Tag Archives: To the Jew First

To the Jew First in 2021

Shalom, dear friend.

It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of January 2021! Time is moving forward so rapidly! Last January, I had such hope in the afterglow of celebrating Chosen People Ministries’ 125th year of ministry. We had a fabulous gala! The future looked so bright, the opportunities to serve the Lord and reach Jewish people with the gospel were electrifying, and the Chosen People Ministries staff was ready to go!

But then tragedy struck, and however you feel about the virus, it has impacted all of our lives in many ways. The effects of COVID-19 on our friends, families, and congregations have been severe. Our economy and the overall stability of our nation suffered as well.

My dear friend, 2020 was a challenging year!

But the Lord is ALWAYS in control. He is sovereign and loves us with an everlasting love. He created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and is coming back, so we are hopeful.

Job’s sentiments very well express how you and I might sometimes feel: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15).

When there is nothing else to hold onto, we can always cling to the nature and character of our God! He will never disappoint, though His ways, thoughts, and will are so mysterious to us at times (Isaiah 55:8–9).

But we know in the depth of our souls that the Lord is always worthy of our trust!

While I anguish with those who have lost loved ones, businesses, and more to the virus, I believe that 2021 will be a year of restoration. I also have an even greater sense of urgency than ever before to proclaim the gospel to the Jewish people. Your Mission to the Jewish People will move forward in hope, fulfilling the mission and vision God gave Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894 when he founded Chosen People Ministries.

The Messianic Jewish Apostle Paul expressed our vision at Chosen People Ministries when he wrote,

“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).

I like to remind our staff and prayer partners of this verse every January. It is best to read this verse—and the entire Bible—as literally as possible. David L. Cooper, a missionary to the Jewish people who lived and ministered in the 40s and 50s in Los Angeles, said this about reading Scripture: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” He explained that, unless there is an obvious reason not to, we should apply Scripture literally.


If we take Romans 1:16 literally, we see that we should not be ashamed of the gospel as it is the power of God for salvation. I know this is true, as I experienced God’s power when I was nineteen years old and accepted Jesus. He transformed my life!

This verse also teaches that we should not keep this glorious and powerful message to ourselves. It is the power of God for salvation, not just for us, but for everyone who believes. Our divinely appointed goal in life should be to present the gospel in ways that others might see the power of the good news and believe in Him as well.

Finally, the text tells us that the gospel should be proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Here is where some people find it hard to take this verse literally.

The Greek word translated “first” is protos and does not need to be understood sequentially. I do not think Paul intended for the Roman believers to witness to all the Jewish people in Rome before sharing the gospel with non-Jews! Paul used a nonsequential application of the word first.

To the Jew first means that bringing the gospel to the Jewish people should be a heart priority for every believer in Jesus.

We must find a way to apply the plain truth of God’s Word to our lives. Whether through prayer, giving, or witnessing to Jewish people we know, we all need to be involved in sharing the good news with God’s chosen people.


We want to take Paul’s statement a little bit further in 2021.

We not only want to bring the gospel to the Jewish people first, but we also want to take the gospel to some of the most challenging and resistant Jewish people first. The group I have in mind is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, usually called the Haredim. A literal translation of the Hebrew word Haredim is “those who fear the Lord.”

This Jewish community represents close to one million of the more than fifteen million Jewish people in the world.

They are viewed as “old style” in their keeping of Jewish tradition and dress. Haredim follow the Torah diligently, live under the rabbis’ authority, and share a vibrant community life that includes schools, jobs, and synagogue life, which is central to this Jewish community.

My heart breaks for the Haredim for many reasons. But the primary reason is biblical, as Paul wrote in Romans 10:1–3. He noted that these beloved Jewish people have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. The Greek word Paul used is epignosis, a composite term that implies full or complete knowledge. The Haredim understand God to a degree, but this knowledge is incomplete because it lacks an understanding of Jesus, who fulfills all that the Bible promises.

I live in Brooklyn. Outside of Jerusalem and a few other enclaves in Israel and the greater New York area, my hometown is the epicenter of Haredi life. However, you will find Haredim in every major city in North America.

