“To the Jew First!”

(Romans 1:16) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

       In the Israel Today Website yesterday there was an article titled “Should Christians Evangelise Jews?” It seems the thing that has brought this matter into the spotlight is the GOD TV Channel that has received a licence to broadcast in Israel much to the chagrin of many religious orthodox Jews and to a degree some in government circles. These see all evangelicals as ‘proselytising’ and seeking to get Jews to become Christians and see these Jewish converts distancing themselves from being Jewish.

       Because of Anti-Semitism and the holocaust and the persecutions of the Jewish people by Christendom down through the centuries many Jewish people have distanced themselves from anything labelled ‘Christian.’ The article was written along these lines. Is there one way for Jews to be saved and another way for Gentiles to be saved? Some in evangelical circles are implying that there is, but what does God’s Word say on this matter?

       Rabbi the Apostle Paul, being a Torah observant Scholar and a believer in the Messiah our Lord Jesus wrote; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) He also wrote; “I speak the truth in the Messiah, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah who is God over all, be blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5)

       Paul understood that the Gospel of the Kingdom was for all men both Jew and Gentile but in no way dismisses Israel, after all “salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22) Notice that Paul writes “to the Jew first.” It is clear that God’s priority is the salvation of the Jews even before the Gentiles although He does not discriminate between ethnic races but desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)

       God Himself requires repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus from all men. (Acts 17:30) The faith of obedience to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus and to the Word of God brings spiritual life, but unbelief in Him and disobedience to the Word of God brings spiritual death. (John 3:36 NASB) There is no middle ground in this matter. God wants all men to be saved but especially the Jewish people. They are still “the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

       Paul also writes about this. “He (God) will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:6-11)

       When a Jewish man, woman, boy or girl come to faith in the Messiah as their Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for their sin and whose blood has fully atoned for their sin, they do not cease to be Jewish but discover what it is to be Jewish in its fullest expression. The term ‘Christian’ was a nickname given to the followers of the way being believers in the Lord Jesus as God incarnate, Saviour and Messiah. What really counts with God is not ones ethnicity but one’s personal relationship to Him through the Messiah our Lord Jesus. (John 14:6) (John 17:3)

       Paul again writes; “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15) see also (2 Corinthians 5:17) Paul defined a true Jew in God’s sight when he wrote; “One is not a Jew outwardly. True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29) This is the circumcision of the heart that was required of His people in the Old Testament.

       As Moses writes in the Torah; “Yet the LORD has set His affection on your fathers and loved them. And He has chosen you, their descendants after them, above all the peoples, even to this day. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and stiffen your necks no more. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and accepting no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:15-17).

       When the Lord Jesus was speaking to Nichodemus the Jewish religious leader He said to him that he must be spiritually reborn from above if he would enter, perceive and experience the life of the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3) Nichodemus could not understand about this spiritual rebirth from above because he had never experienced it. The Lord Jesus said to Him, “Are you a teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10) In other words Nichodemus should have known about this experience because it is taught in the Old Testament scriptures.

        Having said this in no way does away with or supercedes God’s covenant promises to Israel to give them the whole land of Israel from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River to be for the Jewish nation “an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 15:18-19; 17:7-8) Israel is to pass through the Time of Trouble for Jacob and when this happens the surviving remnant of Jews will recognise and turn to the Messiah when He appears at His Second Coming. (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Zechariah 12:10-13)

       In that day all Israel will be saved and enter into the Messianic Kingdom on earth. (Jeremiah 30:1-10) (Romans 9:26) (Isaiah 2:1-5) All of the land promised to them by God through the blood covenant He cut with Abraham, will be theirs and they will “possess their possesion.” (Obadiah 1:17)

       God tells us what it will be like for redeemed Israel in the Messianic Kingdom under the reign of the Messiah our Lord Jesus; “And many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to plead before the LORD.” This is what the LORD of Hosts says: “In those days ten men from all nations and languages will tightly grasp the robe of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:22-23)

       God always remembers His covenants. As far as Israel is concerned God will bring about their complete spiritual and national restoration as a nation because “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable!” (Romans 11:29)

        The Jews need to hear the gospel of the kingdom and there is only one way for any Jew or Gentile for that matter to be saved. Paul understood this when he wrote; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)  So then in light of this great and central Biblical truth Paul clearly states; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

       God does not have one way for Gentiles to be saved and another way for Jews to be saved as some are teaching today. There is only one door into the Kingdom of God for any Jew or Gentile and that door is our Lord Jesus the anointed Messiah who said; “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) It is then “to the Jew first!”