Then what advantage has the Jew? The Greek word for advantage is “perissos,” which means pre-eminence. The implied question in this verse is: What advantage did the Jews have over the Gentiles, if any? Did the Jews have any advantage? Paul says in the next verse that the Jews had a great advantage because of their spiritual heritage. The spiritual heritage of Israel was always related to the righteousness and justice of God. However, when the Jews rejected the righteousness and justice of God by the abuse of the ritual of circumcision and by the distortion of the Mosaic Law, they lost any advantage that their spiritual heritage had provided them.
The pre-eminence of the Jews was related to certain principles that are developed in the Word of God. The first had to do with the racial uniqueness of the Jews. However, the Jews started as a race, not just from salvation adjustment to the justice of God but maximum maturity adjustment to the justice of God in the person of Abraham. This gave the racial heritage of the Jews pre-eminence over all the other races. The Jewish race began with maximum adjustment to the justice of God at salvation and maturity adjustment after salvation by the head of this new race. Therefore, this new race had a unique spiritual heritage. So the advantage of the Jews was first of all, a racial pre-eminence.
Secondly, the nation of Israel itself was unique. The unique origin and purpose of Israel gave pre-eminence to the Jews. The Jews formed a nation and Israel was designed to be a priest nation. The custodianship of written doctrine and revelation from God belonged to them. The authorship of the various books of the Old Testament, and later the New Testament, was in their hands. They were responsible for evangelism at home and missionary activity abroad. They had all of the responsibilities that belonged to anyone under the concept of the priest nation. All the human authors of Scripture, with two exceptions in the New Testament, were Jews. So, not only did they have a unique foundation as a race and a unique foundation as a nation, but at the same time their spiritual heritage was carried forward through the great leadership of Abraham, and later by Moses. So we see the national pre-eminence related to Israel.
A third factor in what was the pre-eminence of Israel was the covenants to Israel from God. The integrity of God made promises to the Jews that had never been made to anyone else - unconditional covenants. The doctrine of the pre-eminence of Israel is proclaimed in various parts of the Abrahamic Covenant. (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:15,16; 22:15-18; 26:3,4; Exodus 6:2-8) The Abrahamic Covenant declared the uniqueness of Israel. Never in all of history, apart from those unconditional promises to Abraham, did God ever promise to a race, and then to a nation a piece of real estate on this earth both now, in the Millennium, and for all eternity. That means they are pre-eminent (unique). If Israel is going to exist as a nation forever, the question arises as to what type of government they should have. The answer to that is very simple. From divine viewpoint there is only one efficient government, and we call it an absolute monarchy (theocracy). The best form of government has one genius, one person with great integrity at the top. All of the authority is vested in one person. That is the form of government that Israel will have throughout the Millennium and forever: an absolute monarchy with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler. The pre-eminence of Israel was and is based upon having four unconditional covenants: 1) Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8) 2) Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 20:1 – 31:18) 3) Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10) and 4) Davidic Covenant (II Samuel 7:4-16). No nation under Heaven, in all of human history, has ever had God’s integrity involved totally in the nation, as has Israel.
The fourth point was the pre-eminence of the restoration of Israel. The pre-eminence of Israel was related to the fact that even though they have been severely punished by God as a nation four times under the 5th cycle of discipline, they will be regathered and restored at the Second Coming of Christ. No nation has ever had the 5th cycle of discipline and still come back to be a nation again except Israel. That makes them unique.
The fifth point of pre-eminence was and is survival pre-eminence of the Jews under constant conditions of anti-Semitism. They survived, and will survive, under the most concentrated of all satanic attacks. (Revelation 13)
The sixth point of uniqueness is the millennial pre-eminence of Israel. The pre-eminence of Israel is related to the glorified status in the Millennium. Israel will be unique among nations. (Zechariah 14:16-21)
The seventh principle is the pre-eminence of the priest nation. Four times throughout history Israel has been or will be a priest nation (client nation).
There was a salvation advantage. There is no advantage in being an outward Jew, unless one is an inward Jew. The advantage comes in first adjusting to the justice of God at salvation. There is no advantage in being a Jew by race or a Jew nationally, if you reject God. It is the spiritual heritage of Israel that gives the advantage. There are no advantages in life for anyone unless they are related to the integrity of God.
There was a doctrinal advantage. The Jews had been recipients of both written and oral revelation from God. The Jews, as a priest nation, were the custodians of the canon of Scripture. Therefore, there was opportunity for all adjustments. All doctrine resided in Israel.
There was a dispensational advantage. In the dispensation of Israel, the Jews had the whole realm of doctrine, except the mystery doctrine of the Church Age. They had the unconditional covenants and the establishment principles of the Mosaic Law. In the dispensation of the Church, Jews become royal family of God through salvation adjustment to the justice of God, just as Gentiles do. In the dispensation of the Millennium, Jews will have maximum benefit from the fulfilment of the unconditional covenants, and Israel will be the priest nation throughout the Millennium. They will have the advantage of the greatest government administration in all of history. Jesus Christ will rule as absolute monarch for one thousand years and then forever.
There was a divine establishment advantage. Every nation has the advantage when it operates according to divine establishment principles. The Mosaic Law not only defined freedom but it set up a constitution for national government, which included the principles of divine establishment. The Jews always benefited from the observation of divine establishment principles under the Mosaic Law.
There was a cultural advantage. The cultural concepts related to doctrine in the Mosaic Law preserved the nation from evil when observed. Sanitary laws, moral laws, marriage laws, etc.
There was a priest nation advantage. There are always divine benefits that are given to priest (client) nations. God protects them so freedom can flourish within the nation.
Or what is the benefit of circumcision? is the Greek word “opheleia” for benefit, which means advantage or profit. Plus the Greek word “peritome” for circumcision. The ritual of circumcision is related to maximum adjustment to the justice of God. Understanding the doctrinal significance of the ritual was beneficial as a challenge to advance to spiritual maturity through the daily function of the intake and application of Bible doctrine. So, to have a ritual which taught “the advantage” (adjustment to God’s justice) was itself an advantage.
What then is the advantage for a believer in the Church Age, if any?
Never before in the history of the world have believers in Jesus Christ had the privilege and the opportunity that is afforded them today. The Church Age in which we live is an unparalleled dispensation with numerous advantages for the believer. The privileges and opportunities that we have been given are not only unique, they are “above and beyond all that we could ever think or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:13-21)
Jesus Christ has secured forever the strategic victory (the skillful planning and management in getting the better of the adversary) over Satan. At salvation this victory places the believer in a place of maximum strength with the potential to win the tactical victory (the procedure for gaining advantage or success over the adversary) over Satan, his world (cosmic) system and the sin nature. Our union with Christ (Positional Sanctification) guarantees us the opportunity to overcome the obstacles that are placed before us (or that we place before ourselves) in order to successfully execute the Christian way of life and glorify God while we are on earth.
Many privileges have been given to believers at the moment of salvation and many are given after salvation as a believer grows spiritually. However, opportunities must be seized by personal volition. As a believer, you are the most privileged person on the face of the earth, but at the same time you may be missing the opportunities for fantastic blessing by not executing God’s plan, purpose and will for your life. Tactical victory comes over a period of time as a believer makes thousands of right decisions regarding God, himself, others and circumstances. Winning the tactical victory is done by a believer who is being empowered by God the Holy Spirit as he organizes his life around right priorities: 1) Jesus Christ must be the most important person in your life, 2) learning and applying accurate Bible doctrine must be placed above personal pleasure or your career and 3) virtue (a strict adherence to the truth) must drive every decision you make in life. (Ephesians 4:14-15)