NUGGETS OF WISDOM

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BELIEVING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE

David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER FIFTEEN (Lesson XI)

15:10 There are other Scriptures: “You people of other nations should be happy together with God’s people.”

Based on early scriptures in the Torah, Paul points out that God called on His people to rejoice with other nations when they heard the Good News of what God had done for them. Paul does not include the whole verse in Deuteronomy which reads: “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people.1 The Apostle wanted to focus on the last line that speaks about God atoning for His people. The point here is that His message of salvation was meant for the world, not just Israel.

We can see where this same message was included in another Hymn of Praise that it was meant to exalt the Lord for allowing this message to go into all the world: “God, be gracious to us, and bless us. May He make His face shine toward us, (Selah) so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples give thanks to You, God; let the peoples give thanks to You, all of them. Let the nations be glad and shout for joy.2 And that is due to the fact that: “The LORD has made His saving power known. He has shown to the nations how right and good He is. He has shown His loving-kindness and how beautiful He is to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of our God.3

Chrysostom comments on Paul’s call to the Gentiles to rejoice with their Jewish brethren. Paul has taken the time to point out the Scriptures that give them enough reason to be united and glorify God together. But he wanted the Jews to learn humility so they wouldn‘t think they were better than the Gentiles, especially in light of the fact that God clearly said they were to be included. He also wanted to humble the Gentiles by pointing out that if it were not for God’s love, grace, and mercy they would not be included in the promises of His kingdom.4

Martin Luther believes that this call for the Gentiles to join God’s people went forth from Jerusalem, from God’s people to all peoples. The Gospel did not reach the Gentiles until it was first preached in Galilee and Judah. Therefore, by Paul using this Psalm he was indicating that this passage was meant to predict the Messiah’s lordship among all nations.5 And now that the Gospel had reached the Gentiles, they too were to join their Jewish brothers and sisters in sending out the call to the rest of the world. God did not send His Son to be Lord over only one nation, but all nations.

Many Bible scholars take this quote by Paul as being part of Moses’ Song in Deuteronomy,6 Calvin disagrees. For him, Moses’ purpose was to terrify the enemies of Israel by displaying God’s greatness, rather than invite them to join in their rejoicing. That’s why Calvin believes that Paul was quoting from Psalm 67:4, where it is written, “Let the Gentiles be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the Gentiles with equity and guide the nations of the earth.” And Paul then adds, with his people, and he did this by way of explanation; for the Prophet in that psalm no doubt connects the Gentiles with Israel and invites both alike to rejoice, and there is no joy without the knowledge of God.7

Robert Haldane takes issue with Calvin over his preference of a Psalm over the Torah. As far as he’s concerned, this would be a very unsafe and presumptuous mode of reasoning. We must stand on Paul’s authority, rather than on the authority of Calvin, as to what Moses’ intentions were in the passage quoted. If Moses intended to strike terror into the enemies of Israel, why would Gentile believers be excited about rejoicing with the Jewish people because of the victories of the Messiah over them as His enemies? The quotations from the Psalms that Paul uses are obvious in the application he is making here about Gentiles being invited to join with the Jews in praising God once they hear about all the good things God has done for His people and the world. Besides that, the passage alleged by Calvin as the quotation that Paul should have used does not correspond with the words of Paul without twisting the meaning. Why exclude a passage where the words are easily found, and select a passage where you have to guess its meaning?

Haldane is sure that the authority of Paul as a commentator on Moses should prevail. In fact, the quotation is as applicable to the Gentiles as to the Jews. As this passage by Paul is understood, can we not see that the Gentiles in the church at Rome were interested in the Jews as a nation coming to the Messiah as well. Just look at how much Paul prayed that they would. Certainly, that would give them a reason for them to rejoice. The Jews should indeed rejoice in the glory of God and the happiness of seeing Gentiles come into the knowledge of His saving grace. But the Gentiles, in addition to this, are to rejoice in it as part of their own salvation.8 As a matter of fact, the Complete Jewish Bible agrees with Haldane by referencing this quote by Paul to Deuteronomy 32:43. And Calvin should not be faulted because he was looking for harmony on the subject, not the text.

On Paul’s call for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy, Charles Spurgeon preached that if there was any joy or hope for the chosen people of God, we as believers should rejoice as well. Let’s rejoice with the people of Israel who were redeemed out of Egypt, led through the Red Sea, fed with quail and manna, drank water out of a rock and brought to the borders of Canaan. We certainly have every reason to rejoice with them over the celebration of Passover, and delight with them on the Day of Pentecost. Did not the Lord say: “Rejoice, you Gentiles, rejoice with His people.9 Their joy can become our joy.10

15:11 The Scriptures also say, “Praise the Lord all you people of other nations; all people should praise the Lord.”11

The Apostle Paul does not want the Gentiles to feel like second class citizens in the Kingdom of God, nor did he want the Jews to have that “Members Only” attitude. He wants both to know that this inclusive idea of binding Jews and Gentiles together into one family was God’s plan from the beginning. It is contextually evident that the Psalmist was calling on all Jewish people around the world to sing a new song to the Lord by the fact that back then the Gentiles did not have access to the Psalms. Yet their rejoicing would be over the news that they had been given the pleasure of carrying the Gospel message of salvation to all nations around the world.

