55. Romans 15:7-13
Gentiles glorify God
As Paul summarizes the instruction he has given the Romans in living for Jesus both in the world and in the church, he expands on the call to unity by reminding them that Jesus came as “servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy” (v. 8-9).
Interestingly, in his call to unity, he re-emphasizes the fact that salvation is from the Jews and went first to Gods chosen nation before expanding to the Gentiles. The question that arises, however, is what did Paul mean by saying Jesus came as a servant of the Jews?
The story of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus asking that her demon-possessed daughter be healed illustrates this fact. The account, in Matthew 15:22-28, describes the disciples urging Him to send her away because she was bothering them with her cries for help. Jesus replies, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
When the woman knelt before Him and begged, He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
Somehow understanding His meaning, she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” Her daughter was healed that hour.
Jesus limited almost all his ministry to Jewish people, although Gentiles, such as this Canaanite woman, did come and ask Him for help, and He would grant their requests of faith.
Peter and Paul give us insight into Jesus’ ministry to Jews and the subsequent expansion to the Gentiles. In Acts 3 Peter is preaching in Solomon’s Colonnade in the temple. His audience is Jewish, and this sermon is post-Pentecost.
In verse 18, Peter explains how God fulfilled through Christ His promises which He made through the prophets. Peter calls the Jews to repentance and says that Jesus “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (v 21). Then he stresses the seriousness of this call by saying, “Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.”
Then Peter says this: "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
Peter further explains that his Jewish audience are the intended heirs of God’s promises given through the prophets. All through the generations they were waiting for God’s fulfillment and deliverance, and Jesus, Peter tells them now, is the One who fulfills those prophecies. Further, Peter emphasizes that God sent Jesus first to the Jews. The blessing God intended for the Jews to receive from Jesus was the blessing of repentance and of turning from their wicked ways.
This, of course, was not the blessing the Jews desired or expected, but God fulfilled His promises to them by sending Jesus first to them. When He did “show up” as God incarnate, He came to the Jews, fulfilling all the prophecies about Himself so they would recognize Him. They failed to identify Him, however, and they lost the privilege of mediating the gospel to the world at that time.
Paul further explains why Jesus came as a servant of the Jews. In Romans 1:16 he states he is not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation “of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 3:1-8 explores in more detail advantages of being a Jew. They were entrusted with the oracles of God. Paul asks if the fact that they were not faithful nullifies God’s faithfulness, and he answers his own question with a resounding “Not at all!”
God’s faithfulness to His own promises does not depend upon our faithfulness. He honors His own word because He cannot lie.
In Romans 9:4-5 Paul reiterates that “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!”
The fact that the ancestry of Christ is traced from Jewish lines is behind Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman at the well I John 4:22 when He said, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”
By coming as a servant of the Jews, Jesus fulfilled God’s ancient, unconditional promises to Abraham and His children. These promises preceded the Mosaic covenant and formed the foundation for God’s work of salvation in the world. These promises could not be broken, because God made them Himself and did not make them with Abraham—He made the to Abraham. No human cooperation was involved in establishing these promises.
To Abraham God made these promises:
Genesis 12:1-3: “The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”
In Genesis 17:6-7, at the time God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision, He reiterated this promise: “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
God again confirmed His promises to Abraham in Genesis 18:17-19: “Then the Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.’”
Again in Genesis 22:17-18 God said, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
God renewed His promise to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:2-4: “The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,’”
Again, God renewed His covenant promise to Abraham’s grandson Jacob, the one through whom the covenant would be fulfilled. In Genesis 28:12-15, Jacob “had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it [fn] stood the Lord, and he said: 'I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’”
As he grew old, God again spoke to Jacob and renewed His promise to make him a great nation.. Genesis 46:2-4 records God’s message: “And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, 'Jacob! Jacob!’ 'Here I am,’ he replied. 'I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. 'Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’”
In 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, Paul explains that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus. Even though the Jews largely missed the miracle of the promises; fulfillment because of their arrogance and sense of privilege and spiritual apathy, God nevertheless kept His word to them. Here’s how Paul put it as he preached to Gentile believers in Corinth: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not 'Yes’ and 'No,’ but in him it has always been 'Yes.’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
God’s promises to Israel were fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus. He lived His life as a Jew under the law, ministering to the Jews and fulfilling the prophecies in their midst. He made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to live,; He healed their diseases, and He demonstrated that God had kept His word. He gave His disciples the responsibility of carrying this good news to the Gentile world, but Jesus came to the Jews and lived among them as the fulfillment of the ages.
