13. What makes a person Jewish, or to phrase it in the most popular way, “Who is a Jew?”
I’m sure my answer will not solve this question that has been debated for thousands of years and I’m sure there will be some who will disagree with my conclusions. First of all, what do Jewish people believe the answer is to this question? Two notable Jewish people addressed this issue years back. Even though they disagreed on the mater, most Jewish people now hold to one of their two positions. Yitzchak Herzog, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel believed that according to Jewish law only the offspring of a Jewish mother can be considered Jewish. He believed that if the father is Jewish and the mother is was not, a child born to them is not Jewish. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel believed that anyone who declares that he is Jewish, lives a Jewish life, and is interested in the welfare of the Jewish people is to be considered Jewish, regardless of the faith of the mother. Both of these opinions are widely accepted by Jewish people to this day. Personally, I hold to a different view. To be part of the Jewish nation, one’s lineage has to go back to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. I’m not convinced that being Jewish is passed down only through the mother. Biblically, genealogies are usually traced through men, (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) not women, (Sarah, Rebekkah, and Rachel). It seems possible that one’s being Jewish is passed down through the father, rather than the mother. But, to be even more specific, the Apostle Paul talks about this issue.
Rom. 2:28-29 – For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Being a true Jew, according to the Bible is not proved by outward observations. A true Jew according to Scripture is an issue of the heart. A true Jew from God’s perspective is one who is circumcised in the heart, which is done by Spirit. To simply be circumcised in the flesh does not automatically make a person Jewish. To put it simply, what Paul is saying is, to e a true Jew, you need to be a believe in Jesus as Messiah. Isn’t that interesting? Almost all unsaved Jewish people across the board would say that if a Jewish person becomes a believer in Jesus, he is no longer Jewish. However, the authoritative Word says that the truest Jews are those who are circumcised inwardly by the Spirit and this is only true of believers in Jesus. To be physically Jewish (a physical child of Abraham) will not get a Jewish person to heaven, but those who are Jewish believers in Jesus (spiritual children of Abraham) will go to heaven. To be outwardly Jewish will not do anything for their eternal destiny. But, to be inwardly circumcised of the heart by the Spirit makes them the purest form of Jew from God’s perspective. So to answer the question, a person is physically Jewish as a result of their lineage, but they are not the purest of Jews. Those who are true believers in Jesus as Messiah are the ones who from God’s perspective are the ones who bring praise to Him.