I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER ELEVEN (Lesson XVII)

Martin Luther says we should not take what Paul says here too casually. The consequence of the Jews not accepting Jesus as the Messiah was the opening of the door for the rest of the world to be invited in. Yet, Luther believes this would have happened whether the Jews accepted Jesus or not, as we learn from what happened with the Apostle Peter in Acts 10:44-48. Luther notes that in this instance we see that the grace of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the heathen Gentiles at which the Apostles, who as yet were not sure of the rejection of the Jews, were greatly astonished.1 In a way, we could say that the rejection by the Jews of Christ, was simply a pause in God’s plan to save them. Rather than waiting for them to get ready before He invited the Gentiles in, like the king in Jesus parable about those who turned down his invitation to the wedding of his son.2 That’s why God commissioned the believing Jews, such as Paul, to go out and spread the Good News among the Gentiles.

John Calvin offers a unique way of looking at this. He agrees that this passage may seem somewhat obscure and perhaps distorted, but in his view, it can be better understood through inductive reasoning. He paraphrases the verse this way: “Since the rejection of the Jews made it possible for the reconciling of the Gentiles with God, how much more effect will it have when they get back into favor with God? Will it not seem as though they have been raised from the dead?” Then Calvin points out that Paul is constantly insisting that the Gentiles not become envious, thinking that if the Jews were restored in their fellowship with God that it would somehow jeopardize or diminish their fellowship with Him.

And furthermore, since God has resurrected life from death and light from darkness, how much more should we hope and pray that He considers that from His own people who, as it were, wholly dead, was able to bring life to the Gentiles. Calvin also feels we must reject that, as some allege, that there is little difference between reconciliation and resurrection. We should understand that resurrection, in the example, Paul is giving here, refers to our reconciliation when we are translated from the kingdom of death to the kingdom of life. Although they are referring to the same principle of giving life, there is more force in the expression of resurrection than reconciliation.3

John Taylor looks at this from a more evangelical perspective. Instead of the Jews being reconciled to God along with the Gentiles, he has us imagine how we would feel about the world being reconciled to God along with us Christians. When we were first reconciled, by being converted to Christianity, we were raised from the spiritually dead to a new life in Christ.4 And the fast approaching dispensation, which Paul is speaking of here in verse 15, will again result in our being raised from physical death into eternal life with Christ. This should help us understand that our future state of being will exceed our present state even more than Christianity exceeds heathenism. It would be a whole new experience in a whole new world if the Jews joined us in praising and honoring Christ as their Redeemer, Lord, and Savior.5 Perhaps Taylor was thinking of the great outpouring of the Spirit in the last days.6 That should excite all of us and create within us great expectation for that day to come.

Jonathan Edwards seems to feel that the term “firstfruits” is represented by the first believers in Christ from among the Jews and then the Gentiles. For Edwards, that would mean that the “whole lump” would be another way of saying the whole world. Paul writes that these things plainly show that the time was coming when all of mankind would be invited into the church. Not only just parts of the Jews and Gentile world. He goes on to say that the exact time for the conversion of the nation of Israel is not known. But we may get some idea from the Scriptures that it will be before the glory of the Gentile church is fully accomplished because it is said that the Jews coming into the church will be as life from the dead to the Gentiles.7 Edwards goes on to say that this event must doubtless be before the millennium begins. That would certainly place it after the Rapture had taken place and the Tribulation was coming to an end.8

On the subject of how the children of Israel died spiritually as a result of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, Paul states that he believed that God would still bring them back to spiritual life so that they too could enjoy the blessings of salvation by grace and not by works, I noticed that neither Calvin, Bengel or Clarke mentioned anything about this bringing to mind the same incident that came to me as I was reading it.

And that is the story of Ezekiel being told to preach to the skeletons lying around in the valley of dry bones.9 After Ezekiel did all that God instructed him to do, this was his last command: “The Lord God says: ‘My people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again and return to the land of Israel. And, then at last, O my people, you will know I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit into you, and you shall live and return home again to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have done just what I promised you.’”10 As we know, this happened in 1948.

Robert Haldane explains how the Gospel was preached to the whole world only after the Jews rejected it. But we must not think of this was the result of an accident. No! It was according to the fixed purpose of God. The wall that separated the Jews from the Gentiles was broken down. The command was given to preach the Gospel to every creature. After the great sacrifice had been offered, it was no longer to be limited to the lost sheep of Israel. The world was to hear the Gospel; that way the Gentiles would receive the grace of God in spite of the unbelief and rejection of the Jewish nation.

However, if the alienation of the Jews was such a blessing to the other nations of the world, certainly their being recalled to God’s favor would be a blessing even beyond that. In fact, it would spark a revival among the Gentile churches around the world, bringing them from a dead and almost lifeless state as though a resurrection had taken place. The numbers that would be converted will be as if all the dead had risen out of their graves. Furthermore, all the prophecies concerning the rejection and restoration of the Jews would be so fully accomplished that no doubt will any longer exist regarding the Divine origin of the Holy Scriptures. It would result in a great light being aimed at those parts of the world that at present are almost forgotten. So by the gracious favor of God, the result would be an unparalleled blessing for both Jews and Gentiles.11

Albert Barnes addresses this subject in his notes. There are some, he says, who suppose that the Apostle Paul is saying that it would take a literal resurrection of the Jews who have already died for such conversion to take place. But there is not the slightest evidence of this. He refers to the recovery of all nations from their state of being spiritually dead that would take place if Israel as a nation were converted to Christianity. Barnes thinks Paul was hoping for conversion of the Jews to the Gospel in his time and expected that their conversion would precede the universal conversion of the Gentiles to the Christian faith.

To Paul, there could be no event that would make such an immediate and decided impression on the pagan world at that time as the conversion of the Jews. They were scattered everywhere; they had access to all races; they understood all languages; their conversion would be like lighting up thousands of lights at once in the darkness of the pagan world.12 I might add that this dream of the Apostle is still a possibility today. And I can think of nothing more profound that would have a greater impact on the world than for Jews everywhere to accept Jesus as their Messiah. It would shake the world as never before. But what will it take? Could it be that after the Jews rejected the Messiah, God shared the Gospel with the Gentiles so that in the last days the Gentiles could be the ones holding the light for the Jews to see? In other words, instead of the Jews being the reason the Gentiles were saved, it will be the Gentiles who will influence the Jews to be saved.

