ARE WE PAULINE DISPENSATIONALISTS ANTI-JEWISH?
by Shawn Brasseaux
No, dear friends, we are pro-everybody! A Bible-believing, Pauline dispensationalist understands that the God of the Bible had to temporarily set aside national Israel in order to deal with all people without distinction. That does not mean, however, that God hates Jews; it does not mean that we dislike Jews. We love the Jewish people because God loves them and Christ died for them (as He did for us; Romans 5:8), but Calvary is no longer limited to them. The preaching of the cross is proclaimed to all people today because the merits of Christ’s cross are available to all people by faith. That God may have mercy on Christ-rejecting Israel in the Acts period, that they may be momentarily spared His wrath that they deserved, He caused Israel to fall in Acts chapter 7, paused her prophetic program, and started our mystery program in chapter 9 with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus (Paul). Indeed, this the Dispensation of Grace was begun to save individual Gentiles as well as individual Jews from God’s wrath!
OUR HEARTS’ DESIRE AND PRAYER TO GOD, AS WAS PAUL’S, IS THAT ALL PEOPLE MIGHT BE SAVED!
When considering the Bible, we know that the Apostle Paul was (falsely) accused of being an “anti-Semite,” someone who hated Jews. Although he was Jewish by blood, he was Gentile (Roman) by citizenship through his father. He also spent a lot of time ministering (preaching and teaching) amongst Gentiles (non-Jews, nations) of all kinds. All of this surely caused rumors to spread that Paul hated Israel. Hence, we can better appreciate why he wrote the following verses many years after his ministry began.
Turn to Romans chapter 9 to read: “ I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,  That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelites;…..”
Despite what others may say, Paul was telling the truth (verse 1). Sadness and grief weighed heavy on his heart (verse 2). Once, as unsaved Saul of Tarsus, he had led Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ and His followers (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-2,13-14; Acts 22:19-20; Acts 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:13). The Holy Spirit through him (now a saved man) expresses great care for Israel. He had been directly involved in causing Israel’s fall. Israel’s kingdom program is delayed, she continues to refuse to trust Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour, she refuses to hear and believe the Gospel of Grace (what Paul peaches), she persecutes Christ’s people (including Paul himself), and she is headed for God’s wrath (both the seven-year Tribulation and eternal Hellfire). Why should Paul not be sad? If he could give up his relationship with Christ, that Israel might have a relationship with Him, Paul would do it!
Now, go to Romans chapter 10: “ Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Paul does not want the unsaved (religious albeit lost) Jews to die and go to Hell. Yes, they deserve it, but they do not have to go there because God has given them away to escape that terrible fate. Instead of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and gaining God’s righteousness through Him, they (like billions today) prefer works-religion. Saul of Tarsus once was in such a predicament. Judaism is still operating during the Acts period because the Jerusalem Temple will not be destroyed until A.D. 70 (some seven or eight years after Acts closed). As Paul writes this epistle to the Romans (approximately Acts 20:1-3), Israel still offers their animal sacrifices and ignores Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on Calvary given some 20 years earlier! They are in an endless cycle of attempting to uphold their righteousness because they believe they can work to gain God’s favor. It is but futile and will only condemn them even more before God!!!
ISRAEL’S PREEMINENCE GAINED AND LOST
Ephesians 2:11-12 is the Gentile’s experience in time past, before the Dispensation of Grace began: “ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  That at that time ye 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:….” Contrast this with Romans 9:4-5, Israel’s status in time past: “ Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”
We will now look at some Old Testament references to further prove the point that Israel was God’s special nation in time past:
- Exodus 19:5: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:….”
- Deuteronomy 7:6: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
- Deuteronomy 7:14: “Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.”
- Deuteronomy 10:15: “Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.”
God’s design in time past was to form the nation Israel so as to make Israel the channel of blessing to the rest of the world (Genesis 12:1-3). The nations had already turned aside to pagan idols in Genesis chapter 11 at the Tower of Babel, so the God of creation let them go on their way in heathen superstitions and spiritual ignorance (Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:29-30; cf. Romans 1:17-32).
Beginning with Abraham, Genesis chapter 12, the LORD God sanctified (set apart) Israel from the rest of the nations so the nations could see in Israel what it would be like to have the one true God as a national God (see Deuteronomy 4:1-10, for instance). The nations were given over to dead idols. Unfortunately, as the centuries passed, Israel let herself become contaminated by idolatry. She wanted to be like the nations, and eventually she adopted false religion as her own. Corrupted Israel, having tossed aside God’s Word to hold to the traditions of men, was completely unprepared to identify her Messiah when He showed up in her midst. Her people conspired with the Romans and crucified Jesus Christ in unbelief.
Even though the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected, Israel had virtually no repentance in early Acts. Except for a small believing remnant, she maintained her anti-Jesus attitude. Just as God’s wrath was about to fall on her, He interrupted her prophetic program and initiated our mystery program. Israel fell; she lost her national and spiritual status before God. While the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant from Christ’s earthly ministry and the early Acts) still had access to God, national Israel had fallen to the level of the Gentiles. The middle wall of partition (cf. Ephesians 2:11-12 from earlier) had been broken down.
Paul comments in Romans chapter 11: “ I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?  For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.  For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (You can read all of Romans chapter 11 if you are interested.)
Compare this to Ephesians chapter 2: “ But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and Gentile—verses 11-12] one [the Church the Body of Christ], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain [Jew and Gentile—verses 11-12] one new man [the Church the Body of Christ], so making peace;  And that he might reconcile both [Jew and Gentile—verses 11-12] unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles—verses 11-12], and to them that were nigh [Jews—Romans 9:4-5].  For through him we both [Jew and Gentile—verses 11-12] have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Verse 18 is weighty, as it shows us that both Gentile and Jew can approach the Father by one Spirit through Jesus Christ. We preach an “all-men” message in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. After all, God took away the Jewish–Gentile distinction by making everyone Gentile. It was for this reason that Paul was made “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13): he is God’s spokesman even to the Jews in this dispensation.
Romans 1:5 says, “By whom [the Son of God, Jesus Christ—verse 4] we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:…” Notice the “all nations” nature of Paul’s ministry. Compare that with Romans 16:26: “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….” “All nations” means that Paul’s apostleship is for every nation—even Israel. This is why he ministered to lost Jews and lost Gentiles alike throughout the Acts period.
Paul has an unrestricted (all-nation) ministry because he has an unrestricted Gospel message. His ministry does not depend on Israel’s salvation and Israel then evangelizing the world (that would be prophecy, Peter’s ministry). We live in the “mystery” or secret program (Romans 16:25-26). Paul is the “due-time testifier”—or the appropriate preacher speaking at the proper time—of the fact that Calvary’s crosswork is available to all men as complete payment for their sins!
First Timothy 2:3-7: “ For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
Paul therefore proclaimed in Acts 13:38-39: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus Christ—verses 23-37] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all [Jew and Gentile] that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
In our Dispensation of Grace, there is no disadvantage to being uncircumcised (Gentile) and there is no advantage to being circumcised (Jew). It was completely the opposite in time past (refer back to Ephesians 2:11-12). Notice what is true today in the mystery program:
- “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:22).
- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
- “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).
- “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15).
- “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).