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By Norman Manzon
Israel is part of an extensive and detailed biblical exposition of the doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations, and has been adapted here for broader readership. Former studies in the Israel series are: Part 1: Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?, Part 2: The Chosenness of Israel, Part 3: I. Replacement Theology.
The Ephraimite or Two-House doctrine contradicts truths we've studied regarding the salvation of Gentiles and the nature of the church as well as this excerpt from the Statement:
According to much attestation1 a major belief in the Two-House or Ephraimite movement is that every member of the body of Messiah is actually a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whether they know it or not, Jewish believers being descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah, and Gentile believers being descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel, also referred to in Scripture as Ephraim (Isaiah 7:2:5,9,17; Hosea 9:3-16). Hence, the designations Ephraimite and Two-House. What this means is that God is NOT saving Gentiles (as the term is commonly understood)!
It is not the goal of this writer to parse every aspect of Two-House. I will simply refute what appears to be this most dangerous aspect of its doctrine.
Preliminarily, that Christ's purpose in coming was to offer salvation to all people of all nations without exception is a plain biblical truth. It was declared by God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed, and is being fulfilled in our Church Age in the train of Jesus' command, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). It commenced in our Church Age on the Day of Pentecost with the salvation of proselytes (Gentile adherents to Judaism) as well as Jews (Acts 2), and broke into the non-proselyte Gentile world with the salvation of Cornelius in Acts 10. The plain and obvious teaching of Scripture is that the Gospel has been sent out to all people - including those without a drop of Jewish blood in their veins - and that multitudes of them have and will be saved. Revelation 5:9: And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
To put any doubt to rest as to whether or not there are true, bona fide "non-Jewish" Gentiles in Messiah, this writer will offer evidence to the affirmative in addition to the preceding paragraph; but first, a look at some of the dangers of Two-House as expressed by Steve Shermett, former president of the AMC:2
I would add two more:
In addition to passages already cited, the author offers the following as refutation of the belief that all believers in Messiah are descendants of Ephraim or Judah:
Melchisedec was contemporary with Abraham, Rahab was a Canaanite, and Ruth was a Moabites. All were Gentiles who were saved prior to the cross and prior to the formation of the northern kingdom called Ephraim.
Zechariah spoke the word of the LORD in Jerusalem to the returnees of both houses of Israel from Medo-Persian captivity:
The house of Israel was addressed as well as the house of Judah. Though, as with any nation, some of its members lost their identities among the foreign nations in which they resided, no tribe was "lost." Peter wrote to the dispersion, (1 Peter 1:1. Young's Literal Translation), "the Diaspora (the Dispersion)" being the technical term for Jews outside the Land, still in use today. James wrote to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion (James 1:1. Young's Literal Translation); and in Luke 2:36 we meet Anna of the tribe of Asher praying in the temple in Jerusalem.
Also, by comparing verses 8 and 23, we see that the LORD recognized members of both houses as Jews, and distinguished them from the nations. While the prophesied event takes place in an age subsequent to the Church Age, this distinction alone destroys the notion that the saved Gentiles of today are Ephraimites. The same distinction is made in Revelation 7:1-9: Israelites are the preachers, and a great multitude. . . from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues are the Gentiles who will be saved by the Israelite preachers.
So, Gentiles without a drop of Jewish blood were saved prior to the Church Age, and will be saved subsequent to the Church Age: during the Tribulation period, as shown by Revelation 7:1-9, and during the Millennium, as shown by Zechariah 8:22-23. Why would God cut them off from the possibility of salvation in the intervening Church Age - right after Jesus died for the sin of the world (John 1:29)!
If God did cut off Church Age Gentiles from salvation, why would He not have one of His apostles explain such a dreadful departure in writing? Why does the New Testament never explain that Gentile believers are of the ten northern tribes, or call them Ephraimites? If Paul was the apostle to the Ephraimites, why didn't he say so? What he did say was that he was an apostle of Gentiles (Romans 11:13. Also Romans 15:16, 1 Timothy, 2:7, etc.)
Just a few examples: Nicholas, a Gentile convert to Judaism who came to believe in Messiah, was not called an Ephraimite or Israelite, but a proselyte (Acts 6:5). Paul refused to circumcise Titus, a Greek, but circumcised Timothy, who had a Jewish parent (Acts 16:1-3; Galatians 2:3). Gentile believers were called wild olive branches, and Jewish believers were called natural branches (Romans 11:17,24).
In Matthew 28:19. Jesus said, Make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). According to Strong's, the Greek for nation is ethnos, and it means "a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): - Gentile, heathen, nation, people."
Revelation 5:9: You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. The word for nation here is also ethnos. Also, the word for tribe means "an offshoot, that is, race or clan: - kindred, tribe."
To resolve the Acts 15 controversy over the necessity of circumcision for Gentile salvation, James quoted the Septuagint version of Amos 9:11-12:
James applied the passage to the issue of Gentile salvation in his day and age. The point he was making to his Jewish listeners was that God had made a way so that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name. How could anyone interpret this as referring solely to Ephraimites in the Diaspora!
Gentile believers without a drop of Jewish blood in their veins are being saved in this day and age. It is pathetic to have to prove it! The foolishness of teaching that God has excluded Gentiles from salvation in the Church Age belies either a profound incompetence in biblical exegesis or a willingness to sacrifice the plain teaching of Scripture on the altar of some unholy spirit.
To summarize the AMC position on Two-House overall, I herein present the addendum to our doctrinal statement:
Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?
The Chosenness of Israel
The Ephraimite or Two-House Doctrine
Where Are the Promised Promised-Land Blessings?
The Faithful Remnant of Israel
The Prophetic Feasts of Israel
The Anti-Semitism Series.
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