THE LOST COMMISSION: TO THE JEW FIRST
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 ~
PART 1. THEOLOGICAL STATEMENTS OF ISRAEL’S CHOSENNESS AND THE
JEW FIRST PRINCIPLE
THE THREE KEY DECLARATIONS
DECLARATION 1. Genesis 12:3: IN YOU ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH
WILL BE BLESSED.
1. God Passed the Covenant Forward to All Israel
2. Israel Is Declared a Chosen Nation During the Apostolic Age
3. Israel Is Prophesied to Be a Chosen Nation in the Millennium
4. But Is Israel a Chosen Nation Today?
5. The Chosenness of the Church and Israel
DECLARATION 2. Romans 1:16: TO THE JEW FIRST
1. The Meanings of Proton
2. The Grammar of Romans 1:16
DECLARATION 3. Acts 14:36-37: IT WAS NECESSARY
Three Important Points
PART 2: PRACTICAL OUTWORKINGS OF ISRAEL’S CHOSENNESS AND THE
JEW FIRST PRINCIPLE
I. BEFORE THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
II. FOR AS LONG AS ISRAEL EXISTS
III. ABRAHAM THROUGH THE PATRIARCHS
IV. FROM THE PATRIARCHS TO JESUS
V. IN THE LIFE OF JESUS
VI. FROM PENTECOST THROUGH CORNELIUS
A. IN THE MINISTRY OF PETER
B. PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN
VII. POST-CORNELIUS: SCATTERED BELIEVERS THROUGH PAUL
VIII. DURING THE GREAT TRIBULATION
IX. DURING THE MILLENNIUM OR MESSIANIC KINGDOM
X. IN THE HEAVENLY AGES
XI. IN THE MINISTRY OF PAUL
A. PAUL’S PRE-COMMISSION EVANGELISM
B. PAUL’S POST-COMMISSION EVANGELISM
XII. A JEW FIRST SUMMARY OF PAUL’S MINISTRY
A. PAUL’S PATTERN FOR PREACHING
B. DID THE JEW-FIRST COMMISSION CEASE WITH PAUL’S DEATH?
XIII. FINAL THOUGHTS
You are most likely aware of the Great
Commission: 19. Go …
and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20), and its first step: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).
But are you aware of the Lost Commission?
The Gospel is to go
to the Jew first and
also to the Greek.
~ Romans 1:16 ~
Of course, it’s not called the Lost Commission in the Bible, but it may as well be because almost no one thinks about it or carries it out.
It is the
burden of this study is to show, by
painstaking analysis of Scripture, that the Gospel is to be brought to the Jew first even today.
What’s that I see? The shields are going up! Please bear with me. A servant of the Lord must
be willing to learn and change and even move out of his or her comfort
zone to be a more effective servant.
I will begin by presenting key biblical
statements and an analysis of the Greek and grammar of the entire Jew first
declaration of Romans 1:16.
I will show how God has always followed, is following, and will always follow the Jew First principle even apart from evangelism, even from before the birth of Abraham through the end of history
into the Heavenly Ages; and how He expects His servants to do the same today, particularly in the realm of evangelism.
We will analyze the ministries of Old Testament prophets and of Jesus and His New Testament preachers with a focus on the ministry of
Paul. In so doing, we will apply a special focus on Paul’s Romans 28 declaration of his turning from evangelizing the Jews to evangelizing the Gentiles, which has been a stumbling block for
My method will be to systematically present scripture, comment along the way, and finally summarize what we have observed and draw some
This has been a very painstaking, but rich and enlightening study, having corrected and enlightened me along the way.
For you? It may be a long ride; but I dare say it will enlighten you, as well. So please: Stick with it!
PART 1. THEOLOGICAL STATEMENTS OF ISRAEL’S CHOSENNESS
AND THE JEW FIRST PRINCIPLE
In this part, we’ll examine key theological statements concerning Israel’s chosenness and the Jew First principle,
focusing on three key declarations. In Part 2, we’ll examine the Scriptures on how these were, are, and will be put into actual practice.
The three key declarations are found in Genesis 12:3c, Romans 1:16 and Acts 13:46.
DECLARATION 1: IN YOU ALL THE FAMILIES
OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED
The foundational declaration for Israel’s chosenness from among the nations is God’s call and covenant with Abraham called the Abrahamic
Covenant, the seminal passage of which is Genesis 12:1-3.
Genesis 12:1-3 1.
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; 2. and I will make
you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your
name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 3. and I will
bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
(Other Abrahamic Covenant passages are: Genesis 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21;
From Genesis 12:1-3 we not only see the chosenness of Abraham but the reason for it:
In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
1. God Passed the Covenant Forward to All Israel
This is seen in Genesis 12:7, where God told Abraham, To your descendants I will give this land. Specifically, God passed the covenant on to Abraham's son, Isaac (Genesis 26:2-5,24), then to Isaac's son, Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) whose name became Israel (Genesis 32:28); and finally, to the twelve sons of Israel and to all of Israel through them (Genesis 49:1-28).
Special attention must be given to Genesis
49:10: The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Shiloh means “he
whose right it is” and is a reference to the Messiah, a descendant of Judah through King David. This carries the covenant through the Millennium
because, in the Millennium, He will rule all the nations with a rod of iron
(Revelation 12:5, et al) and every individual will give Him their obedience. (As will be shown, the Jew First principle will extend beyond
the Millennium into the Heavenly Ages, as well.)