We have developed tools designed to reach these dear people through the use of social media in the United States, Israel, and other strategic places where many Haredim live. We are using the Yiddish language, which combines Old German and some Slavic and Hebrew terms but is written in Hebrew letters.

We have the New Testament in Yiddish and the Jesus Film in Yiddish as well, which we are offering for online viewing.


We are also establishing a fund to purchase a property somewhere outside the New York area where the Haredim who are seeking the Lord can safely stay when their community persecutes them. We call this the “Haredi Safe House Initiative.”

God has given us a big vision and ambitious goals. We have already done a lot, but now we are prepared to move full steam ahead.

We expect to receive quite a bit of opposition, and we need to have the prayer support to press on.

We have not yet located the site, though we have a good idea of where we want to be. So stay tuned, and we will tell you more about this later on in 2021.

We are prepared and available to God for this monumental task, and we hope and pray that, in the days ahead, the Lord will use us in the lives of this exceptional part of the global Jewish community.

We are not stopping anything else that we are doing; we are adding to what we have done in past years. This includes a more extensive outreach to campuses, initiatives among children, and more.

The gospel is still powerful, and it is still for everyone; it is the only solution that works for you, me, and every other citizen on earth. But as we apply the preaching of the gospel, we need to take Paul’s words seriously and present the gospel to the Jew first.


Thank you so much for your prayers. I see God’s hand on the Jewish people and especially the state of Israel as part of the unfolding of the end times. I believe with my whole heart that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus before He returns at the end of days. This makes reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah Jesus so very important.

As Paul wrote,

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25–27).

Let us lift our eyes and hearts together and, by His grace, reach the Jewish people for the Lord. Thank you for caring and for helping us bring the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles.

Your brother in the Messiah,

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The Priority of Jewish Evangelism

Shalom in His grace!

I hope and pray this letter finds you healthy, safe, and filled with His joy.

I continue to believe that sharing the gospel with everyone should be our greatest priority in life! My personal burden, and the focus of Chosen People Ministries, is reaching Jewish people for Jesus. But, as surprising as this might be, we actually lead as many or more Gentiles to the Lord as we do Jewish people every year!

Yet my heart’s greatest desire is to see my own Jewish people accept Jesus and receive the gift of everlasting life!

It is essential to ask the question, “If Jewish people number only 15 million among almost 8 billion people on earth, why is Jewish evangelism so essential and urgent?”

As the leader of a traditional mission to the Jewish people, I believe Jewish people must accept Jesus to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:16–17; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

I do not believe a Jewish person or a Gentile can satisfy God’s demands for righteousness through his or her merit or good works (Galatians 2:15–16; 3:23–25; Romans 10:2ff.). According to the Apostle Paul in the early chapters of Romans, we must all put our faith and trust in God’s Son, who died and rose for our sins.


The following two passages, in particular, provide a sound biblical basis for the urgency of Jewish evangelism.


The Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “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).

Franz Delitzsch, the well-known Old Testament scholar, wrote, “For the church to evangelize the world without thinking of the Jews, is like a bird trying to fly with one broken wing.”

Of course, Paul was not suggesting that the Roman believers withhold the gospel from the Gentiles until every Jewish person in the world hears the good news. Neither was he implying that the gospel has already come to the Jewish people first, therefore, preaching the gospel to the “Jew first” no longer has any application in 2020. Paul wrote Romans 1:16 in the present tense. So follow the logic of the text with me: If the gospel is still the power of God “for” salvation and is still for “everyone who believes,” then the gospel is still “to the Jew first.”

Paul used the same Greek word for “first” that Matthew used in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus reminded us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness….” The kingdom of God should always be a priority in our lives, even as we pursue other vital life issues. Similarly, reaching Jewish people with the gospel should be a priority for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

Wherever Paul, the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles, traveled in his ministry, he always first preached the gospel to the Jewish people living in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10), which is why he usually began his ministry by preaching in the local synagogues. The salvation of the Jewish people was an ever-present burden for Paul, and his actions in the book of Acts reveal his understanding of what he wrote in Romans 1:16.

