Paul and the Jews

The Reference: Colossians 4:10 - "Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus are the only Jews with me."

By Tad de Bordenave, 1/31/2020


The story that emerges: The reference indicates that among Paul's co-workers at that particular time, only these three were Jews. There were other Jewish workers, to be sure, but these were with Paul. This brings to the foreground Paul’s reaction to the Jews and their slight response to the gospel. We will plunge into Paul and the Jews by a series of questions and answers. All the quotations are from his letter to the church in Rome.

paul and companions - ToTheEndsofTheEarthMovie.com
Menorah icon

1. Have the Jews lost their special status in God’s plan? By their rejection of the messiah, are they replaced as God’s holy people?

“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (9:4,5)

“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God's reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (11:1-5)

“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…” (1:16) 

2. Did Paul abandon his Jewish identity? Did he sense the disfavor of God toward the Jews and seek to distance himself from his Jewish roots?

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (9:2,3) “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (9:4,5)

“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God's reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (11:1-5)

“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…” (1:16)

3. Are the Jews hardened toward the gospel? Have their hearts and faith been shut toward the salvation of God through Jesus?

“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob;’ and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (11:25-27)

4. Since most Jews reject Jesus as Messiah, has God given them a covenant other than the cross of Christ?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (10:11-13)

5. What should be the attitude of Gentile Christians toward Jews?

“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

6. Why is God leaving out the Jews in response to the gospel?

“As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (11:28-32)

7. How do we see the justice of God in the Jews’ temporary and partial rejection of the Messiah?

“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who had given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

I used to plead for a mere 10 percent of the resources devoted to sexuality be diverted to mission to unreached nations. I suppose my friends in Jewish evangelism would have been satisfied with 2 percent! So sitting with Justus, one of Paul's Jewish co-workers, I brought up the church's efforts of bringing Jews to Jesus. Our missing efforts. What should we have done?

He mentioned three areas that would have corrected our response to Jews. 

  • The first was prayer (Psalm 122). Deep prayer that moved us into their world.

  • After that was learning about Judaism. For starters that would be recognizing "The Old Testament" as the Scriptures for our Lord and the early church. If Gentiles are the branches, find out about the root and the tree. 

  • And third, remember their history. From Esther through World War II and beyond, this is a people who experience persecution. Without knowing our Jewish roots and passing over their history, we Gentiles just did not know how to approach Jews. There are some we could learn from, but these have been mostly ignored. So back to prayer. 

Rev. Tad de Bordenave is the founder of Anglican Frontier Missions. This post first appeared at stpaulsfriends.blogspot.com and is published with the author's permission.

Image credit: ToTheEndsofTheEarthMovie.com via FreeBibleImages.org

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.