Who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Maybe you’re one of them…?!

Lone Sheep

Matthew 10:6, Lost sheep of the house of Israel. The phrase the house of Israel has several possible meanings depending on the context of the surrounding verses in which it is found.

The phrase the house of Israel is used 146 times in the Scriptures. Prior to the division of the united kingdom after the death of Solomon, this phrase referred to all twelve tribes of Israel. Afterwards (during the time of the prophets), it was used in contradistinction to the phrase “house of Judah” in reference to the Northern Kingdom.

In the Testimony of Yeshua, Yeshua makes reference to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:6; 15:54). Elsewhere in the Testimony of Yeshua this term refers to all twelve tribes of Israel (Acts 2:36; 7:42; Heb 8:10), and in some references it refers to just the Northern Kingdom (Heb 8:8). The context of the passage of scripture surrounding this phrase determines its meaning.

Although this phrase can include all the tribes of Israel and not just the Jews who were largely from the tribe of Judah, in Matthew 10:6, Yeshua seems to equate the lost sheep of the house of Israel with the Jews who were living in the land of Israel in his day, and not to the rest of the Israelite tribes who were at that time scattered among the Gentile nations. It was Yeshua’s priority to take the gospel message first to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, and then to the rest of the world, and he expected his disciples to follow this same pattern (Acts 1:8).

In the larger sense, the Scriptures reveal that all of YHVH’s people have been like sheep that have gone astray spiritually, every man to his own way, because of sin (Isa 53:6). So in the broadest sense, this phrase refers to all the tribes of Israel including Gentiles with which they have mixed themselves through intermarriage.

Eventually, the gospel message is for everyone universally. Yeshua demonstrated this when, on several occasions, he ministered to non-Jewish Gentiles including preaching the gospel message to the Samaritan woman in John chapter four. 


23 thoughts on “Who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Maybe you’re one of them…?!

  1. If Jesus embraces the gentiles, why then does he specifically command his disciples “go not unto the gentiles” in Matthew ten and why does he snub the gentile woman in Matthew fifteen, telling his disciples once again, I have come only for “the lost sheep of Israel.”

    This clearly shows Jesus separating Jews from all other races and people in the region. However, he oddly excludes Samaritans as well. Samaritans were a Jewish sect hated by Temple priest for establishing their own religious beliefs and their refusal to pay sacrificial tribute to the Temple. Therefore, this indicates when Jesus refers to “the lost sheep of Israel” he refers specifically to those Jews following the Temple and its sacrificial law.

    What’s more, why does Saul/Paul go directly against Jesus’ command to his disciples to go not unto the gentiles, by going directly to the gentiles to preach his message while avoiding addressing Jewish Samaritans?

    Why is it that out of all of Saul/Paul’s letters addressing the gentiles, there is not a single reference to his addressing Jewish Samaritans? Could it be that, unlike gentiles, the Samaritans didn’t need Jesus?

    • Not sure what you’re trying to insinuate here, if anything, about Yeshua, Paul and the Bible, the Word of Elohim. But let it be known that on this blog we assert the validity and infallibility of the the Bible, the Word of Elohim, and if there appear to be contradictions in it, it is due to our own lack of understanding of it, and NOT due to errors within the Bible itself. This is he premise from which we operate. Period!

      Now to your objections.

      Yeshua came first for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He said so. This included first the Jewish people and then any of the Israelites from the other tribes after that. Beyond that, he came to save the whole world (John 3:16; etc. etc.). This he clearly states in the great commission and in his final instructions to his disciples before he ascended to heaven, when he told them to go first to Jerusalem, second to Judea, third to Samaria, and forth to the whole world (Acts 1:8). This is exactly what Paul and the other apostles did. To make it appear as if Yeshua or his apostles did anything other than that is to ignore the truth of Scripture. Blessings!

  2. I believe that this claim that Jesus is sent to the world is nonsensical. if Jesus was really sent to the world why did he not avail himslef to every nation and preach the gospel to the nations himself, becuase if that was his mandate/purpose he would have done so accordingly.

    In metthew 1:19-2:15, it is stated that…”she will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”. And it continues…”And you, O Bethlehem of the land of Judah, are by no means the most insignificant [city] among the governors of Judah; for out you will come forth a governing one who will sephered my people, Israel”. Now, you can not inteprete Matthew 10:6 without mentioning the above verses /scriptures,because they are all interrelated. These scriptures show that Jesus was sent only to the lost sheeps of Israel and not to the world. Hence, in Matthew 10:6 he stated as mentioned above. The claim that Jesus was sent to the world and that this is proven by his instructions before he descended to heaven is a earlier development designed to fit the doctrine of colonialism.

    • Biblical fact a), Yeshua came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Scripture says they were scattered all over the earth, to the the far coastlands and to the farthest isles of a the sea and that they mixed with the beast (heathen) nations of the world. So, yes, in a sense, Yeshua came for the whole world—to regather them.

      Biblical fact b), John 3:16 says that Elohim loved the whole world.

      Biblical fact c) Scripture says that Elohim desires that everyone (i.e. the whole world) be saved.

      Biblical fact d) Yeshua himself didn’t go to the whole world, but commissioned his disciples to do so. It’s called the great commission.

      Fact e) YHVH Elohim as sovereign Creator of the universe, can use any Balaam’s ass means he sees fit, be it good or bad, to get the message of the gospel out including colonialism, socialism, communism, capitalism or any other ism. His arm is not shortened or hindered by men to do anything he wants when or how he wants and that includes colonialism. The fact is that he said it would, and he uses human instruments, including imperfect ones, to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill his word. We serve a great Elohim, so let’s not get hung up in the weeds of how or why or when. I give him all the praise and glory!!! Ameine.


    • Better read John 10:16 I got other sheep not of this pen who will hear my voice and follow he will b the great shepherd of 1 flock

      • The KJV is not the only Bible out there, nor is it the perfect translation, nor is it the paragon of all Bible translations (no Bible translation is) although it along with the NKJV are my preferred Bible translations. Whenever I have a problem with something in this translation or any other one, for that matter, I go back to the Greek and Hebrew. Anyone can do this if they know how to use the wonderful biblical resources that are universally and readily available out there. Be blessed.

    • Welcome aboard the truth and river of life train. May your cup continue to overflow as our Father in heaven fills it from the river of life that flows from his throne of Truth and righteousness!

  3. I appreciated you post here, and I wish there were more entries. I find the understanding of the passage very much dependent upon the context and also very intriguing in consideration of just how it plays out.

    For instance, Mt 10:6-15 stipulates just how Y’shuah’s instructs His disciples to interact and deal with those they encounter. However, later on, and just prior to His crucifixion, Lk 22:35-38 describes a different scenario:

    [Luk 22:37 ESV] 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

    It seems as if the renown of Y’shuah was becoming so prominent from His exposure of the House of Judah as imposters as demonstrated by the hypocrisy of the Jewish Sanhedrin that something had to be done. Could it be that the House of Judah, for the most part, disqualified themselves as proselytizes for Y’shuah as the Jewish Messiah, and He was instructing His disciples the manner in which they were to deal with them?

    • There are more entries if you know where to find them. You will find plenty of entries on this subject on this blog if you type in certain key words into the search engine on this blog’s home page. Type in “House of Israel” or “Judah and Ephraim” or “Two-Houses of a Israel” or “Ephraim” or “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” and you will find literally dozens of articles that I have written and published on this subject. Happy reading!

      Never forget this: the house of Judah did not disqualify themselves en toto! Only those who rejected him disqualified themselves. All the early believers were Jewish. Moreover, Yeshua commanded his disciples to first go to Jerusalem and Judea and then go out to the lost sheep of Israel scattered across the world. The term “the lost sheep of Israel” not only include the house of Israel or Ephraim, but the house of Judah as well. Ultimately the term Israelincludes all 12 tribes of Israel/Jacob and always refers to such unless the scriptural context limits this term to the Northern Kingdom.

      • True! James 1:1 addressed the 12 Tribes of dispersion as well as 1Pet 1:1. The book of Hebrews is for The 12 Tribes. These are direct addresses to 12 Tribes. Every Epistle is for the 12 Tribes which have address to 12 Tribes in various references. One example, 1Cor 10:1 – our fathers (referring to the OT Israelites.

  4. Lost sheep of the house of Israel are those who were in bondage to the law of Moses. Much of Israel in the days that our Lord walked the earth.
    Galatians 4:22-30 KJVS
    [22] For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. [23] But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. [24] Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. [25] For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. [26] But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. [27] For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. [28] Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. [29] But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. [30] Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

    • With all due respect, I am duty bound to point out that you are merely repeating the lying interpretations of the anti-Torah mainstream church. The bondage to which Paul refers is not bondage to the Torah-laws of Elohim, or else Paul is blasphemously accusing the Creator of putting people under bondage——something of which neither YOU nor I want to be guilty. No! The bondage to which Paul is referring here is not to YHVH’s standards of righteousness contained in the Torah, but to the idea that the works of the Torah-law can save a person. We are saved only by grace in Yeshua through faith leading to good works (as defined by Torah, see Eph 2:6–10). The specific issue that Paul was addressing in Galatians was the false concept that circumcision is a requirement for salvation. It never was and still isn’t. In Romans 4, Paul discusses how Abraham was saved by faith, not by circumcision. This is the issue in Galatians, NOT the validity of Torah for Christians. You do not know your Bible, nor the true message of Galatians, but YOU are merely repeating the lies that your lying pastors and Bible teachers in the Christian church have brainwashed you and many others to believe. Hard word? Yes. But it’s time that the saints of YHVH awakened to the Truth and turn aside from traditions of men by which the Word of Elohim has been made of none effect. I pray that you have the courage and love for the Truth of Elohim to diligently study out what I have said. For Truth seekers, we have many free resources that are available to help them to understand these seemingly difficult subjects. I wish you the best.

  5. Hi Natan.

    The lost sheep of Israel that Jesus referring to were for the most part the Jewish multitude from the tribe of Judah. The other tribes weren’t referred to as Jews but the sons of Israel. I believe that the answer lies within the Babylon Captivity that took effect in 580BCE. The sons of Israel collaborated with the Turkic-Persians on conquering the land with their clever tactics and politics. During the exile, the sons of Israel were held captive and forced to assimilate with the Turks which then in turn birthed the lost sheep of Israel. They then returned to their lands after the exile with new identities and established Hebraism-Reform Judaism and replaced the Torah with the Talmud. The sons of Israel from the Judean tribe became the Hebrew Israelites or Jews (Lost Sheep Of Israel.) Jesus primary focus was on them. He came to offer a chance of salvation on the sons of Israel because the strayed from God’s path spiritually. But the Elite Hebrew Israelites feared he was going to liberate the lost sheep and expose them for their forgeries of their religion. This is the reason why they rejected his teachings and him as Messiah. So they turned him in to Pilate.

    • Your opinion is one perspective on who the lost sheep of the Israel are——a very tribe of Judah-centric perspective to say the least. But based on my extensive, Bible-centered study of the subject going back for many years, I cannot agree that the lost sheep of Israel are confined merely to one tribe out of the 12. That is not the larger view of Scripture, which is the contextual backdrop from which Yeshua was speaking. To be sure, it is highly unlikely that he was speaking out of proto-rabbinc, or pre-Talmudic (the Talmud didn’t even come about until several hundred years after the time of Yeshua) view in mind. Moreover, when the the last instructions of Yeshua to his disciples in Acts 1:7 are taken into consideration, this would be a strong indication that the other tribes are the “other sheep” to which he makes reference in John 10:16. Peter allows for this in 1 Pet 1:1 and James clearly mentions this when he addresses the 12 tribes in Jas 1:1 that are scattered abroad. Israel (all 12 tribes, not just Judah) is a general biblical Hebraism that refers to all 12 tribes. Moreover, as I have proven many times in my writings, the term “the house of Israel” as it is used in OT usually refers specifically to the Northern Kingdom (not to the Southern Kingdom of Judah), unless the term “the whole house of Israel” is used. I have looked up every place that this term is used in Scripture and the context in which it is used, and I will gladly send you the evidence upon request of the biblical truth of what I am saying. I am not just talking out of the tope of my hat when I say what I say. I back it up with Scripture, not just man’s opinions. So, with all due respect, I cannot accept YOUR extra-biblical, dare I say, non-biblical definition of the biblical Hebraism “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Blessings and shalom!

  6. I have studied this subject quite a bit, as the possible truth as amazing. While I am not dogmatic about it… the more I study the subject the more I am convinced that the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” are the same people that Christ said would be a people called by His name… the people that make up the true third temple…

    The lost sheep of the House of Israel are the Christians.

    The sheep hear His voice… this is the descendants of the House of Israel who hear the call of God through Christ and respond and follow Him. We are known as Christians, and one day the lost House of Judah (lost spiritually) will have their eyes opened and join join with the Christians in recognizing the truth that Yeshua is Messiah.

