The emergence of competing communities of the believers of the covenant was certain to produce a reaction. John the Baptist taught that it was not necessary to be a son or daughter of Abraham to be a member of the covenant community. He said: “Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”
Earlier the Dead Sea Scroll Community had suggested that there were dire consequences for those who reject the covenant. The Habakkuk Pesher called these people apostates. Judean society viewed the members of the communities of the covenant as radical believers and dangerous.
We read about one of the reactions to the true believers in the writings of Paul. According to Dunn, Paul was objecting to Jewish exclusivism not legalism. Paul objected that Judaizers used the “works of the law” to exclude gentiles from membership in the covenant community. The Judaizers were emphasizing “works of the law” as boundary markers for exclusion or inclusion.
However, the language of the covenant tends to be exclusivist because it does create boundary markers. True believers create boundary markers.