The apostle Paul adopted two salvation strategies for “the circumcised.” Two strategies were necessary because the circumcised, for the most part, were divided into two categories: unsaved and saved. Jews dominated “the circumcised,” although it was likely that small numbers of gentiles (e.g., proselytes to Judaism) could also be found in the two categories of unsaved and saved.
Paul’s strategy for salvation of unsaved Jews was to make them jealous by gentiles who had believed in God’s promise for forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This strategy was based on God’s revelation to Moses that He intended to use gentiles to make Jews jealous (Deut. 32:21).
Paul’s endorsement of this strategy was outlined in Rom. 11:13-15. An example of Paul using this strategy in practice may be found in Acts 13:42-47. Failure of this strategy in the life of an individual was by God’s calling, and meant a destiny for that individual in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
The second strategy for salvation of saved Jews was based on God’s promise of freedom for believers from slavery to indwelling sin (Isa. 61:1, “proclaim liberty to the captives”). Paul adopted this strategy as announced in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:20).
The strategy was to temporarily adopt the lifestyle and practices of the saved individual to promote and facilitate exposure to God’s word so the saved individual might choose to live by faith rather than by observing the Law of Moses.
Content of the believer’s faith was that Jesus’ obedient life within the believer as his/her Lord would be manifested by the power of God’s Spirit (cf. Rom.10:1-13). An example of Paul using this strategy in practice may be found in Acts 22:17-26. Failure of this strategy in the life of a saved individual results from absence of God’s mercy as well as God’s wrath and indignation at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Rom. 9:15; 2:6-13). Failure also results in loss of sharing the Firstborn’s inheritance of the world (Rom. 4:14-14; 8:17, 29).
Many in Christendom do not recognize these two separate strategies because they fail to make a distinction between God’s promise of forgiveness of sins and His promise for freedom from slavery to indwelling sin. Thus, both of God’s two distinct strategies, strategies to deal with two separate issues, become lumped into a single strategy causing much debate and confusion among the sages of the faith.