After having been arrested, the Apostle Paul tried to defend himself as to why he was in the Temple in Jerusalem. He shared his testimony of how he came to believe on Jesus Christ with the Jews and all was going along decently until he said that God commissioned him to go to the Gentiles. That did it; that was more than they could bear. At that point they responded, “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.” (Acts 22:22) In the mind of these Jews, God would never send anyone to the Gentiles, especially a real God-fearing Jew. In their minds, the Jews were far better than the Gentiles whom they considered to be as dogs.
What would allow them to think such a thing? There were actually a couple of reasons for their belief. First, God spoke only to Jewish prophets during the Old Testament era. Second, God only made covenants with the nation of Israel. Those covenants promised them a land that would be perpetually theirs and if they were obedient to His will, God would bless the Jews materially. The only way this could be true of other nations is if they blessed Israel (Genesis 12:3). Third, God uniquely manifested Himself to Israel and not to any other nation. He appeared in the fire and the cloud as He delivered them from Egyptian bondage, and personally manifested Himself, displaying His glory in the tabernacle and later the temple. Fourth, the Jews were promised that there would always be someone to sit on the throne of David, exercising God’s rule over the earth. Again, as long as they were obedient to God’s will, they would be at peace with the nations around them. Last, and definitely not least, a Redeemer would come through the nation of Israel and not from a Gentile nation.
In many ways, the New Testament Church has similar unique blessings from God. The entirely of the New Testament was given through Christians. While there are not specific “covenants” with the Church, there are promises that only genuine believers can enjoy. Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in their body which becomes a Temple for Him the very moment they come to faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19). Likewise, Christians are promised that they will reign with Christ when He returns to rule this world.
So were the Jews better than the Gentiles and is the Church better than the unbelieving world? No, but the Jews were and the Church is better off than their counterparts. God did not choose Israel to bless them with any of the blessings listed above because they had any quality that made them better than anyone else (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Likewise, God did not choose Peter or any of the rest of the Apostles that would be the foundation of the Church because of any personal qualities they possessed. His choices were motivated simply by His love and provided by His grace. The recipients were not better in and of themselves, but because of their faith, they were far better off than those who did not trust God.
In the opposite direction, the Bible teaches the depravity of unsaved man. This does not mean that the unbeliever is as bad as he can be, but that he is as bad off as he can be. Apart from faith in the blood of Calvary’s cross as that which washes away a person’s sin, man cannot stand before God. Apart from faith in Jesus Christ, man is headed toward eternal judgment in a literal lake of fire. The quantity of sins or whether they were “big sins” or “little sins” makes no difference. That man is a sinner brings the judgment of God. No one is better than any other. But all those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior are infinitely better off.