In Romans 1:16-17 [NASB] we read

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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith".

This passage is present in a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Rome which was a church he wanted to visit on his way to Spain. This church was composed by Jews and non-Jews that were going through some tension influenced by Claudius who "had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome" (Acts 18:2). To serve as an example then in Spain, Paul wanted to see this church. So, can see why the references to both Jews and Greeks to embrace all mankind and incite his desired unity.

Yet, even though the message of the Gospel applies to all, Paul describes it as being addressed first to the Jews. Why is that?

  • Because it was to them that it was first preached.
    – Lucian
    Sep 19, 2020 at 16:53
  • @Lucian ok so here "the first" is just stating that fact? Sep 19, 2020 at 17:01
  • 1
    Jesus, himself, said I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That needs to be taken account of. Matthew 15:24. Good question. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20, 2020 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


In Romans 1:16-17, Paul is pointing out a historical fact: to the Jew first and also to the Greek. He even cites one of the OT prophets, Habakkuk 2:4

See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness

Jesus himself affirms this historical priority in Matthew 15:24

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

Then in Acts 22:21, Jesus sends Paul to the Gentiles

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"

That's the temporal priority of the Jews in God's plan of salvation.

  • Right, thank you. So that passage refers to «temporal priority». Sep 19, 2020 at 17:06
  • 1
    Glad that you see that.
    – user35953
    Sep 19, 2020 at 17:09

The natural Jews and Jewish proselytes were given the first opportunity to be chosen for spiritual Israel, only a minority of that nation responded. God, therefore, extended the invitation to the Gentiles.

The opportunity was first given to the Jews, and Jewish proselytes because God made a covenant with their forefathers, saying to Abraham. Read Genesis 26:2-4

Acts 3:25-26 NASB

25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Only a small number of Israelites obviously accepted the invitation, God, therefore, extended the invitation to the gentiles, Cornelius being the first noncircumcised person to become a Christian.

Acts 18:5-6 NASB

5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the [a]Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

John 1:10-13 NASB

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were [b]born, not of [c]blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Parable of the Marriage Feast. Matthew 22:1-14

The Parable refers to the above invitation, recommend reading.


First Invitation to the Jews.

Jesus introduces his illustration by mentioning "the Kingdom of the heavens." Logically, then, the "king" must be God. The KIng give a wedding feast for His Son, the son is Jesus. The first ones to be invited were the Jews, for three and a half years Jesus and the apostles were preaching about the Kingdom.

And how did most Israelites respond to the invitation? As Jesus said, "they were unwilling to come." The majority of the religious leaders and the people did not accept the invitation. (read Vs 3)

Second invitation to the Jews ,

Despite the poor response, Jesus gives the Jews a second opportunity, the preaching of the Kingdom news continues by the apostles and others exclusively to the Jews. (Matthew 22:4-6)

With what outcome for the nation? Jesus relates: " But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. (Matthew 22:7) The Jews experienced that in 70 C.E. when the Romans destroyed the city -"Jerusalem."

Again the Jews refuse the kings invitation and so the king says to his slaves (The slaves are the apostles and othes like Paul, Luke, Timothy, and Stephen)

The Invitation is now extended to the Gentiles.

Matthew 22:8-10

Then he *said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with [e]dinner guests.

The apostle Peter would later begin helping Gentiles​ "Non-Jews." In 36 C.E., The Roman army officer Cornelius and his family received God’s spirit, coming in line for a place in the Kingdom of the heavens that Jesus mentioned.​ Acts 10:1, 34-48.

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