Romans 15:8-12

Gentiles Owe the Jews

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall


We must accept one another, receiving one another as Christ has received us (verse 7). Exclusiveness needs to be excluded. Jesus came to welcome all people, whatever their differences. We are to do the same.

Jesus proved He intended to overcome exclusiveness by trying to break down one of the most formidable barrier ever erected, the one separating Jews from Gentiles. Christ has united Jews and Gentiles on equal terms. This should motivate us to cultivate love and acceptance toward all.

Rom. 15:8a (Holman) Now I say that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God, . . .

Jesus said, “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Jesus came to minister to people. His earthly servanthood was Jewish in nature. Jesus was a Jew, and His ministry was primarily carried out in the presence of Jews. This fact is often denied in times of intense antisemitism, but is nevertheless true.

Jesus was born, lived, and travelled in Israel. His only departure from Palestine was as a baby, when his dad took Him to Egypt to escape Herod.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus restricted His work mainly to Jews. Jesus came into contact with Gentiles only in indirect ways.

Rom. 15:8b-9a . . .to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy.

The purpose of Jesus servant-ministry was twofold. One, Jesus came to fulfill the promises made to the Hebrew patriarchs. God had promised the Messiah. Jesus was He. Two, Jesus came that Gentiles might share fully in God’s mercy.

Sometimes it is best to commit privileges to a few in order that later these advantages may become the possession of many. God had hoped the Jews would be a small, efficient, well-disciplined corps of missionaries.

Unfortunately, it is not in human nature to desire to share wonderful blessings with the multitudes. The spirit of monopoly is natural to us all. It is one of the ugly forms of selfishness to which we are subject.

The extraordinary privileges the descendants of Abraham received made them selfish and exclusive. They did not want to welcome Gentiles as equals.

To be fair, we should also examine the other side of the coin. The many often disdain the chosen few. Gentiles have ever been slow to accept the fact Jews did have certain advantages. Hence, we have double trouble: the advantaged few are selfish, the many are proud.

Jews must remember Christ became one of them to be a blessing to all people. Gentiles must remember Christ became a Jew to save them. Both groups should bring glory to God through Jesus.

Rom. 15:9b As it written: Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing psalms to Your name.

Paul knew some of the Jewish Christians would have trouble accepting Gentiles believers as equals. To prove God had always intended to unite Jews and Gentiles into one fellowship, Paul appealed to Scripture. His belief was not a new or heretical idea. He bolstered it with quotes from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.

The first quote is Psalms 18:49, which pictures the Psalmist as worshipping God while surrounded by Gentiles of like mind. Paul saw this as confirmation that God had always intended for Jews to declare His name among Gentiles.

Rom. 15:10 Again it says: Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people!

This quote is from Deuteronomy 32:43. It anticipated the Gentiles rejoicing in YHWH along with Israel.

Rom. 15:11 And again: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; all the peoples should praise Him!

Gentiles are by far the largest portion of humanity. This quote from Psalm 117:1 revealed that God had long intended to reap a harvest of praise and honor from this vast sea of mankind.

It is good we Gentiles are learning to praise the Lord. We will be doing it forever. We make requests in prayer, but someday there will be no more need for petition. We believe, but someday sight will swallow faith. We hope, but someday it will fade away in the realization of things hoped for. Praise, though, will go on.

Rom. 15:12 And again, Isaiah says: The root of Jesse will appear, the One who rises to rule the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles will hope.

Paul climaxed this group of Bible quotations by citing the mighty prophet Isaiah (11:1,10). Jerome said Isaiah spoke of the Messiah so often that he should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet.

Isaiah saw that from Jesse’s family there would arise One destined to rule the nations. Though the line of David may be mowed down and in disarray, from the living root there would arise One in whom the Gentiles could hope.

The Romans had a god of hope, but his temple was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. This is exceedingly typical of what hope we had apart from Jesus. All we could anticipate from Heaven was curses, and all we had to look forward to was a burning Hell. But in Jesus, our blessed hope is secure.

Apart from Jesus, Jews have no fulfillment of their promises; apart from Jesus, Gentiles have no hope. Never underestimate the importance of Philip being sent to the Ethiopian Eunuch, of Peter being sent to the Roman soldier Cornelius, and of Paul being sent to Gentiles. We Gentiles were the outcasts of the spiritual world. Until the Gospel came to us, we were sitting in a deep darkness.

Greece’s best contribution to Western Civilization was literature. Greek literature began about 800 years before Christ with Homer’s writing of his two epic masterpieces, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Israel’s sweet Psalmist had already been dead 200 years before Greek literature was even born. The Golden Age of Athens (461 to 431 B.C.) did not happen until 500 years after Solomon had built some of the most majestic buildings in world history.

Rome’s chief contribution to the world was Law. Moses, the greatest lawgiver, had been dead 900 years before Rome even began to codify its laws.

Before our ancestors, the Celts, ever appeared on the pages of history, about 500 B.C., the bulk of the Old Testament had already been written. While our ancestors were groveling in spiritual darkness in the Black Forest, Israel had been espousing monotheism for a millennium.

Fellow Japhethites, never underestimate the density of our ancestral darkness. While Jesus walked among the Jews, the Celts of France, England and Ireland were worshipping oak trees, mistletoe, and the hours of noon and midnight.

Their priests, the druids, predicted the future by reading livers and intestines of sacrificial animals. Irish folklore even says they practiced human sacrifice.

We were 2,000 years behind Abraham and his seed, but Jesus looked on us and brought light into our darkness. Every time an American Christian tours Stonehenge, he should fall down and worship the One who lifted us from despair and superstition.