Early church scholar Ambrosiaster commented on Jews and Gentiles now being joint-heirs to God’s promises to Abraham. As he saw it, God did not wait to the last minute to include Gentiles in His plan of salvation, He decreed that by the intervention of His mercy. That way, Jews and Gentiles would be united. The Gentiles would be granted grace to become fellow heirs with the Jews, who by the grace of God were long ago named as His people. While the Jews were noble, the Gentiles were ignoble, but now by God’s mercy the Gentiles have been made noble as well, so that all may rejoice together by acknowledging the truth.12

John Calvin also has an issue with how this quote by Paul from Psalm 117:1 is interpreted. For him, this passage is inaptly applied because how can they who know nothing about God’s greatness be called on to praise Him? They could no more do this than to call on His name when they didn’t even know what His name was? It is then a prophecy most suitable to prove the Gentiles would be called. And their calling would be for the reason that they would finally be able to thank God for His truth and mercy.13 In other words, when this Psalm was written and the writer wanted the Gentiles to join in with the children of God in praising God, he was not thinking of them doing so then and there, but “someday.” Now Paul is saying to the believers in Rome, that day has come.

Robert Haldane takes on Calvin’s thinking without quoting him directly. By using Psalm 117 it implies that salvation would be extended to all nations of the earth. But they must wait for that call because it is impossible to praise God without knowing who He is. They ought to praise God. But this praise ought to be in faith, as well as for many other reasons. There is no danger in calling on sinners to observe the whole law of God, as long as we keep in mind that no obedience in any degree can be given to God except through faith in His Son. This is quite a different thing from making prayer and praise a preparatory process to conversion.14 In other words, this psalm expresses a hope that someday the Gentiles would get to know God as Israel did so they could praise Him too.

So how does all of this apply to us today? The days of Gentiles as one big group has slipped into the shadows as far as the rest of the world is concerned. However, the Jews have kept it alive in their hearts, that’s why they refer to all non-Jews, regardless of race or color, as Goyim. This Hebrew word actually means “nations.” But even the Jews were part of a nation. And that’s where the mystery is solved. There are many nations in the world, but for God, there was only one nation He called His people – Israel. Breaking down that wall between Jews and Goyim will only be done by an act of God. But here is where we can rejoice. Paul, by using these Scriptures, was not limiting this transformation to his day and age. God’s promises of all nations of the world coming together to worship the One True God is still part of prophecy. And there is no religion on earth that has done a better job of bringing people of all races, colors, ethnicities, and customs together in churches all over the globe who meet to give glory and honor to God, to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit for their salvation than the Goyim. And it will continue until Christ returns to set up His Kingdom here on earth for a thousand years. Amen!

1 Deuteronomy 32:43 – Aramaic Version

2 Psalm 67:1-4 – Complete Jewish Bible; Cf. 68:32; 97:1; 98:3

3 Psalm 98:2-3; Cf. 42:10-12

4 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 28

5 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 213

6 Deuteronomy 32:43

7 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 615-616

9 Deuteronomy 32:43

10 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

11 Psalm 117:1

12 Ambrosiaster: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

13 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

14 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 616

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POINTS TO PONDER

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It’s almost every week, or so, that we hear about some dire prediction of a horrible event that will be taking place by a certain time if we do not do something immediately. After looking at some examples, I found 18 that are spectacularly wrong made around 1970, almost 50 years ago. Here they are:

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated in 1970 that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

The day after the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” American biologist Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, environmental advocate and proponent of solar power the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China, and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

In January 1970, Life Magazine reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our lands will be usable.”

American cellular biologist and college professor and politician Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

American biologist Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980 when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000 if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look Magazine that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

In 1975, American biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

How could all these geniuses have been so wrong? There is a myriad of reasons, but let us look at some. First, they were using the time in earth’s history as though it was in a permanent decline. Disregarding what had happened in centuries past and ignorant of what may come in future decades, they were sure that nothing could stop this decline unless drastic actions were taken immediately, some of which were impossible to implement.

The Apostle James had great insight into this idea of predicting the future without any provable evidence. He wrote: “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘f the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise, you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is irrational and egotistical – Dr. Robert R Seyda.1

1 James 4:13-16

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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DID YOU KNOW HE STILL LOVES YOU

I read this story about a nurse who did not identify herself. However, as I read it I was moved by the lesson it was teaching me. I hope it touches you like it touched me.

The nurse said it was a busy morning, about 8:30 when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived at the hospital to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

One of the nurse’s aides took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it might be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. She saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

Upon examining his thumb, she noticed that it was well healed, so she talked to one of the doctors to see if she could get him on his way. The doctor told here to go ahead, so she got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While she was taking care of his wound, she asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, since he was in such a hurry. The gentleman shook his head, “No,” then told her that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

The nurse asked about her health. The elderly gentleman told her that his wife had been in the nursing home for quite a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As they talked, she asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him for over five years.

The nurse thought for a moment, and then said to him with great admiration, “And you still keep going every morning to have breakfast with her even though she doesn’t know who you are?” He smiled as he patted her hand and said, “She may not know who I am but I know who she is. And I plan to do this until the day I die. The nurse had trouble holding back tears as he left. She had goosebumps on her arm, and thought, “That is the kind of love every woman dreams of.”

