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QUESTION: Where Does Jesus Say He Came for All People, Not Just the Jews?


The following question came to me via the Question Box on our congregation’s web-site, Plymouth-church.com where I recently answered it:

Where in the Bible does Jesus state He had come for all people, not just the Jews?

Limiting this answer to words from Jesus Himself, one passage that clearly states the gospel is for all people, not just the Jews is in the Great Commission itself. Consider the following four accounts of the Great Commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:18-19

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:15-16

Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. – Luke 24:45-47

He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Fther has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:7-8

(Emphasis added)

In Matthew the word for nations is ethnos. This is the Greek root of our word ethnic. Literally, Jesus said to make disciples of all enthnic groups. This includes every human being.

All of these statements come from the lips of Jesus Himself. In all of them, He was telling His disciples that they were to carry the good news, the gospel, to all the nations, of all the world, to all creatures, but beginning at Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, He told them to go to Judea (the province around Jerusalem) and Samaria (the next province north of Jerusalem) and to the ends of the earth.

You might also want to consider Luke 4:14-30. This is the account of how Jesus returned to Nazareth “in the power of the Holy Spirit” just after His baptism and Temptation in the Wilderness of Judea. He entered the synagogue in Nazareth and stood up to read the Scripture for the day. He read:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, To release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Isaiah 61:1-2

After reading, He sat down and said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The amazing thing is that the next verse says, “All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips.” This was in spite of the things He claimed for Himself in the fulfillment of that prophecy! This was a public declaration He was the Messiah.Yet, as He continued, He said:

No prophet is accepted in His hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.

Zarephath near Sidon was a Gentile area. Syria, the home of Naaman was a Gentile nation. When Jesus spoke of these Gentiles (non-Israelites) being blessed above the people of Israel, the people of His home town became furious. They had just heard Him claim to be the Messiah, and they spoke well of Him. When He spoke of the Gentiles being blessed by God, they became furious and tried to kill Him.

He did not use the word “Gentile” in this passage in Luke. Yet, the people certainly understood what He meant – and they did not like it a bit.

The Jewish prejudice against the Gentile was so strong that even after Jesus spoke so clearly about preaching to all the nations in the Great Commission, the apostles did not take the initiative to tell the good news to any except to Jews and proselytes (i.e., Gentiles who had “converted” to become Jewish). It was only when a special vision and direct command from God came to Peter (see Acts 10) that they went to the Gentiles. Even then, many wanted to demand that the Gentile converts to Christ also convert to Judaism.

Another text from the lips of the Lord Himself is in Acts 22. Here Paul had been taken into custody by the Romans when the Jews were having a riot trying to kill him at the end of chapter 21. Paul asked the Roman officer for permission to speak to the crowd, which he granted. After telling his own story of how he had persecuted the church but had seen Jesus on the Road to Damascus, he told of how he returned to Jerusalem. There, he tried to preach to his former associates among the leaders of the Jews, but they were rejecting him. In a trance, he saw the Lord speaking to him, telling him to quickly leave Jerusalem because they would not accept his message about Jesus. Paul objected that they knew how zealous he had been against the name of Jesus and how he had participated in killing many, including Stephen. But the Lord told him, “Go! will send you far away to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21).

This last remark where Paul told the Jews Jesus had said he was sending him to the Gentiles reignited the riot. Our point here is that Jesus sent Paul specifically to the Gentile nations.

I think these few passages will show you that Jesus Himself intended His message to be for all the world, not just the Jews. But this was not something new. Even as far back as when God called Abraham, one of the promises to him was that all nations would be blessed through him and his seed (see Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18). The prophets repeated this message of hope to the nations. See for example Isaiah 61:1-2 that Jesus quoted in Luke 4 (see above). See also Isaiah 9:1-2, which the gospel of Matthew quoted (4:12-16) to explain why Jesus returned to Galilee for the focus of His ministry.

I trust these thoughts will help you to understand that from the very beginning, God’s purposes included all nations – not just the Jews. The Jews played an important role in God’s plan. Jesus Himself was a Jew. God’s eternal plan for mankind always included all the nations.

SEE ALSO: Was Abraham a Gentile or a Jew?

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8 Responses

  1. Those verses you quoted was after the ressurection, before Jesus says that was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of isreal. Matt 25:21-28. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach he told them also to only go to the lost sheep of the house of isreal Matt 10:5-6

    • Michael, what is your point? The question I was responding to was “Where does Jesus say he came for all people, not just the Jews?” Of course, there is no direct quote from Jesus that says that.

