Given "sola scriptura" and the explicit assertions in scripture regarding the participants in the covenant ("the houses of Israel and Judah") how do Protestants justify teaching it to be for gentile Protestants?

Jer 31:31 KJV - 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Heb 8:8 KJV - 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

Isn't this overreach that is contrary to sola scriptura?

Update for clarification

I'm not concerned that the gospel only applies to Jews (gentiles do have "access by faith into the grace") but rather the covenants:

Rom 9:4 ASV - 4 who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

I'm seeking maybe a "theodicy" about gentiles and the new covenant from a representative "Reformer" and why, since they are all about "sola fida" and "sola scriptura" do they commandeer the explicitly Jewish new covenant as well?

  • 1
    Whether the other covenants apply to Gentile Christians is heavily debated. Some Protestants say yes, some say no. That's a completely different issue from the New Covenant. I don't think you can really effectively ask about both in one question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 1:54
  • Sorry, I didn't mean to pull in the OT issue into this question. I edited the question to return it to just being about the new covenant.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 1:57
  • Okay. I think my answer covers enough then, that we're spiritually adopted by Abraham. All Protestants would agree with that I think.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 1:59
  • 1
    Too many positions. Covenant Theologians say there's really only one covenant. Dispensationalists say the covenants have no overlap. I think we inherit the spiritual covenants of Abraham, but not all of the Jewish covenants were spiritual in their core nature.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 2:13
  • 1
    It’s all well and good to speak of covenants but the Jews had a serious issue with allowing the gentiles to become Christians because Israel the Northern Ten Tribes received a certificate of divorce from G-d and according to the Law of Moses once divorced you could not come back to your first husband. The gentiles and the Northern Ten Tribes had intermarried and coming into covenant with anyone that had a bloodline from the divorce Northern Tribes was an issue that G-d could not overlook without breaking His own Law and Jews were very much aware of this dilema.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


1. The New Covenant is the Gospel of the Cross

Luke 22:19-20: And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

From these verses we can see that the Lord's Supper was instituted as a sign of the New Covenant, and the New Covenant is Jesus' giving of his own body and blood on the cross. The New Covenant is the Gospel: the good news of the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God through being united to Jesus in his death and resurrection. And as the New Testament clearly teaches in so many places that the Gospel is for all peoples, including Gentiles, so we know that Gentiles are included in the New Covenant. But the mechanisms by which Gentiles are included is a little less clear, so let's look at that now.

2. Adopted as Abraham's spiritual children

There is a lot of disagreement among Christians over the relationship between the Church and Israel, ranging from the Church completely replacing Israel, to the two existing in parallel with little to connect them. I won't try to give a full overview of this issue, instead I'll just focus on one chapter, Romans 4. In this chapter Paul highlights that Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised, meaning that faith is prior to law. The true heirs of Abraham are not his physical descendants, but his spiritual descendants, who share his faith. If this is true for the Abrahamic Covenant, then even more so for the New Covenant.

Romans 4:11-13: He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:16-17: That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

3. United with Christ in his death

A third way in which we can understand Gentiles being part of the New Covenant is our doctrine of Union with Christ. More than any other covenant, the New Covenant is the covenant of Jesus Christ. We are united to him in his death and resurrection, so the life of the Christian is the life of Jesus. As Jesus was in every sense a Jew, both spiritually and biologically, the Gentiles who live in Jesus share his Jewish life and participation in the New Covenant.

Romans 6:1-11: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


I don’t speak for all Protestants or any Protestants, I am providing an answer to why gentiles and Israel and Jews are able to enter the New Covenant.

Stephen says in Acts that the ecclesia was at mount Sinai. It’s the same word in the NT to describe the Church. Was the Church at Mount Sinai?

“This is the one who was in the ecclesia (Greek text) in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭NASB‬‬

At Mount Sinai we know G-d made a covenant with Israel all twelve tribes and also the strangers/gentiles that were present there too

“And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭12:37-38‬ ‭ESV‬

but Ezekiel says that it was at that time that G-d married Israel/Ekklesia

“"Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,"declares the Lord G-d.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭16:8‬ ‭NASB‬

We know that under Saul, David and Solomon there was one kingdom but in the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam the kingdom is split into the northern ten tribes and the southern two Judah and Benjamin that went by the name Judah.

