Posted by: SandreS | February 25, 2010

Israel’s New Birth

Marvel not that I said unto you [“thee” – Nicodemus], “you[“ye” – Israel] must be born again.” (John 3:7).

Born Again” and “The New Birth” are among the many popular terms used by many believers. Over the years some have brought us into question for our disuse of such terms in relation to God’s message for today.

Although these terms are used by many dear brothers as synonymous with salvation, they in fact have a very limited application, being used for the nation Israel, and therefore are not “present truth” for the Body of Christ.

We are fully aware that some view this teaching as extreme, or would even accuse us of being “caught up” with simple semantics. We can understand such a reaction, for once the keystone of our own ministry was, “You Must Be Born Again!”

The New Birth: Not a Part of Paul’s Gospel

It is most interesting that this term finds its limits within the writings of John and Peter, the apostles of the Circumcision (Israel); and that Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (nations), never used this term in his writings and ministry.

Some might think it strange that Paul, in all of his God-inspired letters, does not even once use these specific terms. How could he have carried on such a God appointed and approved ministry having omitted these terms from his doctrine? That is, unless they were not a part of the “revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25) committed to him by God.

It is Paul who is the apostle to the Gentiles. He is God’s spokesman to us.

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office (Romans 11:13).

It is Paul whose teaching is our pattern for today.

And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (II Timothy 2:2).

This pattern extends to the actual words that we are to use in our teaching.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 1:13).

How true is the statement of C.I. Scofield (1843-1921),

In his [Paul’s] writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the church (Scofield Reference Bible, page 1252).

Paul did not leave out the term “born again” from his message by accident. No, there is a reason why it was not a part of the divine revelation given to him.

The New Birth: Old Testament Truth

The term “born again” used by Peter and John represents Old Testament truth. This can be clearly seen in the statement by Jesus Christ to Nicodemus:

… Are you a master [teacher] of Israel, and know not these things? (John 3:10).

Contrary to what many may believe, Christ was not teaching anything new to Nicodemus; rather, Nicodemus should have been well acquainted with what Christ was teaching.

How could Nicodemus have known about the new birth? The answer is really quite simple. Obviously the new birth was Old Testament teaching.

The New Birth: A National Rebirth

John’s gospel is distinctly Jewish (as are the synoptic gospels) and has no direct bearing on the Body of Christ. It is important to notice the usage of the plural pronoun in YE must he born again” rather than the singular “THOU must be born again.”

This new birth was directed toward a group. This group was the nation of Israel. In our study of Scripture we must learn the principle of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15), leaving doctrines where they belong (i.e., where God placed them, and with whom God gave them).

Israel was nationally born the first time as God brought them out of Egypt under the old covenant.

Israel is my son, even my firstborn (Exodus 4:22).

Have I conceived all this people, have I begotten them (Numbers 11:12).

The Rock that begot you (Deuteronomy 32:18).

The nation Israel was trusting their first birth, but this was not sufficient. Israel must be born nationally the second time (re-born, a new birth – “born again”) as God restores them under the new covenant.

The New Birth: A Nation Born in a Day

Israel’s great prophet Isaiah had prophesied of them being a “nation … born at once” (Isaiah 66:8; c.f. Ezekiel 36-37). The word “once” here is also translated in the King James Version as “two times” (Genesis 27:36), “twice” (Genesis 41:32; Numbers 20:11; I Samuel 18:11; I Kings 11:9; Ecclesiastes 6:6), and “this second time” (Genesis 43:10; Nahum 1:9).

Jesus Christ was dealing with Nicodemus concerning Israel’s New Covenant, and their Rebirth as the favored nation. This new birth ministry was a ministry to Israel. Christ was exclusively their minister at this time (“Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision” – Romans 15:8; c.f. Romans 9:4-5; Matthew 1:21; 10:5-6; 15:24) and the alien Gentiles were yet without Him – not being covenant children by first birth (“aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” Ephesians 2:12).

A New Creation: A Ministry of Reconciliation

Instead of a new birth, Paul taught about a new creation – a creation where Jews and Gentiles were being formed into “one body” (Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 12:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 3:15) – the “Body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23) – the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15) – the “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

It is incorrect to preach a message which was intended for a covenant people (Israel), giving it to those who are “strangers from the covenants of promise.” Ours is not a ministry of new birth; rather, ours is a “ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). This reconciliation is purely of grace, without any regard to one’s birth, and should be carefully (in the full Pauline pattern) separated from the Jewish message of which being “born again” is a part. Our message is not, “You must be born again”; instead it is, “Be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20).

We must not lower the glorious high calling as members of the Body of Christ by mixing teaching from the other dispensational workings of God with ours.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1989, 2009-2010

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