      However, in my response, I cited four different iterations of the Great Commission, which show that the gospel is for all nations (Matthew), for every creature (Mark), to go to the uttermost part of the world (Luke), and “to the ends of the earth” (Acts). How much more explicit can you get?

      You correctly state that this was after his resurrection, and that prior to his death (and resurrection), he had sent his disciples (twice) on what is called a “Limited Commission” to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This limitation is removed in the Great Commission.

      In fact, Jesus did not himself strictly observe this – for he healed the son of the centurion who did not deem himself worthy of having Jesus come into his home. Jesus marveled at his faith, which he said was greater than any in Israel, and said in response, “Many will come from the east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heave, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.” (See Matthew 8:5-13.)

      Doesn’t that suggest that the work of Jesus is for all people of all nations who will come to him in faith?

      So again, I ask, “What is your point?”

  2. Ok let us nip this in the bud. Jesus was the atonement of sin. So how could he be the atonement for the worlds sin if the laws were given to the Israelites. Psalms 147:19-20
    “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” So how does this become all nations. The reason he says all nation is the same reason Paul went to the Gentiles. John 7:35 “Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” Read it carefully again. Because the Jews were dispersed that is why he said go to all nations. This coincides with the events of that day. of course you will play this down. But I will leave you with this, this is after his death so say what you will. Acts 5:30-31″The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring ISRAEL to repentance and forgive their sins.”
    Shalom

    • Oriddle,
      What you overlook is that in Christ there is a new definition of Israel, “For as many of as were bptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29)

      The promise here is God’s promise to Abraham that in his seed all families of the earth would be blessed. That blessing came to national Israel first – but is also a blessing for all who come to Jesus in faith.

      One of the major controversies in the first-century AD church was the relationship of the Gentiles to the Jews. Initially, (prior to Acts 10) those who were Christian were all Jewish. After Acts 10 Gentiles were also received into the fellowship. However, in Acts 15 a movement among “Pharisees who believed” demanded that Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law. This would have, effectively, required any Gentile who came to Jesus to also convert to Judaism. The “Jerusalem Conference” squelched this idea while retaining opposition to common Gentile practices that were particularly obnoxious to the Jews. It was in this way that the barriers between the Gentiles and the Jews were broken down.

      This conflict is a major theme in Paul’s epistles, especially in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians though other epistles touch on it as well.

      You say that it is because the Jews were dispersed that Jesus said to go to all the nations. In the book of Acts, as the apostles were preaching, they did go first to Israel – but they also quickly went to the Gentiles as well. You seem to be very selective in how you use Scripture.

  3. Love how you used Matthew 8:5-13. But look at Luke 7:1-10. The elders came to Jesus earnestly meaning Marked by or showing deep sincerity or seriousness: an earnest gesture of goodwill.
    The elders had to ask Jesus to do them a favor because the Centurion built them a synagogue. Now if Jesus came for everyone then why would the elders who by the way are the top leaders come to him to do it as a favor?

    • Did it ever occur to you that the Jewish elders just might have been thinking as the Jews thought, not as Jesus thinks? In their Jewish approach to the circumstances, they would naturally have thought that they would need to make a case for this particular Gentile to be an exception to what they thought of as God’s designed separation of national Israel from the Gentiles.

  4. Well if jesus came for everybody who are the people in the place we call israel today. Claiming to be the choosen people of god. Also this is what the christian church believe.

  5. Who are they indeed! They are remnants of the nation from whom Jesus was born, but who rejected him, ultimately turning him over to the Romans to be crucified.

    They are also the nation who gave us all 12 of the apostles whom Jesus told to go into all the world to preach to every creature. While many of the Jews accepted Jesus as the apostles preached him as the Jewish messiah and the Son of God, many more rejected the good news if the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures in Jesus, the Messiah. Part of that fulfillment included extending God’s blessing to all nations as He had stated in his covenant with Abraham, a covenant that is everlasting. This is not only stated in God’s covenant with Abraham, but is also prophesied in many places, such as Isaiah 2:1ff.

    The secular state of Israel has little resemblance to the Israel to whom and of whom the prophets spoke. As Galatians 3:29 says, today in Christ there is no Jew and Gentile, for all are one.

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