“Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “ (Rm 15:10-13)
God’s Will For the Jews and the Gentiles
Paul describes the reason Jesus came to the world. Paul said,
“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rm 15:8-9)
In this passage, Paul introduces Jesus’ ministry in two ways. First, Jesus became a servant of the Jews to fulfill the promises God had made to the patriarchs.
But, Jesus’ ministry wasn’t only for the Jews because the promises were not just for them, but for all the people on earth. Paul said that as a result of Jesus’ ministry, the Gentiles came to experience God’s mercy and glorify Him.
Promises Made to the Patriarchs
Here, the patriarchs Paul refers to are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are important figures in the history of Israel because God made the same covenant with them for three generations.
First, when God called Abraham, God said to him,
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gn 12:2-3)
God promised to give Abraham three things—a nation, a land, and a blessing. All the promises are important, but what’s most important is the promise of a blessing. We notice that the same word is repeated 5 times in different forms—bless and blessing.
The Bible often expresses the importance of a concept by repeating words. So, we know that the main point of the covenant God made with Abraham was a blessing. God wanted to bless Abraham so that he could be a blessing to everyone on earth.
After Abraham died, the same promise of the blessing was given to his son, Isaac. God promised Isaac,
“I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Gn 26:3-4)
We find the three things God had promised to Abraham in God’s covenant with Isaac, but what’s most important here is again the promise of the blessing. God told Isaac that He would bless him so that the blessing would be passed down to his offspring, and through his offspring, all nations on earth would also receive the blessing.
This covenant was also passed down to Jacob, Isaac’s son. On the way to Haran, Jacob stopped for the night. He took one of the stones there, put it under his head, and slept. Then, he had a dream in which he saw a stairway and the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Then, Jacob saw the Lord above the stairway. And, God said to him,
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” (Gn 28:13-14)
Here, we find the same covenant God made with Abraham and Isaac again. So, God repeatedly made the same covenant with three generations—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the patriarchs of Israel. In fact, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and his sons and grandsons became the twelve tribes of Israel.
So, it is not an exaggeration to say that the covenant God made with the patriarchs of Israel reveals the purpose of God choosing them and blessing them. It’s for them to be God’s blessing to the world so that everyone on earth may be blessed through them.
The Blessing of God: To Be Justified by Faith
Then, what is the blessing God gave them and wanted all nations to have through them? Paul talks about this in Galatians chapter 3.
“Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gl 3:8-9)
The blessing God gave to Abraham was to be justified by faith. Abraham was the first person whom God credited as ‘righteous’ not by his works but by his faith.
That’s the promise made to the patriarchs that Paul refers to in Romans chapter 15. Paul said that Christ became a servant of the Jews to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs.
It means that Jesus came to the world as a Jew, a descendant of Abraham, so that the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob might be fully fulfilled in Him. But, even though Jesus was a Jew, He didn’t only come for the Jews, but for everyone on earth.
Just as God blessed Abraham so that all people on earth would be blessed through him, the blessing God gave through Jesus wasn’t only for the Jews but for everyone on earth. That’s why after describing the first purpose of Jesus coming to the world—to confirm the promises of patriarchs—Paul added, “Moreover the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rm 15:8-9)
Paul also said in Gal 3:13-14,
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us… in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus” (Gl 3:13-14)
The fact that the Gentiles would be blessed along with the Israelites can be found in many prophecies. Paul introduces four of them in Romans 15:9-12.
“As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him. And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” (Rom 15:9-12)
The first quote was written by King David.. Even though David was a king of Israel, he praised the Lord among the Gentiles. In the second quote, which is from Deuteronomy, Moses urges the Gentiles to rejoice with God’s people. Here, the Gentiles are not just observers, but participants.
In the third quote, the psalmist prophesied that all people including the Gentiles would praise the Lord and extol Him. And, in the last quote, the prophet Isaiah foresaw that the Root of Jesse, the Messiah, would come and rule over the whole world and the Gentiles would find hope in Him.
All of these verses point out what Jesus would fulfill and recover through His ministry. And, as promised in the Bible, Jesus came to the world as a Jew to fulfill all the prophecies in the Old Testament, and he brought true blessing and salvation to both the Jews and the Gentiles so that they could praise the Lord together with one voice and one mind. That’s God’s will for the Jews and the Gentiles.
Benediction of Hope
Now, Paul concludes what he covered about the relationship between the strong and the weak and the Jews and the Gentiles with prayer.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rm 15:13)
The key point of this prayer is hope. But, the hope Paul’s talking about here is different from general hope.
The hope Paul refers to here is for the day when the Jews and the Gentiles enjoy God’s blessing together and worship Him with one voice. That day hasn’t come yet. But, when Christ comes, we’ll see this be fulfilled.
A great multitude of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language will stand before the throne of God and praise Him. That’s the hope we’re looking forward to in Christ. If we have this hope, we won’t reject other Christians who have different opinions, but accept them without fighting and seek their good, following Jesus’ example.
The Truths of Jesus and Our Lives
So, for three weeks, we’ve talked about how people who have strong faith should treat those whose faith is weak. Paul said that we should not judge them but accept them. What’s notable is that everythingPaul used to support his argument is related to Jesus.
First, we find Jesus’ death and resurrection in Paul’s argument. Paul said, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life” (Rom 14:9). Since Jesus died and was resurrected to be our Savior and Lord and to accept us, we should also accept our brothers and sisters despite our differences.
Second, we find the return of Jesus. The reason we shouldn’t judge each other is because Jesus will return as the Judge and we’ll all stand before God’s judgment seat. So, judging others is to take away God’s right to judge.
What Paul’s saying is that the truths of Jesus—that He died, rose from the dead, and will return—should form the foundation for our lives. Because Jesus died for our sins, we should die to sin. Because Jesus died to love us and accept us, we should love and accept one another.
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we should live for God and purify ourselves, looking forward to the day when we’ll see Him face to face. And, because Jesus promised to return, we should continue to prepare for the day He comes back. That’s how we should live out our faith in Jesus, based on the truths about His death, resurrection, and return.