Northern kingdom was sent into captivity but never returned but beyond that G-d gave them a certificate of divorce. So now the northern kingdom also known as Israel or Efraim, after captivity spread throughout all the known world and became indistinguishable from the gentiles

“And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Judah likewise went into captivity but for only 70 years and returned back to the land of G-d. Due to His Covenant to David Judah does not get a certificate of divorce.

Then comes The Christ and brings salvation but now there was a problem, the law of Moses says that a divorced wife cannot return back to her first husband even if the second husband dies because she is bound by the law of her first husband

“then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭24:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

But yet the Bible says in multiple passages that He will take back Israel

“How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭11:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

And the heavenly hosts must have said to each other, doesn’t G-d remember that He said you cannot remarry once divorced to the same wife? But instead of saying anything they waited to see what would happen

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-things into which angels long to look.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So now we have the dilemma, among the gentiles was Israel and they were the divorced wife of G-d, so how can the gentiles be saved and G-d not sin by remarrying and reentering into Covenant with those who were divorced. Apostle Paul explains

“So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

If the first husband dies, the woman is released from the law of her first husband because CHRIST died, releasing Israel but Christ also resurrected saying, pick me, I’m an elegible bachelor. And the ten tribes and the gentiles enter into the New Covenant but the Jews rejected their own Christ/Messiah

Notice a text comparison between the OT and the NT

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living G-d." And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭1:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There is a distinction made between Judah and Israel and they are gathered together because in order to gather they must be apart or dispersed.

See how Apostle Paul says Jews and then ties Gentiles to the passage in Hosea that speaks about Israel or the ten lost tribes

even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living G-d.'"” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:24-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So I said all that to say this

Jews are the kingdom of Judah, and Judah was older than Efraim the name of the ten tribes. The northern kingdom accepted Christ and came home and could join into Covenant and not just Efraim but the gentiles too just like at Mount Sinai because it’s not a bloodline issue anymore and it didn’t help that Israel/Efraim mixed with the nations of it were a blood line requirement

who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of G-d.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

But Judah refused to come in and complained

“But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:29-30‬ ‭NASB

In summary

Efraim mixed with the gentiles, they were not a people anymore but Christ died and released them from the law of the first husband so now they could re-enter into Covenant with Him by faith and because it’s by faith and not bloodline anyone can be saved.

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭8:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And in this way all Israel will be saved" ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:26‬a ESV

“And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of G-d.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Church is practically Israel made up of gentiles who intermingled with the ten lost tribes and the Jews are the older brother who is outside refusing to come inside but the Jews will come too and then all twelve tribes will be saved. It’s Israel and that mixed multitude coming into covenant with the Bridegroom at Mt. Sinai but now under a new Covenant.

  • There is a lot of interesting and relevant typology related to the "new Exodus" in which the remnant of the Jews escape the visitation on Jerusalem, but you don't think that the assembly mentioned actually is the "bride of Christ", do you?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 12:34
  • I answered a question elsewhere on what I believe is a related question. Would you mind taking a look and seeing if you agree with it? hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/28832/…
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 12:41
  • Firstly this is a short hand version of the answer. Second are you asking if the assembly at Mt Sinai is the bride of Christ? In one sense the angel on the Mt came into covenant with those at the bottom of the mountain. So He married them all, twelve tribes and mix multitude. That was a bloodline covenant and/or a covenant by the will of men. But then the angel or the groom was crucified and died. He and Judah were released not just the ten tribes and the gentiles. And now there is a NEW covenant by the will of G-d John 1:13 through the incorruptible seed of the Word born again of the Spirit.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 12:57
  • So would that be a yea or a nay?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 12:59
  • I read it all and I understand your position. You have the same frustration the Jews had because they had G-d saying in one place that Efraim is not His people (because of the divorce) and in other places clearly they will be. So which is it? It seems you’ve chosen the either or pathway, but it’s both so far as I can tell and I reasoned in my post. Efraim is divorced and then Efraim is not going to be abandoned, “How can I give you up Efraim?” And that was the issue with the Jews they refused to accept gentiles because of Efraim’s divorced blood without converting into the tribe of Judah.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:05

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