Why did Jesus tell his apostles to preach only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:5-6 tells us Jesus sent his 12 disciples to preach to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Jesus specifically ordered them not to preach to the Gentiles or Samaritans, but to tell to Israel’s lost sheep  that the kingdom of heaven is near. This may seem like an odd thing for Jesus to say.  Why not preach to everyone? Let me be very clear on this point: I don’t know; meaning, I do not know of a specific verse that explains this. I think we can infer an answer, but I make no claim that such an answer is Gospel. I only claim that my inference is based on scripture. With that in mind, let’s look at what is written, and where it may lead.

We can extrapolate from Matthew’s writing that he wrote to a Jewish audience to convince them that Jesus is the prophesied Jewish Messiah. I say this because Matthew repeatedly used the phrase “to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet.” I believe Matthew’s purpose is to show that Jesus is the one Jewish people had been expecting. With this in mind, would it not make sense that Matthew recorded things that Jesus did specifically for Jewish people?

It is written in the Old Testament that God made a covenant with the Jewish people. The fifth book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, tells us Jewish people are a holy people. It says God chose them, “… to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Exodus tells us God told Moses that the Sons of Israel, “…shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The Old Testament clearly tells us Jewish people have a special place. But what about the New Testament?

Romans 1:16 tells us salvation is for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Acts 3:25-26 tells us the prophets say to the Jewish people, “… God raised up His Servant for you first, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”  It appears to me that Jesus fulfills this by telling his disciples to go preach to the Jews. Fortunately for the rest of us, we too may accept salvation because of God’s grace. Salvation is not something into which one is born, even if one is born Jewish. I would argue that it’s harder for a Jewish believer because of social pressures. That certainly was the case in Jesus’ day if you consider how Jewish leaders reacted to Jesus.

Matthew 10:16 tells us that Jesus gave a warning to his disciples as they went to preach to the lost sheep. He told his disciples they would be sheep in the midst of wolves. He said some will be eager to hand them over to be flogged in the synagogues. The culture of Jesus’ day was not friendly to anyone who would upset the apple cart by preaching Messiah has come. But I would caution about being too judgmental of them because of this.  We certainly see people triggered today anytime someone mentions the Gospel.

Why did Jesus tell his apostles to preach only to Jewish people?  What are your thoughts.


  1. CBN: What Does the Bible Teach about the Jewish People and the Nation of Israel?
  2. Got Questions: What does it mean that the Jews are God’s chosen people?
  3. IFCJ: Why God Chose the Jewish People
  4. CPM: Why are the Jewish people special?