How to Share the Good News With Jewish People

Ben Kaplan’s medical students were gathered in his office to begin the weekly meeting. Like Ben, Sarah was Jewish. Josh and Matt were Gentile. All were believers in the Lord Jesus, their Messiah.

“Dr. Kaplan, I’ve been reading the New Testament to try to get an understanding of how to share the Good News with Jewish people and there’s a passage that I’m having trouble understanding,” said Josh, as he put the passage on the screen.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NASB) For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“I’m confused about this passage too,” said Matt. “I see that Greeks are mentioned twice and Gentiles are mentioned once. I thought that Greeks was just another name for Gentiles in the New Testament.”

“Good observation, Matt! The words in this passage for Greeks and Gentiles is the same word in the original language. The word is Hellen which means Greek or Greeks and in some Bible versions all three words are translated Greeks, but we should usually understand the word to mean Gentile or Gentiles,” said Ben.

“Is there some special reason that Greeks search for wisdom is used here rather than Gentiles search for wisdom?” asked Sarah.

“I think there is, Sarah. In my opinion, the NASB translators have made the right choice because Greeks searching for wisdom in this verse refers to people who are actually Greek. So we could read this verse as Greek Gentiles search for wisdom,” said Ben.

“How do you know that, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Josh.

“Because of a passage of Scripture in Acts, Josh. Do you remember when the Apostle Paul was speaking to Greek Gentiles in Athens?

Acts 17:18 (NASB) And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

“Greek philosophers were conversing with Paul. These were men who placed intellect and reasoning above all else. They were interested in the wisdom of the world, not the wisdom of God. Their minds were not open to supernatural things such as the resurrection of Yeshua,” said Ben. “Gentiles in general and Greeks in particular considered Paul’s message foolishness.”

“But what about Jews seeking for signs and Christ crucified being a stumbling block to Jews?” said Sarah.

“Sarah, Let’s look at a passage from Matthew:

Matthew 12:38 (NASB) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

“Some of the scribes and Pharisees, Jewish religious leaders, who had already seen Jesus perform miracles were asking for an additional sign or miracle. These people should have known better and Jesus rebuked them:

Matthew 12:39-40 (NASB) But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

“Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection symbolized or foreshadowed by what happened to the prophet Jonah The scribes and Pharisees knew all about Jonah,” said Ben.

“Wow! That’s pretty clear, Dr. Kaplan. But what about Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block?” asked Sarah.

“Now that’s a little different, Sarah. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that a Messiah would come. In fact they were waiting for him hoping everyday that he would come. They were looking for someone who would be a political and military leader, someone who would deliver them from the Roman yoke and bring glory back to the Nation of Israel.

“To them a carpenter, the son of a poor and uneducated couple, could never be the Messiah. On top of that, Jesus said He was God and He proved it from the Hebrew Scriptures and by miracles. He offered deliverance from sin and he offered eternal life. He taught that everyone is a sinner and needs deliverance. And to receive these things we must submit to His Lordship. To these leaders, who thought that they were righteous and needed no personal savior, the idea of Yeshua being their Messiah was entirely offensive. He was a stumbling block to them,” said Ben.

“I think I’m starting to get it, Dr. Kaplan. These people were not righteous. They were self-righteous,” said Josh.

“Exactly, Josh.

“Now let’s look at the 1 Corinthians passage again but this time let’s focus on verse 24. I’m showing it in bold:

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NASB) For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“The group that is mentioned in verse 24 is comprised of Jews and Gentiles who are the called,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, are those who are the called the same as the elect?” asked Matt.

”Yes, Matt. I believe they are,” said Ben. “They are people whom God has chosen to save from before the foundations of the earth.”

“Does that mean that the first group, Jews and Gentiles who are obviously unsaved are not the elect?” asked Josh.

“Now that is a fantastic question, Josh. What do you think the answer is?” said Ben.

“I think that you’re asking me if all the people, both Jews and Gentiles, in that unsaved group are doomed to eternal separation from God in Hell. Is that right?” asked Josh.

“That’s right Josh. So, are they all doomed?” asked Ben.

“No. I don’t think they are, Dr. Kaplan,” said Josh.
“You are absolutely correct! There is something that we must never forget. As long as there is life there is hope. A particular Jew can regard Yeshua as a stumbling block and a particular Gentile can regard Jesus as foolishness but the eternal destiny of a particular person is not set until he dies. There is a verse in Hebrews that says so,” said Ben.

Hebrews 9:27-28a (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.

“But is there anything that can be done to save people in the unsaved group?” asked Sarah.

“You are asking if unsaved people can become saved people? Of course they can. All people are unsaved at birth. And we must remember that none will seek the Lord on their own. That is made clear in both the Old Testament and the New Testament,” said Ben.

Romans 3:10-11 (ESV) 
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

Psalms 53:2 (ESV) 
2 God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

“What can we do, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt.

“Several things. First, don’t forget that God desires that none should perish, but that all should repent,” said Ben.

“Is that a guarantee that every person with a heart that is hardened to Yeshua will change and be saved?” asked Matt.

“No, Matt,” said Ben. “Second, we need to pray for those people.”

“Dr. Kaplan, you say we should pray. What do we pray?” asked Matt.

“We pray that God would turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We pray that God will send the Holy Spirit to convict the unsaved person of his or her sin and of the need to repent, and to give the unsaved person the gift of faith in Jesus Christ so that he or she will call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

Third, we share the Scriptures with them, one on one, as led by the Holy Spirit and we can ask them to come with us to hear Scripture expounded at a meeting where Messiah is exalted and where messages from the Old Testament and from the New Testament are preached, whether in a church or in a Messianic Jewish fellowship,” said Ben.

“Is there anything else? Can you be more specific, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Sarah.

“I can, Sarah. But for now, let’s pray for those we love to receive the gift of salvation. Next week we’ll talk more about specifics and about how to approach people with the Good News in today’s world,” said Ben.

The students and Ben joined hands and Ben prayed:

“Father in Heaven, we have friends and family members whom we love but who do not know You. We fear for them, that they might spend eternity in Hell, separated from You. We know that You desire that none should perish. We ask You LORD to send Your Holy Spirit to convict them of the truth that they are sinners just like we are and that they need to repent, to submit to Jesus as Lord, and to call upon Your Name, that they might be saved, as your Scripture says. Praise, honor, and glory to You LORD.”

Romans 10:12-13 (NASB) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Joel 2:32a (ESV) And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

“See you all next week,” said Ben.

0