Chosen People Ministries is now 123 years old. We were founded by Rabbi Leopold Cohn who came from Hungary in 1892 to look for freedom and a safe place to raise his family because of the rampant antisemitism in most of Eastern Europe during those years.
To his great surprise, he heard a Jewish man preaching the Gospel at a church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and accepted Jesus as his Messiah.
Rabbi Cohn then dedicated his life to proclaiming the Good News of the Messiah to his fellow Jewish people and began this work in Brooklyn.
Now, all these years later, our headquarters is in Manhattan, we have a beautiful new Messianic center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, and we are serving the Jewish people in 20-plus North American cities and 17 countries around the globe.
A New Year Tradition
It was commonplace for Rabbi Cohn and Joseph, his son who followed him in leadership, to write a special letter every January to remind their partners of the importance of Jewish evangelism.
Oftentimes the articles were based upon Romans 1:16,
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.
I would like to continue this tradition and share a few thoughts on this great passage of Scripture, to remind us in this new year of the imperative to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people.
Romans 1:16 for Today
The Greek word used by Paul and translated “first” is protos.¹ It implies a priority,² rather than a sequential order of events.³ The word is also used in Matthew 6:33 where the Lord Jesus reminds us to seek first the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God should always be sought as a priority in our lives, even as we seek other things. In a similar way, reaching Jewish people with the Gospel must be a priority concern for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, focused his ministry on reaching non-Jews with the Gospel message. But, this did not lessen his concern for the salvation of the Jewish people.
Wherever Paul went in his ministry among the Gentiles he also tried to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people living in that area (Acts 13:13-52; 14:1-7; 18:7-11; 19:8-10). He would regularly attempt to evangelize the Jewish people of a particular city before he spoke to the Gentiles.
The salvation of the Jewish people was an ever present concern for Paul and his actions in the Book of Acts reveal his understanding of what he wrote in Romans 1:16.4
The main reason Paul asks the Roman believers to prioritize preaching the Gospel among the Jewish people is because of what he tells them later on in Romans 11:25-27 regarding a future day when “all Israel will be saved.”
It is clear that the Apostle establishes a link between the second coming of Jesus and the salvation of the Jewish people (see also Acts 3:19-20). This is why, I believe, Paul asks the Church to make Jewish evangelism a priority.
We cannot wait for what is prophesied when we already have a mandate to disciple all nations-—including the Jewish people.
As Paul wrote earlier in Romans 10,
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)
We know the Gospel must be preached to Jewish people as some will come to faith today and others will have their hearts prepared for tomorrow.
Today I invite you to renew your dedication to reaching Jewish people worldwide with the message of Messiah, and providing Jewish people in need humanitarian aid and protection from antisemitism, by supporting Chosen People Ministries with a generous online donation.
The Jewish Evangelism Mandate for Gentiles
It is what the New Testament commands: the Apostle Paul envisions a special role for Gentile believers in presenting the Good News to the Jewish people. He writes,
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:11)
Considering this command…
- How is it possible that a local church could not be engaged in Jewish evangelism, praying for and supporting Jewish missions?
- How is it possible that our missions conferences do not include some type of emphasis on Jewish evangelism?
My dear brothers and sisters, though the Jewish population might be few, the salvation of Israel is still critical, since by reaching the remnant we are participating with God in accomplishing His plan for our world.
We do not want to do less to reach the nations of the world…we just want to do more to reach the Jewish people.
Partnership in the New Year
May I ask you to consider a few steps to put action to our theology? In light of Romans 1:16 and the priority of Jewish evangelism, we should…
- Pray for the Jewish people.
- Encourage your pastor to invite a Chosen People Ministries speaker to your church so that we can equip your congregation to reach Jewish people.
- Make a “to the Jew first” New Year online donation to support the work of Chosen People Ministries around the world and to help us reach Jewish people with the Gospel.
- Prayerfully consider signing up for our Watchmen for Jerusalem automated donation program. This can make your 2017 giving easier and more convenient as well as more cost-effective.
Thanks for your faithfulness — and remember: as you make an online donation of $100 or more we will send you a copy of Daniel Fuch’s Israel’s Holy Days in Type and Prophecy — you will love it!
1.Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and rev. W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, second rev. F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 726; Wilhelm Michaelis, “proton,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 6:869.
2. So C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), 1:90 – 91; John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 28; Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 69; James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1 – 8, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1988), 40; Thomas R. Shreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 62.
3. See Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. and ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 23; William R. Newell, Romans Verse by Verse (Chicago: Moody, 1938), 22.
4. For a helpful discussion of this subject, see the essay by Wayne A. Brindle, “‘To The Jew First’: Rhetoric, Strategy, History, or Theology?” BSac 159 (2002): 221 – 33.
Thank you for your gift!
With an online donation of $100 or more, you will receive our new book, to be released in March, Messiah in the Passover.