Sorry if this has been asked before–I did a search for it but didn’t find anything.
My question has to do with Jesus’s attitude toward the Gentiles. The Bible quotes Him as saying that He has come to save “the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (I’m paraphrasing here obviously.) From my reading of the Bible–and I freely admit I am no Biblical scholar!–it seems that Jesus saw His mission as directed only to his fellow Jews. I know that St. Paul later devoted himself to a mission to convert “all the nations”–including the Gentiles who were mostly pagan at that time–but it’s Jesus’s remarks which really concern me. How can we say that Jesus came to save everyone when He seemed reluctant to extend this salvation to anyone except His fellow Jews?? I’m definitely not trying to get into a “debate” or be negative in any way towards Jews or anyone else, but this really bothers me. Maybe there’s just something I’m missing here. I would much appreciate clarification of this!
Sorry if this has been asked before–I did a search for it but didn’t find anything.
The House of Israel consists of The Twelve Tribes of Israel, not just the Tribe of Judah (the Jews)
Jesus is the new House of Israel, the twelve apostles are the new twelve tribes of Israel, that is the new Israel.
James 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting…”
1 Peter 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappado′cia, Asia, and Bithyn′ia …”
The Gospel of Matthew speaks specifically with a Jewish audience in mind. In Matthew Chapters 21 and 22, we see Jesus give a few parables that show how the Jewish people have continually failed to listen to God and the prophets and that because of this, the Kingdom of God will instead be given to those who do obey God (the Gentiles and the Jewish Christians):
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went.
30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
33 “Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country.
34 When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit;
35 and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them.
37 Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’
39 And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
These tenants (Jewish people) were continually sent messengers (prophets), yet they rejected them, and they even rejected the message of the owner’s son (Jesus), and they kill him. Because of this, they are put to death and lose the vineyard, and it is instead given to other tenants (Gentiles and Jewish Christians) who will obey and “give him the fruits.”
1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son,
3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’
5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,
6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’
10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment;
12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
We see a similar theme here where those invited to the wedding (the Jewish people) ignored and even killed some of his servants. The King then destroys them and instead sends his servants (Apostles) out into the streets to gather all who they find (Gentiles and Jewish Christians) and bring them to the wedding. We see then that although all are now invited, only those who have come prepared may stay, and those “without a wedding garment” are “cast into the outer darkness.”
In Matthew Chapter 23, Jesus becomes very specific when addressing the scribes and Pharisees and the disobedience and rejection of the Jews:
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’
31 Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.
33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,
35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
36 Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!
38 Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate.
39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
After His prophesy is fulfilled regarding them killing the vineyard owner’s son and the servant sent to invite the wedding guest, Jesus then continues to fulfill the prophesy after His resurrection and instructs the Apostles to find new tenants for the vineyard and invite new guests to the wedding:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
The Gentiles did not yet have a covenant relationship with God yet. Jesus went first to the lost sheep of Israel because they did have a covenant with God. Once they “rejected the cornerstone”, Jesus then established a new covenant in His blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It was shed for all so that sins may be forgiven.
Throughout the arc of salvation history, God gradually reveals himself to humanity. First to one man and woman, then gradually to a family, a nation, and then the whole world.
Look at Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast where a king throws a wedding feast for his son.
The invited guests do not all show up, in fact only a few shows up. The king then tells his steward to invite anyone on the street.
This parable has something to do with the invitation first issued to Jews and then later on to the Gentiles.
Even though St. Paul’s mission was to the Gentiles, even he, in Romans 1:16 said, “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 and also to the Greek” (bolding mine)
As others have cited, Jesus came first to the House of Israel to fulfill the covenant with his own people. But, the redemption/salvation of the whole world was always his plan:
Jn. 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Matt.24:14]And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.
Matt.26:13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
Mark.16:15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
Lk. 24:47 [and he said to them] that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
These are Jesus’ own words to his Apostles.
Jesus did have gentile disciples.
John 12:20-23 – " Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.
 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’
 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.
 And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.’ "
Matthew 8:5-12 – " As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him
 and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.’
 And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’
 But the centurion answered him, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. …
 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.
 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ "
Mark 8:24-29 – " And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid.
 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet.
 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
 And he said to her, ‘Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’
 But she answered him, ‘Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’
 And he said to her, ‘For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.’ "
Jesus also ministered in Samaria, where the people were at least half-gentile. He had followers there in Luke 17:11-19 and John 4:4-40. So yeah, even during His lifetime Jesus had a growing group of gentile and half-gentile disciples.
