The following is from JESUS VS PAUL #1: SALVATION FOR JEWS ONLY?
(1) Jesus–”Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:5) and “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24), and “…for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) versus Paul–”For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 13:47) and “from henceforth, I (Paul–Ed.) will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6) and “that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:28) and “that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:16) and “that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) and (Acts 20:21, 26:17-18, 20, 23, 22:21, Rom. 1:5, 13, 3:29, 11:11-13, 15:9, Gal. 2:2, 7-9, 3:14, Eph. 3:6, 1 Tim. 2:7, 3:16, 2 Tim. 4:17). Jesus told his followers not to go to the Gentiles and Paul countermanded the order.
The site linked to above is one which has a number of apparent discrepancies between what Jesus said and what Paul said. They do not appear to truly be looking for ways to reconcile what appear to be differences. Instead, they seem intent on showing that Christianity should not be following the word of God. Joel, a friend of the blog, pointed them out to me and asked if I’d be willing to take a shot at clearing up some of the points made on that site, along with him. And yes, they are actually numbered. So I figured I would start at the beginning. To do so, we need to look at each quote in context.
I will use the NIV translation, as it is easier to read than the KJV.
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
11“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
17“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Notice, Jesus DOES tell the disciples to go to Israelites and not to the Gentiles. But also notice that he said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” And then notice why: “It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Jesus sent the disciples to the Jews only because they were the one’s from among whom the Savior of the world was born, and they would have the first chance to accept what God has done. But Jesus knew there would be some who would reject what God was doing. Even so, they had “first dibs”. This would allow God to be shown as having shown mercy and grace – the Jews would not be able to say, “I did not know” or “I was not given a chance.” Jesus sent his followers to those from whom he came, and they were given a chance to accept what God had done. Some would accept it, but some would not.
Let us now look at the next passage mentioned in the apparent discrepancy, Matthew 15:24, but in context.
22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
27“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Again, Jesus DID say he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. Some might say he was rude, but I think it more likely that Jesus knew what would happen and let it play out. Part of it may have been that Jesus was using this experience to teach his followers – nothing Jesus did was without purpose. The Jews of that time thought highly of themselves and less of Gentiles. His followers had to recognize the difference, and recognize what Jesus did. Note that the woman said essentially that even the crumbs of what GOD provides is worth having. Some might think this ugly, but if you think about it, she was showing her faith in God – even the littlest thing Jesus could do would be great. Because of her faith, her daughter was healed. Jesus did not ignore her, but granted her petition made in true faith. This is how it is with God. Many people ask for things, but only some of those prayers are actually made in faith, or are in the will of God. And it is THOSE requests that God grants. In healing the GENTILE woman’s daughter, Jesus was showing that it is FAITH in God that matters, not who has it.
But getting back to the point, Jesus said he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. His purpose was not to heal people. His purpose was to show the lost sheep of Israel that God was fulfilling prophecy among them. So, he focused his time and effort upon those to whom he was sent. He was sent to a specific people, at a specific time, for a specific purpose. In fulfilling the purpose of God, Jesus was showing obedience to God.
Now the next verse in question is even easier to explain.
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Note that Jesus did not say, “salvation is FOR the Jews.” Rather he said, “salvation is FROM the Jews.” Salvation came through the tribe of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The latter was renamed Israel.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jesus was descended from Jacob (Matthew 1:2). The people were known as Israelites. So yes, salvation in the form of Jesus of Nazareth came from the Jews. Notice that in John 4:7-42, Jesus again did not ignore those who were not Jewish. In this chapter, Jesus was clear that He was the Messiah, the Christ.
Now, before we get into the verses from or about Paul, let us look at what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Note, Jesus told the disciples to go to ALL nations. While Jesus had been sent to the lost sheep of Israel, his followers were sent to everyone. It was not just Jews to whom salvation had come, but to everyone who believed. we see this in John 3:16-18,
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Now we will look at when the Jewish believer began to more fully understand that the truth of salvation was not intended just for the Jews – not by looking at Paul, but at Peter in Acts 10:9-48.
9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
Peter at Cornelius’ House
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. 24The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.29So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
30Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
In the above chapter, we see that Peter had a vision that whatever GOD calls clean is clean (vs 9-19). Peter realized that God does not show favoritism, as we see in verses 34-35, “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Then we saw in verses 44-48 that while Peter was telling them the gospel, the Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the message, even on the Gentiles. Then they were baptized. So, while Jesus was sent TO the Jews, He was sent FOR everyone who believed, Jew and Gentile alike.
Now let us look at some of the passages concerning Paul in context.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”
16Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, 18he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. 20All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
23“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
26“Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
32“We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
” ‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father. 34The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:
” ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ 35So it is stated elsewhere:
” ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’
36“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
38“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41” ‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.’”
42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.43When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.
46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “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. 47For 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.’”
48When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Notice that first Paul went to the Jews, spoke in the synagogue, concerning the fulfillment of prophecy in verses 16-42. But we see in verse 45, the Jews did not like the attention Paul was receiving and were jealous. Paul told them in verse 46 that they had to speak the word of God to them FIRST. And since they rejected it, they turned to the Gentiles, because God had told them they were to take salvation to the ends of the earth. It was not just for Jews, but for everyone. But Paul went first to the Jews, as Jesus had done. God will be shown to have been gracious and faithful.
Now let us look at where Paul said he would go to the Gentiles, Acts 18:5-8
5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
7Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
Again, note that Paul first went to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, after the Jews opposed Paul. This was his custom. We can see this in Acts 17:2
As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures
It wasn’t that the Gospel was only for Jews or for Gentiles. It was the Jews were given the first opportunity to respond in faith. Then the Gentiles were given the opportunity. Perhaps this was because Paul was Jewish by birth, but was an apostle to the Gentiles. Regardless, we see the pattern even when Paul was being held prisoner in Rome, awaiting his trial before Caesar. First he spoke to the Jews, but he tells us that their hearts had become hardened, just as God had said would happen in Isaiah 6:9-10. And that was why Paul wanted the Jews to know that salvation was sent to the Gentiles.
17Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. 20For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
21They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
23They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26” ‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
28“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
30For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rather than trying to deal with each passage in which Paul said he was an apostle to the Gentiles, I thought I would address the one which shows that Paul was assigned to go to the Gentiles, while Peter was assigned to the Jews. Galatians 2:7-9
7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
Paul simply would go to the synagogue first and then to the Gentiles – since he was Jewish by birth and was an apostle to the Gentiles.
No, Paul was not countermanding what Jesus had said. Jesus had been sent TO the Jews, and salvation came FROM the Jews (through them). But it was FOR everyone who would believe.