As I read this I was struck by the enduring love this man had for his wife, and it caused me to wonder what Jesus would say to an angel who asked Him, “Why are you in such a hurry all the time to visit earth again and again?” Could it be possible that He would say to the angel that many of his followers needed His presence to help them get through the day? The angel then might inquire ass to whether or not they knew it each time He visited them. It’s possible, He might say: “No, some of them don’t recognize me anymore, in fact, some haven’t recognized me for many years now.” So the angel might say, “So why then do you keep going?” I’m quite certain that the Master would say, “They might not recognize me, but I know who they are. We used to walk hand-in-hand every day. But then they got busy with other things. So you see, they need me now more than ever and I’m not going to abandon them just because they don’t recognize me anymore. When I told them that I loved them, I said that I would love them for the rest of eternity. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER FIFTEEN (Lesson X)

15:9 Christ also did this so that the non-Jewish people could praise God the Father for the mercy He gives to them. The Scriptures say, “I will profess You among the people of other nations; I will sing praises to Your name.”

Now Paul emphasizes this truth to the congregants of Rome. Instead of the Jews resenting that the Gentiles had been allowed to become part of God’s family, they should be rejoicing and thanking God they had a part to play in the spreading of the Good News. This was a vital part of David’s Song of Praise: “I give thanks to you, ADONAI, among the nations; I sing praises to your name.1 This was not lost on generations of Jews who followed. In fact, in the Targum2 on the Psalms we read: “For because of the miracle and deliverance that You will perform for Your Messiah, and for the remnants of Your people who will remain, all the Gentiles, nations, and tongues will confess and say, There is no God but the LORD, for there is none besides You; and Your people will say, There is none mighty except our God.”3

Several early church scholars give their views. Ambrosiaster points to the 18th Psalm [17th in the Septuagint Version (LXX)]4 that the Gentiles will be admitted to the grace of God in order to receive salvation. Now we hear Paul telling them that this prophecy has come true through the work of Christ.5 In other words, it could not happen until Christ came. Then Chrysostom comments on how we glorify God by manifesting unity. Foremost, it was by mercy alone that the Gentiles were saved. This should cause them to glorify God without any prompting. But even more glory is given to God when both Jews and Gentiles blended their voices together in united praise and worship of the One who redeemed them all. Also, when those He called and redeemed reach out and help those who are struggling to keep up because their burden is so, God gets even more glory.6 And Pelagius makes the point that Paul helps the Jews understand that since it was foretold by their own prophets that the Gentiles would be saved, they should be glad and rejoice that God’s Word has proven to be true. And the Gentiles should acknowledge their indebtedness to the Jews because without them there would have been no Messiah.7

Martin Luther writes that the Apostle Paul is pointing out to the Gentiles, that what the Psalmist said the Jews would do among the Gentiles was by Christ, in that, Christ is now among them and the Gentiles do sing praises to God along with the Jews. As Luther sees it, this is not an improper use of Scripture by Paul, nor is it a contradiction. Furthermore, seeing Jews and Gentiles declare Christ as their personal Savior to the glory of God the Father, is only possible by the work of Holy Spirit.8

For John Calvin, after talking about unity Paul now makes a second point on how God can be glorified among the Gentiles. Paul spends a lot of time on this subject because of its importance. In the opening line of this chapter Paul quote is taken from Psalm 18; which psalm is recorded also in 2 Samuel 22, where no doubt a prophecy is given concerning the Kingdom of Christ. From this, Paul establishes God’s promise of calling the Gentiles. That’s why a confession of thanks to the glory of God should be made among the Gentiles. Calvin notes that singing praises to God is one of the best ways of making Him known among those who’ve never heard of Him before. We can see how true this is today because Christmas carols such as Silent Night are sung in countries, such as Japan, and Christmas is celebrated where Christianity is a small minority. The point is to get the word out about Christ both in word and song.9

John Bengel sees the Psalm quoted by Paul as telling a story of why and how God will be glorified among the Gentiles, as well as, the Jews. Paul asserts God did for the Gentiles exactly what He said He would do in Psalms 18 and 22. In fact, God and Christ were using Paul to do their work among the Gentiles. To put this in simpler terms, Paul uses this Psalm to show that God had all along planned to have His Son bring the Good News to the Gentiles so that they could join the Jews in praising Him.10 In Psalm 22:22. the Messiah announces the name of the LORD to His brothers among the Gentiles. Then in Psalms 18:43. as soon as they hear of Him they bow before Him. Also, in Psalm 117 the Jews invite all tribes and all nations to worship Him. They say: Praise Adonai, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! His grace has overcome us, and Adonai’s truth continues forever. Hallelujah!1112

Jonathan Edwards points out that the verb “confess” used by the KJV, signifies more than merely acknowledging something exists. It implies an establishing and confirming of facts with a personal testimony of an eye-witness, and is done with great esteem and affection.13 No doubt the Apostle John was convinced that this must be expressed with great force and passion: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.14 That’s why Paul told the Corinthians that no one can proclaim from their heart and mind that Jesus is Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit15.16

Adam Clarke takes note of something taught by Jewish Rabbis that he is sure the Apostle Paul knew about and something that the Jewish converts in Rome must have heard taught to them. It comes from their Talmud and speaks of how they have been taught that until they entered the Promised land, no matter what land they lived in it was proper to sing hymns of praise to God for all the miracles He did for them. However, once they entered the Promised Land, it was not considered proper to sing hymns of praise to God for His miracles. But then, when the people of Israel were sent into exile, the other countries they were once again qualified to sing hymns giving praise to God.17 In Clarke’s mind, the Jews were admitting that the Gentiles have a right to glorify God. So based on God’s word, Gentiles were predestined to be made partakers of His grace and mercy.18

