Bible Top 1000

First For The Jew
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Lest it be a distraction to the discussion of our subject, I believe it would be in order to comment on the last part of Paul's statement, the part where he said, "first for the Jew." Why did Paul add that? Does this mean that God favors Jews above Gentiles when it comes to salvation?

We've already pointed out that with respect to the need of salvation there's no difference between Jew and Gentile, All are helpless sinners, whether Pharisees who boast in the law of Moses, or Gentile heathen who've never even heard of Moses. In fact, Paul explicitly said, "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile---the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" Romans 10:12-13.

Why, then, did Paul say, "first for the Jew"? It's obvious from the scriptures that, prior to Christ, God did indeed favor the nation of Israel, Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Jacob, over the other nations of the world. In spite of the terrible record of apostasy and unbelief that characterized Israel as a whole there was always a faithful remnant of believers, preserved by God, within the nation. As the Lord told Elijah in his day, "I reserve seven thousand in Israel---all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." 1 Kings 19:18. It was to and through this remnant that God revealed Himself and foretold of the Savior to come. Generations of them lived and died believing in and waiting for the fulfillment of God's wonderful promises. Hebrews 11:39-40. 1 Peter 1:10-12. Simeon and Anna were examples of these true Israelites who looked for the Savior. Luke 2:25-38.

In the parable of the great feast, recorded for us in Luke 14:16-23, the first call to the feast was to those who had already been invited. Note the timing. The invitation came first, then the preparation of the feast, then the call to "Come, for everything is now ready." It was only after this call was refused that the command was given to "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame." Luke 14:21.

Whom do you think Jesus meant by this parable? The feast itself is a wonderful picture of the gospel, the provision of God made ready through Christ. For centuries the prophets had given out the invitation of God to the coming feast. This invitation had been to Israel and so it was fitting that when the time finally came, the fulfillment of the prophetic message should be announced to the Jews first. After all, some of them were like Simeon and Anna. How strange it would have been for the Lord to have gone straight to the heathen nations without first telling them and others like them!

Even though Paul's ministry was primarily to the Gentiles, it nonetheless reflected the order indicated in the parable. Everywhere he went where there was a synagogue Paul first went there to announce the fulfillment of the words of their prophets. Only when he had done this did he preach to the Gentiles. That's what "first to the Jew" meant. "First" had to do with the order in which the gospel began to be proclaimed. Beyond that, it's for "everyone who believes."

Spiritual Laundry

When Jesus told Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again" it was hard to understand and Nicodemus said, how in the world can that happen?! So Jesus explained: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (He clearly separated the flesh and the spirit, just in case Nicodemus didn't understand. ) Many people take this to mean you have to be baptized and THAT washes you clean and saves you, but we find that the "water" is a symbol of the Word of God and the Spirit, of course, symbolizes the power working in our life. Ephesians chapter 5 demonstrates how Christ cleanses his Church ( ie-His people) 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

How does He wash it? With the water of the Word. The word of God is applied to our lives daily, just as we would the water that we bathe in, only this is our spirit/our soul that we use the Word to keep clean. How? We read the Word and take its teachings to heart.

For instance, this is how it works. It says to "put. . away lying, and speak truth with our neighbour (Ephesians 4: 25) We think, "Oh my! I fib to my neighbor all the time! I will stop doing that!" And we do. We have just had our life cleansed by the Word, just like we'd look in the mirror and see dirt on our nose and think "Oh, my that's where I keep rubbing my face when I'm gardening. I'll remember to stop doing that" And we do. We see the dirt. We wash our face and then determine to keep it clean.

We read in I Corinthians 6: 8 - 11 that no sexually immoral person. nor idolaters. nor adulterers. nor prostitutes. nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards ,nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (paraphrased)

And maybe we see problems in our life with immoral thoughts or maybe loosening our inhibitions by drinking alcohol, or with talking too freely about things we think we know (gossipping), or with cheating a little bit in the grocery store or when selling our car.... This is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. We see that spelled out in the Word and are pricked in our spirit and say, "Goodness, I didn't know that was so wrong! I thought it was just a little thing! I'll stop that!" And we have had our life washed by the Word.

Let us keep our focus in the Word of God and allow it to continue cleansing our lives, not going back and doing the first launderings over and over, but going on daily to cleanse ourselves (I I Corinthians 7:1) by the continual application of the Word to our lives and spirits.