The elect of God according to the New Testament are those who believe in the God of Israel and in the Messiah he has sent, Jesus (Yeshua), the Son of God. These are the Ecclesia, the called out ones, the body of Messiah, including both Jews and Gentiles, described in Ephesians 2 as “one new man”. Believers who are physical descendents of Jacob (Israel) have gifts and callings from God that are increasingly important in these last days before Jesus’ return.
Paul describes this “one new man” in Ephesians 2:
Ephesians 2 (NKJV)
Brought Near by His Blood
11a Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh …
12b 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Christ Our Peace
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Paul writes of the mystery hidden from the ages but now revealed: since the coming of the Jesus (Yeshua), Gentiles are invited along with believing Jews to become part of God’s chosen people, fellow heirs of His promises.
The Mystery Revealed
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3a how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery … 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
In the beginning, the church was composed mostly of Jewish believers. As a result, the leadership of the church in Jerusalem convened in Acts 15 to determine whether to allow Gentiles into their fellowship as followers of Jesus (Yeshua) without conforming to Jewish ordinances such as circumcision. After some debate, they decided that the only requirements would be that they “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality .” (Acts 15:29)
Sadly, over the course of the next two centuries when Gentiles had become the majority in the church, they eventually decided that Jews could not join their fellowship unless they renounced their Jewish laws and ordinances. This being said, the true biblical church, made up of those who believe in Jesus and obey his commands, has always included both Jews and Gentiles.
The physical bloodline of the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) remains important, and God has never revoked his gifts and callings to them. On the contrary, Paul writes in Romans 11 that when the Jews as a nation receive Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah it will be life from the dead, both for them and for the world.
1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2a God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
Israel’s Rejection Not Final
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
Paul compares Gentiles who follow Jesus to branches from a wild olive tree grafted into the cultivated olive tree representing Israel:
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. …
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
God’s chosen people are those who believe and obey His Word and believe in His Son, Jesus (Yeshua), who is the Word made flesh. This is the Israel of God, including Jews and Gentiles who have been grafted in by faith. Peter describes this one new humanity in this way:
1 Peter 2
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
These are the people of the New Covenant described by God in Jeremiah 31:
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.