Romans 1:16: To the Jew First
Paul, also a Jewish believer in Jesus, writes, “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).
Although Paul was considered the “apostle to the Gentiles,” he still carried a great burden for his own people…and he practiced what he wrote. In fact, wherever Paul traveled during his ministry among the Gentiles, he first preached the Gospel to the Jewish people who lived in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10).
We should ask ourselves why the Apostle Paul made Jewish evangelism such a priority in his own life. The Apostle Paul’s argument may be summarized as follows: “If Jewish people are successfully evangelized, then Jesus the Messiah will return.” There was a sense of end-times urgency in his preaching which is why Paul encouraged the Romans believers – and us – to prioritize the evangelization of the Jewish people.
An important passage is found in Romans chapter 11, where the Apostle Paul argues that God has not cast off His people, Israel, despite their national rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Paul argues that God is not finished with Israel, because one day “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–27).
He writes in Romans 11:15, “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” The Lord will not reject His people because He is always faithful to His promises (Romans 11:29). In fact, the very existence of the Jewish people today is a powerful argument for the truth of the Bible and evidence for the existence and power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The great day of salvation for the Jewish people will bring about the return of the Lord and God’s blessing upon the world because, in that day, Jesus will sit on the promised throne of David, as predicted in Isaiah 9:6-7 and 11:9-10.
The Bible teaches that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus in the last days and only then will the Lord return. This is why reaching Jewish people with the Gospel must become a priority for all Christians. The salvation of the future remnant of Israel described by Paul is the final step in the chain of events preceding Jesus’ second coming and the culmination of the Abrahamic blessings promised to the world (Genesis 12:1-3).
There is a remnant today of Messianic Jews, and I am so glad to be included among them. However, a great movement of Jewish people who will believe in Jesus in coming, and this is the hope that really motivates us!