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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome to HBS and our verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Romans.
There aren’t any announcements this week so we’ll get to the business at hand.
Please open your Bible at Romans chapter 11 and we’ll drop in at verse 11.
11: I say then, they (Israel) did not stumble so as to fall, (in the sense that they were removed from God’s eternal purpose and plan) did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, (why) to make them (the Jews) jealous.
We learned last week that God has not given up on national Israel. The majority of the Jews have stumbled over the “chief cornerstone” but not so as to fall (Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20).
I remember a time, when after filling a cup of coffee in the kitchen, I was returning to the office with it when I tripped over a throw rug and “stumbled.” The coffee spilt but I regained my balance without “falling” to the floor and without being injured permanently. This is what Paul is saying. Israel stumbled, as the O.T. prophets predicted they would. But they are not down and out for this is prophesied as well! They will recover (Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 6:9-10a, 44:21; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Zechariah 11:12-13b).
So, Israel’s transgression has brought about salvation to the Gentiles. This was spoken of by the prophet Hosea: I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23)
I remind you of Hosea’s comment to illustrate Israel’s awareness of the Scriptures. From the time when they were children every Israelite had been taught from the Pentateuch and they in turn taught their children, as the LORD God commanded them (Deuteronomy 6:7).
But here’s the problem. They possessed the book knowledge but they were missing the necessary personal relationship, or the “circumcision of the heart,” which God required. They could recite the Scriptures by heart but they did not have a heart for God, as Paul explains: For he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28)
The Jewish rite of circumcision was instigated by the LORD God as a sign of His covenant with Abraham and as an as an everlasting ordinance. It is an “outward” sign of one’s willingness to obey God. What Israel failed to understand is that this ordinance was a forerunner of what God really sought – circumcision of the heart. The LORD God chastised Israel saying: So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16; Isaiah 29:13)
“Circumcise your heart” is a command from God. It put the responsibility for yielding on Israel – meaning they had to submit to God’s authority and His discipline (Deuteronomy 11:13; Leviticus 26:3; Hebrews 12:6).
In the beginning, the LORD commanded Abraham that every male among you be circumcised on the 8th day after their birth (Genesis 17:9-14). It goes without saying the infant could not perform the rite himself he needed assistance. Think this through - just as two parties are necessary to perform the rite of circumcision likewise two parties are necessary to circumcise the heart. God never intended to do this alone.
Here God tells Israel He will perform the circumcision and this can only occur as they labor together: “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 9:24-26; Matthew 13:18-23; Romans 8:14).
Let’s go to verse 12.
12: Now if their (the Jews) transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles (who believe), how much more will their (Israel’s) fulfillment be!
Before Israel stumbled if a Gentile wanted to know and worship the one true God he had to convert to Judaism. He then had to journey to Jerusalem as the Law required but even then he could not worship God directly, only Levitical priests did this. After the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) God called Saul of Tarsus to be his Apostle to the Gentiles and the way God managed His affairs here on earth began to change; from then on the Jews transgression became riches for the world.
The Greek word for world is Kosmos (pronounced – Kos’-mos) and can be interpreted multiple ways. As it’s used here Paul is contrasting Believing Gentiles to unsaved Jews.
The Greek word for riches is Ploutos (pronounced – Ploo’-tos) and means: fullness, abundance, plenitude; a good, i.e. that with which one is “enriched.”
The Gentiles in Paul’s day were pagans in every sense of the word; idolaters – having no hope and without God in the world (Romans 1:21-25). But Israel’s transgression became riches for the Gentiles. After God revealed His mystery of Grace to Paul he preached it freely and under all circumstances in Ephesus, Corinth, and even Caesar’s household in Rome – the whole world (Ephesians 3:1-7; Philippians 4:22).
I’m sure you noticed that when you became a Believer God didn’t increase your bank account ten-fold, your Chevrolet didn’t turn into a Mercedes Benz, that beach home you’ve been dreaming of still isn’t your postal address, and most of you are still working for a living – so much for the prosperity gospel… But what you did instantaneously possess the moment you believed Paul’s Gospel were all the spiritual riches in Christ Jesus.
