see that in his “one new man” teaching Paul was saying that God has taken some who were formerly called Jews and some who were formerly called Gentiles and made them into a new group called the Church. It was an expansion of Paul’s comment in Galatians 3:28. If God had taken some who were Jews and some who were Gentiles and made them all into Jews He wouldn’t have one new man. He would simply have more Jews and fewer Gentiles.
As for Romans 2:28-29, Paul was saying that people would no longer be considered Jewish in God’s eyes simply because they had been circumcised in the flesh. His phrase “circumcision of the heart” is another way of saying “born again”. The point is that whether they are circumcised in the flesh or not, Jews who are not born again are considered to be unbelievers just like Gentiles who are not born again.