Friday, May 11, 2012
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 KJV).
Why is the Gospel of Christ given “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek?”
From Genesis chapter 12 (Abraham’s salvation) to Acts chapter 9 (Paul’s salvation), God dealt almost exclusively with Israel. During those 2,000 years, God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile) (Ephesians 2:11,12).
During these centuries, the Old Testament prophets reminded Israel of her coming King (Deuteronomy 18:15; Isaiah 9:6,7; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Zechariah 9:9; et al.). When Jesus Christ presented Himself to Israel in the Four Gospels, He came to establish His kingdom on earth, for Israel to then evangelize the pagan Gentiles (Exodus 19:5,6; Isaiah 60:1-3; et al.). Nonetheless, Israel rejected Jesus in unbelief, demanding His crucifixion on Calvary (John 19:15).
After Jesus Christ resurrected, Israel still rejected Him by persecuting and ignoring the Holy Spirit-filled twelve apostles who were calling Israel to repentance and faith (Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:8-31; Acts 5:29-42; et al.). With uncooperative Israel finally murdering her prophet Stephen in Acts chapter 7, God turns to the Gentiles without Israel (Romans 11:11,12). The ascended Lord Jesus Christ saves Saul of Tarsus (Paul) in Acts chapter 9, commissioning him as his apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).
From Acts chapter 9 to Acts chapter 28, Israel is “diminishing”—losing her special status before God (Romans 11:12). Thus, in the cities Paul visits in the book of Acts, God has him go to the local synagogue to preach the Gospel of Christ to Jews first: “Brethren [Jews], you have killed your Messiah Jesus, and your kingdom program is falling away, so you can only be saved now by becoming a member of the Church the Body of Christ!” Once these lost Jews refused to listen, Paul preached salvation in Christ to local pagan Greeks (Gentiles) (Acts 9:20-22; Acts 13:5, 14-52; Acts 14:1-27; Acts 17:1-34; Acts 18:1-11,18-21; Acts 19:8-10; Acts 28:20-31).