16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
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In my opinion, the cited verse is not saying that God somehow "plays favorites" between Jews and Gentiles, but is saying that, as a matter of historical fact, the Jews were originally God's chosen people, through whom the promised Messiah (who was also a Jew) was sent, and were thus the first people or nation with an opportunity to acknowledge Jesus as such, and should also have been all the more ready to do so, because of the long history of prophecy directed to them specifically that spoke of His coming. It was only after a period of years following Jesus' ascension that God Himself indicated in Acts 10 to Peter (as the leader of those who had been Jesus' apostles) that Gentiles were also to be admitted into the church, as further substantiated by His words at the same time to the Roman centurion Cornelius, and by the Holy Spirit being poured out on Cornelius and his household in Peter's presence. (This is estimated to have occurred around AD 40, or approximately ten years after Jesus' ascension.) The subsequent acceptance of millions of Gentiles into the Christian community does not change the fact that Jesus was chronologically sent first to the Jews as the Messiah who had been promised to them over a period of centuries.
The gospel was directed for the first time toward the Jews because God gave the Jews the covenants (see Eph 2:12 where Paul said that the Ephesians, i.e. gentiles, before they were saved, were "strangers from the covenants of promise") and thousands of promises to which the gospel refers (Ro 9:4). The priority of the Jews in God’s plan of salvation also anticipates the discussion of Israel’s future role in Romans 9-11.To the Jew first, and also to the Greek; the gospel was first to be published to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, whom he here calls Greeks: see Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8. This order the apostles consequently kept and observed, Acts 13:46.
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