You may be living below the poverty level in America right now but in reality your citizenship is in heaven, you have been adopted by the one true living God, and you are co-heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ! Permit these truths to sink in… These are the riches Paul is referring to as he addresses the Gentile Believers in Rome in verse 13. (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 1:3-5)
13: But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles, inasmuch then as I am an (*) (the) apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, (Acts 9:15)
14: if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
Paul has been directing his comments to his brethren in the last three chapters however, in verse 13 he speaks to the Gentile Believers in Rome.
Now there are a couple of things I want to point out to you casual Bible readers:
(*) The modern Bible translations have erased the word “the” preceding the word ”apostle” in verse 13 and inserted the word “an” instead and this not only violates the original text it alters Paul position as the apostle to the Gentiles. Instead of being “the” apostle to the Gentiles he is made to assume a lesser role, as one of a group – ministering together, and this is an intentional contradiction of Scripture!
Here is the same verse in the King James Version: For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
I mention this because most people are unaware of the harm that comes from changing one small word in the Bible text. If Paul is not God’s apostle to the Gentiles, than he’s lying. What effect does this then have on his ministry and his message?
The next item in line is some folks in the church community are “bothered” by our apostle Paul and his statements such as I magnify my ministry. Not only do they deny his apostleship and that he had ministry they regard him as arrogant and a braggart.
These folks fail to comprehend that:
a) Paul was commissioned by Jesus Christ to take God’s Gospel to the Gentiles, and kings, and the sons of Israel and
b) when Paul resorted to boasting he did so to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in whatever city he preached in, so that he may save some, and to protect the church of God from false teachers.
I hadn’t planned on doing this, but a verse just came to mind and since I don’t believe in coincidence I believe in God and the working of the Holy Spirit we’re going to chase this thought down. So, to get a clear picture of Paul and his heart for God, please flip back to Romans 1:1. Here Paul introduces himself to the Believers in Rome in a unique way and he presents his credentials: Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Most Bible translations of Romans 1:1 use either the word slave or servant in defining Paul’s relationship with the Lord, but the phrase “bond-servant” is the most accurate.
This type of bond comes from Exodus 21:1-6. According to the Law, a man who couldn’t pay a debt he owed had to become the servant of his creditor in order to work off the debt, or until the next Sabbath year, whichever was shorter. If, during the time of his temporary service, he concluded that his master was a good man to work for, he could voluntarily convert his term of service into a lifelong commitment. In doing so he was agreeing to permanently surrender his own interests in favor of his master’s, to do whatever the master required. It was the servant’s choice to enter into a bond-servant relationship with his master, but once the agreement was made he could not choose to undo it later. It was a lifelong commitment.
If his master agreed, they would go before the judges to make the arrangement official, and then the master would drive an awl through his servant’s earlobe and into the door post of the house. This signified that the servant had become permanently "attached" to the master’s household. According to some traditions a golden ring was inserted through the hole in the bond servant’s ear to commemorate the event.
Because of the nature and permanence of the relationship, a bond-servant frequently became a trusted member of his master’s household, eventually representing him in matters pertaining to his business or personal interests.
As Paul demonstrates through this analogy, it’s not possible to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind without getting emotional about it.
Paul had to defend his apostleship and his ministry wherever he preached God’s gospel: “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9; 2 Peter 3:14-17)
What does this book say?
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, starting in chapter 11, Paul gives us the reason for his “boasting” – his plan is to meet the opposition point for point. He does not intend to back down because God’s Gospel is being perverted. Here Paul boasts for the cause of Jesus Christ to warn against “false teachers.” In respect to the Corinthian intruder’s boasts concerning their service records, Paul confidently can claim that he surpasses all his opposition: Do they claim to be servants of Christ Jesus...? Paul says I am more. (2 Corinthians 11:21b-25)
Paul addresses these same false teachers: But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ, no wonder for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose (what) end will be according to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
Paul does not boast of the things he has accomplished to “puff himself up” before others. Isn’t this why people brag? Paul is only interested in vindicating the cause of Jesus Christ and protecting His church.
(To be continued)
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