Article 12 of 13:


by Sam Nadler

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. - Romans 1:16

There are several applications for the biblical mandate “to the Jew first.” For many it is an evangelistic principle that means the Gospel should be taken “to Jewish people first,” as we reach the whole world as well. But there is more to this phrase than meets the eye. “To the Jew first” not only means that we go to the Jewish people first, but that we recognize that the Gospel is “first” or primarily a message that is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy: Jewish promises about a Jewish Messiah with a salvation that is for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. It may surprise many to discover that even when writing the Gospels, the apostles were communicating a “to the Jew first” message: therefore communicating the Gospel in a Jewish context is still essential!

John's Jewish Gospel to Gentiles
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John we read of a “to the Jew first” presentation:

And Yeshua turned and saw them following, and said to them, What do you seek?

They said to Him, Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?

He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).

He brought him to Yeshua. Yeshua looked at him and said, You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (which is translated Peter) (John 1:38,41-42).

Notice that in each of these verses John writes the Hebrew words "Rabbi," "Messiah" (or Mashiach) and "Cephas" (or Kefa) followed by the Greek translations Teacher (diaskolos), Christ (christos) and Peter (Petros). Why? It can be explained if we note that even as Matthew was writing his Good News of Yeshua to a Jewish audience, so John was writing his account to an audience that was both Greek-speaking and majority-Gentile. A Greek audience would not be expected to necessarily understand the Hebrew words, so John was careful to translate into Greek so that they could fully appreciate what was being taught.

Well enough, but if you're just going to have to translate it anyway, why bother stating the Hebrew words to begin with? Since all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16) we know there must be a reason: a vital, redemptive reason.

Messiah of Israel, Savior Of the World

Here's the point: When John wrote to the Gentile world about the essential need of faith in Yeshua, John dared not separate Messiah from His biblical and Jewish roots. For even though this Gospel account would declare Yeshua to be the Savior of the world (John 4:42), Yeshua's credentials to be Savior of the world depend upon whether He is truly Israel's Messiah. If Yeshua is not the rightful Jewish Messiah He has no authority to be anyone's savior, let alone Savior of the world. The only way Gentiles could hope in Jesus as their Savior, is if they understood that He is the legitimate Jewish Messiah.

If we separate Him from His Jewish roots, we separate Messiah from His legitimate and eternal authority and ministry. Gentiles must remain aware of these Jewish roots of the faith; otherwise Gentiles might become arrogant towards the Jewish people and the Old Covenant teaching, and thus think they support the root when in fact the root supports them (Romans 11:18)!

Perhaps this is why even though John's Gospel was written to a Gentile audience, it is filled with numerous references to the Messianic prophecies (for example, John 2:17; 12:14-16, 38; 13:18; 19:24, 28, 36) and the biblical Jewish holidays and ceremonies (2:23; 5:1; 6:4; 7:2). In fact, we know that Yeshua ministered for three to three-and-a-half years only because John's Gospel alone mentions three different Passovers that Messiah observed in His ministry period.

John's Gospel: Model for Ministry

The Gospel of John therefore gives us biblical instruction in how God wants Messiah communicated to the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike. So when communicating the Good News even to Gentiles it is not optional, but incumbent to communicate it “to the Jew first,” in a Jewish frame of reference, so that the testimony of Messiah might rest on the solid rock of Scripture and grow out from the biblical roots of Israel's Messiah. You say, “My congregation does not teach Jesus that way.” Insist on it. There is no valid reason that "Bible-believing" congregations should teach differently. To be true to Scripture, all born again believers should communicate the Good News in a “to-the-Jew-first” context. Only the Messiah of Israel can be recognized as the rightful "Savior of the world."

Get Involved, You can do it!

What can you do? Ask your pastor to consider scheduling a Word of Messiah Ministries' representative to speak at your church this year. Sign up your pastor for the FREE Word of Messiah Ministries newsletter, The Shmooze Letter. You can pick up some of our books or tapes from our website so that your pastor will be better informed and grow in understanding the Gospel in its biblical and Jewish context. This way, you and your congregation can reach out to Jewish friends and neighbors and invite them to your services, where they will hear the Good News in a way they can understand it. Then they will be less confused and more open to considering Jesus as their Messiah, Savior and Lord. Thus, “to the Jew first” helps both Jew and Gentile appreciate the biblical message in a more understandable and authentic way. Let's be encouraged that the gospel is still "the power of God” that can change lives and destinies, to the Jew first and to the Gentile also!


Links to prior studies in the Jewish Evangelism
and Discipleship series may found in our

Sam Nadler is director of Word of Messiah Ministries in Charlotte, N.C. This article is reprinted
from Word of Messiah's website with permission, and may be viewed in its original form at Many other fine articles
and other features may be found at Word of Messiah.


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