On the subject of glorifying God for His mercy, Robert Haldane believes part of Christ’s purpose for coming into the world was that Gentiles, as well as, Jews might glorify God on account of His mercy. In other words, it was not a matter of luck or a last minute decision after the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah. He sees nothing here or anywhere else in Scripture that would suggest that mankind had any chance of meriting salvation by their own works. Salvation is of mercy and grace. In the preceding verse, Paul spoke of God’s truth, here, he speaks of God’s mercy. That which was given as truth to the Jews, having been promised to their fathers, was now mercy to the Gentiles who were allowed to join the children of Israel to participate in the blessings promised to Abraham. This the Apostle proves by the different passages he quotes which declare that the mercy of God was to be extended to all nations. Consequently, both Jews and Gentiles had every reason to love one another rather than to condemn or to despise one another. Why couldn’t they see that they were all united in Christ Jesus as prophesied by the Scriptures? Paul’s message to the Ephesians was certainly clear enough: “He is our peace, who has made us one, and has broken down the wall that divided us.1920

On the hope that the Gentiles would see the merciful goodness of God, Charles Ellicott makes the point that the Jews had their covenant to appeal to, and the attributes of God were most clearly brought home to them in Christianity so that His truthfulness in fulfilling the promises contained in this covenant would be carried out. The Gentiles had no such covenant, and their admission to the blessings of Christianity was an act of pure grace and mercy, which they should thankfully recognize. The Apostle then proceeds to quote from the First Covenant a succession of passages that shined light on the ultimate reception and triumph of the Gentiles through Christ21.22

Jewish commentator David Stern shares his view that Yeshua the Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people. Stern says quite emphatically, “It is not true that Yeshua is the Christian Messiah, while the Jews are waiting for someone else. He is also the Messiah of the Jews. If He is not the Jewish Messiah, the Christians have no Messiah.” Paul focuses on two reasons for Yeshua’s becoming a servant of the Jews: to show God’s truthfulness and to show God’s mercy. God’s truthfulness, faithfulness, and reliability are certain.23 Though some Christians might question this because not all Jews have followed Yeshua, God will still make good on all His promises to the Patriarchs,24 and He will do this through His servant of the Jewish people, Yeshua the Messiah.25

1 2 Samuel 22:50 (See Psalm 18:49)

2 A Targum is a paraphrase of the original text with commentary.

3 Targum of the Psalms: An English Translation by Edward M. Cook, Psalm 18:32

4 Psalm 18:49

5 Ambrosiaster: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

6 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 28

7 Pelagius: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 213

9 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

10 See Hebrews 2:12

11 Psalm 117:1-2 – Complete Jewish Bible

12 John Bengel: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 359

13 See Matthew 10:32; Philippians 2:11

14 1 John 5:1 – Living Bible

15 1 Corinthians 12:3

16 David S. Lovi. The Power of God: A Jonathan Edwards Commentary on the Book of Romans (p. 318).

17 Babylonian Talmud: Seder Mo’ed, Masekhet Megillah, folio 14a

18 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 281

19 Ephesians 2:14

20 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 614

21 Psalm 18:49

22 Charles Ellicott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

23 See Romans 8:31-39

24 Cf. Romans 11:28-29

25 David H. Stern: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

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I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER FIFTEEN (Lesson IX)

Early church preacher Chrysostom speaks on Paul’s confirmation of the promises to the Patriarchs and their application to Christians. When Paul begins by saying that Christ became a servant to the Jewish people, His coming was meant to carry through with what the Law required of Him. He did this by being born of the seed of Abraham and circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. By becoming both God and man, Christ was able to take the curse of condemnation that was on all humankind so that God’s wrath would be neutralized and allow those who were meant to obtain the promises, fit to receive them.1 That way, those forefathers who believed in Him before He came, were now included with those who were eligible then and in the future for all the promises God made to Abraham. Jesus’ coming also met the requirement that they be confirmed by the Messiah. There was no other way for this to happen. If Christ had not come and completed the Law, then neither those of the past, present, or future would have any chance of escaping eternal separation from God.2

Then Augustine comments on why the Gospel was spoken first to Israel. Today we would call this a case of reverse psychology. Paul wanted to remind the Gentiles that the Lord Christ Jesus had been sent to the Jews first, so now that they were also included, there was no reason for them to be proud as though they had accomplished something. Since the Jews rejected God’s message of salvation that was sent to them first, it opened the door for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. We find this clearly explained by Luke when the Apostles told the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia – which is today in southern Turkey: “It was necessary that the Word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you … judge yourselves unworthy … behold, we turned to the Gentiles.3 It also agrees with the Lord’s own testimony, when he said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,”4 and, “It is not right for the children’s bread to be thrown to the dogs.5 If the Gentiles think carefully, they will realize by their own faith, by which they now believe that to the pure all things are pure, that they should not offend those Jewish converts who, perhaps from weakness, dared not to touch certain kinds of meat, fearing that it has been in contact with idols.6

Martin Luther believes that Paul is trying to emphasize to the Gentile believers that they should be grateful to God that Jesus came to the Jews in order to carry out the promise made to the patriarchs so that those who were non-Jews would be included. This would have never taken place if Christ had come into the world as a Roman or Greek or Persian. It had to come through the Jews. Luther points out that the Gentile Christians were not the same as the Jews to whom Christ had been promised, and yet, because they received Him as their Messiah it was guaranteed by a divine promise to Abraham. That’s why Paul told them: “As Christ also received us,” stressing the mercy of God which is given gratuitously. In doing so, he immediately shows in what respect it is mercy that is given so freely.7 In other words, the Gentiles ended up receiving the same offer of divine mercy that was originally promised only to the descendants of Abraham. For this, they should rejoice and be glad to be equal children of God along with the Jews whom they now accept as brothers in Christ.