But there is more!

ROMANS 9 –11

In Romans 9–11, Paul pointed out some critical insights about the Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. For example, in Romans 9:1–3, we learn of Paul’s burden for the Jewish people; he expressed his willingness to give up his salvation if it meant that Jewish people might enter the kingdom of God. Romans 10:1–3 describes his heartfelt prayers for his people. In chapter 11, Paul concluded that God has not rejected the Jewish people—there is hope for the salvation of individual Jewish people in the present age and nationally at the end of days.

His first line of argumentation for God’s continued faithfulness to the Jewish people was that he—Paul—was Jewish! Paul was living evidence of God’s faithfulness. I, too, am a Jewish believer in Jesus, and there is a remnant of Jews today who are accepting the gift of salvation in Jesus the Messiah!

The work of Your Mission to the Jewish People can be summarized this way: We are Jewish and Gentile believers searching for the promised remnant the Lord has prepared among the Jewish people. We continue this ministry in the United States, Israel, Europe, South America, and in nineteen countries worldwide! I am a part of the remnant of Jewish believers looking for the others!


There is a remnant today as there was in the Old Testament period, as evidenced by Paul’s recounting the story in 1 Kings 18. God revealed to Elijah that 7,000 other men did not bow the knee to Ba’al. This group remained faithful to the God of Israel. Paul concluded that a remnant existed among the Jewish people of his day who, like himself, received Jesus as Lord (Romans 11:5). Messianic Jews today are God’s signposts of His faithfulness and power to save.


The task of reaching this remnant is also a mandate for the church. In Romans 11:11, Paul specifically called upon Gentile members in the body of Christ to make Jewish people jealous with the gospel message. Ultimately, that jealousy would drive the nation to Jesus, as detailed in Romans 11:25–26.

The link between Israel’s salvation and the Messiah’s return is perhaps a mystery, but true nonetheless. This relationship is spelled out in the book of Zechariah from chapter 12 through chapter 14, where we see the connection between the Lord’s return and the repentance and return of the Jewish end-time remnant.

This connection might even explain why Paul gladly accepted the mantle of apostle to the Gentiles, knowing that the salvation of the Gentiles would lead to the salvation of the Jewish remnant, which, in turn, would lead to the glorious consummation of all things!

The practical implications of these few thoughts are clear. The Gentiles within the body of Messiah have a calling to reach Jewish people for Jesus. As a 126-year-old mission to the Jewish people, Chosen People Ministries is happy to equip and train our brothers and sisters to accomplish this prophetic work.

It is part of our organizational mission statement: “Chosen People Ministries exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same.”

We accomplish this mission by encouraging, providing materials and resources, and building strategic bridges with the larger body of Messiah to fulfill this mandate in the twenty-first century.

One of our staff recently spoke to a Jewish man:

When he started reading Isaiah 53, he asked me who it was about. I said, “Who do you think it is about?” He responded, “Jesus.” Then I pointed out that it was written 700 years before Jesus was born. He said he was “blown away.”

Critical Jewish areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, and Israel are still facing difficult circumstances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Our hearts break, as Paul’s did, for the salvation of our Jewish people. So many elderly Jewish people, including Holocaust survivors in Israel, are frightened and looking for answers. We know that there is only one answer to the problems and challenges of life, whether it be poor health, the loneliness of old age, or economic instability. Many Jewish people today are also concerned about change and the apparent frailty and instability of life.

We have a golden opportunity to reach Jewish people with the gospel. NOW is the time, and because of our success online, we are talking to thousands of Jewish people about Jesus. We try to visit and minister personally when able, but if not, our missionaries are now all adept at making significant online and phone connections with Jewish people.

Once again, we consider the words of that great Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1).