In addition, in no verse of Scripture does God place any condition on Abraham or his descendants for the fulfillment of the covenant. It is strictly a
one-sided covenant, dependent solely upon God’s faithfulness. The covenant, therefore, is a never-ending, eternal covenant.
In Genesis 15, God affirmed His call
and promises to Abraham with a blood covenant. In verse 17, a smoking oven and a flaming torch ... passed between [the] pieces of the sacrificed, divided animals.
Normally, in such covenants, the two parties to the covenant would pass between the divided pieces; but here, God alone passed between them. By so doing, God proclaimed that the covenant was
dependent upon His unbroken faithfulness alone, and that no condition whatever was placed upon fallible Abraham. Nevertheless, many hold to what is called Replacement
Theology, saying that the chosenness of Israel was rescinded by God because Israel, as a nation, rejected Messiah, that the Church had simultaneously and permanently replaced Israel as God’s
chosen people, and that the future plans that God had for Israel must therefore be interpreted in figurative or spiritualized terms.
But note how the following
apostles declared that Israel’s chosenness was still current in their day years after Israel had rejected their Messiah, and that their presupposition concerning Israel's chosenness was that it
was literal and in no way figurative or spiritualized.
2. Israel Is Declared a Chosen Nation During the Apostolic Age
a. In Acts 13:47, Paul and Barnabas declared why it was necessary for them to bring the Gospel to the Jews of Pisidian Antioch before the Gentiles: "For so the Lord has commanded us [Jews], 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH (Isaiah 49:6).'"
What Isaiah had prophesied would be true of the yet-to-be-born Messiah, Paul and Barnabas declared was true of Israel in their day, that God had chosen Israel to
bring spiritual light to the Gentiles.
b. Acts 15:14-18. In the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, James quoted the same passage from Isaiah: 14. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from
among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15. With this the words of the Prophets agree, 16. “AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS
FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, 17. SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO
ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,” 18. SAYS THE LORD, WHO
MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO.
c. In Romans 9:4, Paul referred to Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the
glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.
Note the present tense of belongs and what still belonged to Israel in the Apostolic Age. Do they still belong to Israel
today? We'll see shortly.
d. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter declared:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called
you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Note the present tense of are. Israel was still A CHOSEN RACE in Peter’s
The priesthood of all believers is declared in Revelation 1:5-6, but much evidence indicates that Peter wrote this letter to Jewish believers as
representative of their chosen nation. The verse itself is based on Moses’ declaration to Israel in Exodus 19:6. See a list of other significant points in footnote 1.
3. Israel Is Prophesied to Be a Chosen Nation in the Millennium
Isaiah 60:1-3: 1. Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you…. 3. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4. But Is Israel a Chosen Nation Today?
Is Israel a chosen nation in our current day and age, twenty centuries after the Apostolic Age and prior to the Kingdom Age?
Since Paul, Barnabas, James and Peter declared that Israel’s chosenness was current in their Apostolic Age, which is the first
century of the same Church Age we are in, and that Israel will be chosen during the Millennium or Kingdom Age, and that no scripture states or implies that
Israel’s chosenness has been rescinded, there is every reason to believe that they are still God’s chosen people according to natural generation today and have been replaced by no one.
Therefore, what belonged to Israel in the Apostolic Age per Romans 9:4 above, still belongs to them today. This will be discussed further.
5. The Chosenness of the Church and of Israel
What about the chosenness of the Church? How does it relate to the chosenness of Israel? We’ll discuss this now before we continue.
Israel is God’s chosen people by natural generation and the Church is God’s chosen people by spiritual regeneration. Each is chosen for
a different palette of purposes and promises. Both are called to evangelize the world. The true church, that is, that portion of the visible church that is saved, has the ability to do so because
it has the Spirit of God. Israel does not have the ability to do so because, as a nation, it does not have the Spirit of God, though some individuals within it do.
Since their rejection of
Messiah, God has been dealing with Israel in judgment to prepare them to receive the complete fulfillment of the promises He made with them: their national salvation (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans
their return to the full borders of the Promised Land, their glorious preeminence in the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, and their being a spiritual blessing to the nations of the world
beginning with the144,000 Israelites who will bring
multitudes to salvation from every nation during the first half of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-17).
One aspect of their judgment is that they have been set aside during the Church Age from national salvation and ministry, which is what Jesus meant when He said, in Matthew 21:43, The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.
Whether the people that Jesus had in mind is the church or future saved Israel is a matter of controversy; but one thing is incontrovertible: today, the church is God's fruit-bearing body though Israel would have been His primary fruit-bearing people had they received their Lord as Savior. Israel has been set aside in this regard, but has been replaced by no one as a chosen people. They are like a baseball player who has been benched for a while, but not kicked off the team!
Israel has been replaced by no one. They are like a baseball player who has been benched for a while, but not kicked off the team!