John Calvin shares a word-picture that he sees in what Paul is describing. He believes that Paul now shows that Christ has embraced us all, so that He leaves no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, except, that He was promised to the Jewish nation first and was in a manner particularly designed for them before He was revealed to the Gentiles. Calvin also believes that Paul’s intention was to put to rest any contention between the Jews and Gentiles by pointing out that Christ had gathered both of them from their miserable conditions to Himself on the cross. He did so that after His resurrection He might bring them into His Father’s kingdom as a shepherd gathers all the sheep as one flock. This was done to unite them into one force to propagate the Gospel to the whole world.8 This high expectation on the part of Paul for unity is certainly praiseworthy, but even he admitted, in several letters, that there was discord even among Gentile Christians in some of the churches. And we can all testify to the fact that even to this day there are still incidents of contention among congregations over such minor things as to which hymnbook they should buy, the location of the organ and piano on the platform, or the color of the carpet in the sanctuary aisles.

John Locke believes that the phrase, “Jesus became a servant to the Jews,” should be placed in parenthesis to give it more emphasis in order to restrain the converted Gentiles in Rome to dismiss those Jews who had joined them by not thinking highly of them. And just as Christ came to be a minister to the Jews, so it is that this same Jesus called him to be a minister to the Gentiles. So this was Christ’s way of reaching to them through the Gospel as preached by Paul.9 We see the same thing today when one person of a particular denomination decides to join another congregation that has somewhat different views. Those who receive them as new members are still not fully convinced that they are real until they denounce their obedience to their old way of interpreting the Bible and pledge their full allegiance to this new way of believing. And in order to do that, they must get saved the right way, baptized the right way, read the right version of the Bible, sing the right hymns, pray the right way, etc., etc.

However, John Taylor does not see how the structure, or sense, of the Greek in Verse 8 would allow for those words that, “Jesus became a servant to the Jews,” to be placed in parenthesis. Also, John Locke suggests that we take the “glory of God,” in verse 7 and connected it with the “truth of God,” in verse 8, followed by verse 9 for a clearer understanding. Doing so would make it read like this: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring glory to God on behalf of God’s truth so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.10 So there was no need to eliminate the Gentiles as part of God plan and think of themselves as having received God’s grace by accident. They were already included as recorded in God’s Word.11

John Bengel has an interesting commentary on this verse. He writes that by this verse the preceding clause concerning the term “Christ”12 is explained – Christ Jesus. Some versions say, Jesus Christ. Those, who have omitted the name Jesus in this passage, seem to have done so in harmony with verses 3 and 7. The terminology, Jesus Christ, and Christ Jesus ought not to be used indiscriminately. Jesus is the name, Christ is the title. As Jesus, He was first made known to the Jews because of His humanity. As Christ, He was introduced to the Gentiles because of His divinity. Therefore, he is called Jesus Christ according to the natural and common order of the words. But when He is called Christ Jesus, by inverting the order of the words, peculiar reference is made to the office of Christ, with somewhat of a more solemn design. And this is especially suitable for the present passage. Sometimes in one place, both arrangements of the words prevail13.14

On the significance of Christ’s coming as a pauper instead of a Prince, Charles Hodge feels this was done to prove the truthfulness or accuracy of what God foretold through the Prophets. Christ clearly showed His humility by not being born as a Prince or Potentate, but as an itinerant prophet to the Jews in order to carry out the gracious promises of God to Abraham. But they were looking for a Prince or Potentate, so they rejected this unknown teacher from Galilee. That’s why the wall between Jews and Gentiles was broken so that now Christ could be preached to them. They received Him as the Divine Savior of the world and the one who opened the door for them to the Kingdom of God. Now, they were united with the Jews on equal terms. When looked at this way, the believers in Rome were furnished the strongest motive for the cultivation of mutual affection and unanimity.15 One way to drive this point home is to consider this: Had the message of Christ not been shared with the Gentiles, neither you nor I would be Christians today. Christianity would have remained a small Jewish sect and joined all the others that exist today in Judaism.

1 Galatians 3:13

2 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 28

3 Acts 13:46

4 Matthew 15:24

5 Ibid. 15:26

6 Augustine: On Romans 82

7 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 213

8 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

9 John Locke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 377

10 Romans 15:7-9 – Using the NIV

11 John Taylor: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 359-360

12 The English term “Christ” is the anglicized translation the Hebrew term “Messiah.” It comes to us from the Greek “Christos” and Latin “Christus.” All three forms of the original word Messiah mean, “anointed.”

