Who are the Israelites?
A Sermon on Romans 9:4-5
4who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the temple service, and the promises; 5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. …
4Who 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; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God …
What is the significance of the apostle Paul's use of the term 'Israelites' in Romans 9:4? Why didn't he use the term 'Jews' or 'Hebrews' instead? In this sermon on Romans 9:4–5 titled “Who are the Israelites” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the three terms which are often used to describe this people group: Jews, Hebrews, and Israelites. Each of these terms have a different meaning when used in Scripture and he details those three meanings. The term Jews is used to show the opposite of Gentile, which is the rest of the world. Hebrews describes a time in Jewish history when they spoke Hebrew. The term Israelites is the term given to God's chosen people in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then goes on to detail two other terms of supreme importance that Paul uses in this passage. Adoption is used in a general sense, but means that God has placed this people group in a whole new position as his children. Glory means how God presented Himself to His people, proving His faithfulness to them. All Gentiles have been brought into a share of this, becoming sons and daughters of Christ through adoption.
- The apostle Paul expresses sorrow for his kinsmen according to the flesh who have rejected Jesus Christ.
- Paul gives the reasons for his sorrow by listing the privileges that were uniquely given to the Israelites.
- The first privilege is that they are "Israelites" - God's chosen people with whom he has a special relationship. The name "Israelite" signifies their status as God's covenant people.
- The second privilege is "the adoption" - God placed the entire nation of Israel in the position of sons. Though not all were saved, God dealt with them as his children.
- The third privilege is "the glory" - God gave manifestations of his glory to the Israelites, allowing them glimpses of his eternal nature. Examples include the burning bush, pillar of fire, tabernacle, etc.
- The remaining privileges listed are "the covenants", "the giving of the law", "the service of God" and "the promises".
- These great privileges make the Israelites' rejection of the Messiah all the more tragic.
- We as Christians have now been brought into these same privileges through faith in Christ. We are now part of the commonwealth of Israel and household of God.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.