56. Romans 15:14-22
Paul’s Gentile Sacrifice
Paul has already pronounced a benediction on the Roman readers: “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.” Now he rejoices in God’s work through him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
He first assures the Roman believers that they are “fill of goodness” and “complete in knowledge” and “competent to instruct one another.” These expansive statements are not flattery but reflect the truth about who his readers are in Christ. In Ephesians 5:8-9 Paul identifies more specifically what it means to be full of goodness: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth).”
In this passage, Paul is making a statement about the contrast between their original condition in sin compared with their spiritual condition in Christ. Colossians 1:13 further identifies this differences when Paul says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed [us] into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”
In other words, the Romans like all of us, were defined by darkness before they were made alive in the Spirit by God Himself. Being transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son means becoming children of light and bearing the fruit of God’s own goodness, righteousness, and truth.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul said something similar: “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Cor 8:7). In this passage Paul further identifies the hallmarks of a person who has been born of the Spirit. They will be characterized by faith, knowledge, earnestness, love, and generosity.
Similarly, he said to the Corinthians in his first letter, “For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Cor. 1:5-7). And again, in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Paul identifies knowledge as a gift of the Spirit.
The knowledge which a born-again Christ-follower has is the knowledge God’s Spirit gives. It is not simply knowledge of physical and material facts; it is the spiritual knowledge of God and of His truth. It is the knowledge of the truth about mankind and the reality of what Christ has accomplished. It is the knowledge of how mankind’s behavior and motives function apart from the Lord and of how they are transformed when a person is trusting in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 14:6, Paul juxtaposes the gift of knowledge with other spiritual gifts. He asks, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?”
The gift of knowledge from God, he is saying, is what accomplishes good for the rest of the body. He categorizes “knowledge” along with instruction, prophecy, and revelation. In other words, understanding of God’s will and of Scripture and God’s truth builds and equips the body of Christ. These are gifts God gives His church, and He matures His church through His teaching and equipping through those who practice these gifts among the body.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, Paul puts even this gift improper perspective. Without love, Paul says, even knowledge, the gift of faith, prophecy, and the tongues of angels are nothing. Love is what gives shape and strength to knowledge and instruction. Without it, the words are empty and do nothing to build up the body.
Peter also discusses “knowledge” in the context of the maturing Christ-follower. In 2 Peter 1:4-8 he says, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In this passage Peter challenges his readers to experience and trust God’s promises so that they will “participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world.” Because they are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, they can grow in the characteristics of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. These characteristics, which reflect Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, are the result of a person’s being born of the Spirit.
As believers, we can offer ourselves to God moment by moment, learning to give Him our confusion and temptation and trusting His strength and promises to be obedient to Him at any given moment of temptation. Because we can trust Him, we can choose to surrender our fear or confusion or anger and act by faith in obedience to what He has put in front of us. He is faithful to show us what He asks us to do in order to have integrity and to grow and allow Him to heal us. We must, however, trust Him and lay down our control and our rationalizations that keep us from surrendering and cause us to cling to destructive habits and fear.
When Paul tells the Romans that they are full of goodness, knowledge, and competence to instruct one another, He is reminding them that, in Christ and by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, they have all they need to live in submission and victory. He is not bolstering their “self-esteem”; rather, he is reminding them that they are filled with the miracle of God’s own righteousness because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that opened a new, living way to Himself. Their knowledge, goodness, and competence are literally God’s own attributes which He gives His children as His legacy to them when they are adopted into His family.
Work of a priest
In verses 15 & 16 Paul explains to the Romans why he has taken such great pains to be bold in this letter. His passion stems from the fact that God gave him the grace “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
In the Old Testament the priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people, symbolizing the blood required as payment for sin. After the priests had sacrificed the animals and presented them to Yaweh, the people’s sins were atoned. Of course, the Old Testament ritual sacrifices could not actually atone for sin, but the job of the priests was to mediate between Israel and God, presenting sacrifices for sin and mediating God’s forgiveness to the people. Leviticus 1:7-17 describes the work of the levitical priests. The passage describes the ritual washings, slaughter, cutting, presenting, and burning of the various types of offerings. Their job was bloody and even horrifying—yet, at the same time, privileged, because they worked directly in the presence of God. They represented the community to God, and they mediated God’s forgiveness.