13 Romans 15:5-6; Galatians 2:16, note; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; 6:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:9-10. See also 1 Corinthians 3:11 with which compare 1 Timothy 2:5

14 John Bengel: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 358

15 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 673

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I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER FIFTEEN (Lesson VIII)

On the subject of brothers and sisters in Christ treating one another with respect, Robert Haldane first points out that this does not mean to pity them or feel sorry for them. Rather, it means that believers are to accept one another into their fellowship because Christ has accepted them into His fellowship. Christ receives, and has received, all who believe the truth even in the simplest manner. He accepts those who have the lowest degree of faith in Him. That’s why He listened passionately to the burdened father with the afflicted son, who said, “Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”1 Christ receives those who have not been taught many things, especially how to have faith in Him. The most ungodly are saved by Him the moment they believe; Christians are received by Him even after making many mistakes and not following His will all times. Yet, He is willing to forgive and be reconciled with them. So the question now becomes this: If Christ still gives His attention to people in spite of their ignorance in not following His will and doing things their way, ought we not then do the same for our fellow believers no matter how uncomfortable and time-consuming it may be?2

Charles Hodge makes the point that when Paul says to the Gentile believers in Rome that they should receive one another as Christ also received us, he could have said, “you should receive the Jews.” This would have made it clearer that he was exhorting the Gentile converts not to be impatient with their Jewish members. After all, even though they were Gentiles and not part of the commonwealth of Israel, Christ had received them too.3 Perhaps Paul was giving a hint to the Gentile church members that he was converted as a Jew. Then Christ appointed him as an Apostle to the Gentiles. So in a way, Paul was saying, “accept us,”

On the subject of how our receiving one another as Christ received us brings glory to God, Albert Barnes notes that Paul makes it clear here that God redeemed us, called us, chose us, sanctified us, and empowered us in order to promote His honor and glory.4 So now, it’s our turn to promote His honor and glory. Just as Christ has received us in order to promote the glory of God, so we ought to treat one another in the same fashion for the same reason. The exhortation in this verse is directed to a congregation that before their conversion was totally divided on all points pertaining to Jewish rites, rituals, and regulations. Yet, Christ received both groups equally. So in order to enforce this spirit of fellowship between the Jews and Gentiles, Paul proceeds to show, in the ensuing verses, that Christ made reference to both groups in His ministry. He shows this in reference to the Jews Romans 15:8 and to the Gentiles Romans 15:9-12. Thus, he illustrates his argument by using the work of Christ.5

On the subject of Christ’s acceptance of us and how we, in turn, should be accepting of others, Frédéric Godet believes that the compassionate welcome which Christ has given to all the members of His royal Body ought to be perpetually reproduced in the welcome of goodwill and tenderness which they give one to another in all their relationships in life. And if there is some concession to make, some disagreement to overcome, some difference of opinion to allow, or some injury to forgive, one thing ought to help us surf the waves of such inconveniences, is this: We are doing this for the glory of God, who received us in grace through Jesus Christ. Mutual love ought to reign supremely in a church wholly composed of the Lord’s beloved.6

On Paul’s request that the believers in Rome be open and willing to fellowship unconditionally with one another in the same way Christ provided their being able to fellowship with our Father in heaven, Charles Spurgeon explains that Christ did not receive us because we were perfect, or because He could see no fault in us, or because His kindness would cause us to serve Him out of obligation. Absolutely not! It was in spite of our faults, failures, and hopeless condition He welcomed us as His children without our having to prove we were good enough to deserve such an honor. It is in this same manner, and with the same purpose, that we should receive one another.7

H. A. Ironside sums up this portion of Chapter 15 by noting that Paul closes this section with a prayer that the God of patience and assurance will help the saints to become of one mind toward each other. And if they all followed the blessed example of Christ, which he cited, it would unite them in glorifying God, even the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Mind and heart must be in agreement for us to testify that we are saved. And so he exhorts them to receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God. If Christ embraced us in grace – whether weak or strong – to make us ready to glorify our Father in heaven, surely we can be cordial and Christ-like in our fellowship one with another. Again, it is not a question of accepting converts into the Christian family that is the point here, but the recognition of those already in the family.8

On the subject of Paul’s encouragement to be receptive to fellow believers in Christ, John Stott sees what Paul says here as the result of a long, thoroughly reasoned argument involving practical theology about the strong and weak. We find it sandwiched between two cries: Accept them in Romans 14:1, and Accept one another in Romans 15:7. Both are addressed to the whole congregation, although the first request urges the church to welcome the weak brother or sister, while the second urge all church members to welcome each other. Both Paul’s reasoning also involved doctrinal theology. The weak believer is to be accepted since God has already accepted them,9 and the members are to welcome each other just as Christ accepted all of us. Moreover, Christ’s acceptance of us was also in order to bring praise to God.10 The entire credit for the welcome we have received goes to Him who took the initiative through Christ to reconcile all of us to Himself and to each other.”11

15:8 What I’m telling you is that Christ became a servant of the Jews to show that God has done what He promised their great ancestors.

Paul now focuses on the important role Jews were given as a channel through which the Good News would reach around the world, telling even the non-Jews that they too were included in the promise to Abraham of becoming right with God. But what was happening in the church at Rome is something that has haunted the body of Christ and continues to this day. That is, people set their eyes on the historical past instead of the spiritual present and find it hard to accept that the Jews did anything good for the Gospel of Christ. But Jesus made it clear that He was initially sent to bring the good news to the chosen descendants of Abraham before it would spread to the rest of the human race.12

The Jews had this concept that the coming of the Messiah would result in the in-gathering of all exiles; restoration of the religious courts of justice; an end to wickedness, sin, and heresy; reward to the righteous; rebuilding of Jerusalem; restoration of the line of King David; and restoration of Temple service. But Jesus put it this way: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve — and to give His life as a ransom for many.13 This was the message of Peter and John in the Temple: “It is to you first that God has sent His servant whom He has raised up, so that He might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.14 And when Jesus did not follow that pattern, John tells us that they rejected Him as being the Messiah they expected.15 This was echoed by Paul and Barnabas: “We were to preach the Word of God to you first. But because you put it aside, you are not good enough for life that lasts forever. So we will go to the people who are not Jews.16 This of course made some of the Jews hatred and disdain for the Gentiles even more bitter.

