Two or One Message

Jesus died for both Jews and Gentiles

Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, Th.D.
Two or One Message
PC: LDS Media

Paul preached to Jews and Gentiles. Which aspects of his message did he emphasize when speaking to each one?

I can provide you only a sample of Paul’s approach to Jews and Gentiles that would hopefully motivate you to study the subject in more detail on your own. I will comment on one passage in which Paul addresses the Jews and another that is addressed to a predominantly Gentile community. I use the passages as examples.

1. To the Jews

The first text is Acts 17:2, 3: “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’ ” The message contains the following elements. 1. It was based on the Scriptures, a common source of authority, and thus facilitated the dialogue. 2. It was about “the Christ,” the promised Messiah, the hope of Israel. 3. It was about the biblical suffering Messiah—His death, resurrection, exaltation, and His second coming (cf. Acts 3:20). 4. It was about the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies in the person, work, and experience of a man called Jesus. Paul proclaimed to the Jews “the Christ.”

2. To the Gentiles

Writing to Gentiles, Paul states: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:9, 10, NIV). His message to them contained at least the following elements. 1. Proclamation of a monotheistic faith—the worship of the true God. 2. The death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, implying that Paul told them about the person and ministry of Jesus and shared with them the significance of His death on the cross. He gave them the gospel of salvation—Christ “died for us” (1 Thess. 5:10, NIV). 3. Christ’s coming from heaven—this also implies that Paul taught the Gentile converts about the ascension of Jesus. The message contained a significant dosage of Christian eschatological expectation. It was a message of hope that pointed to the future, to the time the Son of God, Jesus, would return. 4. Paul offered them an apocalyptic worldview with two main components: First, the soon return of Jesus to consummate their salvation—a movement from the cross to glory—and second, their deliverance from the wrath of God at the final judgment and the destruction of the wicked (1 Thess. 1:4-7).

3. The Core of the Message

It is clear that the message of Paul was fundamentally the same for Jews and Gentiles: The gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus was understood to be the Jewish/biblical Messiah and the Savior of the world in that He died for both Jews and Gentiles. With the conversion of the Gentiles the work of instruction had just began. It was important for them to understand the full implications of accepting that there was one God and to live in the expectation of the coming of Jesus, who, through His death and resurrection, saved them.

Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, Th.D.