Verse 16: If the first piece of bread offered to God is holy, then the whole loaf must be holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, the tree’s branches are holy too.

Now Paul chooses a new topic to continue the subject of how the Gentiles became part of the family of God that used to belong solely to the Jews. He speaks in Jewish terms of the firstfruit of the harvest. It was not a term he made up, but one that comes from the Torah. In the section on right living, God told the Israelites: You are not to delay offering from your harvest of grain, olive oil, or wine.13 In other words, before you pick any grain for yourselves or to sell, and once you’ve pressed the olives and bottled the olive oil, or stomped the grapes to make wine, I want my share first. This was, of course, to be dedicated to the Tabernacle to facility the worship activities there. In fact, God even told them: “Give a loaf of bread as a gift from the first of your grain. Give it as the gift of the grain-floor. From the first of your grain, you and all your children-to-come must give a gift to the Lord.14 So Paul states that when this bread is brought into the Temple to be offered, any part of it that is offered to the Lord is holy, and this then makes the whole loaf holy.

So, Paul says, if that is true of a loaf of bread made holy by God, it would also be true of a tree dedicated to God’s use. A tree with holy roots would produce a tree with holy branches and, therefore, holy fruit. We find this discussed by the Rabbis concerning trees planted in Jericho. They wrote that the residents of Jericho were permitted to use the branches of carob or sycamore trees which had been consecrated and dedicated to the needs of the Temple. This still allowed for branches which grew later to be used even though they were not present on the tree during its time of consecration.15

We must also understand that the word “root” was often used in the Hebrew as a synonym of the original Patriarch of any tribe, and the branches would be his children and their children. For instance, in Isaiah we read about the Messiah: “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, And a twig shall grow forth out of his roots.16 It was also true of Israel when God brought them into the Promised Land like a vine and planted them there to bear fruit for His glory. This is illustrated in Jeremiah where God said: “I planted you as a choice vine of seed fully tested and true. How did you degenerate into a wild vine for me?17 And of course, Jesus told the disciples that He was the true vine now, and they were the branches.18 These leads to Paul’s illustration about how branches from another vine or tree can be grafted into an existing tree so the fruit will take on this tree’s character.

Let me use another illustration of a more modern genre to help get this point across. Let’s say a rich uncle comes to you and tells you that one of your great-great grandfathers left a large inheritance for his children and grandchildren. You are the next in line to inherit what is left of that inheritance. So he places $10,000 dollars in cash on the table and tells you that as soon as he signs his living will, everything else still deposited in the bank will be yours. Furthermore, since the cash he laid on the table has been proven to be genuine, not counterfeit, that means that all the money still waiting for you is genuine. By this, he has given you a small portion of what remains of a larger amount. So it was that those who were the first Jews to be converted under the ministry of Jesus were a token of the whole Jewish Nation. They were presented to God as a token of all the rest of the Jewish people who would be His as well. Not only that but since the firstfruit of Christ’s labor were proven to be genuine, then all of those yet to be converted will only be those who are genuine.

1 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 160

2 Luke 14:15-23

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

4 See Romans 6:13

5 John Taylor: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 344

6 See Joel 2; James 5 and Revelation 3

7 David S. Lovi. The Power of God: A Jonathan Edwards Commentary on the Book of Romans (p. 249).

8 Ibid. p. 251

9 Ezekiel 37:1-11

10 Ibid. 37:12-14

11 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 534

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

13 Exodus 22:29

14 Numbers 15:20-21

15 Mishnah: Second Division, Mo’ed, Ch. 4, Sec. 8

16 Isaiah 11:1 – Jewish Publication Society Version, 1917

17 Jeremiah 2:21

18 John 15:1-17

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER ELEVEN (Lesson XVI)

F. F. Bruce adds his inspired understanding to what is being said about Paul’s effort to convince the Gentiles to support the outreach to his fellow Jews. This is a personal message Paul is inscribing for his Gentile readers. He may have been told of a situation in the Roman church which called for such an admonition. In any case, Gentile Christians, upon hearing his argument, might so far be inclined to think condescendingly of their Jewish fellow-believers as asylum seekers fleeing the impending doom about to overtake their apostate nation, which would put beyond the limits any possibility that the majority of their nation might yet be saved.

Although he was a Jew by birth, Paul tells them he is first and foremost a Christian Apostle to the Gentiles, and esteemed it an honor to be commissioned to such a very high position. He explains that he was not only carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles, but also to his Jewish brethren as well. He wanted to motivate them to follow the Gentile’s example, as they see them entering into the full enjoyment of the Gospel’s blessings. He wanted to have them ask, “Why should the Gentiles have all these blessings? Why should we not have an equal share in them?” Well, it would be good if they did say so, for these blessings are the fulfillment of their own ancestral hope and promises. They have been waiting for their Messiah to come because that was their greatest expectation. And when the time does come for Israel to claim the same Messiah the Gentiles have embraced with all the blessing He brings, words cannot begin to describe the impact that Israel’s restoration will have on the world.1

John Stott offers some insight on what Paul means when he stated that he “glorifies” (Greek – doxazō) his ministry, devoting himself to it with so much energy and perseverance. It’s all because of what he hopes it will achieve. This is a remarkable statement of his ministerial goals on several counts. First, to characterize his ministry to his own people in terms of making them envious, and to encourage them to come to Christ as a result of such envy. This sounds like stirring up dishonorable motives in both him and them for a good purpose. But this is not so. Not all envy is tainted with selfishness because it is not always a case of stingy discontent or sinful greed, but a desire to improve.