But how could this be? Didn’t they recall the wonderful message of the Psalmist: “Sing to ADONAIbless His name! Proclaim His victory day after day! Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples!17 That’s why Isaiah called out: “In the east, honor ADONAIin the coastlands, honor the name of Adonai, the God of Isra’el. From the farthest part of the earth we have heard them sing, ‘Glory to the Righteous One!‘”18 This praise and worship were not meant only as a rallying cry for the dispersed Jews, but also as a witness to the Gentiles around them of the grace and mercy of God.

Jesus hinted at this long before He commissioned Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles when He told His disciples: “I have other sheep which are not from this sheep-pen. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock with one shepherd.19 This then was the message Paul took to the Gentiles: “At one time you were far away from God. Now you have been brought close to Him. Christ did this for you when He gave His blood on the cross. We have peace because of Christ. He has made the Jews and those who are not Jews one people. He broke down the wall that divided them… He made of the two people one new kind of people like Himself. In this way, He made peace. He brought both groups together to God. Christ finished the fighting between them by His death on the cross… Now all of us can go to the Father through Christ by way of the one Holy Spirit. From now on you are not strangers and people who are not citizens. You are citizens together with those who belong to God. You belong in God’s family.20

Paul would go on to tell them, “Let me tell you that the Good News is for the people who are not Jews also. They are able to have a life that lasts forever. They are to be a part of His church and family, together with the Jews. And together they are to receive all that God has promised through Christ.21 And the Apostle Peter shared the same good news with his readers: “You are a chosen group of people. You are the King’s religious leaders. You are a holy nation. You belong to God. He has done this for you so you can tell others how God has called you out of darkness into His great light. At one time you were a people of no use. Now you are the people of God. At one time you did not have loving-kindness. Now you have God’s loving-kindness.22

1 Mark 9:24

2 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 613

3 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 672

4 Cf. Ephesians 1:6

5 Albert Barnes: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

6 Frédéric Godet: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

7 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Harry A. Ironside: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

9 Romans 14:3

10 Ibid. 15:7

11 John Stott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

12 Matthew 15:24

13 Matthew 20:28

14 Acts of the Apostles 3:26

15 John 1:11

16 Acts of the Apostles 13:46

17 Psalm 96:2-3 – Complete Jewish Bible

18 Isaiah 24:15-16

19 John 10:16

20 Ephesians 2:13-19

21 Ibid. 3:6

22 1 Peter 2:9-10

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I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER FIFTEEN (Lesson VII)

On the subject of unity between God and His people and their unity among themselves, Charles Ellicott advises that this is the temperament Paul is wanting so badly for the Roman Christians. The Apostle prays that along with the spirit of steadfast endurance, God will also give them that spirit of unanimity which proceeds from singleness of purpose. At first, there seems to be little or no connection between the God of patience and assurance and being like-minded. However, they are connected through the idea of singleness of purpose. As Rick Warren, our head pastor of Saddleback Church put it so brilliantly in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, by asking, “What am I here for?”1 For Pastor Warren, we were formed to be God’s family. That’s why we need to work on finding out what we can do to protect and promote unity in the church. I like the way he does this by constantly referring to the church as a “Community.” This certainly agrees with Ellicott who says that the person who is wholly dedicated to Christ, and who, in the strength of that dedication is able to endure persecution will also have a close bond of unity with all those who have set the same goals before them.2

On Paul’s call for all Christians to seek harmony with each other, Charles Spurgeon hears Paul saying that if the Roman believers achieved unanimity in striving for each one to become more and more like Jesus, there would be less and less disagreement over things that they see differently. Spurgeon then becomes very emotional when he says: What a blessed harmony there would be if there would not only be harmony in one church, but harmony in all the churches toward each other even as Christ and the Father are one. That is surely what will happen when Christ returns to gather those who are now scattered around the world. But could we ever hope for it to be that way before He comes? Spurgeon says that he’s not sure it can happen, but at any rate, it is something we should all strive for. At least, we can get started by everyone singing in the same key. Just like praise and worship is so much sweeter when everyone is singing the same song in harmony. That way, we can at least be like-minded with one another as we become like-minded with Christ. But not till then.3

John Stott renders Paul’s petition this way: “May … God … give you a spirit of unity … as you follow Christ Jesus.” This indicates that genuine unity among Christians is found only in their unity in Christ. The person of Jesus Christ Himself must be the focus of our unity and, therefore, the more we agree with Him and about Him the more we will agree with one each other. But what is the purpose of being like-minded? It is in order that we may engage in the common worship of God: so that with one heart and mouth we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That way the one mind is expressed through one heart and one mouth. In fact, without this unity of mind about Christ, having unity of heart and mouth in worship is impossible.4

On the subject of unity among believers, Douglas Moo notes that in verse 4 Paul cited endurance and encouragement as two specific traits fostered by the Scriptures that will culminate in hope. He picks up these two words in verse 5 at the beginning of Paul’s prayer to God on behalf of the squabbling Roman believers. Paul prays specifically that God Himself will grant the community the ability to think in harmony.5 In light of his insistence that the weak not change their minds until their own faith leads them to do so,6 it is unlikely that Paul is praying here that all the Roman believers will come to the same opinion on any matter or issue. Rather, he is praying that they may possess a unity of purpose that transcends these differences.7