The Church stands side by side with Israel as an elect or chosen people, but not in place of it. The offer of the Messianic Kingdom, which today we look forward to as the Millennial Kingdom, was rescinded from that Israeli generation because of their rejection of their Messiah; but acceptance of Him will be reoffered to the Jews who survive the Tribulation. They will all accept Him; all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26), the Lord will return, establish His Kingdom, and welcome them into it. They will all - every Jew - know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them (Jeremiah 31:34); and Israel will once again be God's primary fruit-bearing people as will be shown in Part 2.
aspect of their judgment is their scattering from the Land by
the Roman military blows of 70 and 135 AD (as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 23:37-39 and Luke 13:34-35), and the resulting
persecutions and attacks they have endured until this day – but they have not been “cancelled” by God as a chosen people! Their regathering to the Land in 1948, not to be confused with their
future Millennial gathering, is the initial move of God’s final dealing with them unto the ultimate fulfillment of His promises to them.
Yes, the Church is an elect or
chosen people also, but each group is chosen for a particular set of responsibilities and privileges. God has called out the church (the Gentiles are named in particular) to be
a people for His
disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), write the New
Testament, and, as Paul said, to move to jealousy my
fellow [Jewish] countrymen and save some of them (Romans 11:14). God has called out Israel to be His first wave
of ministers in every age since Abraham, bring forth Messiah and write the entire Bible. (Many say that Bible writer Luke was not Jewish. The most powerful evidence of Luke’s Jewishness is
Romans 3:2: They [the Jews] were entrusted with the oracles of God. See footnote 2 for other points of evidence.)
Declarations 2 and 3 are based on Abraham’s unconditional call.
DECLARATION 2: TO THE JEW FIRST
Romans 1:16 is our key scripture of focus: 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.
What are the
meanings of first
in the Greek, and what does the grammar of the
1. The Meanings of Proton
The Greek word translated first is proton. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it means:
* firstly (in time, place, order, or importance)
* before, at the beginning
* (at, at the) first (of all)
Several other dictionaries I looked at agree, and none disagree. A meditation on each of these meanings will impress upon the
reader the prominence and priority of Israel as declared by God through the apostle.
Although our primary burden is to show that Israel is to be considered first in spiritual matters, particularly in evangelistic outreaches, many of the Scriptures
below will show that, in God's eyes, Israel is of central importance in physical matters also, undergirding the necessity of their centrality in spiritual matters.
Grammar of Romans 1:16
Consider Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s comments and logic:
“The gospel is the power of God, and the proper procedure is for it to go to the Jew first. The governing verb is in the present tense for both clauses: the gospel is the power of God and the gospel is to the Jew first. To interpret this verse historically to mean the gospel was to the Jew first in the sense that it came to him first and this is no longer the case, or that it was only true during the apostolic period, is also to say that the gospel was the power of God and that it is no longer.
“Consistent exegesis would demand that if the gospel is always the power of God, then it is always to the Jew first.
Paul never said that the Jew First
Commission was just for him or that it would terminate upon his death or the death of the last apostle, nor is there any indication of that elsewhere in Scripture. We must therefore conclude that
bringing the Gospel to the Jew first is still necessary. We will explore this
IT WAS NECESSARY
Acts 13:46-47: 46. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly [to the Jews at Pisidian Antioch] and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first;
since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47. "For so the Lord has commanded us [Jews], 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING
SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH (Isaiah 49:6).'"
Three Important Points
The passage reveals three important things:
1. It was necessary for Paul and Barnabas to bring the Gospel to the Jews first (verse 46).
2. It shows the reason for the necessity: "For so the Lord has commanded us [Jews], 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH'" (verse 47).
3. necessary in verse 46 is stated in a present tense context: "It was necessary [now, in this present situation] that the word of God be spoken to you first.”
Contrary to what many surmise, Paul and Barnabas did not say that it was their preference to bring the Gospel to the Jews first because they were most comfortable with them, because they could relate to them best, because bringing them the Gospel would bring them the greatest satisfaction, or because Jewish hearers had the background of the Hebrew Scriptures to understand what they were saying. None of these things make preaching to the Jews first necessary. There is only one reason that they gave. According to the Isaiah quote, it was ...
God’s reason for the necessity: that the Jews might be saved first so that they, in turn, could bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.
That explains the Jew First necessity in evangelism! But we’ll dig more broadly and deeply.
Other verses that expand on the Abrahamic Covenant, Israel’s chosenness and the reason for the Jew First necessity are Genesis 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18;
Deuteronomy 7:6,43; 14:2; 1 Chronicles 16:13; Psalm 33:12; 105:6,43; 106:5; 135:4; Isaiah 41:8-9; 43:10,20; 44:1-2; 45:4 and Amos 3:2.
PART 2: PRACTICAL OUTWORKINGS
CHOSENNESS AND THE JEW FIRST PRINCIPLE
In Part 1, we examined key theological statements on Israel’s chosenness and the Jew First principle. We’ll now see how these were, are,
and will be put into practice.
Deuteronomy 32:8: When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries
of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.
Possibly as early as the post-Flood days of Noah, but no later than the dispersion at Babel (Noah: Genesis 9:18 - 10:1-32; Babel:
11:1-9), God considered Israel’s geographical positioning first - hundreds of years before Abraham was born.
In keeping with Deuteronomy 32:8, Ezekiel 38:12 calls Israel the
center of the earth.
II. FOR AS LONG AS ISRAEL EXISTS
Always the First Recipients of God’s Word
According to the Scriptures, the Jews always were and always will be the first recipients of God’s Word in all ages since Abraham.
The Original Disseminators of the Word of Salvation
In John 4:22, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, Salvation is from the Jews.
