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Matthew 15:24 KJV

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

I understand that he was talking specifically to a lady who was begging (successfully) for her daughter. However, is Jesus trying to say that his message is only for the Jews to hear? Does this conflict with Romans 10:12?

Romans 10:12 KJV

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

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By the way, Romans 9 & 10 are an extended theological debate as to whether or not the Jewish covenant still applies, so reading Romans 10 in context will be really important. – Affable Geek Mar 12 '12 at 2:37
@AffableGeek: true, but see also Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11. No favouritism is a recurring theme. – Wikis Oct 2 '12 at 9:54

6 Answers 6

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If Jesus said He was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, then that is certainly true. If we don't accept Jesus' own words as true, then it would be difficult to imagine what the qualifications for acceptance would be.

So, yes, Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That does not mean, however, that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, did not come ultimately to save the entire world. His mission was quite strategic. It has been well said, that "Jesus loved the world, preached to the multitudes, and gave His life to 12 men."

He came to the Jews as their Messiah, yet His strategy was to reach the entire world. Incidentally, that strategy is working quite well, and Christianity continues to spread even in the harshest and remotest of places.

God's plan from the beginning was to have a world full of people who reflected His image and who were in a relationship with Him. His purpose has remained the same throughout time. Becoming flesh in the virgin birth and presenting Himself as the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people was just a part of that plan for all people.

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If only we could have heard Jesus' tone of voice as He said it, though... Not that I've ever said anything sarcastically. Ever. :) – Affable Geek Mar 13 '12 at 2:16

The story of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew 15 & Mark 7) is interesting in that it specifically is addressing the question of whether or not Jesus was sent to the Jews only, or to all mankind.

A few backdrops

  1. In Genesis 12, God tells Abraham that he will make of Abraham a great nation (obvious assumption = Israel), but more importantly, that all nations will be blessed through him.

  2. In Isaiah 49:6, it says of the Messiah that "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

That said, the Jews had a definite ethnocentric view.

They were the "Ha'am Ha'aretz" - the people of the Land, and that was what was most important to them. In Jeremiah 7, we see them trusting in that:

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless

And, in Jesus' day, the Pharisees, for example, thought they were saved because of their birth. Jesus rebukes them specifically, saying (Luke 3:8):

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don't just say to each other, 'We're safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.' That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones

In answering the Syro-Phoenician woman, Jesus may have been being sarcastic, saying to that woman, "It isn't right to feed the children's bread to the dogs." What Jesus may have been saying sarcastically could very well have been what the Pharisees really would have thought.

When the woman answers, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table," I'm convinced that Jesus laughed. In any event, he would have understood that she got it - that Jesus really was more than just a Hebrew thing.

Interestingly enough, Jesus heals most of the Jews in person, but there are two notable "healings at a distance." Both this woman's daughter and the Gentile centurion did not Jesus to be there when he healed. In contrast, Jairus just assumed Jesus had to be in the presence.

The point is this - Jesus may or may not have thought that he was sent to the Jews, but the Jews were pretty clear that they expected the Messiah to be strictly theirs. Whether or not that was God's plan was a completely different story.

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Jesus definlty knew the Gentiles would be reached. His parables in Matthew 21:33-46, Matthew 8:10-13, Matthew 22:1-13, and Luke 13:22-30 are pretty clear that the majority of Jews will reject Him and that Gentiles will accept Him.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! For a first answer, this isn't bad. It could definitely be improved if you added some of your own words on why those parables show that Jesus knew most Jews would reject and most Gentiles would accept Him. – El'endia Starman Apr 9 '13 at 1:17

I believe Jesus was using this as a "teachable moment." For example, in John 9:6 He made clay to put on a blind man's eyes to heal him. We know He could heal with a touch, or just a word, so why make clay? Verse 14 tells us this was done on the Sabbath, so Jesus obviously did this (in Jerusalem, no less) to make a point. He had already been accused of breaking the Sabbath by healing, but making clay was undeniably working, so the Pharisees condemned Him, but the man who was healed answered, "If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." We know Jesus ministered to Gentiles; John 4 tells us He sat by the well of Sychar and waited for the Samaritan woman to come. I think Jesus gave the answer the Pharisees would have given, allowed her to answer as He knew she would, and then praised her faith. In the healing of the centurion's servant (Mat. 8:10-12) He was even more explicit in His teaching: "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel...many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham...but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out..." Believing Gentiles will be accepted, but unbelieving Jews will be rejected.

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Matthew 15:24-28 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

The Holy Bible contains the writings of prophets and apostles that keeps GOD’s mystery.

1 Cor. 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Similarly the words of Jesus Christ

Matthew 13:34-35 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

So what Jesus said on Matt.15:24 contains parable. Who are meant by the lost sheep of the house of Israel?

By the fulfilling of verification of GOD’s truth that testified and described in the testimony Good News 1 “DEVIL DECEPTION IS REVEALED! RELIEVING TRUTH” and Good News 2 “SALVATION IS COME! SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH!”, where the Godhead of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, also He who had raised Jesus Christ from the dead are proven. Then all the fault of false teachings appears.

What the Spirit of prophecy in the Holy Bible says about this?

Jeremiah 5:30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

The ways of truth in the Holy Bible have suffered violence

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

So who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel that referred to by Jesus in Mattew 15:24? Because for them Jesus Christ had come to earth to bear witness unto the truth, that is to bring again that which was driven away, straighten the paths, that is misleading doctrines.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Luke 3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

The Climax of the secret work given by His Father to Him, that is the job that contains the wisdom of the proof of the truth, is accomplished on the cross. Died and was resurrected.

1 Corr. 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

God’s hidden wisdom, that is the verification of the truth that hidden in Gospel for centuries. Not disturbed by the translation in various languages, not disturbed by printing error, multiple copies etc. GOD’s power protects it.

2 Corr. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

The verification of GOD’s truth which testified in Good News 1 “DEVIL DECEPTION IS REVEALED! RELIEVING TRUTH” and Good News 2 “SALVATION IS COME! SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH!”; where is the Godhead of Jesus Christ, His death and resuraction, also He who had raised Jesus Chirst from the dead is proven to be true, fulfilling prophecy of Romans 3:26; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. and Isaiah 45:25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

By fulfilling of prophecy of Roma 3:26 and Isaiah 45:25, have brought the light that the seed of Israel, who shall be justified that mention in Isaiah 45:25 is people who believe in Jesus and His Father that mention in Romans 3:26, Which their believe has been justified (by Evidence, the testimony of Jesus) to demonstrate His justice at this time.

The verification of GOD’s truth which testified in Good News 1 “DEVIL DECEPTION IS REVEALED! RELIEVING TRUTH” and Good News 2 “SALVATION IS COME! SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH!”, leads people to the faith.

Eph.3:11-12 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Hebrew 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

All nations receives the truth because of faith, just like the woman in Matthew 15:24

Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the YHWH: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

In the name of Jesus Christ The Lord


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This doesn't appear to answer the question at all. Could you edit it and make it clearer how this relates to what Jesus actually meant? – El'endia Starman Oct 1 '12 at 21:34

Jesus meant that he was sent to bring salvation to Israel first, then the gentiles, but on two separate occassions the gentiles had faith and sought Him first to heal a loved one (the woman and centurion).

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! This is a start, but it'd be great to have some more elaboration on this. Why does the fact that Gentiles went to Jesus for healing (either for themselves or others) relate to whether Jesus was sent to speak to the Jews only? – El'endia Starman Oct 21 '12 at 18:01

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