At its base, envy is the desire to claim for oneself something possessed by another, and whether envy is good or bad depends on whether the person has any right to have it and whether they have any right to want it. If what they desire is something evil in itself, or if it belongs to somebody else and they have no right to it, such as another person’s spouse, then the envy is sinful. But if the something longed for is in itself good, a blessing from God, which He intends for all His people to enjoy, then to covet it and to envy those who have it is not at all unworthy. This kind of desire is right in itself, and to arouse it can be a realistic motive in ministry2.3

Douglas Moo points out that while God’s original call to Paul may not have included ministry to both Jews and Gentiles, as “the Apostle to the Gentiles” he became God’s “point man” in opening up the Gentile world to the Gospel. One can, therefore, imagine Gentile Christians citing Paul’s own focus on them as further evidence that God has turned his back on Israel. That’s why Paul makes clear that his ministry to Gentiles does not mean that he is unconcerned about his own people. His ultimate purpose in bringing the Gospel to Gentiles is to arouse Israel to jealousy so that in the end some of them might yet be saved.4

Jewish theologian David Stern gives his thoughts on the subject. He hears Paul saying, “I, Paul, make a point of letting Jewish people know about my ministry, in the hope that somehow I may make some of my own people jealous of saved Gentiles, and by this roundabout method, as an indirect byproduct of my ministry to Gentiles, save some of them too.”5 Stern goes on to note that Paul is not saying that he can by himself save anyone, for Yeshua the Messiah does that. Rather, Paul, by obeying God, is participating in God’s work to save everyone He can. One hears little these days about this principle of evangelism.

Most Christians do not have a ministry to Jewish people, so they suppose that they have no particular responsibility toward them. They are rarely encouraged to make their ministry to Gentiles known among Jews as a way of provoking them to jealousy, the way Paul is doing. Paul is very discreet about what he hopes to accomplish — he has the hope that somehow he may make all of them envious so that some of them might be saved. Actually, he spent considerable time among Jews and in at least one instance, in Rome, the very city to which this letter was written, he seems to have had, a few years later, a notable evangelistic success with them6.7

Another Jewish writer adds that Paul is making it clear that his ministry is within the context of the faith of Israel and comes from concerns for the Jewish community. The jealousy and imitation he speaks of, is not of Jews being jealous of the salvation of Gentiles, but of his ministry to the Gentiles. Their envy must not be based on any of the following:

  • There is every reason that the Jews should be jealous of any other faith (conversion) issues outside of the Torah-based faith of Israel.

  • It might suggest to the Jews that they are no longer the people of God unless they convert to a new (Gentile) religion.

  • It does not reflect the view of Jewish prophetic promises being fulfilled, and, therefore, will not achieve Paul’s intended goal.

What Paul is hoping for is that these Jews will be jealous of his ministry bringing Gentiles in great numbers into the faith of Israel, as foretold by the prophets. The turning of Gentiles from paganism to the faith of Israel would be cause for celebration, as this would be a Messianic fulfillment of prophecy.8 Paul’s letter becomes very focused toward the Gentiles in the congregation from this point forward. The above verse is overlooked when people speak of “Paul being the Apostle to the Gentiles.” Here, Paul makes clear that he regards his ministry to the Gentiles to be in the service of Israel’s redemption. Israel is still the chief goal of God’s will for salvation. The underlying message is that the Gentiles should view their mission in a similar fashion.9

Verse 15: Furthermore, if by throwing the Jews aside means that God became friends with the other people in the world, how much more will their accepting Him mean. It will be like bringing people to life after death.

The best friends, sometimes, are those that were once enemies. Paul sees the same truth operating here. By the Jews belligerently sticking to Law and works to gain salvation instead of taking God’s offer of grace and mercy, they forced the Most High to go looking for others who might be interested in becoming part of His Kingdom. Therefore, God became friends with the Gentiles. But Paul’s conjecture here is this: If God can love and care for those who were outside the family of Abraham, how much more would He be willing to love and care for those inside the family of Abraham who would come back and say, “Lord, I’m sorry?” Just as any father would be pleased if children from another family took his advice on how to conduct themselves while eating out at a restaurant, how much more pleased will he be if his own children take the same advice.

So Paul is teaching that God is in the reconciling business. First, reconciling with the world, and then with His people the Jews. Paul explains this to the Corinthians when he told them: “God is the One Who brought us to Himself when we hated Him. He did this through Christ. Then He gave us the work of bringing others to Him. God was in Christ. He was working through Christ to bring the whole world back to Himself. God no longer wanted to hold men’s sins against them. And He gave us the work of telling and showing men this.”10

He wrote a similar message to the Ephesians: “Everything in heaven and on earth can come to God because of Christ’s death on the cross. Christ’s blood has made peace. At one time you were strangers to God and your minds were at war with Him. Your thoughts and actions were wrong. But Christ has brought you back to God by His death on the cross.11 But I have a feeling that when Paul wrote this his mind was not only on the non-Jews who had come to know Christ as their Savior but also with a deep longing that many of his fellow Jews would also come to Him and find peace for their souls.

We see what all of this means to early church scholars if Paul is able to persuade his fellow Jews to join him in his Christian faith. For instance, Ambrosiaster sees this from a purely spiritual perspective. He believes Paul worked hard for the conversion of his fellow Jews because, if for nothing else, it would remove the handicap of their spiritual blindness. Of course, once that was removed they could see that their sins were forgiven by the free grace of God.12 And Pelagius offers something to think about. He asks rhetorically, “What was the occasion for the reception of the Gentiles into the family of God except that they came to life because of the removal of the Jews?

On the other hand, it may mean from among all those of the Jewish nation that were removed, Christ and the Apostles where chosen to bring the message of eternal life to the Gentiles. Or possibly it may mean that those Christ set free from sin and death served as an example for us to have life in Him.13 Then Bishop Theodoret offers his insight. He asks us to note how diplomatically Paul phrases his statements. On the one hand he teaches those who already believed and received salvation through repentance not to think too highly of themselves, and on the other hand he extends a hand to those Jews who had not yet believed and received salvation through repentance not to think too lowly of themselves.14

1 F. F. Bruce, On Romans, Vol. 6, p. 212

2 Psalm 37:4; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1, 39; Philippians 2:13

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

4 Douglas Moo: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

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

6 Acts of the Apostles 28:24-25

7 Stern: ibid.

8 Zechariah 8:23; Isaiah 54:2-3

9 Messianic Bible: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

10 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

11 Colossians 1:20-22

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

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

14 Theodoret of Cyr: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

POINTS TO PONDER

silhouette-man-top-mountain-sunset-conceptual-sce-scene-48015806

While searching for the original source of a quote I was planning to use, I came across this poem written for Mothers Day. And when I looked closer, I discovered that the Magazine I was looking at was published in the same month and same year of my birth. As I started to read the poem, I begin to wonder if my Mom felt the same way about me, her first-born son. Although my Mom is no longer with me here on earth, I knew her well enough that I could accept what the writer of this poem penned the same what my mother would have said in her prayer to God.