Hebrews 9:6-7describes the levitical priests’ work this way: “When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”
This passage in Hebrews underscored the fact that only the high priest entered the presence of God, and even he could only enter once a year bearing sacrificial blood.
Paul’s “priestly duty” is different from the Old Testament priests’ work. God called Paul to a unique work—unique in all history. After he had been stricken blind by God on the road to Damascus, God sent Ananias to pray for him. Acts 9:15-16 records God’s declaration about Paul: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Paul himself explained his own calling this way, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
Paul repeatedly affirms that he was called as an apostle by the Lord Jesus Himself. Now, near the end of his most profound exposition of the gospel, he compares his job of apostleship with the duty of a priest. His priestly duty, however, is different from that of the Old Testament priests. First, Paul’s duty is described as carrying God’s name to “the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul expounds on this job of carrying the gospel in Romans 1:1-4. He says he was set apart for the gospel of God. Moreover, he declares that God promised this gospel beforehand through His prophets in the Scriptures, and this gospel concerns His Son.
Then Paul describes the Son. First, he explains the humanity of Jesus by saying He was a descendent of David “according to the flesh”. Second, Paul describes Jesus according to His deity by saying He was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead “according to the Spirit of holiness” (NASB). In other words, the proof of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah is a dual proof. On the one hand, He is the human descendant of David God promised would come, and His lineage is provable. On the other hand, he is the Son of God, and the proof of this claim is His resurrection from the dead.
The mystery of Jesus’ identity as fully man and fully God is established in a parallelism; according to the flesh, Jesus is the descendant of David, and according to the Spirit of holiness, He is the Son of God as demonstrated by His resurrection from the dead.
Paul then explains his apostolic, priestly role as calling “people from among all the gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.”
In other words, Paul’s priestly duty is to teach the truth about Jesus—the new High Priest—and His death and resurrection to gentiles. While the old testament priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people and mediated His forgiveness to them on the basis of the high priest’s yearly atonement offering, Paul brought the knowledge of the One completed sacrifice to the people and facilitated their coming to faith in that sacrifice, thus mediating their receiving God’s forgiveness. The levitical priests had to present sacrifices of atonement to God; Paul presented an already-complete sacrifice to the people. Paul’s job was to bring people into relationship with God on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood; the levitical priests’ job was to present blood so the people could be forgiven.
Moreover, while the priests’ offerings were sacrifices of animals, Paul’s offerings were the Gentiles themselves which he offered to God. Instead of offering atoning sacrifices for the people’s sins, Paul brings news of atonement to the people, and he offers the sanctified people back to God who sanctified them. Paul’s offering was the fruit of His evangelism; the Old Testament priests’ offerings were the means of evangelism.
It is no only Paul who has a priestly calling. All of us who receive the gospel of Jesus and accept Him as Lord and Savior are made priests as well.
Revelation 1:5b-6: “…from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 5:9-10: “And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Revelation 20:6: “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
All those who are born of the Spirit become priests of God—the same kind of priest that Paul was. While his job was specific and unique in the that he brought the gospel to the gentiles, we also have the same calling: to mediate the news of the sacrifice of our High Priest to the people to whom God sends us.
The levitical priests were qualified for their priesthood by their birth in the lineage of Aaron. New covenant priests are qualified for their priesthood by their new birth into Christ, the lineage of God Himself.
The work of the gospel is priestly work because as God’s chosen representatives, we mediate the truth of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Son of God so the lost, dead people around us can also be justified in His sight. Even the levitical priests were shadows: shadows of those of us who would be born of His Spirit and would literally bring the presence of God into the world to mediate hope and truth so we, too, can offer the fruit of our evangelism to God as offerings.
Gentiles as an offering
The concept of people being offered to God as offerings is a new covenant idea, although it was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. While Romans 15:16 talks about the Gentiles being Paul’s offering to God, Isaiah 66:18-20 foretells a time when Israel will be an offering to God. In the context of God eventually gathering all nations and tongues, He says He will declare His glory among the nations, and ’they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,’ says the Lord. 'They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.’”
