Paul advances the cause of Christ’s kingdom to a broken divided world by being optimistic, a biblical optimism based on the ancient promises. Christ is the only answer for our world and our nations, let us give ourselves to his cause!
Paul, The Apostle to the Gentiles
(a) Paul’s People
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.
The remainder of chapter 15 is occupied by Paul’s own appraisal of his own ministry. This section is biographical and as such gives us some insight into the labour and the heart of Paul, the man who was called of God to minister unto the Gentile peoples. The first subsection lays a foundation in that he explains why it was proper for the Church to include the Gentiles. His call would have been an emotional urge rather than a divine commission if it was not scriptural for the Gentiles to be incorporated into the evangelistic programme of the Church. Therefore in writing to a body of believers serving in the greatest Gentile city in the world he teaches that he serves a people whose glorious destiny is wrapped up in Old Testament theology.
1: The Saviour of the Gentiles v8-9
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.
In these verses two peoples are in view, but one Saviour. It was important for Paul to emphasise this because the Romans presided over a fractured world. The Greeks considered those who did not embrace their culture and language as being barbarian. The Greeks also hated the Romans for superseding them as the dominant Mediterranean power. The Romans divided their society into Freemen and Bond-men. To crown it all the Jews regarded all Gentiles as being not only pagans but dogs. Within the church, however, these old divisions were healed as freemen, bond-men, Greeks, Romans, Barbarians, Gentiles and Jews gathered to worship the one Saviour united in the one faith. Paul, in these verses, takes the most potent religious division, that between Jews and Gentiles, showing that Christ is the Messiah sent to save both.
In verse 8 Paul emphasises that Christ came to the Jews first of all, as a Jewish man (John 1:11). This spirit continued in Paul’s own ministry as he preached to the Jew first (Romans 1:16). The Apostle stresses that the Saviour was not merely Jesus, but Christ, as he was the anointed Messiah for whom the Jews longed, but when he came they rejected him. All the promises made unto the fathers (or the Patriarchs were confirmed or fulfilled to the Jewish people in the person of Christ the Messiah. In verse 9, however, Paul continues by explaining that Christ also came for the Gentiles, in order that they might “glorify God for his mercy.” Therefore God’s promises to the Patriarchs included the Gentiles in their scope, and these were fulfilled when Jesus came into the world. At the close of this verse he quotes from Psalm 18:49. Here David is singing praise among the heathen. In Romans Paul shows us that Christ himself is singing because the mercy of God has been extended to the Gentile peoples.
2: The Song in the Gentiles v10—11
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
One normally considers Moses as a prophet whose ministry was among the Jews. Yet here Paul draws, in 10, from Deuteronomy 32:43 where are nations are called upon to rejoice with the Hebrew people. Even in the days of Moses an international plan of mercy was being unfolded. This programme of grace will not be complete until the Jews receive Christ the Messiah and the Church becomes both Jewish and Gentile as both peoples sing of the one Saviour.
In v11 Paul makes his appeal to the Psalm 117, the shortest of the Psalms. Despite being brief the scope of this song is exceedingly broad in its outlook. An examination of Psalm 117 will show that spiritual songs are to be regulated by the principle of praising God for his mercy toward us. As Gentile peoples we have a true reason for praising God, let us do so with the rich legacy of hymns that have been given to us through the great revivals in the English speaking church.
3: The Sovereign over the Gentiles v12
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.
Paul’s final quotation from this subsection is taken from Isaiah 11:10. We observe the man Jesus, coming from the root of Jesse, the one who is the Son of David. David represented the lineage of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Therefore when Jesus was born he was a prince in the truest sense. This prince is one who reigns spiritually over the Church. The Church includes Gentile people from around the world and those who seek him will enjoy a glorious rest. Isaiah 11 depicts a world transformed by the reign of Christ, a fractured world being brought to a state of blessed and everlasting peace. The marks of sin and the curse blight every society under the sun. What is the only hope? How can men and women be brought to peace? Only by subjecting themselves to Christ. Paul advanced the cause of Christ’s kingdom to a dying world by being optimistic, a biblical optimism based on the ancient promises. Christ is the only answer for our world and our nation, let us give ourselves to his cause!