Because I am a mother
Help me not to ask one excessive favor
Of this child given to me.
Teach me instead the way
To pay my debt
To one young boy
Who, in his mother heart
Will have the faith there needs to be.
Teach me to seek no small return
For what I have to give.
Better, that unrequested
His smallest thoughts of me
Will be born – and longer live.
He is my blessing – teach me that –
It’s not me, but him!
Teach me to say,
“Make me worthy, God,
Of this, my son,
Every day!”1

I can only pray that when my mother closed her eyes for the last time, she was happy with what God had done in her little boy’s life and that it pleased her as well as the Lord. But this poem is not just about me, it can also apply to you. So on this Mothers day ask yourself if your Mom could repeat the same thing the writer of this poem expressed. If so, then you are blessed, and I’m sure your Mom will feel blessed too. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1 Mother’s Prayer by Clara Hood Rugel, Good Housekeeping Magazine, May 1938 – Redacted by Robert R Seyda.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

christian-love-symbol-vector-drawing-represents-design-30448883

FOLLOW THE SCRIPT

I read this article by Roger Darlington, a British portfolio worker, specializing in consumer affairs and the communications industry, and having enjoyed seeing the same movie he did, I could relate very well to what he was saying. He wrote that his all-time favorite film is “Lawrence Of Arabia,” starring Peter O’Toole. And one of his best-loved scenes from the movie takes place in the hot Nefud desert. The crossing of the Nefud desert was considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can conquer the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.

Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this outdoor furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim’s death is “written.” However, Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive. The Arab leader, Sherif Ali, admits to him: “Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it.”

As an impressionable teenager, Darlington was awed by Lawrence’s courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew laying unseen the vast expanse of a fiery terrain. But he was moved most by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as “written” but to shape his own destiny. This sense of anti-determinism and this belief that anything is possible had stayed with him and continues to inspire him in large and small ways.

Sometimes, people tell us that what we’re planning to do because it needs to get done is impossible. All that they’ve heard, seen, or experienced showed them that it can’t be accomplished. That’s when we too need to let them know that while many things that happened in our lives were written by others, like our parents, our teachers, our friends, there comes a time when we need to write the script ourselves.

And for that, we need God’s help because if it is His will, then we know it can happen. The prophet Jeremiah required a plan to get through a difficult and trying time, so he went to his Divine Father, and God told him that He already had the plans Jeremiah needed and that they were to make things better, not worse.1 Perhaps the prophet remembered the words of the wise King Solomon who stated that while a person may have a plan in their heart where they want to go, God will show them every step to take in order to get there.2 That’s why the Apostle Paul could say for certain if you love God and know His purpose for your life, everything will work out just fine.3

So the next time someone tells you that their mother, brother, or friend tried that and it didn’t work, just tell them you are following a different script that God helped you to write for yourself. Not only that, but when God shows you what He wants for you to do, or be, or where to go, He will not confuse you by changing His mind. And just to prove that He keeps His word, He took an oath never to let you down.4 – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1 Jeremiah 29:12

Proverbs 16:9

Romans 8:28

Hebrews 6:17

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER ELEVEN (Lesson XV)

But how does the Apostle Paul magnify his office? By boasting that he, after the rejection of the Jews, is preaching the riches of Christ to the Gentiles? If through his office the Gentiles receive such glorious gifts, which are taken from the Jews, does this truly and solemnly prove the glory of his Gospel ministry? Or is it that by this the Jews will be moved with zeal to seek the riches of the ministry God gave him?1 This sort of reminds me of when a mother bakes some brownies and tries to give it to her son but he shows no interest. So then she gives them to the neighborhood kids who grab and eat them with enthusiasm. It isn’t long before the son is grabbing the tray away from them and saying, “They are mine!” Nothing would have pleased Paul more than if the Jews began to plead with him to hear the Gospel of their Messiah.

John Calvin offers his understanding of the point Paul is making here. For him, Paul confirms, by strong reasoning, that the Jews will lose nothing because the Gentiles are so blessed as long as they return again to favor with God. Paul, thereby, shows that the salvation of both is so connected that by one and the same means both can be promoted. So this is Paul’s message to the Gentiles: Though I have been called, in particular, to be your Apostle, and ought, therefore, with special care seek your salvation, with which I am charged, and to omit, as it were, all other things, and to labor for that only, I will nevertheless faithfully discharge my office by gaining for Christ any of my own nation. This will not only be the glory for my ministry but also good for yours.2

John Bengel makes the point that Paul is not expecting the Gentile members of the church in Rome to be elated by the fact that the same grace given to them was also available to the Jews. Rather, He wants them to know how elated he is, after being called as an Apostle to the Gentiles, to also be given the privilege of sharing the Good News with His fellow countrymen, the Jews.3 The same is true today. The powerful message of the Gospel was not given to just one church or denomination to hold onto as though it was theirs alone to interpret and only share with those they preapproved of before accepting them into their fellowship. It was meant for the whole world, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, regardless of race, ethnicity, or color of their skin. To treat the Gospel any other way is an insult to the One who sent it and the One who died to give it the power to save.

