Scriptures

Was Saving The Gentiles An Afterthought By God!

Introduction

Some people believe that the salvation of the Gentiles was only made possible by the Jewish rejection of the Christ. In other words, they imply that, if the Jews had recognised and received Jesus as their Messiah, there might have been no salvation for the Gentiles.

Important Considerations

There are several facts which we should first consider before dealing with this topic.

1. When the Jews rejected Christ they did so because this was the choice they made for themselves. John 1:11 states that

‘He came to his own (‘idia’ meaning ‘that which belonged to him’) and his own (‘idioi’ meaning ‘they who belonged to him’) did not receive him.’

That is, they refused to accept Him.

2. They were not predestined to do so, and their rejection of the Gospel formed no part of the divine plan of redemption.

3. Although it wasn’t divinely planned, their refusal to accept the Christ was divinely foreseen, Isaiah 53:7-9. In Romans 11:21, Paul declares that God had been extremely patient with His

‘disobedient and rebellious people’.

The fact that the Gospel was preached, ‘to the Jew first’, was in recognition of the special relationship which existed between God and Israel, and the special place which that nation occupied in God’s plan, Romans 9:5.

Paul at Pisidian Antioch

We find, in Acts 13:14ff, that when Paul spoke to the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, he first reminded them of their history, recalling the fact that God had promised that a Saviour would come through the House of David, Acts 13:23, and then declaring that Jesus is that Saviour. Now, notice Acts 13:39

‘And by him (Jesus) ALL THAT BELIEVE are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses’.

The significance of this statement was clearly not lost on the Gentiles, because they begged that this message might be preached to them, the following Sabbath. Since the population of Pisidian Antioch was overwhelmingly Gentile, the following Sabbath almost the entire population came together to hear the good news. When the Jews became angry and opposed Paul and Barnabas, they were told,

‘We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’ Acts 13:46

Why did they ‘turn to the Gentiles’?

This question is answered in the next verse.

‘For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ Acts 13:47

The Scriptures teach that it was always the God’s plan that the whole human race should be offered the gift of salvation from sin. This was revealed in His promise to Abraham, found in Genesis 22:18, to which Paul refers in Galatians 3:8-9.

If they had made the right choice, the Jews would have fulfilled an honoured and important role in God’s plan, as bearers of the message of salvation to all mankind. But their unbelief denied them this privilege.

At Pisidian Antioch, the preachers drove home their message by quoting the prophecy found in Isaiah 42:6, which states that the Messiah would be,

‘for salvation unto the ends of the earth’, and the result was that many of the Gentiles were glad and believed the Gospel, Acts 13:48

The Original Message

Bible students will surely have noticed the great similarity between this sermon preached in Pisidian Antioch, Paul’s first recorded sermon, and the message proclaimed by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, the day the church was established. Peter’s conclusion was essentially the same as that of Paul.

‘The promise is for you (Jews) and your children and for all who are far off (Gentiles)—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ Acts 2:39

No Contradiction!

It’s worth remembering that, if an interpretation which we place on any part of the Word of God creates a conflict with any another passage, the problem lies, not with the Scriptures, but with our interpretation.

A careful examination of what Paul wrote to the churches in Rome and Ephesus reveals no contradiction as some suggest, since he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His teaching concerning the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles is made abundantly clear in the Ephesian letter.

In the first chapter, he writes about the great purpose formed by God, which was designed to,

‘unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’ Ephesians 1:10

In the second chapter, he states that, involved in this divine purpose, was the creation of ‘one new man’, a new body, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, thus producing peace between the two, where previously hostility had existed.

He points out that they both, Jews and Gentiles, needed reconciliation to God, and therefore the message of peace must be preached to both, to those who were ‘afar off’ (the Gentiles) and also to those who ‘were near’ (the Jews). Ephesians 2:17.

As result, both Jews and Gentiles, have been united in the one Body. Both have access to God through the one Spirit, so that they are no longer to be designated ‘strangers’ (the Gentiles) and ‘sojourners’ (the Jews), but must be recognised as fellow-citizens, and members of God’s family.

Conclusion

This was always God’s purpose in sending His son, even though Israel as a people never understood the role that He had planned for them in His scheme of-redemption. They were never able to understand. His purpose because of the warped view they held of the rest of mankind.

They believed that they and they alone, mattered to God, and, if one good thing came out of their rejection of the Christ, it was that the offer of salvation to the Gentiles made the Jews opens their eyes.

In Romans 11:14, Paul implies that his ministry among the Gentiles and their acceptance of salvation, had the effect of ‘making Israel jealous’, and he therefore, ‘magnified’ his ministry, in order to ‘save some of them’.

However, neither the rejection of the Christ by the Jews, nor his acceptance by them, would have had any ultimate effect on God’s intention to offer salvation to the Gentiles. The only effect produced by the Jewish decision to reject the Lord, was on the manner in which the Gospel came to the Gentiles.

They had chosen to reject the privilege of bringing the message of God’s salvation to the world. But it was always God’s intention that the Gentiles should hear the Good News.

The aged Simeon recognised this, for when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, ‘inspired by the Spirit’, Simeon said,

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’ Luke 2:29-32

We should be eternally thankful that the possibility of salvation comes to us, not ‘by courtesy of the Jews’, but

‘by the Grace of God’.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:23

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