The New Testament Pauline Pattern
Perhaps the best way to understand what
the Apostle intended in Romans
1:16 is to see his strategy at
work in his own ministry
recorded in Acts. Wherever Paul
went in his ministry among
the Gentiles, he first preached
the gospel to the Jewish people
living in that area (Acts 13:13–52;
14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10).
What the Apostle did in
Iconium in Acts 14 is typical of
his divinely inspired strategy.
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. But
Jews who disbelieved stirred
up the minds of the Gentiles
and embittered them against the
brethren. Therefore they spent a
long time there speaking boldly
with reliance upon the Lord, who
was testifying to the word of His
grace, granting that signs and wonders
be done by their hands. But the people
of the city were divided; and some sided
with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
And when an attempt was made by
both the Gentiles and the Jews with their
rulers, to mistreat and to stone them,
they became aware of it and fled to the
cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe,
and the surrounding region; and there
they continued to preach the gospel.
Paul would regularly evangelize
the Jewish people before he spoke to the
Gentiles. The salvation of the Jewish people
an ever-present concern for him, and his
actions in Acts reveal his understanding of
what he wrote in Romans 1:16.
A New Way
of Looking at the Text
The word “first” suggests that the Jewish
people are still to be viewed as a priority in
world evangelism. In what way and for what
reason? What does God have in mind? What
does it mean for the gospel to be preached
to the Jewish people first?
The Greek word proton is also used
in Matthew 6:33, where the Lord Jesus
The Chosen People | JANUARY 2020
reminds us to “seek first His kingdom…” (Matthew 6:33). The
Kingdom of God should always be sought as a priority in
our lives, even as we seek for other things. In a similar way,
reaching Jewish people with the gospel must be a priority of
concern for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
It is a priority founded upon God’s heart. It is His plan
for the Jewish people and the world He loves for whom He
sent His Son to die!
A Priority Based Upon God’s Promise
This is consistent with God’s promise to Abraham in
Genesis 12:1–3, especially 12:3, which reads: “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.” Reaching
the Jewish people will ultimately lead to His blessings being
poured out upon the whole earth.
A Priority Based Upon God’s Future Plan
Paul describes the future salvation of the Jewish people
and the impact it will have on the rest of the world. I am
convinced that this was on his mind when he penned
Romans 1:16. Knowing the future plan of God, Paul taught
the church to prioritize Jewish evangelism, especially as the
great day of His second coming draws near. The salvation
of the Jewish people appears to be the lynchpin in fulfilling
God’s ultimate purpose for the world.
The Apostle wrote in Romans 11:12, “Now if their
transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches
for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” And
again in verse 15 “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the
world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
Bringing the gospel to the Jewish people first is not a
priority of privilege, but rather a priority based on the Lord’s
strategic plan to heal and restore the world.
The Lord chose the children of Israel to reach the
Gentiles, but His chosen people fell short of the task.
Therefore, He sent His Son, Yeshua, to complete the holy
assignment. Now He calls upon gospel-believing Gentiles to
bring the message back to the original messengers!
The Apostle assures us of the day when the Jewish people
will turn to the One who was pierced and repent, receiving
Him as Messiah. This fulfills Jesus’ prophecy, when He
told the Jewish leaders that one day the Jewish people will
embrace Him as their true and only Savior.
For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me
until you say, ‘Blessed is HE who comes in the name of
the Lord!’’ (Matthew 23:39)
The 21st Century
Let us apply Romans 1:16 to the Great Commission and
make Jewish evangelism a priority in the 21st century! Paul
clarified his strategy in Romans 11:11, where he emphasized
the holy mandate for Gentiles in the Body of Messiah to reach
Jewish people with the gospel message. In fact, according to
Paul’s statement in Romans 11:11, the Gentiles are called to make
the Jewish people jealous of the Lord Jesus living within them:
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