Adam Clarke advises us that these two verses should be read in parenthesis between verses 12 and 15. Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, wished to show them the high pinnacle of glory and blessedness to which they had been raised that they might experience a deep sense of God‘s mercy in calling them to salvation. But even more, that they might be jealous of their position in Christ lest they should fall as the Jews had done before them. And Paul dwells particularly on the greatness of those privileges which the Gentiles had now received, that he might stir up the minds of his countrymen to emulation, and that might be the means of saving some of them.4

Clarke goes on to say that Paul desired to magnify his office to show how much he honored the ministry given to him by Christ. In so doing, the Apostle simply means that he does justice to his ministry, by stating the glorious things which he was commissioned to preach among the Gentiles: blessings which the Jews by their obstinacy had forfeited. So now that the Gentiles were safely part of the Last Covenant, why not rejoice that the Jews were being invited to come in as well.5

Robert Haldane focuses on Paul’s message to believing Gentile on how their salvation was God’s way of dealing with the Jews. They could see that they were largely blessed with the Gospel when it was rejected by the Jews, but they will be blessed with it to an unspeakably greater extent when the Jews return to faith in Christ. Paul was no doubt the Apostle to the Gentiles, and by making this prediction with regard to the Gentiles’ role in the possible restoration of the Jews, he, thereby, magnifies his office.

He addresses himself particularly to those in the church at Rome, who were Gentiles. For as he had been appointed their Apostle, he was desirous to commend his ministry among them, to assert the honor of his commission, and to prove its great importance in imparting to them the knowledge of the Gospel. He shows, with regard to the Gentiles, that its value was enhanced in proportion to the great number of Gentiles who will be saved. In this view, it is should be of particular interest to the Gentiles that the Jews should be brought back, and this should increase their own efforts for their conversion.6

Albert Barnes also speaks about this same topic. By Paul showing that the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles, that the barrier between them and the Jews is to be broken down, that the Gospel may be preached to all people, he showed that the office he holds proclaims this as one of its great honors. A minister may not magnify himself, but he may magnify his office. He may esteem himself as less than the least of all saints, and unworthy to be called a servant of God,7 yet he may feel that he is an ambassador of Christ, entrusted with a message of salvation, entitled to the respect due to a diplomat, and to the honor which is appropriate to an emissary of God. To unite these two things constitutes the dignity of the Christian ministry.8

H. A. Ironside believes that since Paul was the called Apostle to the Gentiles, he had every right to magnify his office. But he did not want the Gentiles to think for a moment that he had somehow lost his interest in Israel’s salvation. Rather, he wanted to see the Jews stirred to such emulation that many might be saved from among them as they saw the grace of God going out to the Gentiles. On the other hand, he would not have the Gentiles glory over the Jews because the latter was set aside and the former enjoyed the blessings that the Jew would have had, had they only been ready to receive them.9

Charles Hodge also sees Paul’s statement here as having a very personal feeling. That’s because these two verses contain a passing remark relating to the Apostle’s own emotions and mode of acting in reference to the subject in hand. His readers were not supposed to think that just because he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, his labors had no reference to the Jews, or that he was unconcerned about their salvation. This passage is, therefore, connected with the last clause of verse 12 in which Paul mentioned that the conversion of the Gentiles was adapted and designed to bring about the restoration of the Jews.”10

Hodge believes that Paul wanted the Gentiles to realize that the restoration of the Jews would in no way jeopardize their position in God’s Kingdom. Therefore, there should be no reason for them not to support such an effort. Hodge feels this is the reason why Paul desired the spiritual rebirth of the Jews. If the two events involving the salvation of the Gentiles and conversion of the Jews were found to be intimately related, there would be no grounds for ill feelings on either one’s part. The Gentiles need not fear that the restoration of the Jews would hurt their chances with God. This would be to think that the happiness of one would jeopardize that of the other.11

Charles Spurgeon also has some interesting thoughts on this subject. For him, the dignity that God gives to His servants is bestowed upon their office, not something on them individually apart from their office. They must never run away with it into daily life and think that they can call themselves “reverend,” simply because their Lord is equally revered. Also, they have no reason to claim the same serious attention for their own thoughts which they rightly demand for the Word of the Lord.12 What Spurgeon is saying here is that some ministers feel that their ideas and opinions on the subject of politics, sports, or finances are superior to others just because they are called, “Reverend.” However, the Apostle Paul was wanting the Gentiles to know that his desire to see the Jews come into the fold was not due solely to his being a Jew or that he was called an Apostle of Christ, but of his being a chosen carrier of the Good News to those who were lost.

Frédéric Godet shares his view on what Paul was trying to say here. He begins by asking: “What does Paul understand when using the expression: ‘I magnify my office?‘” These words might be applied to the defenses which he was constantly obliged to make of his Apostleship. But instead of this being seen as contributing to his effort to bring the Jews to the faith, such claims would only embitter them. It is, therefore, only the zeal and dedication displayed by him in the service of his mission that the Apostle is thinking. To magnify his ministry as the Apostle of the Gentiles is to convert as many heathens as possible. When understood this way, Paul would be saying that it all had to do with expanding his office as an Apostle, not only to go to the Gentiles but also to the Jews.

So could it be that Paul is telling everyone that he will try in every way possible to awakening his own people from their passivity, whom he loves as his own flesh, should it only be by jealousy, even as he attempts to reach as many Gentiles as possible? Here, as in Romans 11:11, he uses the expression which Moses employed (see verse 19). No doubt he does not deceive himself; he does not take the conversion of Israel en masse as a possibility before the end times. But he would like, at least, to be instrumental in saving some of them as first-fruits of the harvest yet to come.13

Charles Ellicott hears Paul saying something like this: I am talking to you Gentiles. It is you who will benefit if the Jews are restored. And that’s the real reason why, as Apostle of the Gentiles I make the most of my office. I do it in order to create a dream for my own countrymen, knowing that the effects of their rejection can still lead us to the happiest consequences of their readmission to the kingdom of God. For their end will be as their beginning was. They began as the chosen people of God, and the conclusion of it will be the same only more glorious.14 Would we not feel the same today if all the atheist, secularist, and verbal critics of the church were to suddenly turn and be saved, and join us in declaring the glory of the cross, the power of the Gospel, and the joy of everlasting life? I believe we all would.