First in Judgment and Blessing
Romans 2:9-10. 9. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10. but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Why will the Jew be first in judgment and blessing? Luke 12:48: From everyone who has been
given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Worthy of Material Blessing by Those
Whom They Bless Spiritually
Romans 15:27: If the Gentiles have shared in their [Jerusalem saints’] spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.
1 Corinthians 9:11: If
we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
III. ABRAHAM THROUGH THE PATRIARCHS
As has been shown, the covenant that God made with Abraham was extended by God through Abraham to Isaac to Jacob (Israel) to the twelve sons of Israel and, through
them, to the entire nation of Israel.
IV. FROM THE PATRIARCHS TO JESUS
During this period:
* God demonstrated His chosenness of Israel by miraculously turning them from a nation of Egyptian slaves into a mighty nation that received their own Law, were given their own Promised Land, defeated nations mightier than they, prophesied to other nations, wrote the Hebrew Scriptures and brought forth Messiah through Miriam.
* God still considered Israel chosen in Zechariah’s day, 1500 years after the call of Abraham and just 500 years before the Lord’s birth: For thus says the LORD of hosts, "...He who touches you, touches the apple [pupil] of His [the Father’s] eye (Zechariah 2:8).
* Gentiles could be saved by having faith only in the God of Israel (Habakkuk 2:4) as did Rahab (James 2:5) and Ruth (Ruth 1:16);
* God spoke to other nations through Israelite prophets, such as Jonah (Jonah 3:1-10) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5); but God’s ministry was overwhelmingly to His people Israel.
In Matthew 15:24, Jesus
declared, "I was sent only to the lost sheep
of the house of Israel." He demonstrated that by revealing Himself first
to some young Jews who were to become His disciples (John 1), by first proclaiming His Messiahship
publicly in a synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21. Verse 18: "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME….”) and by
preaching and ministering primarily to Jews.
When He sent out the twelve to minister, He instructed them: "5. Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of
the Samaritans 6. but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6).
It was just prior to His
ascension that He affected a major and permanent change in His disciples’ commission: to preach to the nations:
Matthew 28:19-20: 19. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age; and specified the first step in making disciples: Mark 16:15: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
But still to Jews
Luke 24:46-47: 46. and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third
day, 47. and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Acts 1:8: but
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
To the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16), yes; but in the above passages, Jesus refined the principle, which can be applied everywhere there are any Jews at all: First to Jerusalem, the center of Jewish
life; then to all Judaea, the entire land of the Jews; then to Samaria, whose people were of mixed Jewish and Gentile blood; and then to the Gentiles. In practical terms for today, from the
center of the Jewish community on out.
It was Jews whom God used to establish the church and write the New Testament, but what we are going to focus on here is to what extent the early church preachers
preached to Jews first.
VI. FROM PENTECOST
To the Jews First
Jesus had given Peter the keys of the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19). One of the realms of the kingdom of Heaven or of God is the church (see the nine parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8), and the purpose of keys is to open doors.
Acts 2:1-41 tells us that numerous Jews and proselytes (verse 10) from many nations had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost; and it was here, to Jews and proselytes to Judaism, that Peter opened the door to salvation and the church.
The church was born on this Pentecost and a new era had begun. In Old Testament times, only a small handful of believers received the Spirit; but from this
Pentecost on, every person of every group to whom Peter opened the door was immediately indwelt, regenerated, and baptized into Christ and His body by the Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 12:13 and
Baptism By the
Holy Spirit and Being Filled With the Holy Spirit - Separate Ministries of the Holy Spirit.)
Then to the Samaritans
The next group for whom Peter opened the door were the Samaritans, a people of mixed Jewish and Gentile blood.
Act 8:14-16. 14. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15. who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
But weren’t the Samaritans saved before Peter’s arrival? The Samaritans had believed Philip's preaching of the Gospel prior to Peter’s arrival (Acts 8:12) - but the Spirit’s ministry of regeneration and Spirit baptism into the body was withheld from them until Peter and John ministered to them (Acts 8:14-17. See also John 3:5-6, 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Titus 3:5). Why? It was Peter to whom the Lord had given the keys.
Then to the Non-Proselyte Gentiles
Having opened the door of salvation to Jews, Gentile proselytes to Judaism, and Samaritans, Peter opened the door to the rest of the world via the non-proselyte Gentile, Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48). From that time forward, with Peter having opened all the doors, all people of every nation who exercise faith in Messiah receive the regenerating Holy Spirit immediately and are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Messiah.
Acts 10:2 describes Cornelius as a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.
Cornelius feared the God of Israel, prayed to God continually, and demonstrated his love for God by blessing the Jewish people. Why, then, did Peter need to open the door for him? Was he not a proselyte, a group for whom the door had been opened at Pentecost?
Surprisingly, no. Cornelius was what was called a God-fearer, but not a proselyte. Of course, proselytes loved God, but there was more to being a proselyte than that. To be considered a proselyte and enter into its benefits, a God-fearing Gentile needed to undergo a stringent initiation process and take upon himself the exacting burden of the Law.
"God-fearers believed in and feared
the God of the Jews, sat and listened in synagogues but could not participate. Proselytes were God-fearers who had been circumcised and bound themselves to keeping the Mosaic law, and therefore
could participate, including in Jewish feasts like the Pentecost ."* In addition, various sources say that, in addition to circumcision, the process included the offering of an animal sacrifice and
baptism by immersion.