Paul wrote often of people being offerings or the “products” of his work in which both he and God will glory. He explains in Ephesians 3:8-9 that God sovereignly gave him the job of preaching to the Gentiles “the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”
In other words, Paul’s specific call from God was to explain how the New Covenant “works”, and to preach this good news to the Gentiles. One way we know that Paul does not “disagree with Jesus” as some people claim is that the Lord Jesus Himself taught Paul, and He commissioned him with the job of teaching the new covenant to the Gentiles. God always planned to bring the Gentiles into His kingdom, and in the fullness of time, He sent the Holy Spirit after He had opened the new, living way to the Father by His own blood, and He equipped Paul to preach the gospel to those who did not know God at all.
Paul also emphasizes this specific calling in Romans 1:5: “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.”
To the Corinthians he wrote, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2-3).
The gospel, therefore, is the power of God to salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16), and it is clear and effective even for people who do not have a Jewish background. Moreover, those who are saved by the power of the gospel are called to be holy, sanctified in Christ Jesus. They are “set apart” for God just as the temple vessels were set apart, and just as the prescribed sacrifices and offerings were set apart for God.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul writes to these Gentile believers, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
Paul was stating that when he stands before the Lord Jesus, when his works are judged according to the judgment described in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, he will present to Jesus the people themselves. He will not merely claim his own preaching and suffering, but the people who accepted Jesus as a result of his work are the prize he will present to God. Just as the Israelite’s offerings to God came from their own fields and flocks and represented their hard work, so Paul’s offering to God represents his work: the fruit of his evangelism.
Romans 12:1 further describes our personal relationship to sacrifice: we are to offer our own bodies as living sacrifices to God. This act, Paul says, is our “spiritual act of worship”. Offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices results in our losing our conformity to the world. It results in our minds being transformed. Offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices makes it possible for us to “test and approve what God’s will is.”
As living sacrifices we no longer offer the parts of our bodies to sin because sin has been put to death in us. Because we have died to sin, we are now slaves to Jesus Christ. Now we offer the parts of our bodies to God for righteousness and sanctification. Now, instead of indulging in sin when faced with temptation, we can offer our bodies to God at the moment we are tempted. We can offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, saying “Yes” to Him and simultaneously “No” to the temptations that used to draw us.
God accepts our offerings of ourselves; He accepts the sacrifice of ourselves to Him, and His mercy and power begin to sanctify us.
Ultimately, we offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, willing to be used and disciplined according to His will. As we work for His kingdom, the lives of those who accept the life of Jesus through our presentation of the gospel become our offering to God, the sacrifice of our work for Him. We offer back to God those whom He saves through our sacrifice of ourselves to Him.
All we have and all we are exist for God’s glory. Nothing significant that we do is for ourselves. Ultimately, everything will either be burned up or returned to God. Yet, as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and then offer those whose lives are changed as we sacrifice ourselves to God, God gives us Himself. More and more we experience the life and love of our Father and the presence of the Lord Jesus.
We, the priests of God, offer ourselves to Him and mediate His gospel. We then ultimately offer back to Him the ones that He saves.
The Gentiles—including us—who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit are an offering acceptable to God because He Himself has made us acceptable. Individually we offer ourselves to God for His service, and collectively we are offered back to God by those He has used to teach us the gospel.
We share in Christ’s sacrifice of Himself and of His suffering as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. The core of the Christian faith is surrendering our “rights” to God and offering ourselves to Him for His service—and then offering back to Him every blessing He showers on us as we serve Him.
Glorying in Christ Jesus
Paul says, on the heels of saying the Gentiles are his sacrifice to God, that he glories in what Christ has accomplished through him. At first blush this sounds boastful, even arrogant—but Paul is actually saying something profound.
In Philippians 3:3 Paul says that we, “the circumcision”—or those who are circumcised in heart—are characterized by three things: we “worship by the Spirit of God,” we “glory in Christ Jesus,” and we “put no confidence in the flesh”.
