Saturday, 19 August 2017

All One in Him

As much as Paul didn't want Jewish Christians to think less of Gentiles, he also wanted to make sure Gentile Christians at Rome didn't think less of Jews. 

The tendency in other cities was probably more the other way - that Gentile Christians might ea
sily be led astray into feeling they needed to become proselytes to Judaism in order to really be up to standard. And to avoid that grave mistake, Paul was constantly writing letters to the churches in those cities, building-up the Gentiles' esteem, and confronting the Judaisers head-on.

But Rome may have had something else going on too. Yes Paul still made the point that Jews needn't demand that Gentiles become proselytes. But there may have also been a tendency at Rome for some Gentiles to kind of reverse the 'racism' if you call it that, this time towards the Jews. 

Claudius had not too long before expelled all Jews from the city. By the time Paul wrote, Jews must have filtered back into the city, and back into the church. In the meantime Gentile Christians would have gotten quite used to living-out their Christian life without being disturbed by the Judaism question at all. But now Paul also wanted to make sure they didn't go too far the other way by thinking God was over with saving Jews altogether.

The fact that the congregation at Rome might have been predominantly Gentile, didn't mean God wasn't saving Jewish people any more. He'd already saved many Jews, and was still saving more, Paul explained! Gentiles and Jews were mutually ministering to and benefiting each other spiritually. That's how it was always meant to be, actually - and God had left the door wide open to both Gentiles and Jews. 

That scenario was precisely what the Prophets had foreseen. It had been a bit of a mystery though - they never fully understood what it was all going to look like - but the Gospel explained it. 

The Gospel was to be first to the Jew, and also to the Greek - then Gentiles and Jews would continue getting saved together, in one body - with no ethnicity having the door closed on it, and no-one a second-rate member irrespective of whether or not he observed Jewish cultural markers. By explaining this, Paul hoped to achieve unity of thought in the congregation at Rome. Isn't that beautiful! 

So what Paul probably wasn't saying is anything like that God was blinding Jewish people just so He could save Gentiles and then one day when He's got enough Gentiles He won't focus on them anymore and then He'll finally stop blinding Jewish people and they'll all be saved like after the Second Coming or something. 

No, the text of Romans itself tells us what the issue was which Paul was addressing in the church at Rome - and Paul answered the question by explaining a timeless truth of the Gospel, a truth which he fully applied directly to their very own situation in the first century AD. 

And it's still the gospel-truth. No individual is excluded on the basis of race from the salvation-offer; and once saved no-one needs to start carrying-out modern-Judaisms. We are all one in Him, and complete in Him, JESUS.