And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
To one who enters into the ideas taught by St. Paul, the anxiety of some persons in the present day to discover that the English are descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel is altogether mistaken. Even if they could prove their very improbable theory, it would have nothing but an ethnological, or at best a sentimental, interest. Religiously it is not of the slightest importance. All Christians, whatever their birth and descent, are the true Israel of God. Look at some of the marks of Israel upon the Christian.
I. ABRAHAM'S SEED. The Jew traced his pedigree back to Abraham. He was Abraham's seed. Therefore he accounted himself the heir of the promises made to Abraham. The Christian possesses Abraham's faith. By means of this he becomes Abraham's seed (Galatians 3:29), while the Jew who lacks faith is disowned.
II. POSSESSING THE ORACLES OF GOD. St. Paul reckons as the first advantage of the Jews "that they were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). The Hebrew race had the unspeakable privilege of receiving through their inspired teachers the highest revelation of God vouchsafed to the world for many ages. But there came a later revelation outshining this old revelation in clearness and glory. The Jew rejected this. The Christian accepted it. The Christian holds the New Testament, and he has Christ, God's brightest manifestation of himself. Thus he steps into the position held by ancient Israel.
III. SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. The Jew was called out from the world to live apart as a lonely race with a peculiar destiny of its own. Christians are thus called out of life into the world. They are made to live as pilgrims and strangers, as sojourners with God.
IV. A MISSION TO THE WOULD. Israel did not always understand her mission, and often grossly neglected it in proud exclusiveness. Yet many of the prophets saw clearly that the chosen people were called from among the nations that they might be trained to give to the world the highest blessings. They did this, but only through giving it Christianity. Now, Christians are an elect people - elect to be missionaries and apostles to the people that sit in darkness.
V. A SUTURE HERITAGE. The Hebrew in the wilderness looked for a promised had. Abraham and the patriarchs had hoped for "a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." The perfect fulfilment of these hopes was not given to the Jew on earth. It is for the Christian hereafter; for "there remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.