The great difference between the commitment of a God-fearer and a proselyte explains why Peter was required to open the door separately for the two groups; first for the more dedicated group, and then the less dedicated and all Gentiles.
More Thoughts on the Three
The most obvious division of the three groups is ethnic: the Jews, then the Samaritans, a people of mixed Jewish and Gentile blood, and then the Gentiles. However, there is another way that may be more significant in the eyes of God, namely, religious closeness to the Him:
1. The Jews and proselyte Gentiles had the Scriptures;
2. The Samaritans had the Torah, but one that they they excised and edited to their taste; their faith was not simply Mosaic, but was a mix of Mosaic and pagan elements; and they worshiped in an unauthorized Temple that they built on Mt. Gerizim (John 4:19-20); and
3. The Gentiles, who were generally pagan and did not have or hold to the Hebrew Scriptures.
To what degree did the Lord weigh the ethnic and/or religious factors in sequencing the groups for Peter's ministry? In retrospect, it seems that the religious took precedence over the ethnic. After all, proselyte Gentiles were grouped with the Jews at Pentecost; the Samaritans had the Torah albeit a diluted and corrupted version; and Cornelius was not just any Gentile, but a God-fearing Gentile.
Some may wonder how Philip could bring the Gentile Ethiopian to salvation twelve years before the Spirit fell on Cornelius.
The Ethiopian had come to Jerusalem to worship; and when Philip met him, he was reading the Book of Isaiah (Acts 8:27-28). He was a proselyte to Judaism, and the door of salvation had been opened to proselytes on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). The order for the opening of the doors by Peter was not violated.
Summary and Key Question
Peter preached and ministered to Jews only before he opened the door to Samaritans and non-proselyte Gentiles. Philip preached to the Ethiopian proselyte and the
Samaritans, but the latter did not receive the Spirit until Peter opened the door (Peter: Acts 2:14-40; 3:1-10; 5:12-16; Phillip: Acts 8:4-8).
But our key focus will now be: To what people group did the early preachers preach to first after Cornelius received the Spirit? We’ll take it chronologically.
VII. POST-CORNELIUS: SCATTERED BELIEVERS
Though Peter had only recently opened the door to all peoples, it is hard to believe that word of this profound paradigm shift had not
spread throughout the church. With that in mind, let's take a look at the group or groups to whom the scattered believers preached.
First Group: To Jews Only
Acts 11:19: So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.
Second Group: To Jews and Also Greeks
Acts11:20: But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
Some commentators say that the Greeks of verse 20 were Greek-speaking Jews as distinguished
from the Hebrew-speaking Jews of verse 19. If that was the case, then both groups preached to Jews only. Others say that these were Greek Gentiles. If that was the case, then the second group
preached to Jews and also to
Greeks in parallel with Paul’s phrase, to the Jew first and also to the
Greek (Romans 1:16).
~ ~ ~
Chronologically, an examination of the ministry of Paul should come here; but because it is extensive and significant, we’ll examine the outworking of the Jew First principle in the future ages first; we’ll get to Paul shortly.
VIII. DURING THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Near the Beginning of the Tribulation
Near the beginning of the Tribulation, God will save 144,000 Jews to bring multitudes from every nation in the world to faith in Messiah during the first half of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-9). This is a very clear example of the Jew First principle: God will save them first so that they, in turn, will fulfill the call of Abraham: In you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3).
In the Middle of the Tribulation
In the middle of the Tribulation, God will raise up two witnesses to prophesy during the second half (Revelation 11:3-12). Though their identity is not specified, it is a virtual certainty that they will be Jews, or pre-Abrahamic Enoch and a Jew, as they will prophesy from Jerusalem (verses 1-4), possibly from within the temple (verse 4: They will stand before the Lord.)
At the End of the Tribulation
At the end of the Tribulation, God will kill two-thirds of Israel (Zechariah 13:8), the rebels (Ezekiel 20:38), by the hand of Antichrist so that the remaining third, those open to spiritual truth, will be saved in fulfillment of Paul’s declaration, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26. Also Jeremiah 31:33-34), making Israel the only nation to be blessed with total national salvation at any point or span of history.
Jews first or only at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the Tribulation.
DURING THE MILLENNIUM OR MESSIANIC KINGDOM
There will be Jewish priests during
the Millennium (Malachi 3:1-3), but also Gentile priests (Jeremiah 66:20-21), so no Jew Firstness here; but with all Israel saved at the end of the Tribulation and remaining saved with their
descendants in the Millennium (Jeremiah 31:4), they will be flocked to by nations and individuals seeking to know the Lord or know Him better.
Jews Flocked to by Nations
Isaiah 60:1-3: 1. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you…. 3. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Jews Flocked to by Individuals
Zechariah 8:23: Thus says the LORD of hosts, “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’"
A Jew Will Be
Jeremiah 23:5-6: 5. "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. 6. "In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'”
In the Heavenly Ages, Israel will receive special honor in a three-fold manner:
By the Name of the Eternal City
The name that God gave to the eternal city, N.J. – not New Jersey, but New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) – will bring special honor to Israel among the multitudes of the saved as they have always recognized Jerusalem as their capital since King David.
By the Names of the City's Gates
The names that God gave to New Jerusalem’s gates will likewise bring special honor to Israel. Each gate will bear the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 21:12).
By the Names of the Gates' Foundations
The names that God gave to the foundations of the gates will likewise bring special honor to Israel. Each foundation will bear the name of one of the twelve Jewish apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14).