I have been looking into Jesus’ views on gentiles, and to be honest he did not seem to like them very much, as he said that he was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel. I thought about the "great commission he gave to the apostles in Matthew 28 v. 16-20 but apparently some historians believe this to be added on much later than when the gospel of Matthew was written. I’m sorry if this post is vague, as I have little info on the subject, but if this is true, would that mean that gentiles could not be saved? This would lead to another question: did Jesus intend to start Christianity and/or an actual, physical Church?
The Great Commission may or may not have been added after the rest of the Gospel was written, but it is clearly part of the canonical text that has been received by the Church.
(I have not heard this about the end of Matthew, but it is true that the ending of Mark, as it currently stands, was probably added after the rest of the Gospel.)
Hence, the question of the date at which a certain passage was written is a secondary one. The fact that something was added at a later date does not make it a “forgery.” (It conceivably could have been added by the apostle himself, or a follower, in order to complete something that was omitted in the first edition.)
This poses no challenge to the principle that Christians are called to “make disciples of all the nations.”
As for the other questions: Jesus mission while he was on the earth was primarily to the Jews. He always intended for the Church to reach out to the Gentiles, but it was always part of his plan to offer the Good News first to the People of Israel.
Even St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, respects this principle:
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 and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
As for the Church, it was always Jesus’ plan to found a Church, as we read in Matthew 16:18:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And yes, it was always his intention for the Church to expand to include the Gentiles. (We see this more clearly in the book of Acts.)
Your question seems unnecessarily contentious.
Our Saviour was sent to preach to the lost sheep of Israel first because, as the old proverb goes, there is a time and place for everything.
Please note that as per the Gospel of St. John, ch. 4., he also preached to a Samaritan village - a passage you would have certainly heard read at Mass during Lent.
The preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles was to take place after His Passion, death and Resurrection, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
As for the opinion that Matthew 28: 16-20 is a “forgery”, this is merely a favoured modus operandi of modernist scholars - they use circular reasoning. According to them, because “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit / Ghost” was a baptismal formula, it must have been inserted later. However, the Catholic Church has always taught that these words were truly spoken by Our Saviour and that the Gospels are historically accurate.
If you are genuinely confused about such issues, I recommend the “Ignatius Study Bible” which is available as a one-volume text for the New Testament. It addresses many such questions from an authentic Catholic point of view.
Long before Jesus gave the Great Commission to his disciples, it was prophesied about him in Isaiah 49:5-6
“And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him…he says: ‘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 my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’”
This would show that it was always God’s intent to bring salvation to the whole world, and Jesus, because he was the son who came to do the will of his father, and because he himself was part of the triune Godhead, would have the same intent as the father.
Also, Luke spent his life evangelizing the Gentiles.
Seems like a Gospel writer would KNOW what Jesus intended. Right? :rolleyes:
You are wrong. Jesus loved EVERYONE.
He was sent to preach first to the Jews, and not only to them.
Dear Autumn Smoke,
Thank you for your perceptive post.
In fact, many Catholic exegetes have referred to the Prophet Isaiah as the greatest forerunner of the Gospel in the Old Testament. Bishop Challoner even observes that his very name can be taken to mean “Jesus is Lord.” Besides Isaiah 49, passages in Isaiah 2, 56 (“my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”) and 66 (people will come from all nations, and some of them will become My priests) also strongly proclaim and foreshadow the preaching of the Good News of salvation to all nations, not just Israel.
Just a couple other points to show that the Great Commission is true. Jesus gave the parable of the wedding banquet in Matt 22. Also, in Mark 13:10 talking about the end times Jesus says “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” I’m sure there are many other examples through out the NT.
Not only does Isaiah 49:5-6 present the divine intention for the great commission. There are other references in the psalms, prophets, and the Torah. Consider the reading for today’s Mass: Abraham is renamed and promised to be the father of a host of nations. St. Paul justifies himself with this promise in his letter to the Galatians. “The Lord gave him (Abraham) the blessing of all nations, and confirmed his covenant upon the head of Jacob.” (Sir 44:25 vug.)
Moses speaks of a new leader in which the jews ought to adhere. “The Lord thy God will raise up to thee a PROPHET of thy nation and of thy brethren like unto me: him thou shalt hear:” (Dt 18:15) “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Mt 28:18f.) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself…” (Jn 16:13)
“O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of Joy” (Ps 47:1)
There is already a recent and current thread regarding this topic located here:
In that thread, there are several examples of Jesus telling the Jews that they are in danger of losing their inheritance because of their rejection of God’s will, his prophets, and even his Son. Because of their indifference to God and their mistreatment of his messengers, their “vineyards” and “wedding invitations” will instead be given to others who will respond.