The Case for Jewish Evangelism
“For the church to evangelize the world without thinking of the Jews
is like a bird trying to fly with one broken wing.”— Franz Delitzsch
As followers of Jesus, we are called to share the gospel with all people! Before Jesus’ ascension into heaven, He tells His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19–20a). It is our obligation to bring the message of the gospel to people of all nations: that Jesus the Messiah lived, died a sacrificial death, and rose again to atone for our sins and restore our relationship with God the Father, something we cannot do ourselves (John 3:16–17, Galatians 2:15–16, Romans 2:2–6,10:9–12). Furthermore, only faith in Jesus can secure a person’s place in the age to come (John 14:6). As such, proclaiming the gospel to all people is absolutely essential.
However, as Alliance committee member Dr. Mitch Glaser notes, evangelism to the Jewish people has become “the great omission of the great commission.” If we believe that all people need to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus, we certainly cannot leave anyone out, especially the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to whom and from whom the Messiah came. In fact, a biblical case can be made that Jewish evangelism is specifically mandated by God.
Dr. Glaser writes:
“I also believe it is a biblical mandate for Gentiles in the Body of Messiah to reach Jewish people with the Gospel message. In fact, according to Paul’s statement in Romans 11:11, the Gentiles are called to make the Jewish people jealous of Jesus within them. The Great Commission has application to both Jewish and Gentile believers; however, the Scriptures do not present Jewish evangelism as simply one aspect of the Great Commission among many. It is a unique venture that is specifically addressed in Scripture and once again, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, is the biblical spokesperson that argues for this position.”
The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “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). Dr. Glaser explains,
“It is in this critical passage of Romans that we see God’s plan for world evangelism. The Gentile world is not to be ignored, but the first step in reaching the world is to reach God’s Chosen People. Even the word “first” clearly expresses that the Jewish people are to be viewed as a priority for evangelism. It is not a priority of privilege, but rather is founded in divine strategy.”
Romans 9, 10, and 11, though often familiar to believers for reasons other than Jewish evangelism, have much to say about the subject. As Dr. Glaser notes, Paul points out a number of key thoughts regarding Jewish people and evangelism in these chapters. In Romans 9:1–3, for example, Paul demonstrates his burden for the Jewish people by expressing his willingness to be “accursed, separated from Christ” if it meant the salvation of the Jewish people—his people—his kinsmen according to the flesh.
Later, in Romans 10:1, Paul shares that his “heart’s desire” is for the salvation of Israel. In fact, throughout chapters 9–11, Paul struggles with the fact that most Jewish people of his day had not accepted Jesus as their Messiah.
In chapter 11, however, Paul concludes that God has not rejected the Jewish people, and that there is hope for the salvation of the Jewish people, both in the present age and in the age to come (Romans 11:1–7, 25–26). It is notable that, while looking forward to a day when “all Israel will be saved,” Paul is still set on bringing the good news of Messiah to Jewish people now. This should be our attitude, as well.
Furthermore, in a striking statement Paul writes, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them [Israel] jealous” (Romans 11:11). God has given the Gentile members of His Body a specific calling to provoke Jewish people to jealousy! While this calling will find its ultimate fulfillment in the national repentance of Israel (Romans 11:25–26), it certainly applies practically today.
Believers in Jesus are called to share the hope of salvation with Jewish people. Jesus, the promised Messiah to the Jewish people, came from and for the Jewish people (Matthew 1:1,15:24). God still longs for a relationship with His chosen people that will only come through faith in His Son. As Paul wrote in Romans 10:14–15a:
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will the hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”
Gentile believers are sent to make Israel jealous so that they might be saved. But all believers have a responsibility to preach so as to be heard, so that they might believe and call on Him, to the Jew first. As believers, we must take this calling seriously.
Dr. Mitch Glaser, “The Evangelical Church and Jewish Evangelism,” Fuller Theological Seminary Conference: New Perspectives on Jesus and the Jewish people.
 Glaser, “The Evangelical Church and Jewish Evangelism.”