Christianity is a Missionary Faith
Bible believing Christianity is—at its very core—a missionary faith. From the very beginning of the church age, our Lord’s command to Christians is the great commission.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20
Indeed, this is seen in Jesus’ very last words to His disciples, as He departed into heaven:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.—Acts 1:8
This command was taken literally after Pentecost. The early church turned Jerusalem upside-down. Mass conversions of the Jews are again and again reported, particularly of Jews in Jerusalem
In Acts 2:41, three thousand Jews are converted:
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
In Acts 4:4, there are five thousand:
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
In Acts 5:14
multitudes of both men and women are added:
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.
In Acts 6:7, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem has
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
In Acts 21:20, Paul is informed about
many thousands of believing Jews:
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Jesus and the Jewish People
In Jesus’ ministry we see numerous situations in which He came
to the Jew first. At the very beginning of John’s Gospel account, we are told that Jesus
…came unto his own, and his own received him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.—John 1:11
He ministered to and among the Jewish people:
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.—Matthew 4:23
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.—Matthew 9:35
Jesus ministered to non-Jewish people only in unusual circumstances. For example, there’s the Syrophenician woman in Mark 7:25-30 and the Roman centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:5-13. His primary directive was to first go to the people of Israel. When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles, He told them in Matthew 10:6,
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Our LORD Jesus Christ spoke of the Jewish people as
the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and He commissioned His disciples to
The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
After His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a similar command to go to the Jewish people. As before, they are to go out among the Jewish people with the message of salvation in Messiah Yeshua. But now there’s an addendum to that command. They also are to spread the Gospel message beyond the confines of the Jewish people and take it to the Gentiles as well. Luke 24:46–47 says:
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Based on this and similar verses, many Bible believing preachers teach that evangelistic efforts should begin in their immediate surroundings before reaching out to the uttermost parts of the world. But with that little phrase
beginning at Jerusalem, Jesus is clearly saying “to the Jew first.” Who else lived in Jerusualem but the Jews?
In this study, we’ve seen Paul boldly affirm:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16
As Christians, we are not to be ashamed of sharing the good news of the gospel with anyone. The fact remains that this good news came through the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.—John 4:22
Based on our Lord’s example and command, the gospel of Jesus Christ is first and foremost to go to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. Christians owe a great debt of gratitude and our thanks to the Jews. Our entire spiritual heritage is derived from them. Indeed, we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel, not the reverse.
For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou [Gentiles], being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;—Romans 11:16–17