1 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 159-160

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

3 John Bengel: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 331

4 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 219

5 Clarke: ibid., p. 220

6 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 533

7 Ephesians 3:8

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

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

10 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 566

11 Hodge: ibid., p. 567

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

13 Frédéric H. Godet: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER ELEVEN (Lesson XIV)

Bible scholar Albert Barnes goes on to say that it is easy to see that if the Jewish people should be converted to the Christian faith, they would have facilities for spreading the truth, which the Church has struggled to maintain. First of all, they are scattered throughout the world and have access to all people. Second, their conversion, after such a long period of unbelief would have all the power and influence of a miracle performed for all nations to see. It would be seen why they had been preserved, and their conversion would be a most striking fulfillment of the prophecies. Thirdly, their familiarity with the languages of the world, and their conversion would at once establish many Christian missionaries in the heart of all the kingdoms of the world. It would kindle thousands of additional lights in all the dark parts of the earth. Fourthly, the Jews have shown that they are eminently suited to spread the true religion.

It was by Jews converted to Christianity that the Gospel was first spread throughout the Roman and Greek empires. Each of the Apostles was a Jew, and they have lost none of the eagerness, enterprise, and zeal that always characterized their nation. Their conversion would be, therefore, to give to the church a host of missionaries prepared for their work, familiar with all customs, languages, and climates, and already in the heart of all nations, and with facilities for their work already available, which others must gain only by the slow toil of many years. It sure sounds like something we could join Dr. Barnes in praying for.1

Henry Alford makes the point that it must be noticed, that the fact of Israel being the chosen people of God, lies at the root of this whole argument. Israel is the nation, the covenant people – the vessel of God’s gracious purposes to mankind. As a nation, Israel is not positioned to receive God’s favor. However, that imposition has been accompanied by an outpouring of God’s riches of mercy on the Gentiles; not as rivals to Israel, but still considered as further from God, formally and nationally, than Israel. If then the disgrace of Israel has had such a blessed accompaniment, how much more blessed it would be if Israel were stationed as a lighted torch of praise in the midst of the earth, and the glory of the nations!2

Karl Barth also addresses this tandem between the Jews’ loss and the Gentiles’ gain. He says that God has used their present alienation to make known His riches of grace toward the Gentiles, and this, in turn, will eventually be used to provoke Israel to jealousy and to turn them back to the God of their forefathers and to the Christ whom they have rejected. This recovery will be a means of untold blessing to that part of the world which has not yet come to a saving knowledge of the Gospel. With holy enthusiasm, Paul exclaims: “If their trespass means riches for the world and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?” It is interesting to note how Paul uses the term “fullness,3 further on in this chapter.

Thayer in his Greek Lexicon says that this word not only means when something is filled but here, in this case, it means, “that by which a loss is repaired.” In other words, when a part that has been missing is finally found and put back into place, just like the lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle. This then refers to the fullness of Israel will be the conversion of Israel – the fulfillment of God’s purpose for their very existence. This should help better understand the use of this word “fullness” in reference to God’s appointed time for the arrival of His Son upon the earth.4

On the subject of the fate of the Jews, one Messianic writer says that the Jews, who do not yet accept Yeshua, have not permanently fallen; according to the Apostle Paul they are still “stumbling.” Although they are considering Paul’s message about Yeshua, they are wavering. Their faith is weak in that they are missing the goal of Torah,5 by not accepting Yeshua. This idea of “weak” versus “strong” faith will be important in understanding chapters 12-15. The fate of the Gentiles is intertwined with Israel’s. Paul explains how the Jew’s current unbelief has evolved as part of God’s merciful plan to use the hardening of some of Israel, in order to bring salvation to the Gentiles, which in turn should lead more of Israel into accepting Yeshua. Paul states that even though blessings come to the world from this acceptance of Yeshua on the part of but a portion of Israel, there will be even greater blessings when more of Israel comes to faith. Therefore, the Gentiles’ goal ought to be a consideration for and the help of those Jews who do not yet believe.6

Verses 13-14: However, to you who are not Jews, let me tell you this: The fact that I am an Apostle to non-Jewish people is something I consider to be of the highest honor. So while I have that work, I will do the best I can in hopes that I can somehow make my own people jealous. In doing so, perhaps I can help some of them to be saved.

Paul now shares with the non-Jews the two burdens that he carries because of the Jew’s failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. One is for them and the other for his own people. The one he has for the Gentiles he received by the word of the Lord,7 and the one for the Jews he bore as having been one of them and even persecuted the believers in Christ, especially the Messianic Jews.8 In fact, Paul had a special commission from Jesus when they met on the road to Damascus, the one he shared in his testimony before King Agrippa: “I will keep you safe from the Jews and from the people who are not Jews. I am sending you to these people. You are to open their eyes. You are to turn them from darkness to light. You are to turn them from the power of Satan to the power of God. In this way, they may have their sins forgiven. They may have what is given to them, along with all those who are set apart for God by having faith in Me.”9

Yet he would not be sidetracked from his mission to the non-Jews, for he felt that it had a special purpose in God’s plan for the world. Paul told the Galatians: “God chose me before I was born. By His loving-favor He called me to work for Him. His Son was to be seen in me. He did this so I could preach about Christ to the people who are not Jews.10 Paul was so impressed with this mission that he made a special trip to Jerusalem to speak to the leading council of the church.11 Paul had no doubt but that he had been chosen to be a vital part of God’s mission to save the world. He told young Timothy: “He wants all people to be saved from the punishment of sin. He wants them to come to know the truth… This is why I was chosen to be a teacher and a missionary. I am to teach faith and truth to the people who do not know God.12

But Paul saw more beyond God’s effort to reach out to the Gentiles in a gracious and compassionate manner, and that was to use that news as a way to wake up the Jews who thought they had gotten rid of Jesus and kept their religion under their own control. God wanted them to say: This can’t be happening to us, how could we have missed such a golden opportunity; how could we have been so blind? In other words, the good Lord wanted to provoke them into action so that they would not be passed over. In fact, Paul wanted husbands and wives to demonstrate this same attitude that God was showing for the disobedient Jews.13 Paul goes so far as to say that whatever moral and useful tactic it takes to win over an unbeliever, consider the possibilities before you reject it.14 On a personal note, that’s why I have read the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Jehovah’s Witnesses Magazines, and “Jesus Only” material, etc., so that I can speak intelligently with them.

