Salvation for the Gentiles, 3
THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION
|Romans 8:16-30, Glory awaits us|
|Romans 8:31-39, God loves us|
|Romans 9:1-13, Israel was privileged to be chosen by God|
|Romans 9:14-24, God is mercifully patient with our sinful selves|
|Romans 9:25-33, God saves all those who have faith in him|
|Romans 10:1-13, Moses pointed to Jesus|
|Romans 10:13-21, The importance of preaching|
|Romans 11:1-15, Of course God has not rejected the Jews!|
|Romans 11:16-32, Instead, temporary disobedience of the Jews led to salvation of the Gentiles|
|Romans 11:33-35, God is great; God is good!|
BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY TO YOUR SALVATION
|Romans 12:1-8, The relationship between worship, grace, and behavior|
|Romans 12:9-21, Love your neighbor|
|Romans 13:1-7, Obey civil authorities|
|Romans 13:8-14, Love your neighbor|
|Romans 14:1 – 15:7, You have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are|
PAUL'S MINISTRY TO THE PAGANS
|Romans 15:8-13, God loves the pagans, too|
|Romans 15:14-21, God sent Paul to the pagans|
|Romans 15:22-33, Paul really wants to visit the church in Rome|
|Romans 16:1-16, Hello to everybody|
|Romans 16:17-27, Postscripts|
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THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION
Romans 8:16-30, Glory awaits us (2/13/17)
Time out. Paul tends to write very long sentences, with clauses, subordinate clauses, asides, and examples all jammed into one lump. Verse numbers typically break these lumps up into several pieces, and translators often break them up into several sentences that may or may not follow the verse numbers. As a very rough rule of thumb, you may assume that any verse starting with and, for, because,
is really all one piece with the previous verse. This passage is an example of why, left to my own devices, I would translate Romans using a lot of bullets, parenthesis, indents, and indented indents! I went back and picked up vss. 16-17, because vss. 18-23 are really a series of “bullet points” elaborating on 16-17. Verse 24b is the start of the next section, and so on with vss. 26 and 28. It’s also a great example of why you really need to read at least 10 verses before and after whatever you are interested in – especially in the letters of Paul!
“All things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose,” true, but that simple summary rests on a complicated structure of the suffering of Christ, the redemption of creation, hope in the dark, weakness, aid and comfort from the Spirit, conformation to the image of Christ, and calling and justification. “All things” really does mean “all
things,” including a bunch of things we might not enjoy.
Excerpts from English Standard Version.
16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
- 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
- 20-21 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
- 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
- 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
- 24a For in this hope we were saved.
24b Now hope that is seen is not hope.
- 24c For who hopes for what he sees?
- 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
- 26b For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
- 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
- 30 And those whom he predestined he also called,
- and those whom he called he also justified,
- and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Very Funny Reader Comment: I eagerly await the Regina Hunter annotated version of the Bible! And, when you finally get it published, I want an autographed copy!
Romans 8:31-39, God loves us (2/14/17)
Regina’s Response: I promise that if it ever happens, you’ll get the first autographed copy.
A common cliché is that “God is on our side,” usually meaning, “we are right and they are wrong, so we will win.” Paul says something slightly different, namely that God is for us and loves us; therefore neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, nor sword can separate us from the love of Christ. They may well separate us from this earthly life – but even death will not separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:38-39 is one of the greatest affirmations of faith ever made.
Romans 9:1-13, Israel was privileged to be chosen by God (2/15/17)
Paul’s greatest grief was his frequent failure to convince his fellow-Jews that the Messiah had come. All God’s promises had been made to the Jews, but now they were rejecting the fulfillment of those promises. The only light that Paul could see in the situation was that God used the opportunity to save Gentiles as well.
Paul uses Jewish scripture, our Old Testament, to show that God always intended to include the Gentiles in his plan for salvation. Abraham had many children (Hagar’s son Ishmael, Isaac, and, after Sarah’s death, the children of Keturah). But the promises came only to the offspring of Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, but the promises came only to the offspring of Jacob. Paul is demonstrating that God can save whomever he wants to save – the Jews were saved by God’s choice, and they are not in a position to deny salvation to the Gentiles!
6a But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
Romans 9:14-24, God is mercifully patient with our sinful selves (2/16/17)
- 6b-7 For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." [Genesis 21:12]
- 8-9 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." [Genesis 18:10]
10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
- 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad
- – in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls –
- 12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger." [Genesis 25:23]
- 13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." [Malachi 1:2-3]
Paul continues to justify the salvation of the Gentiles on the basis on the Jewish scripture.
We have come to a tricky little argument that absolutely requires us to refer to the Old Testament, specifically to Jeremiah 18:1-17. Paul pretends to argue with a foolish and ungrateful person who says that if he sins, it’s all God’s fault, because no one can resist the will of God. Paul answers, “God made you like a potter makes a pot. Who are you to question God?” Well, at this point I might feel a little sympathetic to the foolish person’s point of view, to be honest.
