The Book of Romans
The key focus for the rest of the book is ministering as in rendering priestly service. Jesus Christ became a servant to the Jews so that He could confirm God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to demonstrate God’s mercy to the Gentiles so that they might glorify Him. Paul pictures himself as a priest offering a sacrifice to God. The sacrifice is Gentile believers who have been made acceptable to God because they have been set apart by the Holy Spirit for God’s service. The special offering from the Gentile churches for the suffering Jewish believer in Jerusalem shows the unifying power of the Gospel.
I. Priestly Ministry of Jesus to the Gentiles, Vs., 8-13.
- Vs. 8-13, Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
- Jesus Christ came first of all to minister to the Jews that through Israel He might be able to minister to the Gentiles. The principle of “to the Jew first” was followed in the ministry of Christ and in the early ministry of the church. When Jesus began His ministry it was only to the people of Israel. When Jesus sent out the apostles on their first evangelistic mission, He instructed them to only go the to the Jews. Matthew 10:5-6, These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This does not mean that Jesus ignored individual Gentiles but His major emphasis was on Israel. After His resurrection, Jesus commanded the apostles to remain in Jerusalem. Luke 24:44-49, And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. When Christ came and died, He confirmed the promise to Abraham that He would be a blessing to all nations. John 4:21-24, Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
- God’s plan was to use the Jews to send the good news of salvation to the Gentiles. In the Old Testament God chose Israel to be a minister to the Gentiles, but Israel failed because they copied the idolatrous ways of the Gentiles and had to be chastized. In the New testament God chose Jewish believers to carry the good news to the Gentiles, and they obeyed Him.
- Paul cites for passages from the Old Testament to prove that God intended the Gentiles as well as the Jews to glorify Him. Psalms 18:49, Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. The Jews glorify God among the Gentiles. Deuteronomy 32:43, Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. The Gentiles rejoice with the Jews. Psalms 117:1,O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. The Jews and the Gentiles together praise God. Isaiah 11:10, And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. Christ shall reign over Jews and Gentiles.
- Romans 15:8 covers the period of the gospels and Acts 1-7. Romans 15:9 describes the ministry of Paul as he witnessed among the Gentiles. Romans 15:10 could be applied to the church council in Acts 15 when the Gentiles were given equal status “with His people.” Today Jews and Gentiles are praising God together.
- The word trust in Romans 15:12 is actually the word for hope. At one time the Gentiles were “without hope”, but now in Christ they have hope. Ephesians 2:12-16, That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
- Believers not only have hope, but they also have joy and peace and power. The Holy Spirit of God shares these blessings with them as they yield to Him.
- Because the Jewish Christians were faithful to take the gospel to the Gentiles, the nations of the world today have the opportunity to trust Christ as Savior.
II. Paul’s Calling to the Gentiles, Vs., 14-24
- Vs. 14-15, And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
- Paul’s ministry was received by grace. Before Paul was saved on the road to Damascus he knew very little about the grace of God. Paul had persecuted the Lord’s church and worked to destroy it. When Paul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus he experienced God’s grace. It was God’s grace that saved him and it was God’s grace that called him to be an apostle. 1 Corinthians 15:8-11, And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. Romans 1:5, By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
- Paul’s ministry focused on the Gospel. V 16, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Paul pictures himself as an Old Testament priest offering up the Gentiles he had won to Christ. They were a spiritual sacrifice to the glory of God. 1 Peter 2:5, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit indwelt the Gentile believers and they were sanctified or set apart by the Holy Spirit for God’s service.
- Paul’s ministry was for God’s Glory. V17, I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. Paul was boasting in Jesus Christ to the Roman believer’s about how God had used him to spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum. Paul was not bragging about what he had done but what the Lord had done. Paul did not serve and suffer as he did just to make a name for himself, for he had a much higher purpose in mind. He wanted to bring glory to Christ. Colossians 1:18, And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
- Paul’s ministry was done by God’s power, V 18-19, For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to minister. It was by God’s power that Paul was able to perform signs and wonders. Their purpose was to open the way for the preaching of the Gospel. The Spirit of God empowered Paul to share the Word, and the purpose was to make the Gentiles obedient. It was by word and deed that the apostles shared the good news. Today we are not able to perform miracles but by word and deed we can share the love of God with the lost around us.
