Jesus, the Gospel, and the Gentiles
Question: Jesus was born a Jew, according to His human nature, and He ministered in Israel. Is it correct to say that the Gospels only deal with the gentiles inadvertently?
Answer: The main focus of the Gospels is indeed Israel. In Matthew 10:5-6 we read that Jesus sent the twelve out on their ministries and said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
During His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus Christ was offering the Kingdom to the Jewish people, in accordance with the prophesies of the Old Testament. However, while the Kingdom was being offered to Israel, this did not rule out gentiles. This is explained in Romans 15:8-9, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.”
It should not be thought strange that Jesus would minister to the gentiles. In Isaiah 45:22 the Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” God did say to Abraham, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Question: Did Jesus minister to gentiles during His earthly ministry?
Answer: He certainly did. In Matthew 15:21-28 we read of our Lord’s ministry to the Canaanite woman and her daughter who was possessed by a demon. Furthermore, Jesus gave the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19 He said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. . . .”
Question: In John 10:16 Jesus says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” Do you think the words “other sheep” are a reference to gentiles?
Answer: I do. Jesus was looking forward to the Church Age and to the evangelization of the world. I think it is significant that Jesus says “and there shall be one fold.” He is not speaking about two folds—a Jewish one and a gentile one.
In the Church Age, Jew and gentile would be equals. This is the “mystery” that the Apostle Paul speaks about. In Ephesians 3:6 the apostle writes: “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” When Jesus spoke of the “one fold,” He was speaking “of the same body,” the church of the living God.