(g) The Oracles of God
Having spent an entire chapter dealing with the sinfulness of the Jewish people Paul now comes to an important question, which he anticipated. Some may ask; ‘If the Jews are as sinful as the Gentiles is there no possible advantage in being a Jew? Is our identity therefore meaningless?” That of course was not what Paul was teaching and he did not wish to be misrepresented.
The Jews are pivotal in our understanding of the history of redemption and have a definite role in God’s future plans for the world, as Paul will show later in this letter. No-one can possibly examine the Old Testament Scriptures and the importance of the stock of Abraham, only to say that it is meaningless to be a Jew. Paul, however, states that the chief advantage of the Jew was their possession of the “oracles of God”.
We shall stop and examine this phrase because it is a most unique term elevating and honouring the excellence and magnificence of Holy
1: The Classification of the Oracles
The word oracle is used in our language to describe an indisputable and utterly reliable source of truth. In reality, however, the only source of knowledge which can be truly described as the oracle is that which comes from God, namely the Bible. The American theologian BB Warfield in his writings on “The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible” examined the Greek word “logia” (translated “oracle”) in classical Greek usage
before coming to this conclusion; “…divinely authoritative communications, before which men stand in awe and to which they bow in humility: and this high meaning is not merely implicit, but is explicit in the term.”
2: The Convention of the Oracles
This passage and the three other occasions where the expression is used in the New Testament would certainly corroborate Warfield’s conclusion:
Acts 7:38, “lively oracles” – The personal living message.
Hebrews 5:12, “the first principles of the oracles of God” – The
key fundamentals of the message which must be taught.
I Peter 4:11, “If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of
God” – preaching which is Bible focused brings God’s truth.
3: The Custody of the Oracles
As the greatest honour that the Jews had was their custody of the oracles, so our greatest honour and privilege is our possessing of the Bible. We must be faithful in reading the Bible, receiving its lessons with humility and relaying its truth to others. We must refuse comprise that which erodes the sacred truths contained in the Scriptures.
4: The Content of the Oracles
In Romans 3:1 the oracles are the Old Testament. It is true, however, that the New Testament is also an integral part of the complete oracle, the repository of truth. In 2nd Timothy 3:15-16 Paul moves from the “holy scriptures” which Timothy learned to “all scripture” which is uniquely inspired or God breathed, this includes the New Testament canon.
5: The Consistency of the Oracles
The rational inference drawn from this teaching is:
1. The oracles are divinely preserved for our edification.
2. The oracles are infallible.
3. The oracles are essential for our spiritual knowledge and growth in grace. Unsaved people are born again through the scriptures (1 Peter 1:23) and Christians are convicted of sin (2 Timothy 3:16), sanctified (John 17:17) and instructed in the will of God (Psalm 119:105) through the Scriptures.