Worshiping by the Spirit is the result and evidence of being born of the Spirit and made new. Because we are new and alive in the Spirit, we are able to glory in Christ Jesus, because we know that everything we are is actually imputed to us by the Lord Jesus. We ourselves are not alive by our choice; we are alive by the power of God. Moreover, since we are still in mortal flesh, we know that there’s nothing physically we can do that is of any benefit, so we place no confidence in our own obedience or accomplishments.
Paul told the Corinthians that he came with no eloquence of superior wisdom, but he was resolved to know nothing “except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.
Paul prayed he would never boast “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” through which he was crucified to the world. Moreover, he told the Corinthians that Jews demand miracles and Gentiles want wisdom, but he comes preaching Christ crucified, the “power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Paul never took any credit for the lives that were changed following his preaching, as he stated in Galatians 6:14. He knew that the gospel is a message of power, that the cross and Jesus Himself draw people to Himself. He knew that not one person could change because he came into town. Paul knew that God asked him to teach the gospel, but the Holy Spirit would work on hearts, the Father would draw those hearts, and Jesus would compel those hearts drawn by the Spirit and the Father and bring them to repentance.
Because Paul knew that his work was simply standing where God asked him to stand and offering Himself to God for His own purposes, he knew that all the glory belongs to the Lord Jesus. None of Paul’s ideas achieve God’s will; it is God’s ideas put into real time through Paul’s act of self-offering that effects change.
When Paul says he boasts in God for what God has done through him, he’s not just deflecting praise to God when he secretly feels gratified. Rather, Paul offers not only his body but his emotions and heart to God, and he surrenders his “right” to feel gratified for accomplishing good works and acknowledges that the Lord Jesus is the one who literally has done all the work. Paul rejoices that Jesus has used him for His purposes, and he rejoices in Him.
Paul expresses, in Romans 15:17-22, his total commitment to preaching the gospel “where Christ was not known”. He was so eager, in fact, to complete his preaching in the eastern Mediterranean area, that he had been prevented in coming to Rome. He explains that his desire was to preach where no one had previously preached so he “would not be building on someone else’s foundation.
In verse 19 he states that he had proclaimed the gospel “from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum”, or a Roman province north of Macedonia which is modern-day Albania and Yugoslavia. Then he quotes Isaiah 52:15 to summarize his call to preach to the Gentiles. The passage in Isaiah says this:
“Just as there were many who were appalled at him —his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand” (v. 14-15).
Paul’s quoting Isaiah emphasizes the fact that the living Lord Jesus had called him and had specifically appointed him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles as a people group. When God appointed Ananias to find Paul in Damascus and to pray for him, His words about Paul were, “"Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Paul, the meticulously trained rabbi, knew he was not merely “converted” for the sake of his own salvation. God specifically called him to a completely new work: proclaiming the Lord Jesus and the One True God to the Gentile world, thus building the church and establishing the unforeseen reality of the “dirty Gentiles” comprising the majority of the body of Christ. Paul understood that God had chosen him as part of His design for the fulfillment of prophecy.
God had foretold the fact of His pursuit of the Gentiles, but Israel had largely missed the implications of the prophecies which had successive fulfillments. On the one hand, God was prophesying to the Israelites themselves, stating that He had always reached for obstinate Israel. On the other hand, God was further stating that he would reveal Himself to the pagans who did not know or seek Him. Isaiah 65:1-2 contains one of the prophecies of God’s pursuit of the Gentiles which Paul was chosen to facilitate: “2All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'”
Long before Isaiah lived, moreover, God had included His eventual inclusion of the Gentiles into His plan. Moses had written in Deuteronomy 32:21, “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.” In this passage God clearly says that Israel would reject Him for other gods, and God would “make them envious by those who are not a people”.
Interestingly, in Romans 11 Paul echoes this statement of God’s. He says in verses 13-15, “I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry n the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
Paul details his calling in Ephesians 3:4-6: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
In this passage Paul articulates his clarity as to the nature of God’s call to him. First, he states that his commission was God’s grace to him. Second, he states that God appointed him to reveal what had previously been a mystery. The call of the Gentiles as God’s own people was not clearly seen before Pentecost and before Paul’s commission. Third, the reality of the gospel going to the Gentiles was made plain to Paul by revelation from God. It was not merely Paul’s exegesis and clever analysis of Old Testament Scriptures. The Lord Jesus explained this mystery to him.