However, remember that Paul is arguing from the Jewish scripture. If I go back to Jeremiah 18, where the image of God as a potter with power and authority over the pot originates, I discover a really important point. Namely, God justly and mercifully rebuilds the “pots” depending on what the pots are doing! If an evil person – a bad pot – repents, God will take him back and build him up. If a good person – a good pot – turns to evil, God will turn his back on him. So, Paul concludes, God has been patient with the Gentiles for their good and to show the glory of his mercy. The foolish person has either forgotten or misunderstood the image of the potter in his own holy scripture!
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
Romans 9:25-33, God saves all those who have faith in him (2/17/17)
- 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." [Exodus 33:19]
- 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
- 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." [Exodus 9:16)
Paul continues to pound home the point – by using scripture – that salvation is available to anyone who has faith. Those who have faith are acceptable to God – Jew or Gentile. Those who do not have faith are unacceptable to God – Jew or Gentile.
25 As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" [Hosea 2:23]
Romans 10:1-13, Moses pointed to Jesus (2/20/17)
26 "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" [Hosea 1:10]
27-28 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay." [Isaiah 10:22]
29 And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah." [Isaiah 1:9]
33 as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." [Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16]
One reason that Paul’s arguments can be difficult to follow is that he expects us to know the entire context for the scripture that he quotes, and that’s why I’ve been putting the references in for you in brackets. Another reason is that sometimes he quotes something and then applies it in a completely new way; for example, he applies the quotations from Deuteronomy in vss. 6-8 directly to Christ, even though in Deuteronomy Moses is talking about God’s commandments and God’s word. Well, maybe that’s not such a stretch for us, because we know Jesus as the Word, but we still have to think about it for a bit. It must have been very
difficult for Paul’s readers, who didn’t yet have John’s gospel.
Fortunately, Paul’s main point is clear and easy to understand: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them [Paul’s fellow Jews] is that they may be saved.
Romans 10:13-21, The importance of preaching (2/21/17)
- 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
- 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
- 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
- 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. [Leviticus 18:5]
6 But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) [Deuteronomy 30:12]
7 "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). [Deuteronomy 30:13]
8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); [Deuteronomy 30:14]
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
- 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
- 11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." [Isaiah 28:16]
- 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
- 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [Joel 2:32]
Sometimes Paul argues backwards. Look at vss. 13-15. First, someone must be sent by God to preach. Second, people hear what is preached. Third, those who hear may believe. Fourth, believers call on him in whom they have believed. Finally, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Paul is working backwards from Joel’s conclusion.
13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [Joel 2:32]
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
Romans 11:1-15, Of course God has not rejected the Jews! (2/22/17)
- And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
- And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
- 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" [Isaiah 52:7]
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" [Isaiah 53:1]
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
- 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." [Psalm 29]
- 19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." [Deuteronomy 32:21]
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." [Isaiah 65:1]
21 But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." [Isaiah 65:2]
After writing at length about God’s plan to save the Gentiles, Paul points out that by no means
has God rejected the Jews! Rather, the temporary estrangement between God and some
of the Jews has provided a wonderful opportunity for the message of salvation to be brought to the Gentiles. But, he says, if the current sad state of affairs has brought about the reconciliation of the world to God, think about the riches that would be brought forth by the acceptance of God’s plan by all
2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
Romans 11:16-32, Instead, temporary disobedience of the Jews led to salvation of the Gentiles (2/23/17)
- 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." [1 Kings 19:10]
- 4 But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." [1 Kings 19:18]
5-6 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
7-8 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day." [Isaiah 29:10]
9-10 And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever." [Psalms 69:22-23]
Paul’s continual reliance on the Old Testament shows that he has been speaking to Jewish Christians about God’s ancient plan to save both Jews and Gentiles through faith. Now he wants to say something specifically to Gentile Christians. It is this: Don’t get proud of yourself! Just remember that God was willing to cut off some of his own chosen people – the children of the covenant – because of their lack of faith, in order to let you
in. What do you think will happen to you
faith falters? Fortunately, God is merciful to all who have faith in him, even though all of us are disobedient.
26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; [Isaiah 59:20]
Romans 11:33-35, God is great; God is good! (2/24/17)
27 "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
- 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
- 30-31 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.
- 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Every once in a while Paul is so overcome by the greatness and majesty and goodness and mercy and glory of God that he just bursts into astonished praise. The praise chorus isn’t necessarily related to anything that went before or that comes after.
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" [Isaiah 40:13]
35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" [Job 41:11]
BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY TO YOUR SALVATION
Romans 12:1-8, The relationship between worship, grace, and behavior (2/27/17)
Jews are saved by faith. Gentiles are saved by faith. What are we going to do about it? Through the grace given to us, we are each going to use our gifts to the very best of our ability in the service of God, valuing not only our own gift but the gifts of our fellow-worshippers as well. Everybody has a gift; all gifts are necessary and valuable; put them to work! This section probably reminds you of 1 Corinthians 12.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:9-21, Love your neighbor (2/28/17)
- 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
- 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
- 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:
- if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
- 7 if service, in our serving;
- the one who teaches, in his teaching;
- 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation;
- the one who contributes, in generosity;
- the one who leads, with zeal;
- the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
God saves both Jews and Gentiles by faith. What are we going to do about it? Love our neighbors. This section probably reminds you of 1 Corinthians 13.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." [Deuteronomy 32:35]
Romans 13:1-7, Obey civil authorities (3/1/17)
20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." [Proverbs 25:21]
God saves us; what are we going to do about it? Especially right now in the U.S.A., we need to memorize
this little passage. Obey the law, pay your taxes, and respect elected officials.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them:
Romans 13:8-14, Love your neighbor (3/2/17)
- taxes to whom taxes are owed,
- revenue to whom revenue is owed,
- respect to whom respect is owed,
- honor to whom honor is owed.