Paul’s missionary outreaches are unique for two reasons:
1. He preached in numerous places, enabling us to discern to what extent he preached to Jews before Gentiles; and
2. Though he was called to Gentiles and Jews (Acts 9:15), his primary call was to Gentiles: I am an apostle of Gentiles (Romans 11:13); and in contradistinction to Peter, He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). Therefore, if the apostle of Gentiles followed the pattern of preaching to Jews first, it would be especially significant.
We will now take a walk through the Book of Acts and examine every evangelistic outreach that Paul engaged in where the group to whom he preached first is stated or implied, as well as some other outreaches worthy of note.
In many cases, Scripture makes it crystal clear to which group Paul preached first. In others, it does not. In such cases, I've done my best to break out the tools of careful examination, research and logic while exercising vigilance to remain neutral in the outcome. I am well aware of James 3:1: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. We who presume to be teachers need your prayers!
A. PAUL’S PRE-COMMISSION EVANGELISM
The account of Paul’s conversion is seen in Acts 9:1-6. Then, after his conversion and before he was commissioned to be an apostle to Gentiles, we read:
19. Now for several days he was with the
disciples who were at Damascus, 20. and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."
As soon as Paul was converted, he wasted no time preaching Jesus to Jews.
B. PAUL’S POST-COMMISSION EVANGELISM
In Acts 13:2-3 (with Galatians 2:7), Paul was commissioned to minister to the Gentiles; but look at how he always sought to minister to Jews first wherever he
ministered, even in primarily Gentile areas.
To Jews First in Salamis
Paul’s commissioning was in Act 13:1-3. In the very next verses, 4. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, [Barnabas and Saul] went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.
To Jews First in Pisidian Antioch
Act 13:14-47. 14. They arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it." 16. Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen....” Then, after much opposition from the Jews, 46. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'"
To Jews First or Only in Iconium
Act 14:1: In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.
The only place that was mentioned where Paul and Barnabas ministered was the synagogue. Obviously, their first or only target people were the
To Gentiles in Lystra. To Jews Also?
In Acts 14:8-23, Paul healed a crippled man in Lystra, which led to a powerful testimony to the idolaters there. Paul and Barnabas did not wait for a Jew-First opportunity to preach; they were pressed into preaching to these Gentile idolaters because they began to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods.
Some Jews had traveled over
a hundred miles from Antioch and Iconium to seal Paul's lips. These Jews won over the
crowds (verse 19) and stoned Paul
and left him for dead. However, Paul recovered and reentered the city.
There were Jews in Lystra (Acts 16:1,3), but we are not told to whom Paul did or did not preach on his return.
To Jews First in Philippi
Acts 16:12-13: 12. and from [Neapolis] to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days 13. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
The meeting by the river was
on the Sabbath: they were Jews, and Paul and company went
to where they were meeting. Although the passage notes, we were staying in this city for some days, the first ministry that Luke mentions is to these Jews, which fits Paul’s pattern.
Conceivably, Paul could have preached to Gentiles in the few days he was there before the
1. Luke's first mention of Paul's ministry in Philippi was to the Jews. It would be unusual for Luke not to mention that Paul ministered to the Gentiles first if, indeed, Paul did.
2. When Paul was in Athens (*scroll down three cities), he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews before he preached to the idolaters there despite the fact that his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols; whereas in Philippi, there was no such provocation pressing him to preach to Gentiles first.
He resisted the much stronger temptation to preach to the Gentiles first in Athens; he must surely have
resisted the much lesser temptation in Philippi. I must therefore conclude that Paul did preach to the Jews at the river before he preached to
To complete the picture, Paul and Silas did minister to Gentiles in the slammer after they ministered to the Jews by the river (16:25-33).
Philippi was an important Roman colony. Many of today's missionaries would focus their efforts on the influential Romans, but Paul had a different priority: to the Jews first whenever possible and reasonable regardless of their numbers, influence or esteem; and when it was not possible or reasonable to get to them first, he made it a point to get to them as soon as he could.
To Jews First in Thessalonica
Act 17:1-3: 1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
To Jews First in Berea
Act 17:10: The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
To Jews First in Athens
Act 17:16: Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.17. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. The rest of the chapter describes his ministry to Gentiles on Mars Hill (the Areopagus).
Verse 17 begins with So. Most of the definitions given by the four Bible dictionaries I checked for oun, the Greek word for
so, are: therefore, wherefore, so then, consequently, these things being so and accordingly. In
addition, most of the fourteen translations I checked translate oun as so
or therefore. All of
these indicate a causative effect between Paul’s vexed spirit and his preaching in the synagogue first. His spirit was vexed; therefore he preached in the synagogue.
Why would this be? Let’s hark back to the reason that Paul gave for the
necessity of preaching to Jews first: I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH. (Acts 13:46-17) He preached to them first to save them so that they could be an ongoing witness to the Athenian idolaters after his
The convictions of two commentators:
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: “The sense is not, ‘Therefore went he to the Jews,’ because the Gentile Athenians were steeped in idolatry; but, ‘Therefore set he himself to lift up his voice to the idol city, but, as his manner was, he began with the Jews.”
Robertson’s Word Pictures: “First he reasoned in the synagogue at the services to the Jews and the God-fearers, then daily in the agora or marketplace.”
