Understanding “To the Jew First” – Part 1

Hi friends! We are closing out our month-long prayer focus on Israel. We have prayed for salvation and discipleship. Though the Jews rejected their Messiah, the fact is that God has not changed the order of things. Salvation came “to the Jew first” then to the Gentiles.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek [Gentile].

~Romans 1:16

Often, there are questions about what that means, so we’ll dive into a 4-part series to address them. Stick with us for the next three days as we build upon the foundation laid today.

Through the centuries, Gentiles have developed two erroneous thought patterns relative to “the Jew first”:

  • Since salvation is to the Jew first, Gentiles must be second-class citizens. Thus, “I want to be a Jew!”
  • Since the Jews rejected Jesus, the church has replaced Israel and “I am the new Jew!”

Neither of those thought patterns are Biblically accurate, and both must be refuted in order to remain consistent with God’s plan for both Jews and Gentiles. Today we’ll look at the first fallacy: “I want to be a Jew!”

First, why in the world would any Gentile want to be a Jew!?! In brief, we are sons [and daughters!] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. As believers in Him, there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles! (Galatians 3:26-29) In essence, we reap the benefits of being grafted into the life of the Jewish Messiah, yet we are not subject to the constant hate and persecution levied against the Jewish people! Being Jewish is not “better,” it is only a different calling by God.

The Gentile sense of deflated worth is addressed in Ephesians 2:19-22:

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In verse 15 preceding that, the apostle Paul encourages us that God has made us “one new man” with the Jewish people. We have equal access to the Father, to Jesus for salvation, and to the Holy Spirit for power. We are not strangers, but citizens of God’s household! Thanks to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, we Gentiles are not second class citizens in any way!

Indeed, “to the Jew first” is not an exclusive term, but one that appropriately invites others in (through salvation) and offers the benefits extended first to the Jews.

That is great news, isn’t it!

Tomorrow we’ll examine the fallacy on the other end of the spectrum, and will continue building our understanding of “to the Jew first.” See you tomorrow!

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