Before the cross of Christ, mankind was divided into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. The Old and New Testaments both make very clear what caused this distinction. It was the covenants God had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and with their descendants through Moses. These covenants were for Israel alone and separated her from all other nations on the face of the earth, making God’s “chosen people” absolutely unique. Israel was segregated from other peoples by the Mosaic law and by her special relationship with the One who calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Lev 20:24,26, etc.).
The important distinction between Jews and Gentiles is maintained consistently throughout the Bible: “…so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” (Ex 33:16); “…for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be mine” (Lev 20:26); “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his…own people for ever” (1 Chr 17:21-22); “…ye [Gentiles] were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God…” (Eph 2:12).
After the Cross a new entity came into existence—the church that Jesus Christ promised He would build (Mt 16:18). As a result, there are now three divisions of mankind: Jews, Gentiles and the church. Paul tells us that we are to “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor 10:32). It is absolutely essential to understand that these three groups exist side by side in today’s world, to distinguish between them, and to recognize that God deals with each differently.