Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
When we closed our last post, we were counseled to welcome others, just as the Messiah has welcomed us. God nor Paul have changed their minds, and so we continue with Romans chapter 15, starting at verse 8.
Romans 15:8 CJB For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people in order to show God’s truthfulness by making good his promises to the Patriarchs,
I appreciate how the CJB centers our focus on the Jewishness of Paul’s letter when it says, the Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people. “The Messiah” is, of course, talking about Jesus, as we of non-Jewish understanding call him.
The Messiah came in order to do what?
- To show God’s truthfulness (CJB).
The CEV translation tells us “that Christ came as a servant of the Jews to show that God has kept the promises he made.”
The ERV states that “Christ became a servant of the Jews to show that God has done what he promised.”
The NLT translation conveys: “that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors.”
Confirm is the Greek word bebaioō and means to make firm, establish, confirm, or make sure.
What the translators have defined as promises is the Greek word epaggeliaand according to Strong’s dictionary means an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good). According to Thayer’s, it means a promise, the act of promising, or a promise given.
The LORD has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation! He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. (Psalms 98:2-3 NLT)
To whom is God showing this faithfulness?
This question I asked above evokes another question in me.
Is God still showing His faithfulness when He brings promised wrath against His people for disobedience?
You bet He is. The UCRT says this:
“Though the Canaanites were expelled for their wickedness, it does not follow, that the Israelites were established in their room on account of any distinguished virtue, or because they deserved it. On many occasions, it may be seen in the history of the world, that God punishes the wicked by the instrumentality of other men, who are as wicked as themselves.” [The Ultimate Cross-Reference Treasury is based upon The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Copyright © 1992 by Jerome H. Smith and Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible © 2007 by Jerome H. Smith]
The general answer to the question, to who is God showing this faithfulness, or to whom did He show this faithfulness. The answer is spelled out in the verse itself and bulleted below.
- To the patriarchs (the early fathers of the faith.)
Who is Paul referring to when he speaks of the patriarchs?
Deuteronomy 9:5 spells them out distinctly.
“It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:5 NASB)
Peter validated what we see in Deuteronomy.
Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. (Acts 3:12-13 NLT)
And Stephen, in presenting his defense to the Jewish council, also told us who the fathers were.
‘I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look. (Acts 7:32 NLT)
While the descendants do not qualify as founding fathers, the benefit given to the Fathers extends to their descendants as well.
“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7 NLT)
Could the Holy Spirit be referencing others besides these patriarchs, as well?
Let’s say no, because He is making a point, and, as I indicated from Deuteronomy, there are three names that the Jewish community immediately brings to mind. Now, that doesn’t prevent names like Elijah, Samuel, King David, and King Solomon from coming to mind, so perhaps there is an allusion to others. The Old Testament is filled with tales of people, who stepped out of their comfort zone and turned defeat into victory.
The following is from the Albert Barnes commentary.
Referencing Acts 3:25, Barnes states: “Ye are the children of the prophets – Greek: “Ye are the sons of the prophets.” The meaning is, not that they were literally the “descendants” of the prophets, but that they were their “disciples,” “pupils,” “followers.” They professed to follow the prophets as their teachers and guides. Teachers among the Jews were often spoken of under the appellation of fathers, and disciples as sons, Mat_12:27.”
However, we, the Gentiles who have been grafted in, get to be partakers in these promises.
- And, as we will see, the Gentiles/Nations.
We talked about the nations, in detail, when we covered Romans 11. Here is a little example.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
(Romans 11:17 NASB)
We, from among the nations, are grafted in when we accept Jesus as the Messiah.
- By making good his promises to the Patriarchs.
At the time of Paul’s writing, had God, at least to some degree, done this already? Without a doubt, and yet He was nowhere close to done. Well over 2000 years later, there is no doubt that the descendants of Abraham are like the sands of the seashore.
But what promises did God make?
In our example to Abraham, we see this:
I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:6-8 NLT)
The Abrahamic covenant was confirmed in Isaac.
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines. The LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. “Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father, Abraham. “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” (Genesis 26:1-5 NASB)
With Jacob, we see this.
Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set, and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:10-15 NASB)
So if I ask to whom else are these promises given, just look at verse 9.
Romans 15:9-11 AMP And [also in order] that the Gentiles (nations) might glorify God for His mercy [not covenanted] to them. As it is written, Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles and sing praises to Your name. [Ps. 18:49.] (10) Again it is said, Rejoice (exult), O Gentiles, along with His [own] people; [Deut. 32:43.] (11) And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise Him! [Ps. 117:1.]
And the Gentiles will give glory to God for His mercy.
Doesn’t that mean we, the Gentiles, would learn of His mercies somehow?
Of course, it does, and that is why some of us study the Bible.
This is why:
- Paul was taken into custody,
- Peter preached to the Centurion,
- Saul attacked the church so violently in its early stages and drove them to the outer reaches, all the while preaching this good news of Jesus the Messiah.
Romans 15:12 AMP And further Isaiah says, There shall be a Sprout from the Root of Jesse, He Who rises to rule over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles hope. [Isa. 11:1, 10; Rev. 5:5; 22:16.]
What exactly does Isaiah say?
Like a branch that sprouts from a stump, someone from David’s family will someday be king. The Spirit of the LORD will be with him to give him understanding, wisdom, and insight. He will be powerful, and he will know and honor the LORD. His greatest joy will be to obey the LORD. This king won’t judge by appearances or listen to rumors. The poor and the needy will be treated with fairness and with justice. His word will be law everywhere in the land, and criminals will be put to death. Honesty and fairness will be his royal robes. (Isaiah 11:1-5 CEV)
And Paul closes out this section with his own blessing.
Romans 15:13 NASB Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To use the word may is to include it as a variable. If it is a variable, then what are the parameters upon which this God of Hope fills you all joy and peace?
For example, I struggle with peace, in the sense that I don’t always handle external inputs well, this includes screaming grandkids and loud televisions. By the way, all the inputs seem to be external.
While many of the translations read like the NASB above, or the NIV below,
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Several come across in this manner.
(NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here, in the NLT translation, I get an honest sense of Paul, when he says, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely; this is the type of language that we often hear Paul use. One example comes from his letter to the church in Ephesus.
do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. (Ephesians 1:16-19 NASB)
Hope is the Greek word elpis and means an expectation of good, or to anticipate, usually with pleasure.
So a rewrite of verse 13 could sound like this:
May the God of expectation fill you …. Expectation is a part of who we are.
The phrase “with all” is the Greek word pas and means all, any, every, the whole.
Joy is the Greek word chara and means cheerfulness, and calm delight.
The phrase “by the power of the Holy Spirit” is the Greek word pisteuō and means to believe, or have faith in.
So Paul has prayed that we May (have) the God of expectation fill (us in) any, every, and all cheerfulness and calm delight, as we (empowered by the Holy Spirit) believe or have faith (in God to come through with His promises to us.)
We are now officially living in conditions that most of us in America, had never experienced (although my parents lived through the depression).
Now is the time for prayers like what we see in verse 15, to be a part of our expectation and thinking. God has a plan and He will deliver.