In Messiah,

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To the Jew First in the 21st Century

Dear friend of the Jewish people,

Shalom from New York City. I recently visited South Florida where I enjoyed some warm weather and spoke at our To the Jew First Conference.  This was a Bible conference on Jewish evangelism held at the First Baptist Church of Boca Raton. Boca Raton is the epicenter of the Jewish population of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. It was an exciting conference and hopefully the first of many regional conferences on Jewish evangelism hosted by Jewish-friendly local churches.

Hosting a conference like this is a great way to introduce your church to the importance of Jewish evangelism. You can also invite a Chosen People Ministries speaker to your church for a Sunday or special service.

The name of the conference reflects the statement of the Apostle Paul: “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).

These conferences can be scheduled for a Friday evening through Sunday, or a Saturday morning. Whoever speaks can then be invited to give the sermon on Sunday, as well. You could even invite other churches in the area to join in the joy of learning more about God’s plan and purposes for Israel and the Jewish people. The Chosen People Ministries speaker will help you learn how to pray and share the gospel with Jewish friends and family.

If you would like to help make one of these events happen in your area, simply fill out this form, which will let us know you want us to approach your church to schedule a To the Jew First Conference in 2020. We will provide the program and help promote the conference.

The Importance of Romans 1:16

I hope you enjoy this month’s special article, penned by Dr. Albert Mohler, the current president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Mohler is a great friend of the Jewish people and for many years he has encouraged the church to reach Jewish people with the message of Jesus. Some years ago, Dr. Mohler gave one of the best messages on Romans 1:16 I ever heard at the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. We adapted this sermon into an inspiring booklet, a portion of which you can read here.

Prayer with a Promise

I believe that bringing the gospel to a Jewish person is the best way to bless God’s chosen people! The gospel is the Lord’s greatest gift to us and the best gift we could ever give to our Jewish friends. In Psalm 122:6, we are told to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” There is a promise attached to this prayer as the Psalmist adds, “they will prosper who love you.” The Hebrew term used for “prosper” refers to the internal peace, quiet, and calm that we receive from the Lord when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

This prayer with a promise was also mentioned in Genesis 12:1–3 when God made His foundational covenant with Abraham, our forefather. At that time, He outlined the role the Jewish people would play in His plan and purposes for mankind. God tells Abram that He will bless the world through the Jewish people: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). In other words, the Jewish people were created and called for the benefit of the Gentile nations! The Jewish people formed God’s bridge of redemption to a dark and broken world.

The prayer with a promise in this instance is profound since two different Hebrew terms are used, which are both usually translated into English as “curse.” Let us look at the text carefully for a moment.

God promises that those who are not physical descendants of Abram will experience His blessing for blessing Abram and his descendants. Additionally, those who curse Abraham’s seed will be cursed. The Hebrew word used for curse in the first instance literally means to make light.1 The second word translated curse2 refers to the usual term for judgment, often used in both Deuteronomy chapter 28 and Leviticus chapter 26. The play on words should not be missed: Those who devalue or make light of Israel and her role in God’s plan or who in some way disparage the Jewish people will experience the very same curses God warned would fall upon the Jewish people for disobedience to His law.

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus speaks of the judgment awaiting those who mistreat His followers by allowing them to go thirsty, hungry, sick, and uncared for (Matthew 25:41–44). He takes this mistreatment personally as the Lord says, “…‘ Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:45–46).

Many scholars believe the mistreated ones referred to by Jesus are the Jewish people. Whether you believe the Savior is speaking of the Jewish people or His disciples among the Jewish people and the Gentiles, it is clear that the Lord does bring a unique judgment upon those who mistreat His people.

Simply stated, the Lord wants us to understand and appreciate the role of the Jewish people in His plan and to act upon what we know! This also means that those guilty of antisemitism, which is on the rise today, will experience His judgment!

I do not equate a lack of sharing the gospel with the Jewish people as cause for judgment, but withholding the good news from the Jewish people is certainly not taking advantage of a promised blessing. After all, what greater way to bless the Jewish people is there than to bring the message of Jesus to our Jewish friends and family?

The gospel is the greatest gift we can give to a Jewish person.