Gentiles glorifying God
Jesus’ confirmation of the promises made to the patriarchs, Paul says in verse 9, results in the Gentiles glorifying God for His mercy. It was necessary for Jesus to come as the fulfillment of the promises to the Jews because God’s eternal plan had been for Jesus to die as the sacrifice for sin for the whole world. Romans 11:11-12 states, “Again I ask, Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!”
Jesus came as the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets in which Israel hoped. After Jesus had risen from the dead, ascended to the Father, and sent the Holy Spirit, the gospel spread like wildfire through the cities of the Gentiles. Even though Israel as a nation refused to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises, God was still faithful to Himself. He flourished His truth among those who were not part of His chosen people—just as He had promised.
Paul is explicit in Romans 3:27-30 that God is not the God of Jews only but also of Gentiles. There is only on God, Paul explains, and He “will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.”
This reality of God being the saving God of Gentiles as well as of Jews was first declared by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:21. God tells Israel, “They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
Peter emphasizes this reality of the gentiles becoming God’s people also. In 1 Peter 2:10 he says, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Paul also echoes Hosea as he explains that God fulfilled His promises to include the Gentiles in His salvation. Hosea 1:10 says, “"Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'”
Again, God speaks through Hosea in Hosea 2:23: “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.' "
In Romans 9:25-26, Paul shows how God has fulfilled these promises by calling Gentiles as well as Jews: “As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "
The joy of the Gentiles when God called and adopted them into His family was foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. 2 Samuel 22:48-50 and Psalm 18:47 record David’s song of praise: “He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.”
Again in Psalm 117:1-2 David says, “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.”
In these psalms David was foreshadowing the fact that God would be praised among all the nations, not just in Israel, because all men would see His love, faithfulness, and salvation.
In Deuteronomy 32:43 Moses also foreshadowed the fact that the nations of the world would praise God along with Israel: “Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.”
This text is not simply stating that Gentiles would be saved; it is foretelling the day when Gentiles along with Jews would praise God for His faithfulness to keep His promises to Israel to bless them and to rescue them and their land from enemies.
Isaiah also prophesies the day when the Gentile nations will praise God and rally to Him. Isaiah 66:10 states, “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” Isaiah 11:10 says a similar thing: “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.”
The fact that Jesus came as a servant to the Jews, fulfilling the prophecies of the Messiah’s redemption and propitiation, is the reason the Gentiles can praise Him.. God had given the Jews the oracles of God, promising and foretelling His salvation of the world through the Messiah. Jesus had to come as the Root of Jesse, the son of David, a Jew born under the law, in order to fulfill the law and the prophets. His obedience to become the perfect sacrifice, the promised Redeemer of Israel, is what opened up this salvation for the whole world.
Those who place their faith in the Lord Jesus rejoice together, Jew and Gentile alike, in the miraculous provision of the Savior whose obedience as the Perfect Israel opened a new, living way to the Father for all mankind.
Hope and the Holy Spirit
Paul ends this section of his letter with this benediction: “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.” Paul links the most desired states of being—joy, peace, and hope—with the Holy Spirit’s power. This connection occurs throughout Paul’s epistles.
In the previous chapter, Romans 17:17-18, Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”
The famous “fruit of the Spirit” passage, Galatians 5:22-23, also places peace and joy in the list of the Spirit’s fruit in us: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
When a person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and learns to live in surrender and step with the Spirit, that person begins to experience peace, joy, and hope that is elusive to all who don’t know Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can infuse a heart with true and lasting joy and peace, and hope is the certainty of God’s promises that only comes from being filled with God Himself in the Person of the Spirit.
Romans 5:3-5 connects hope with suffering. The passage says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Hope is born from learning to trust God. When we suffer and persevere in trust and in enduring for His sake, relying on His power and confident of His promises, we experience His love deeply. It is in the perception of being loved and sustained by God as we surrender to Him that we find hope holding our hearts. As Christ-followers we do not despair because the Lord Jesus makes Himself present and known to us when we rely on Him in our suffering. He is in us, and His love fills us and ignites hope in our hearts.
