Romans 11 and Ephesians 3 are parallel but opposite passages. They solve the mystery of the relationship between Jew and Gentile, Israel and the Nations; a mystery which goes all the way back to the two covenants between Noah and Abraham. Noah’s came first and had to do with God’s master plan for the Nations. Abraham’s came later and had to do with God’s master plan for Israel. The sign of Noah’s covenant was the rainbow; the sign of Abraham’s covenant was circumcision.
Romans 11 and Ephesians 3 speak of God’s master plan for the Messianic remnant of Israel and for the international Church of the Nations. The Messianic remnant is God’s solution for Israel. The international Church is God’s solution for the Nations. Romans 11 speaks of the attitude of the Church toward Israel. Ephesians 3 speaks of the attitude of Israel toward the Church.
Israel and the Church are different, but become one, just as a man and a woman are different but become one. That is a mystery. The mystery of the relationship flows in both directions. Therefore both Romans 11 and Ephesians 3 speak of a mystery.
Romans 11:25 – I do not want you brothers to be ignorant of this mystery…
Ephesians 3:3, 4, 5 – How by revelation was revealed to me the mystery… the mystery of Messiah… the mystery which for generations was not known to men but is now revealed…
A mystery usually involves two different elements becoming one. What is obvious to side A is a mystery to side B; and vice versa. They don’t understand one another because they are different. In order for them to become one, A has to understand B; and B has to understand A. When they start to understand one another, it is a revelation. The mystery of A becomes a revelation to B; and the mystery of B becomes a revelation to A.
Israel is a mystery to the Church and the Church is a mystery to Israel. Israel needs a revelation about the Church and the Church needs a revelation about Israel. The two have to humble themselves toward one another in order to get the revelation. Revelation demands humility because it involves understanding the other side’s point of view. You understand your point of view, but the other side doesn’t. They understand theirs, but you don’t.
Romans 11 describes the international Church getting a revelation about the Messianic Jewish remnant. Ephesians 3 describes the Messianic remnant getting a revelation of the international Church. The Romans 11 revelation for the Church about Israel results in the salvation of Israel.
Romans 11:26 – And so all Israel shall be saved.
When the Church comes to her fullness; she gains the revelation about Israel, which in turn causes Israel to be saved. “And so” all Israel is saved. Israel’s salvation is dependent of the Church’s coming to her fullness and having that revelation about Israel.
Similarly when the Messianic remnant comes to its fullness, it gains a revelation about the international Church, which results in the Church coming to her full destiny.
Ephesians 3:10 – …so that the manifold wisdom of God will be made known by the Church to the authorities and principalities in the heavens.
(The “so that” of Ephesians 3:10 is parallel to the “and so” of Romans 11:26.)
The international ecclesia displays the amazing wisdom of God. Its sign is a rainbow because that ecclesia is multi-colored, harmonious, united, heavenly, glorious–shining with the light of the face of the sun. The sign of Israel is the circumcision because the physical birth of the Messiah, as well as His physical return to earth, takes place through Israel.
The revelation of Paul was not that Gentiles could be saved. Peter understood that much earlier in the vision of the sheet descending from heaven (Acts 10-11). Paul’s revelation was that the Gentile Christians would become an enormous international body, which would become equal partners with Israel.
Ephesians 3:6 – … That the Gentiles would become partners in the inheritance, partners in the body and partners in the promise in Messiah Yeshua.
It was difficult for the original Jewish believers to accept that the Gentiles could become equal partners with them. They thought that the Gentiles were less important. They needed to humble themselves to understand the beauty and importance of the international Church. We Messianic Jews today need to do likewise.
Similarly it is difficult for the Church to understand the importance of Israel. The Church is so spiritual and so numerous (Revelation 7:9). Yet part of the destiny of the Church is to be “grafted in” to Israel (Romans 11:17). Israel came first. The Church came out of Israel and is joined in to Israel. Israel and the Church were “made” for one another.
The fullness of the Church releases the salvation of Israel; and the fullness of Israel releases the destiny of the Church.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, January 9, 2015, and reposted with permission.