Early church scholar Ambrosiaster shares his impression of what Paul says here. Paul is showing the Gentiles how much he loves his fellow Jews. For he does not try to hide the fact that his ministry is that of an Apostle to the Gentiles. He is only praying that by loving his own people he wins them to the faith as well. For he is more honored still if he wins to eternal life those to whom he has not been sent. For he who finds his lost brothers will have the greatest honor with his parents.15

What Ambrosiaster points out here is one thing that is lacking in many Personal Evangelism courses today, and that is how one learns to win the lost by starting with their own family. But too often, those who try to win their parents and siblings start out with a perceived position of superiority and witness as though speaking down to them. Think of it this way: If you have discovered a new way to lose weight or found a fabulous new wrinkle-remover, or they just can’t believe how much younger you look with the new anti-aging supplement you are taking, your enthusiasm and joy are often enough to get them to try these things for themselves. It’s the same way with testifying about your newfound life in Jesus Christ, and all the love, joy, and peace it brought into your life. Instead of blaming them for being wrong, show them how fortunate they can be in being right.

Apparently, that’s how Paul felt about his brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith. As Origen puts it, by Paul’s attentive care and close attention to the teaching of the Gentiles and by making their behavior worthy of eternal life, Paul is inviting and urging the Jews, his kinsmen according to the flesh, to imitate those who are progressing in the faith of God. It is the glory of his ministry that he can use the teaching of the Gentiles to reach some of his own people as well.16

And Bishop Theodoret gives his own point of view on how he understands Paul efforts here to reach his own people. For him, Paul evangelized the Gentiles out of necessity, addressing himself to them and showing that the prophets had predicted this many centuries before.17 His aim was to make the Jews jealous and thus encourage some of them to come to salvation also.18 However, Martin Luther sees a possible personal bias in Paul’s highlighting the rejection by the Jews of the Gospel and the opening of the door to the Gentiles so that the sacrifice of Christ may not be in vain. The Apostle Paul preached to the Jews and was rejected.19 Therefore, he amplifies the importance of his office among the Gentiles in order that the Jews might be provoked into wanting the same. For what we despise when offered to us, we commonly esteem when others take it because we respect them, and we respect their choices.

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

2 Henry Alford: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 100

3 See verse 12 in the King James Version or Lexham English Bible

4 Galatians 4:4

5 Romans 10:4

6 Messianic Bible: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

7 Acts of the Apostles 9:15

8 Ibid. 22:19

9 Ibid. 26:17-18

10 Galatians 1:15-16

11 Ibid. 2:2, 7-9

12 1 Timothy 2:4, 7

13 See 1 Corinthians 7:12-16

14 Ibid. 9:20-21

15 Ambrosiaster On Romans, op cit., loc cit.

16 Origen: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

17 See Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 66:19; Malachi 1:11

18 Theodoret of Cyr: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

19 Acts of the Apostles 13:46

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

elgreco_paul154x200

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER ELEVEN (Lesson XIII)

Jewish theologian David Stern shares an interesting perspective on the rejection of the Jews from his point of view. He tells us that it has been a traditional Jewish belief that the righteous of all nations have always had a place in the world-to-come, and, therefore, Christianity was an unnecessary invention of some misguided Jews of that day. However, they do give it credit for helping to lead many Gentiles out of idolatry toward serving one God. Nevertheless, it does not lead them to spiritually worshiping the One True God because it teaches that God became a man. Moreover, because of this view, Jews consider Christianity not only as unnecessary for Jews, but a potential problem since it tends to lead them away from their more perfect faith in the Lord their God, the One Living God.1

Stern then shares from his personal experience by saying that he has dealt with these arguments at various places in his writings before. For example, in commenting on John 14:6 he pointed out that Yeshua is the only route to righteousness for Jews as well as for Gentiles so that monotheism which excludes Yeshua as the Messiah is a mistaken concept. It is a fact that first century Gentiles, as a rule, did not know, fear, or obey God.2 As such, they did not meet the Jewish criterion for having a place in the world-to-come, so that if the Gospel had not been proclaimed to them, very few of them would have received deliverance. It is pointless to speculate how God might have brought them that deliverance, had the leaders and the majority of Israel obeyed the Gospel when it was first offered. What we do know is that God did, in fact, use Israel’s disobedience as a means, causing Messianic Jews (notably Paul, see verse 13) to evangelize Gentiles as well as Jews, and we know that many Gentiles responded positively.3

British theologian Dr. Gerald Bray gives us a good summary of what Paul was dealing with here. For him, the Jews have stumbled, but they have not fallen away completely. Moreover, God has used their tragedy for good because the gateway of salvation was opened to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were shown mercy because of the stumbling of the Jews, but they must be careful not to boast. The Jews were branches on the divine olive tree by nature, but because of their unbelief, they have been broken off. The Gentiles have been grafted in from a wild olive tree, but it follows that if they turn away from Christ, they too will be removed because they did not belong there in the first place. Early church scholars recognized that Paul was humbling both Jews and Gentiles in different ways, and was being warned against presumption on the goodness of God.”4

Verse 12: Yes, their mistake brought rich blessings to the world – that is, what they temporarily lost resulted in rich blessings coming to the non-Jewish people. So surely the world will get greater blessings when the Jews as a nation are finally repaired and become the kind of people God always wanted them to be.