The passage from Romans 15:13 states that joy, peace, and hope are products of the Holy Spirit’s power. In general we don’t think of these things as demonstrations of “power”, but the Spirit’s power is what gives us the gifts and attributes of the Lord Jesus as we trust Him increasingly.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 records Paul saying his preaching to the Corinthians was “not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Moreover, Paul connects “power” with the spoken word when he contrasts arrogant people with God’s kingdom: “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor. 4:18-20)
He emphasizes the idea of “power” being a hallmark of the gospel also in 1 Thes. 1:4-5: “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”
In these passages Paul is reminding these new believers that when the gospel is preached, it is not merely men’s words or platitudes. It comes with the power of the Holy Spirit. The story of Pentecost first revealed this power that Jesus’ finished work made possible among His people. The gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 also point out the power of God that the Holy Spirit gives to Christ-followers.
These passages from 1 Corinthians and Thessalonians, however, reveal the deeper impact of the Spirit’s power. He does not empower Christ-followers for their own sakes. His gifts are not for the purpose of making Christ’s body a “magic show” of manifestations, nor are they even for the purpose of giving God’s people “an experience”. Rather, God’s power manifested through the Spirit in God’s people is for the sake of the gospel.
1 Cor. 2:4-5 states that the Spirit’s power is for the purpose of creating believing faith, and 1 Thess. 1:4-5 says that the gospel came “with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction”. In other words, the power of the Spirit generates the conviction that leads to belief and true faith. It is not merely to demonstrate novel manifestations; the purpose of the Spirit’s power is to reveal God, to bring people to the conviction of their own sin, and to create believing faith.
The passage in 1 Corinthians 4:18-20 contrasts true gospel preaching with arrogant preaching that exalts the speaker. Paul says that when he comes to them, the contrast will be clear that the arrogant have no real power. In fact, he says this contrast between power and no power is the mark of whether or not a person is actually preaching the true gospel of God. The kingdom of God, Paul asserts, “is not a matter of talk but of power”.
When Jesus is truly preached, when a person is committed to speaking truth and honoring God, the Holy Spirit convicts hearts and changes lives. He reveals Himself and confirms the truth to those who receive it by demonstrations of His power.
The Holy Spirit’s power convicts people of truth, gives people believing faith, sheds abroad God’s love in the hearts of those who receive Jesus, and plants peace, joy, and hope in their hearts. The Holy Spirit dispels chronic anxiety and fear; He brings people into the reality of God’s faithfulness and care. He makes us aware of who we really are and puts the Spirit of adoption in our hearts so we know we are God’s children (Roman 8:15-16).
The Holy Spirit is the One who makes Jesus real to us and reveals our true status as God’s own sons and daughters. He gives us God’s power, peace, and love, and because of Him we “overflow with hope”.
God is asking you to trust Him. If you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus, the reality is that you are God’s own child and heir, and all His power and all His promises are for you. He is faithful.
God asks you to surrender to Him your compulsive need to control and plot out your life. He is sovereign over you, and all your days are already written in His book. He is asking you to trust Him and to commit yourself to live to honor Him instead of living to protect yourself. Your Father will protect you and provide for you. You can trust Him.
Ask God to reveal to you His purposes for you life and to guide you to the role He has for you in His story. Ask Him to be more real to you than your fear and worry. Ask Him to teach you to trust Him; ask Him to anchor you in truth and to plant you firmly in reality. Ask Him to reveal to you the mystery and the miracle of praising Him for Jesus’ being a servant of the Jews so you could become His son or daughter.
Praise God for bringing you to life and for adopting you. Praise Him for His faithfulness, and praise Him for the finished work of Jesus and for the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Praise Father,Son, and Holy Spirit!
Servant of the Jews
Gentiles may glorify God
Promises made to the patriarchs
After Paul admonished the Romans to bear with one another and to live in a spirit of unity, he now reminds them to accept one another “as Christ accepted you”. He further reminds his readers that Jesus came “to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy.”
1. What does Paul mean when he says “Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth”?
2. What promises to the patriarchs does Jesus fulfill by becoming a servant of the Jews?
2 Corinthians 1:19-20
3. How does Jesus coming as a servant to the Jews and the fulfillment of God’s promises to the patriarchs result in the Gentiles glorifying God?
2 Samuel 22:48-50
Isaiah 66: 10
4. How is “the power or the Holy Spirit” related to being filled with “all joy and peace” and to overflowing “with hope”?
1 Cor 2:4-5
1 Cor 4:18-20
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
5. What promises has God made to you that you can trust He will fulfill?
6. How has the Holy Spirit’s power changed your life?
7. Ask God to reveal His purposes to you and to guide you to the role He has prepared for you in His story. Ask Him to reveal to you the mystery of the Gentiles praising God because of Jesus coming as a servant to the Jews. Praise Him for making you alive and for hiding your life in His.
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