God saves us, and what are we going to do about it? Love our neighbors! The great thing about loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t have to remember any of the other rules.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Romans 14:1 – 15:7, You have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are (3/3/17)
- For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
This is a complicated little passage with a lot of examples and repetition. The crux of the message is this: you have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are. Love them in four primary ways:
- When possible, give way without arguing to the scruples of those who are weaker in the faith than you are.
- Don’t judge them for being weaker in the faith than you are.
- Don’t judge them for practicing religion differently than you do.
- Don’t let them put you on a guilt trip for practicing religion differently than they do; just be at peace with one another.
By the way, Paul isn’t talking about being a vegetarian in the modern sense of the word. He’s talking about not eating meat sacrificed to idols, which was often the only meat available. This passage is similar to 1 Corinthians 8. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a church he had founded, he laid out informally a lot of material that is covered more formally in Romans.
14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
- 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
- 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
- 11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." [Isaiah 45:23]
- 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
- 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
- 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
- 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." [Psalms 69:9]
- 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
PAUL'S MINISTRY TO THE PAGANS
Romans 15:8-13, God loves the pagans, too (3/6/2017)
Paul quote four scripture verses back to back to pound home the point that God always intended to save the Gentiles, as well as Jews, by sending the Messiah.
8-9 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
Romans 15:14-21, God sent Paul to the pagans (3/7/17)
- As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name." [Psalms 18:49]
- 10 And again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." [Deuteronomy 32:43]
- 11 And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him." [Psalms 117:1]
- 12 And again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope." [Isaiah 11:10]
You know, from what I’ve read about Romans and from reading the whole book several times, I’ve always had the idea that Paul was writing about the theology of justification by faith. Now that I’ve gone through the book more carefully, a little bit at a time, I no longer think that’s the main point of the letter.
Paul does talk about the crucial role of faith in salvation, for both Jews and Gentiles, but he mentions justification 15 times, the Jews only 14 times, and the Gentiles 29
times. What Paul mainly seems to be writing about is God’s gracious plan to save the Gentiles, in part by sending Paul to bring them the gospel!
Romans 15:22-33, Paul really wants to visit the church in Rome (3/8/17)
- 21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand." [Isaiah 52:15]
Paul didn’t found the church in Rome, but he’d heard a lot of good things about it, and (as we’ll see tomorrow) he had friends there. Plus, of course, Rome was the capital of a vast
empire – encompassing most of modern Europe, the British Isles, and much of northern Africa and the modern Middle East. Do you suppose he just wanted to see the city?
Anyway, Paul was only interested in preaching the gospel where no one had done so before, and he had been so busy doing that that he had never made it to Rome. By this time, however, he and others had founded so many churches in the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and eastern northern Africa that he wasn’t able to find any more places to work. He decided to visit the church in Rome on his way to Spain. We don’t know whether he made it to Spain or not.
Romans 16:1-16, Hello to everybody (3/9/17)
Remember that Paul had never been to visit the church in Rome, and then notice that he greets more than 20 people by name! Apparently the early Christians traveled a lot, and apparently Paul kept in touch with everybody he ever met. I’ll just point out a couple of things for you to consider. Phoebe (vss. 1-2) is described in the English Standard Version as a “servant,” although the word in Greek is diakonos
, which is often translated “deacon” for men.
Junia (a woman) and Andronicus (vs. 7) are here said to be known to
the apostles; most translations have among
the apostles, which looks to me like a much better reading of the Greek. The latter reading suggests that there were apostles we don’t necessarily know about, and certainly at least two that we don’t think about. This gives me the opportunity to remind you to read more than one translation, at least one modern and with footnotes.
Romans 16:17-27, Postscripts (3/10/17)
P.S. Beware of false doctrine (vss. 17-20).
P.P.S. Everybody says hi (vss. 21-23).
P.P.P.S. God is so great we have to tell the pagans! (vss. 25-27)
After writing the body of his letter and sending greetings to everyone in the church at Rome, Paul and others add a series of postscripts. The first one warns the Romans against false doctrine. Although he writes about false doctrine in the letters to Timothy, Titus, and the Ephesians, his warning here appears more or less out of nowhere.
Then it’s back to the greetings. Eight of the brothers with Paul want to say “hi” to the church at Rome.
Finally, Paul ends with a doxology praising God and pointing out that God has always intended to reveal himself to the pagans.
More of Romans
Introduction; Salvation is not by Law or Circumcision.
Romans – Salvation is by Faith.
Romans – The blessings of Salvation are for both Jews and Greeks.
Copyright 2017 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB. The English Standard Version is Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
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