- Paul’s ministry was according to God’s plan. V 20-24, Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. God had a special plan for Paul to follow. He was not to preach where any other apostle had ministered. This is evidence that Peter had not founded the church in Rome. For if Peter had founded the church in Rome, Paul would not have gone there. It is not wrong to develop ministry were others have labored but it is also good to have a pioneer ministry and take the gospel to new territory.
- The ministry opportunities in other parts of the Roman Empire keep Paul from visiting Rome. Paul had been faithful in evangelistic outreach to the point that he no other places to go in the area he was ministering in. This did not mean that Paul personally witnessed to every person, but that he took the gospel and left behind witnessing churches and Christians who could carry on the work. Paul finished one job before he started another one, a good example for outreach today.
- Paul’s desire was to visit Rome and then move on to Spain, but there is no evidence that he did. Tradition says that he did go to Spain and possibly to Britain.
III. The Gentiles Ministry to the Jews, Vs. 25-33
- Vs 26-28, But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
- Paul had a desire to minister to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Acts 24:17, Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Before his conversation, Paul had persecuted the church. Now he wants to have fellowship with them. He wants to take a gift to them from the Gentiles believers from Macedonia and Achaia.
- Some of the reasons that Paul wanted to share the special offering with the Jewish believers were because it was an expression of love on the part of the Gentile believers toward the Jewish believers. It meant relief for the poor Jewish believers who were suffering. The offering would help to unite Jewish and Gentiles believers. It was a bond that brought them closer together.
- “A certain contribution” The Greek word for contribution has a meaning of fellowship. The word implies more than just patting someone on the back or having a meal together. It means something that believers can share: Christ, the Word, prayer, and material gifts. Christians have fellowship with God, with Christ, and one another when they give. For the believer, fellowship is sharing the things of Christ.
- Paul reasoned that the offering was a payment for a debt. The Gentiles had received spiritual wealth from the Jews. The Gentiles were now returning material wealth for payment of their debt. Paul considered the Gentiles debtors to the Jews because it was the Jews who first shared their resources so that the Gentiles could have the Gospel.
- The offering was more than a payment of a debt, but it was also fruit. It was not money that Paul had stolen from the church! It was the natural result of the Gentiles walk with the Lord. John 15:1-8, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. When the life of the Spirit flows through a church, giving is no problem. II Corinthians 8:1-8, Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
- Vs, 29-33 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
- Paul recognizes that he was facing danger and had come to a crisis in his ministry. Enemies were on every hand. Paul was asking the saint in Rome to pray for his personal safety and that the Jewish believers in Jerusalem would receive the offering from the Gentiles.
- Paul’s request was answered his life was spared and the Jewish believers in Jerusalem did receive the offering. In spite of spending two years in jail at Caesarea, being shipwrecked and arriving in Rome in chains, Paul came to Rome in the joy of knowing he was in the will of God.
- “Striving together” suggest an athlete giving his best in the contest. The phrase does not mean that we must fight with God to get what we need. Rather, it means our praying must not be a casual experience that has no heart or earnestness. We should put as much fervor into our praying as a wrestler does his wrestling.
Jesus Christ became a servant to the Jews so that He could confirm God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to demonstrate God’s mercy to the Gentiles so that they might glorify Him. Paul pictures himself as a priest offering a sacrifice to God. The sacrifice is Gentile believers who have been made acceptable to God because they have been set apart by the Holy Spirit for God’s service. The special offering from the Gentile churches for the suffering Jewish believer in Jerusalem shows the unifying power of the Gospel.
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867