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.


4 Answers 4


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. :) Commented Mar 13, 2012 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 (NIV), 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 need 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.


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.

  • 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. Commented Apr 9, 2013 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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