At Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, one of our affirmations is “the importance of the Great Commission, to ‘make disciples of all nations’—so Jews, Arabs, those who live in the Middle East, and all humanity may receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life by trusting in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.” We know that the only real solution for peace is the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Messiah. For this reason, our hope and prayer is for both Jewish people and Arabs to come to know Him.
We also believe the gospel message should be shared with “respect for ethnicity and culture.” The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:20–22 that he proclaimed the same gospel to the Jewish people and Gentiles alike, but that he adjusted his approach based on to whom he was speaking so that he could reach people in a way they could understand. In a previous article, we made the case for Jewish evangelism. Here, we will share how to do Jewish evangelism so you can talk to your Jewish friend, coworker, or acquaintance in a culturally relevant and respectful way.
The Importance of Jewish Evangelism
Paul wrote, “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). Paul, even though he felt called to reach the Gentiles with the gospel, lived out this principle in his ministry. In every city to which he traveled, he first visited that city’s synagogue to proclaim the gospel to his Jewish people. Then he would proceed to preach to the Gentiles of that particular city.
Today, this principle has been largely forgotten. According to the Christian research organization Joshua Project, the Jewish people remain an unreached people group, meaning that fewer than three percent of Jewish people believe Jesus is their Messiah. This is a stark and sad reality—that the majority of the Messiah’s kinsmen in the flesh do not follow Him. At Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, we would like to see this trend change. To that end, here are four practical ways to engage with Jewish people about the gospel.
1. Ask questions.
One of the best ways to begin any spiritual conversation is to ask questions. Do not presume to know what someone already believes; ask him or her! If it is around the time of a Jewish holiday, you can ask your friend if he or she celebrates that particular holiday and what they do to celebrate. Ask the person you are talking to about his or her family traditions.
Ideally, you will get to the point where you can ask about views on Jesus. “Who do you think Jesus is?” is a possible way to phrase it. The answer may surprise you! Many Jewish people have actually not given the question much thought.
I remember working as a restaurant server years ago. One of my coworkers innocently asked my Jewish coworker, “I’m just curious—why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?” The question caught my Jewish friend off guard. “Hmm. I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about that before. I’ll have to ask my rabbi.” I was stunned!
You may also want to ask your Jewish friend questions about his views on the Messiah. Some Jewish people are awaiting a personal Messiah; others are waiting for a “Messianic Age;” still others have never considered the question! Most Jewish people are unaware of the prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures that the Messiah must first suffer before He returns to bring worldwide peace. Ask your friend if he is familiar with any prophecies pertaining to the Messiah, or how he would recognize the Messiah if the Messiah were to come. This may turn into a great opportunity for you to share your thoughts on the Messiah and why you think Jesus fulfills Messianic prophecy!
2. Share your love for the Jewish people and your support of Israel.
Sadly, the church has a dark history of antisemitism. Many Jewish people are familiar with the antisemitic statements and actions of past church leaders and the state-sanctioned persecution of the Jewish people at the hands of Christians. It is important to distance ourselves from the sin of our forefathers by assuring our Jewish friends that we repudiate antisemitism and believe the Bible teaches us to love our neighbors—especially our Jewish neighbors!
Let your Jewish friend know that you believe God meant what He said when He told Abraham and his descendants, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3) and that you take seriously His statement that to touch Israel is to “[touch] the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). Reassure your Jewish friend that you believe God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal possession (Genesis 17:8) and that you affirm their right to live in peace in their national homeland.
3. Affirm the Jewishness of belief in Jesus.
“I’m Jewish. Jewish people don’t believe in Jesus.” This sentiment is common among many Jewish people. Many of them believe that, if they were to put their faith in Jesus, they would be betraying their people and “converting” to a new, Gentile religion. Most have never read the New Testament, and some even think that “Christ” refers to Jesus’ last name. It is important to share with your Jewish friend that believing in Jesus is a Jewish concept and that if Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, following Him is the most Jewish thing he or she could ever do!
Proverbs 19:2 instructs us that zeal should be accompanied by knowledge and that acting too quickly can lead to sin. We do not want our zeal and excitement in reaching Jewish people to be without knowledge. We need to educate ourselves so we can speak to people in a way they will understand and receive, as Paul did.
One way to increase our knowledge concerning Jewish evangelism is to acquaint ourselves with good terminology that affirms the Jewishness of faith in Jesus. Here are some terms to use instead of others:
- “Believer” instead of “Christian”
- “Messiah” instead of “Christ”
- “Spiritual birth” instead of “convert”
- “Messianic Jew” instead of “converted or completed Jew”
- “Yeshua” instead of “Jesus”
- “Yeshua’s atoning death” instead of “cross”
- “Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures” instead of “Old Testament”
- “New Covenant” instead of “New Testament”
Believe it or not, many of the above terms to avoid come with a lot of baggage because of the church’s history of antisemitism. Using the suggested terms in their stead help to put the gospel back into its Jewish context.
We also suggest informing your Jewish friend about how all of the early followers of Jesus—including Jesus Himself—were Jewish and that the New Covenant (Testament) is a Jewish book! If you are a Gentile believer, let your Jewish friend know that you have put your faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob— that you, as a Gentile follower of the Jewish Messiah, are the one who has “converted to a new religion” by trusting in the God of Israel. On the contrary, if your Jewish friend were to trust in Jesus, he would not be “converting” to a new religion, but rather fulfilling his Jewish faith by following his Messiah!
4. Provide literature and links.
Ask your Jewish friend if you can share a book with him. Isaiah 53 Explained by Dr. Mitch Glaser is a great book to share with a Jewish person because it explains how the prophecy of Isaiah 53 in the Hebrew Scriptures clearly points to Jesus as the Messiah. The Real Kosher Jesus by Dr. Michael Brown is another great book to share because it explains the Jewishness of faith in Jesus.
We also recommend sharing website links to testimonies of other Jewish believers who have trusted in Jesus as their Messiah. IFoundShalom.com is an excellent website to share because it contains more than one hundred short testimonies of Jewish people who have come to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.
You may also want to provide an article-based website so your friend can explore the topic of Jesus further independently. If your friend is a secular Jewish person open to the idea of Jesus, we recommend AboutMessiah.com. If he or she is secular or religious but has strong objections to faith and wants more evidence, we recommend ChosenPeopleAnswers.com, an evangelistic Messianic apologetics website.
We hope these tips help you to proclaim the gospel boldly “to the Jew first” and also to the Gentile!
For further reading, check out Sharing Jesus in a Jewish Way by Douglas Pyle.
by: Jennifer Miles
 “Our Hope for Peace: A Statement on Israel, the Nations and the Gospel,” Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, accessed February 18, 2020, https://allianceforthepeaceofjerusalem.com/statement
 “Affinity Bloc: Jews” Joshua Project, accessed February 21, 2021, https://joshuaproject.net/affinity_blocs/15.
 Douglas Pyle, Sharing Jesus in a Jewish Way (New York: Chosen People Productions, 2012), 14.