No matter how sad and irresponsible it may be that the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, it created a second Passover whereby salvation by grace passed over them to the Gentiles. For Paul, he considered this a rich blessing for the world-at-large. Even as he sat in prison, he wrote the Ephesians: “Of all those who belong to Christ, I am the least important. But this loving-favor was given to me to preach to the people who are not Jews. I was to tell them of the great riches in Christ which will never come to an end.”5 Too bad that the Jews did not recognize the Messiah and say with Isaiah: “I thank you, Adonai, because, although you were angry at me, your anger is now turned away; and you are comforting me. See! God is my salvation. I am confident and unafraid; for Yah Adonai6 is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation!7 They had also ignored Isaiah’s pronouncement: “Arise, shine [Yerushalayim], for your light has come, the glory of Adonai has risen over you.”8

When it comes to how the Gentiles benefited from the Jews lack of faith, early church scholar Origen tells us to consider the wisdom of God in all of this. For with Him not even the sins and backslidings of the Jews was enough to stop His effort to save all who are lost. But whenever someone rejects freedom of their own accord, God has the license of divine wisdom to take the riches of the faith they discard and give it to those who are poor in spirit. Now indeed, until all the Gentiles come to salvation the riches of God are concentrated in the multitude of believers, but as long as Israel remains in its unbelief it will not be possible to say that the fullness of the Lord’s portion is still theirs. The people of Israel are still missing from the complete picture. But when the fullness of the Gentiles has come and Israel is brought to salvation in Christ at the end of time, then it will be those called the children of God long ago who will, at last, be given the complete fullness of their portion of the Lord’s inheritance.9

Chrysostom gives us some insight by saying that even if the Jews had fallen a thousand times, the Gentiles would not have been saved had they failed to put their faith in Christ. Likewise, the Jews would not have been abandoned had they not been so unbelieving and contentious. Here Paul is consoling the Jews in their distress, giving them a reason to be confident of their salvation if they would only be willing to change.10 Pelagius adds another thought to this understanding, and that is, if the transgression of the Jews benefits all of us to the extent that without the works of the law we were made coheirs with them, and, if the few Jews who did believe caused all of us to be offered salvation, then how much more could they benefit us with instruction if they all come to believe, to begin with?11

So, just as Jesus rose again from physical death, likewise Paul declares that the Jews, as a people, will rise again from spiritual death. Martin Luther puts it in his perspective by saying that Jesus the stumbling-block did not cause the Jews to fall just for the sake of showing the error they had made. Rather, they fell so that God could raise them up again in the same manner as the Gentiles, who were already fallen, were raised. This is illustrated in the death and resurrection of Christ and baptism. Even though they refused the love He showed by sending His Son with the message of salvation, still, He decided to win them back by inciting them to jealousy as a loving parent often does with a child.

For Luther, God’s salvation was extended to the Gentiles because of the Jew’s fall, in order that their fall might not be fruitless and their sin keep good from being done. Since all things must work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose, it shows that God can use both good and bad, right and wrong, to make that happen.12 This would not be the first time God turned something bad into something beautiful, such as man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, Abraham’s illegitimate son with Hagar, Jacob’s deceit of Esau, Joseph’s sale into Egypt, etc.

Fellow Reformer John Calvin echoes much of what Luther said. In Calvin’s mind, Paul seemed to focus on the fact that although the Jew’s repudiation of Christ allowed the Gentiles to be introduced to the Gospel, he didn’t want to make the salvation lost by the Jews to become a negative factor for the Gentiles. In other words, he didn’t want to lead them into thinking that their salvation depended on the Jews losing theirs. Paul anticipates this false notion and lays down a clear opinion of an opposite kind. He wanted them to know that nothing contributed more to the salvation of the Gentiles than the grace of God. To prove this, he derives an argument from the lesser to the greater. In other words, if the Jew’s rejection of the Messiah and their fall raised the Gentiles out of idolatry into fellowship with God, how much more would the Jews’ acceptance of the Messiah have enriched and enhanced both them and the Gentiles?

And there should be no objection to this reasoning that the word of God flowed to the Gentiles after the Jews rejected it, and, as it were, cast it from them. For if they had received it, their faith would have brought forth much more fruit than what their unbelief resulted in. That way, the truth of God’s promise would have been, thereby, confirmed that they were to be the source that would bless the whole world. Just remember, all of the first Apostles were converted Jews, such as Peter, James, John, and Paul. So what would have happened if the whole nation of Israel had become Apostles? How many more Gentiles would have been led to the Lord by their preaching and teaching? Unfortunately, because of the contrariness and stubbornness, this had all been thrown away.13

Haldane explains how the fall of the Jews brought rich blessings to the rest of the world. Their rejection of the Messiah did not keep the great sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross for sin from being preached to all nations. As a consequence of their rejecting the testimony of the Apostles, the remnant who believed fled from the persecution of their countrymen, and, being scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the Word. Besides, the Jewish nation which had been designated as God’s witnesses to the world,14 and to whom the oracles of God had been committed, were still able to preserve the sacred trust given them even in the middle of much unbelief and consequent sufferings. In this, we discern an illustrious proof of the Divine origin of the First Covenant Scriptures which testify of the Messiah; while the preservation of the Jews as a distinct people stands forth as a lasting miracle. This cannot be explained using natural principles of human logic but furnishes undeniable evidence of the truth of the Gospel.15

Albert Barnes strikes a different tone in his commentary. As far as this passage is concerned, it involves the rejection and punishment of the Jews; their being cut off from God’s favor, an event that apparently would hinder the spread of their religion. However, if their being withdrawn from all active influence in spreading the true knowledge of God turned into an occasion for so many blessings to flow out to the rest of the world, how much more should we expect once they are restored to fellowship with God; when the energy and zeal of the Jewish nation will be united with the efforts of believing Gentiles in spreading the knowledge of the true Messiah. In what way or when this shall be, we still do not know, but it will be revealed at the time of God’s choosing.

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

2 See Ephesians 2:11-12

3 Stern: ibid.

4 Gerald Bray: (Ed.) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT. Vol. 7, Romans (Revised) (pp. 279–280). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

5 Ephesians 3:8

6 When used individually, both terms are translated as “Lord,” but to avoid the awkward appellation “Lord Lord,” the KJV and NRSV render the expression as “Lord God.” (Here too, small capital letters are used to indicate that the base word is Yahweh.) “Lord Yahweh” is also used. The combination Adonai Yahweh appears 310 times in the Bible, mostly in the prophetic literature, where the prophets often begin their speeches by saying, “Thus says Adonai Yahweh.”

7 Isaiah 12:1-2 – Complete Jewish Version

8 Isaiah 60:1 – Complete Jewish Bible

9 Origen: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

10 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 19

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

12 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 159

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

14 Isaiah 43:10

15 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 532-533

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment