In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God was given to priests and other specific individuals (see Numbers 11:16–17). But Joel predicted that one day God’s Spirit would be given to all believers, regardless of position or status. Jesus fulfilled this prediction. Throughout Jesus’ life he appealed to the Jewish community as their prophesied Messiah, but he also rewarded the faith of those who were not members of God’s original “chosen people.”
Jesus taught that the second most important command is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He used the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25–37) to illustrate that fulfilling the intent of the law was more important than following the letter of the law. By using a non-Jew—the Samaritan, who followed the intent of the law better than did the priest or the Levite—Jesus showed that it was possible for Gentiles to know God’s law and follow it.
Not only could Gentiles follow God’s law, but they would also be rewarded for their faith. Jesus rewarded the Roman centurion (see Matthew 8:5–13), the Canaanite woman whose daughter needed healing (see Matthew 15:21–28) and the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4:1–26). Jesus widened the offer of salvation. His ministry was open to anyone who would receive it with faith, Jew or Gentile (see Luke 19:9–10; Galatians 3:26–29).