Dr. Robert R. Seyda



15:12 And Isaiah says, “Someone will come from Jesse’s family. He will come to rule over the nations, and they will put their hope in Him.”

Now, to make sure that both Jews and Gentiles understood that this Messiah could not just appear out of nowhere without any trace of lineage like some mythical spirit, Paul points to what is said about the true Messiah by none other than the prophet Isaiah: “One will come from the family of Jesse. A branch will grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of wise words and strength, the spirit of much learning and the fear of the Lord… In that day the nations will turn to the One from the family of Jesse. He will be honored by the people as someone special to look for.1

Not only was Jesus a descendant of Jesse through David, but this is attested to by the Prophets and the Gospels. And in his vision of the future, the Apostle John recorded this: “One of the leaders said to me, ‘Stop crying. See! The Lion from the tribe of Judah has power and has won. He can open the book and break its seven locks. He is of the family of David.’2 Not only that, but in that same revelation Jesus Himself spoke: “I am Jesus. I have sent My angel to you with these words to the churches. I am the beginning of David and of his family. I am the bright Morning Star.3

Some commentators have misunderstood the “morning star” concept, especially in Judaism. It has nothing to do with the star itself, but what the star represents. As Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenbert says: “Therefore, the basic aspects of the meaning of the concept of the morning star is glory. To receive or to be given the morning star should be understood as a promise of the glorious future, an affirmation of great good yet to come.4 But we also know that the Jews also accepted this same title for Lucifer. But in the writings of the wise man Job, we find a possible clue as to why both the Messiah and Lucifer were referred to that way: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?5 We know that one of the morning stars fell to earth while the other came to earth to redeem those who were led into sin by this fallen angel.6

Not only that but the fallen angel, Lucifer, could not resist the power and authority of the true Morning Star because full control of the earth was given to Him: “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for You to own. The ends of the earth will belong to You.7 And again: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will worship before Him. For the holy nation is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations.8 And through the Prophet Isaiah God foretold the worldwide outreach He planned: “I will also make You a light to the nations, so that men over all the earth can be saved from the punishment of their sins.9

In his message to Mary, the Archangel Gabriel said: “The Lord God will give Him the place where His early father David sat. He will be King over the family of Jacob forever and His nation will have no end.10 Was Gabriel making this up? No, it had been said long ago: “To Him was given rulership, glory and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His rulership is an eternal rulership that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.11 This is why no believer can hear the Gospel just once, or read the Bible through one time and put it back in a box for safekeeping. We must hear God’s Word over and over again because each time the Holy Spirit has something new to reveal to us.

Early church scholar Ambrosiaster talks about Gentiles receiving greater assurance and a surer hope in Christ. He notes that Paul backs up God’s decree with many examples. Why is Christ said to be from the root of Jesse and not from the root of Boaz,12 or of Obed?13 It is because He is said to be the Son of David on account of the kingdom, and just as He was born of God to be a divine King, so also He was born of David according to be a human being. Therefore, from the root of Jesse sprang the tree of David, which produced the branch on which the Virgin Mary was formed, who gave birth to the fruit from which is made the Bread of Heaven.14

Reformer Martin Luther has an interesting way of interpreting this root of Jesse springing up. He explains that the word “root,” refers to the stump itself, which, so to speak, remains after the tree – the fig tree called Israel, has withered, died, and then cut down.15 Out of this stump, nevertheless, grows in a marvelous way to become a great tree. From this “root” came Christ who has spread out into a large Church.16 The term “root” may also be taken to suggest the suffering and death of Christ, who was humiliated so that He became as nothing, and then again was exalted.17 Christ’s suffering and death are thus described by a figure of speech. By doing this, the Apostle removes any reason for the Jewish and Gentile Christians to be at odds with one another. Instead, accept each other as Christ also accepted them. For out of pure mercy He has welcomed not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. Therefore, both have reason enough to glorify God and not fight with each other to see who is number one in God’s eyes.18

Concerning the quote from Isaiah by Paul, John Calvin states that this prophecy is the most illustrious of them all. That is because in this passage, during a time when things were almost past hope, the words given to Isaiah the prophet comforted the small remnant of the faithful by telling them that there would arise a shoot from the dry and dying trunk of David’s family, and that a branch would flourish from his root which would restore to God’s people their once shining glory. It is clear from the account that this shoot or branch was Christ, the Redeemer of the world. And then, he added, that he would be raised for a banner for the Gentiles, that to them would be a sign of their salvation. The Greek text used here in Romans differs somewhat from the Hebrew text in Isaiah. In Hebrew, we read: “He that shall rise to reign” (KJV). while in English it says: “which stands as an ensign” (KJV). The Complete Jewish Bible has this: “He who arises to rule,” and “which stands as a banner.” But what cannot be lost is that in both places He will rise to reign and will stand as a banner for the Gentiles to rally around and follow. But even more, it says that the Gentiles will seek Him out (Isaiah) and put their hope in Him (Romans). That means, that to seek God is to put one’s hope in Him.19

The Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah 11:10 reads as follows: “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.” The Hebrew text reads this way: “And there shall be in that day a root of Jesse that shall stand for an ensign of the people unto the Gentiles who shall seek it and shall be his majestic rest.” So the editor of Calvin’s Commentary says the language of the Prophet must be understood as being metaphorical since the Septuagint translators interpreted it that way. And, since Paul quoted from the Septuagint it is obvious he approved and adopted this interpretation. The Messiah is represented by the Prophet as a general of an army, raising His banner for the nations to see that he is a winner, and the Gentiles rally around his banner for protection.20 There may be many suggestions on what the ensign or banner of the Messiah may be, around which the Gentiles will gather to find rest for their souls, but for me, there is only one and that is the cross of Jesus the Christ.

John Bengel gives us an insightful exegesis of this verse. He notes that Paul has quoted both Moses and David without mentioning their names. But here he mentions the name of Isaiah, whose scroll is part of the section on the Prophets. Any part of that section that is read in the synagogue is called, Haftara, (which means “to conclude”), and this is chanted on the eighth day of the Passover, at the same time of the year at which this Epistle to the Romans seems to have been written. There is little doubt that while Jews considered this to be a reference to the Messiah, Paul clearly identified the Messiah as Jesus of Nazareth.

If we compare the tenth verse in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah with what is said here in Romans 15:12, He is also called the root of Jesse.21 Both Christ’s descent from Royalty and the promised Messiah, He was divinely ascribed to the house of Jesse before it was linked to the house of David, and that descent might have been expected even from another son of Jesse.22 But David was king, not Jesse; and the kingdom of Christ was in some measure hereditary from David,23 in respect to the Jews, but not in respect to the Gentiles. He is, therefore, in these Scriptures from Isaiah and Romans, not called the root of David,

1 Isaiah 11:1-2, 10

2 Revelation 5:5

3 Ibid. 22:16

4 Israel Institute of Biblical Studies: What is the Morning Star in Revelation 2:26-29

5 Job 38:7

6 Luke 10:18

7 Psalm 2:7-8

8 Ibid. 22:27-28 – New Life Version

9 Isaiah 49:6

10 Luke 1:32-33

11 Daniel 7:14

12 See Ruth 2:1-4:22

13 See Ruth 4:17-22; 1 Chronicles 2:12

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

15 Cf. Matthew 21:18-20

16 See John 12:24; Matthew 13:31-32

17 Isaiah 53:2

18 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 213-214

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

20 Calvin: ibid. Footnote [448]

21 See Revelation 22:16

22 See 1 Samuel 16:7

23 Luke 1:32

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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