He further states that his readers will understand now why he has unique new insight that no one had before. Other generations had not had this mystery revealed as it was now revealed “to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” In other words, Paul acknowledges that while his own calling and understanding of God’s will had been delivered to him directly from the Lord Jesus, still he recognized that all the apostles and New Testament prophets at work in the early church were similarly informed by God of His work among the Gentiles.
Paul then overtly states that the mystery he was sent to explain was the fact that the Gentiles and Israel are members together of one body and sharers together in the promise of Christ. Gentiles are heirs together with Israel of God’s promises fulfilled in the Lord Jesus.
Earlier in Romans Paul stated that the law and the prophets witnessed to the mystery now fully revealed in Christ: the mystery that the righteousness of God apart from the law was available “through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe.”
At the end of Romans, Paul closes with a benediction, “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Here again Paul reiterates the fact that the mystery of Christ was hidden “for long ages past” but is finally revealed and “made known through the prophetic writings by the command of God.” This passage echoes Romans 1:2 where Paul began his letter with the declaration that he was called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God which God “promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”
Paul bookends his letter with the acknowledgement that nothing God revealed or accomplished through him was new; rather, it was the revealing of a mystery from ages past that had always been hidden in God. It could not be revealed until the Lord Jesus had created a new, living way to the Father by His blood.
Paul humble acknowledges that he was divinely selected for an unrepeatable commission: to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles and to make plain to everything the administration of this mystery. His job was to explain the theology of the new covenant and to clarify how Gentiles, people who had never heard of the True God, could become God’s own children simply through their acceptance of the blood of Jesus as payment for their sins.
Paul roots his calling in the prophecies that were as ancient as the Torah, the foundation of Israel. He realizes God has not changed His mind or come up with a “plan B”. Rather, this gospel being extended to pagan Gentiles was always part of God’s plan—Israel just hadn’t seen it clearly. Moreover, Paul was willing to be persecuted, maligned, and even brutalized for his commitment to God’s call on his life. His job was not perceived generally as “honorable”. Rather, he was ridiculed and despised for his persistence in preaching the gospel. He was resisted by unrepentant Gentiles and persecuted by unrepentant Jews.
Yet Paul knew that God had called him as the primary means of facilitating bringing the Gentiles to faith and incorporating them as God’s own sons and daughters—a mystery which had always been part of God’s plan. God had foreknown His Gentile bride from the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:3-10).
Key Words and Phrases:
An offering acceptable to God
Sanctified by the Holy Spirit
Paul has made the point that Jesus came as a servant to the Jews in order to fulfill prophecy so that the Gentiles would rejoice. He concluded the first part of this chapter 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.” Now Paul rejoices in God’s work through him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
1. What does Paul mean when he tells the Romans that they are “full of goodness” and “complete in knowledge”, and competent to instruct one another?
2 Cor. 8:7
1 Cor. 1:5-7
1 Cor. 12:8-10
1 Cor. 13:1-2
1 Cor. 14:6
2 Peter 1:4-8; 12
2. Paul says God gave him, as a minister of the gospel to the Gentiles, the priestly duty of proclaiming that gospel of God. How is proclaiming the gospel the work of a priest?
3. What does it mean that the Gentiles might become “an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit”?
1 Thess 2:19-20
Romans 1 Cor 1:2
4. Paul’s saying he gloried in what Christ has accomplished through him sounds somewhat boastful to our ears. What exactly is Paul saying?
1 Cor 2:1-2
1 Cor 22-23
5. Paul summarizes his call to preach to Gentiles by quoting Isaiah 52:15. How was Paul’s apostleship a key component in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy?
6. In what besides Jesus Christ do you “glory”?
7. How has God called you to witness for Him and to testify of the gospel?
8. What is God asking you to surrender that stands between you and complete commitment to Him in witnessing for Jesus?
9. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do and to make your heart willing to know what you need to relinquish to Him. Ask Him to ground you in truth and reality and to teach you to glory in Christ Jesus alone.
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