They disagree as to why Paul preached to the Jews first, but they agree that he did preach to them first.
To Jews First in Corinth
Act 18:1-4, 6. 1. After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. 2. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, 3. and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them.... 4. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.... 6. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
Paul settled in with a Jew, whom he no doubt ministered to, and reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath.
Verse 6 makes it plain that he reasoned with the Jews first.
To Jews First or Only in Ephesus
Act 18:19-21. [Priscilla and Aquila] came to Ephesus, and [Paul] left them [at Ephesus]. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20. When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, 21. but taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus.
Again to Jews First on His Return to Ephesus
Acts 19:1 tells us that when Paul’s ministry in Ephesus had concluded, he departed Ephesus and then returned. In 19:1-7, Paul encounters a group of John the Baptizer’s disciples, who were Jews. In 19:4, he tells them, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus. 5. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
After leading John’s
disciples to Messiah, verse 8 tells us, He entered the synagogue
and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
First Paul leads John’s Jewish disciples to Messiah, then he preached and taught in the synagogue for three months.
To Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea
After Paul’s second visit to Ephesus, he set his heart to go to Jerusalem despite serious warnings to not go there. In Acts 20:16, Paul... was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost [even though] the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me (Acts 20:16, 23; 21:12-13).
Why was he in such a rush to arrive in Jerusalem by Pentecost? Why was he so willing to face serious trouble? His immediate purpose was to deliver an
offering that he had gathered to help the brethren there; but Pentecost was a Pilgrimage Feast, which all adult male Jews in Judea were required to attend (Leviticus 23:15-22; Deuteronomy 16:16).
In light of the fact that he was warned of serious trouble, it doesn't seem likely that his hurry was merely to deliver an offering. He could have taken his time and avoided the crowds that could
easily be stirred up against him. It is more likely that his hurry was to testify to the crowds so that some might get saved and that many might discuss his message all over the country when they
True enough, Paul was taken into custody by a Roman cohort, which occasioned a series of testimonies and evangelistic appeals by him to mobs of Jews in Jerusalem and in the hearing of Jewish priests and elders In Jerusalem and Caesarea. (Acts 21:17 – 25:12)
To Gentiles Only in Malta. No Identifiable Jews There?
Acts 28:1-10 tells us that Paul was shipwrecked in Malta and that he ministered to a group defined as natives (verses 2 and 4). If these natives were Jews, Luke would not have referred to them as natives, but as Jews. Certainly, they were Gentiles; but why is it not stated that Paul ministered to Jews there?
The InterVarsity Press Bible Background Commentary states, “Several groups of Jewish catacombs dating between the second and fifth centuries AD have been found on
the island; but if Jewish people were on the island in the first century, this narrative does not mention them.” These two points are consistent with the approximately twenty commentaries and
histories that I checked.
The following website presents evidence that a small group of Jewish settlers arrived on Malta (which had already been settled by Phoenicians) fifteen hundred or a
thousand years before Paul's arrival: https://vassallohistory.wordpress.com/judaism-in-malta. Other sites
agree. It’s possible that, by the time of Paul’s arrival, these pre-Pauline Jews had intermingled with the majority Phoenicians on this small island and become unidentifiable as Jews. In any
case, I have not uncovered any evidence anywhere that identifiable Jews lived on Malta for Paul to single out for ministry.
To Jews First in Rome
Acts 28:16-28: 16. When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. 17. After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began [testifying to them of Jesus].... 25. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken [a condemning word from the prophet Isaiah]. 28. "Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen."
With Paul still in Rome, Acts 28 brings the Book of Acts to a close.
XII. A JEW FIRST SUMMARY OF PAUL’S
We have seen that the Jew First principle holds sway in contexts apart from the preaching of the Word, which undergirds the case that the principle ought to be
applied to evangelism. We have also reviewed the preaching ministries of Old and New Testament preachers; but Paul’s ministry bears special
A. PAUL’S PATTERN FOR PREACHING
1. The evidence is overwhelming. Although God called Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7), wherever the apostle to the Gentiles went he always sought to preach to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) because it was necessary (Acts 13:46) for the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham: in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3).
2. Paul preached to Gentiles solely or first only when circumstances forced him to.
preached to Jews first on his first visit to Ephesus, and then again on his return (Acts 18:19; 19:1), demonstrating that the Jew First principle applies even if it had been applied on a previous
B. DID THE JEW-FIRST COMMISSION
CEASE WITH PAUL’S DEATH?
On three occasions, Paul declared that he was turning away from the Jews and to the Gentiles: at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:46), Corinth (Acts 18:6) and Rome (Acts 28:25-28). But when he left Pisidian Antioch, he went to the Jews first in Iconium; when he left Corinth, he went to the Jews first or solely in Ephesus.
Many say that Paul’s final occasion of turning in Rome marked the termination of the Jew First Commission for the entirety of the Church Age – but Paul was beheaded
in Rome, so cut the guy some slack! He would certainly have continued the pattern had he been able to carry his head to the next town.
Not one passage in the Bible states or implies that the Jew First Commission was terminated with the death of Paul or the close of the Apostolic Age with the death of John the Revelator.
Therefore, the Jew First Commission obligates us to bring the Gospel to the Jew first in all planned evangelistic activities where at all reasonable and
possible. It is central to the Great
Commission and was even meant to drive it as it was always God’s desire to give the Jews the first opportunity to bring the light of Messiah to the Gentiles.