15:7 That’s why we should accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul knows that the first step in creating harmony and unity is to accept others even though they are not as we want them to be. It is an odd sign for the unconverted when they see Christians argue with one another over the hymns they sing, the translations of the Bible they use, or the way they serve communion and baptize. But here is the big question: If Christ is in them and He is in us, then how do we deal with what Jesus said: “Whoever receives you, receives Me.”8 Wouldn’t it follow then, that if you reject them or they reject you, both of you are rejecting Christ as well? That’s because Jesus also said: “All whom My Father has given to Me will come to Me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me.”9 Remember, this is all covered by the new Law given by Christ: “You are to love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.10

When writing to the Ephesians Paul was moved to express his thanks to God for all that He had done on their behalf: “We thank God for His grace to us. He gave this loving-favor to us through His much-loved Son. Because of the blood of Christ, we are bought and made free from the punishment of sin. And because of His blood, our sins are forgiven. His grace to us is so rich. He was so willing to give all of this to us. He did this with wisdom and understanding… We who were the first to put our trust in Christ should thank Him for His greatness. I pray that your hearts will be able to understand. I pray that you will know about the hope given by God’s call. I pray that you will see how great the things are that He has promised to those who belong to Him.11 Once we realize all that God did through Christ to bring us together under the umbrella of His grace it should motivate all of us to join hands while we gaze at Him instead of staring at each other.

Early church scholar Chrysostom talks about our bonding with each other as a tight-knit group. This is not only to assist the weak, but it will help everyone. If a believer or unbeliever shows no interest in being a close friend with you, accept their reluctance to show love to you, but don’t do the same with them. Rather, display even more love toward them without expecting anything in return. If anything will begin to build a bridge between you, this will. Remember, they are a member of the body of Christ, a brother or sister to you in the family of God. When the other person disconnects with you, stay connected with them but expect it to be a one-way street. They are under no obligation to accept you, but you are under obligation to God not to throw them away.12 And Pelagius also commented that when we help carry a part of a fellow believer’s burdens, we are honoring Christ who carried our burdens to the cross. If our Lord took us upon Himself while we were ungodly,13 how much more should we, who are like one another, support each other who are saved!14

Reformer Martin Luther comments on what he believes Paul meant by God receiving glory when we receive each other equally as brothers and sisters of Christ. For him, this is a wonderful glorification of God in that He is glorified when we have compassion for believers who have made errors and the weak who need help. It is to His glory when He uses us as His helpers. Therefore, this serves His glory, that is to say, it becomes an occasion to Him to manifest His friendliness when we bring people to Him who need to receive a blessing from Him. Therefore, we should not force those who are hardheaded, holier-than-thou, and conceited to come to Him. In them, He cannot glorify Himself because He cannot impart to them any spiritual blessing, since they, as they see it, are not in need of them.15

At this point, John Calvin sees Paul returning to his exhorting the Roman believers to a higher spiritual level. To do that, Paul uses Christ as the best example. For our Lord did not just accept us as individuals, but as part of His Called and Chosen Community and thereby connects us so that we can cherish one another. This is the only way we can confirm our calling, that is, we are to love one another as fellow believers in Christ. We cannot claim to be in Christ if we do not have love one for another. That’s why it will bring honor to God because it was His plan to save us through His Son. Calvin puts it this way: As Christ has made known the glory of the Father in receiving us with favor when we stood in need of love and mercy, so it is expected of us in order to also make known the glory of the same God in establishing and confirming this union which we have in Christ by accepting one another as He did us.16

John Locke takes this as a forecast of what Paul will say later on about believers accepting one another in a mutual friendly manner.17 He points out that Paul uses the same Greek verb proslambanō in verses 3 & 7. It does not appear that Paul was addressing the fact that the converted Jews and Gentiles were having separate communion or that they had services at different times because of the dispute over meats, drinks, and special days. Therefore, Paul was trying to tell them to understand each other and their preferences but continue to fellowship on all points where they hold mutual beliefs, such as Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God, and that salvation came by grace not good deeds and acts of devotion. Paul may have also suggested that when the Jews and Gentiles visited each other in their homes to respect the customs that govern those who live there. So it was a case of Paul telling the Jews and Gentiles to lay aside their differences and to join hands and voices in praising and glorifying God and Christ for their grace, mercy, and salvation.18

Adam Clarke points out that when it came to open arms, Christ led by example and we should follow His example with others. This means, to show them the same cordial affection as Christ did in receiving us into communion with Himself. Not only that, but He blessed us that where two or three of us gather in His name He will be present with them. And as Christ has received us that way to the glory of His Father in heaven, so should we. Jews and Gentiles should cordially receive each other that God‘s glory may be promoted by our harmony and brotherly love.19 I like the way this is expressed by the writer of Hebrews: “So now Jesus and the ones He makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers and sisters.”20

1 The Purpose Driven Life: by Rick Warren, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2002, pp. 320-321

2 Charles Ellicott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

3 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

4 John Stott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

5 New International Version

6 See Romans 14:23

7 Douglas J. Moo: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Matthew 10:40a

9 John 6:37

10 John 13:34

11 Ephesians 1:6-8, 12, 18

12 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 27

13 See Romans 5:6

14 Pelagius: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

15 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 211

16 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

17 Romans 15:7

18 John Locke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 376

19 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 280

20 Hebrews 2:11

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