A Survey of Evangelicals

In the recent survey by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Chosen People Ministries and Joel C. Rosenberg, we discovered that one of the areas where the church needs to be strengthened is in its efforts to bring the gospel to the Jewish people.

The survey of more than 2,000 evangelical participants revealed that 32 percent of evangelicals shared the gospel with their Jewish friends in the last year.

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Additionally, only 35 percent prayed in the past week for the salvation of their Jewish friends.

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The survey results show how important it is to understand the biblical argument for why Jewish evangelism is important. I am sure you will appreciate Dr. Mohler’s article.

Join Us on the Journey!

We are now in our 126th year of ministry! In addition to our regular everyday work of Jewish evangelism, we hope to especially focus on three critical areas of ministry: reaching Israel; proclaiming the gospel through digital media; and our Joshua Initiative, by which we hope to train a new generation of workers among the Jewish people! This three-fold emphasis is what we call our To the Jew First Campaign.

This is going to be a great adventure, and I hope you will prayerfully partner with us on the journey!

Blessings in our beloved Messiah,


קָלַל1 (kalal)
אָרר 2 (arar)


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To the Jew First

Your Mission to the Jewish People has experienced more than 125 years of the
Lord’s loyalty and love! We have enjoyed a wonderful year of joyous celebration.
On November 15, we concluded our year of gratitude with a banquet in Brooklyn,
the birthplace of our ministry. We heard from Jay Sekulow, founder of the American Center for Law and Justice, and Janet Parshall of Moody Radio. Chosen People Ministries’ staff workers in Israel, former board members such as John Holbrook, as well as friends of our ministry including Ken Barun of the Billy Graham Association and Wayne Hilsden of the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) gave testimonies of God’s transforming power through Chosen People Ministries in the lives of Jewish people worldwide. Finally, we “met” Leopold Cohn himself, our founder, through the one-man dramatic presentation by staff member Alan Shore.

Very Humble Origins

Chosen People Ministries was founded by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who came to
the United States from Hungary in 1892. Not long after he arrived, he heard a Polish Presbyterian missionary and preacher on the Lower East Side of Manhattan proclaiming the gospel inside a Dutch Reformed Church. Once the Lord captured the rabbi’s heart, he committed himself to a lifelong ministry of reaching Jewish people with the gospel. Years of reports indicate that Rabbi Cohn had baptized almost 1,000 Jewish people before his death in 1937! His second eldest son, Joseph, led the Mission until his passing in 1953. Harold Pretlove, Daniel Fuchs, Harold Sevener, and Sam Nadler all faithfully led Chosen People Ministries, and in 1997, I became the mission’s seventh president.

Personally speaking, I know the significance of Chosen People Ministries. The
Mission discipled me, paid my way through Bible college, provided opportunities to serve the Lord, and has equipped me with the skills to lead and enable others to share Jesus with their Jewish friends and family.

My wife, Zhava, was raised in a Jewish home in Argentina and moved to Los Angeles with her family as a young teenager. She came to faith through the work of a Chosen People Ministries missionary. This missionary trained a group of Korean Christian teens to proclaim the gospel to Jewish people, and they shared the good news with their classmate, my wife.

As president of Chosen People Ministries for twenty-two years, I am excited as ever about the growth and potential of the mission. The world is changing dramatically and the Jewish community is too. Chosen People Ministries is changing as well, and its relevance continues today.

Yet, along with all the dynamism of change, the biblical essentials of the Mission remain the same as in the days of Rabbi Cohn! The board, leadership, and staff remain committed to the unchanging gospel best expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, where the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….”

Our strategies, methods, and tactics are changing in order to reach a new generation of Jewish people with the gospel, but the message remains the same. The writer of Hebrews declared: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

My dear friends, we need your prayers more than ever to help us, support us, and love our people and ministry. Your partnership enables us to accomplish our calling. We are serving the Lord among Jewish people in more than twenty-five cities in North America and nineteen countries around the world. As we step into our 126th year of ministry, we are ready to serve Jesus the Messiah by initiating a Romans 1:16 “To the Jew First” campaign in 2020.

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