      • I was brought up as a Christian. Therefore, I understand the desire to believe that Jesus came for all of us and that salvation / eternal life is open to all of us. However, it’s clear that it isn’t. Jesus and the New Testament writers were ONLY speaking to Israelites. The fact that Christianity teaches that one does not need to keep the commands should be enough evidence.

        The Gentiles that they preached to were Israelites. For example, The Samaritan woman at the well was an Israelite. We know this because she asked Jesus if he was “greater than our father Jacob”. Cornelius was an Israelite, who grew up in a foreign nation (like Paul did) but was part of the diaspora. The fact he was “God fearing and righteous” tells us this because only Torah-observant Israelites were described this way.

        The Bible, from Abraham onwards, is about God and his people. In fact God only ever refers to himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob so it’s clear the Israelites are his people – no one else.

        Love thy neighbour, pray for your enemies. These only make sense when the context is that those people are Torah-observant Israelites. For example, a fellow Israelite might be your enemy, but because they follow the commands they have a moral compass so they can repent and change.

        Of course, John 3:16 is used as the ultimate qualifier to say that anyone can be saved and that God loves everyone (despite all the evidence to the contrary). However, if you read John 18:20 – Jesus defines exactly what is meant by the “world”.

        It’s hard to accept but unfortunately it’s the truth and any type of replacement theology is simply a false narrative. When you read the bible through the lens that it is only for the blood descendants of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (regardless of what Constantine said & did): Then it makes sense and you don’t even have to debate who the lost sheep of the house of Israel are because it is obvious.

      • The written and spoken record is clear: This ministry neither teaches nor promotes in any way a replacement theology. To suggest that it doesis a gross error and demonstrates ignorance of the facts. I make this very clear in my many teachings on this subject and refuse to be pigeon holed into such a false teaching and non-biblcal concept. The Bible is clear: The church has not replaced Israel. The Bible is also clear on the fact that the Gentiles must come to the Messiah of Israel at which time they are grafted into Israel. This is not replacement theology; this is inclusive theology. There is a vast difference between the two concepts. Again, only those who ignorant of Bible truth on the subject fail to understand this vital truth!

        Now as far as the diaspora goes, after thousands of years, no one knows for sure who is or who is not an Israelite. Does it matter? NO! All must come to Messiah and be joined to Israel. Again, this is not replacement theology as, for example, the Roman Catholic Church has notoriously taught in the past.

        Moreover, Torah obedience IS NOT a precondition for being an Israelite. To say it is is like saying that because my children don’t follow Torah and I do, they are no longer my children. That’s illogical. I can disinherit them, and even kick them out of my family, but they are still technically my children. The same is true with Israel. Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and many other prophets clearly state that apostate Israel forget the Torah and got lost among the Gentile nations, but that YHVH will bring them back to him in spite of this. Even the Jews have largely forgotten the Torah in favor of their oral traditions that make of none affect the Torah-word of Elohim. In fact, in their refusal to accept Yeshua the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, they have in effect rejected the Written Torah as well since these two are synonymous.

        This said, I reject the false notion that I am teaching replacement theology and that only Torah obedient people are or can be Israelites. None Israelites who have never followed Torah, if they come to faith in Elohim through Yeshua will be grafted into the olive tree of Israel as per Romans 11. On the other hand, Israelites who left YHVH long ago and were like a branch off of the olive tree of Israel will be brought back and reunited to the tree as Ezekiel 37 clearly states. This is what I believe because this is what the Word of Elohim clearly states. Anything else beside this is simply the mind of man at work creating philosophies that oppose the Truth of Elohim. Selah.


  7. Thanks for answering!
    Sorry if I miscommunicated:
    I completely agree that Israelites are descendants from Jacob and there are no other conditions attached. I only mentioned Torah observance to emphasise that Cornelius was an Israelite, from the way he was described.

    My main point is that the “All who must come to the Messiah to be joined with Israel” are ONLY Israelites.

    The fullness of the Gentiles & the grafting in of the olive branches is all about Israelites. Those gentiles were / are Israelites ONLY. We now this because earlier in the same letter, Paul refers to Abraham as “Our Father”.

    My question is: if the Gentiles are Israelites and Jesus defines the “world” as “Israel” in John 18:20, why do we assume that salvation is for non-Israelites?

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