Tuesday 20 December 2011

Bible Book:

"For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs." (v. 8)

Romans 15:7-13 Tuesday 20 December 2011


In this passage Paul's letter to the church in Rome, we see Paulas a reader and interpreter of the Jewish scriptures (the OldTestament in the Christian Bibles). He quotes from a wide array ofOld Testament books to show that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment ofprophecy: in verse 9, from 2Samuel 22:50 and Psalm18:49; in verse 10, from Deuteronomy 32:43; in verse 11 from Psalm117:1; and in verse 12, from yesterday's passage (Isaiah 11:10).

Just as we are reading and seeking to understand what Paul issaying to us in this chapter, so in this letter Paul is setting outfor the Roman Christians his understanding of what these OldTestament prophecies mean. He is suggesting to his readers, and tous, that all these different Jewish texts were pointing forward tonothing less than the coming of Jesus Christ.

Paul interprets these prophecies as foretelling a time when Godwould be worshipped not just by the Jews, but by Gentiles(non-Jews) as well, and so by "all the peoples" (v. 11). There wascontroversy in the early Church about whether non-Jews could beChristians, or whether everyone who believed in Jesus should becircumcised and keep to Jewish law. Paul's vision won the day: thatthe good news about Jesus was for everyone, and did not require thekeeping of Jewish laws (see Acts15).

The bold and radical vision Paul sets out in these verses, is thathe and his first readers are living at the beginning of a new age,in which the Old Testament prophecies about God being worshipped byall people, are finally coming true. The new Gentile Christians arethe first of a new kind of worshippers, belonging to all kinds ofnations, but worshipping the one God witnessed to by the Jews. Thisis the new age that the coming of Christ has begun.

To Ponder

To what extent is Paul right to believe thatthese Jewish prophecies have come true in his day?

What is the Church doing in making sure thateveryone realises that the coming of Jesus means that everyone canworship the God of Abraham?

As Paul's letter to the church in Rome sets outhis understanding of these Old Testament writings, what would youput in a letter (or email) setting out how we should understandthis passage from Paul?

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