The Jew First Commission is meant
Let us also remember that
seeds planted in Israel today will likely bear fruit in the salvation of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation who, in turn, will bring multitudes to the Lord from every nation; and
also through the salvation of the Jews who survive the Tribulation and will be the Lord’s first wave of ministers in the Millennium. Furthermore, this salvation of all
Israel will trigger the Lord’s return to earth (Hosea 5:15; Luke 13:35)! So let's keep planting seeds in Israel!
Romans 15:27: For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in
material things. If this is true in material matters, then how much more in spiritual! God wants us to honor the
Jew First principle. This is not to say that we
are to withhold ministry from others until we minister to a Jew! (When I was on a ticket line for a flight to Israel, I preached Yeshua to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man directly behind me; but if
he were an animist Indian from South America, I would have done the same! This was unplanned, impromptu, off-the-cuff, one-on-one evangelism.) It does mean that, in all
intentional, planned evangelistic efforts, whether they be individual or on a church level, we are to strive to minister to individual Jews and the Jewish community as early as
Want to earn a blessing? God
promised Abraham and his chosen descendants: I will bless those who bless you
God’s Word must go to the Jew first
so it could go from the Jew first.
It is necessary.
All scriptures in this study are quoted from
the New American Standard Bible of 1995
~ ~ ~
For a much fuller treatment of
many of the subjects touched on,
and for an extensive list of the ways that God used
and will use Israel, please see the list of studies
in the Israel section on the Home Page,
especially The Chosenness of Israel.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1. There is much evidence that 1 (and 2) Peter were written to Jewish believers:
* Peter was the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:8).
* He addressed 1 Peter to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen (1 Peter 1:1). The Greek term for "scattered" is diaspora, a term referring to Jews outside the
Land, still in use today. It is the word from which we get “dispersed.” The Jews were literally scattered from the Land by the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions (721 and 586 BC respectively) and
by the Roman invasions of 70 and 135 AD. However, the Gentiles are scattered throughout the world in the sense that they live all over the world. The use of "scattering" in this manner is a much
weaker use than when used of the Jews.
* In 1 Peter 2:12 and 4:3-4, he contrasts the recipients of the
letter with the Gentiles.
* Peter quotes the Old Testament copiously as did Matthew and the writer of Hebrews, who did so because they were writing to Jews. For example, 1 Peter 2:9, the verse in question, is based on Exodus 19:6, which God told Moses to declare to Israel. Moses repeated the statement to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:6, and a reference to Israel's national priesthood is also found in Isaiah 61:6.
Peter also employs the Old Testament, as follows:
1. In 1 Peter 1:16 he quotes Leviticus 11:44–45; in 1:24–25, Isaiah 40:6–8; in 2:6, Isaiah 28:16); in 2:7, Psalm 118:22; in 2:8, Isaiah 8:14; in 2:22, Isaiah 53:9; in 3:10–12, Psalm 34:12–16; in 4:18, Proverbs 11:31; in 5:5, Proverbs 3:34.
2. In 1 Peter 3:5–6, he refers to the accounts of Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 12:10-13:1, 18:12 and 20:1-3; and in 1 Peter 3:18-22, the account of Noah in Genesis 3:18–22.
* 1 Peter was written in 63 AD, just seven years before the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In 1 Peter 4:17-18, Peter said, it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God, a statement that is consistent with the Book of Hebrews, which was authored by a Jew and warns Jewish believers to heed Christ’s prophetic warning to His disciples (which included Peter*) in Luke 21:20-24: to get out of Jerusalem during that siege and be physically saved from Roman slaughter. Context shows that what Peter is saying is that if his readers act like unbelievers, God may discipline them physically. The principle that Peter heard from Jesus, and is consistent with the message of Hebrews, Peter applied to the recipients of his letter. *Mark 13:3, part of a parallel section.
2. There is much evidence that Luke
was a Jew, the most powerful being what Paul said in Romans 3:2: [The Jews] were entrusted with the oracles of God. In addition
* Note Luke’s familiarity with various detail of the Law as he relates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple:
And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord 23. (as it is written in the law of the Lord, EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD), 24. and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the Law of the Lord, A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES, OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS. (Luke 2:22-24)
* Along the same lines, note his knowledge of Jewish religious practices, including the rotation of the priests for Temple
service in Luke 1:8-10, Acts 3:1 and Acts 10; 21:26.
* It would be unusual for an Old Testament Gentile to have intimate knowledge of the intricate details surrounding the birth of Jesus, but it is commonly agreed that Luke had a very close friendship with Mary, indicating his probable Jewishness. This is evidenced by the fact that he related the following in such vivid detail, much of which is obviously from Mary’s point of view: the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias, the prophecy of the birth of Jesus by the angel Gabriel to Mary, Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the relating of Mary’s song of praise word for word, the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah’s prophecy, the enrollment of Joseph and Mary for taxation, the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and the angels to the manger (Luke 1:5 – 2:21).
* I must reiterate: The most powerful evidence of Luke’s Jewishness is Romans 3:2: [The Jews] were entrusted with the oracles of God. For further evidence, see https://www.apostolic.edu/was-the-writer-luke-a-jew-or-gentile.
3. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Hebrew Christianity: Its Theology, History, and Philosophy. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries Press, 1992, pdf. p.53.