Topic: Three Kinds of Ministry Explained
Text: Romans 15:8-33
Memory Verse: Romans 15:13
Romans 15:8-33 concerns the Jews and the Gentiles in the church. It reveals three different ministries that we must recognize and understand. The first two has to do with both Jesus’ and Paul’s ministries to the Gentiles and the Jews. The last concerns Gentiles Churches’ ministry to Jews.
1. Jesus’ Ministry to Jews and Gentiles (15:8 – 13)
One might say that Jesus had a “dual” ministry, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. When the Messiah was born in Bethlehem, His coming was announced to the Jewish nation and related to the Old Testament promises. As verse 8 states clearly, the Lord was first “a servant of the Jews” for the purpose of confirming the Old Testament covenants and promises (Luke 1:30 –33, 46 –55 and 68). The Spirit-filled Jews knew that the Messiah had come to deliver them from the Gentiles and establish the promised kingdom.
Then what happened? The people of Israel rejected their King on three occasions:
- They allowed Herod to murder the King’s messenger, John the Baptist.
– They asked for Jesus to be murdered.
- They themselves murdered Stephen.
In the Gospels and Acts, the Gospel is delivered “to the Jew first.” Had Israel received the Messiah, the kingdom would have been set up, and the blessings would have flowed out to the Gentiles through a converted Israel. Paul has now already shown [in Romans 9-11] that it is through Israel’s fall (not her rise to glory) that the Gospel of God’s grace has gone out to the Gentiles.
Now, let’s look closely at verses 9 – 12. We can see a pattern of progress here:
• The Gentiles hear the Word (verse 9 – Psalm 18:49)
• The Gentiles rejoice with the Jews (verse 10 – Deuteronomy 32:43)
• All the Gentiles praise God on their own (verse 11 – Psalm 117:1)
• The Gentiles put their hope/faith in the Messiah (verse 12 – Isaiah 11:10).
These verses almost summarize the spiritual history of Israel. The theme of the Gentile’s praise is the Lord Jesus. Speaking of that future day when the King reigns, verse 12 says – “The Gentiles will hope in Him.” Paul then writes about the theme of “hope” in the prayer of verse 13. We do not have to wait to have joy, peace and hope. God can give us those blessings now. He is the “God of hope.”
2. Paul’s Ministry to Jews and Gentiles (15:14-22)
Paul was anxious to emphasize that he was the apostle to the Gentiles. In verse 16, Paul pictures himself as a New Testament priest, offering up the Gentiles to God as his sacrifice of praise. Every time we lead a person to faith in Jesus, we too are offering another sacrifice to His glory. Concerning Paul’s special ministry to the Gentiles, we see that it involved at least three things:
- Special message (the Gospel of grace – verse 16 and Ephesians 2:1 – 10)
– Special miracles (verses 18-19)
– Special method (verse 20 – going where Jesus “was not known”)
Paul was a pioneer – a true apostle and church planter. As he preached the risen Lord, he did not mix law and grace, faith and works, or Israel and the church. We know that the Jews “demand miraculous signs” (1 Corinthians 1:22), but God also gave miracles for the Gentiles (at Ephesus for instance – see Acts 19:11 – 12).
Paul had been hindered from going to Rome, not by Satan, but by the demands of ministry in so many places where the Gospel was unknown. Now that he had covered so much area, he was ready to go to Rome. The fact that Paul was willing to preach in Rome shows that no other apostle had been there. Again, his policy was to go to areas untouched by the Gospel – “where Jesus was not known.”
3. The Gentile Churches’ Ministry to Jews (15:23-33)
Paul desired to go to Spain. Whether or not he ever went to Spain, the Bible does not say. [Tradition says that he did.] At the time he wrote this letter he was busy in taking a relief offering to the poor Jews in Palestine. The Gentile churches that Paul started contributed this special offering. For details, see 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8-9. Paul gave this very significant reason for the offering:
Notice the spiritual obligation of the Gentile believers in verse 27. Since the Gentiles had received all their spiritual blessings through the Jews, the Gentiles were to pay them back in some measure with material things. Believers today need to bear in mind that Gentiles are debtors to the Jews.
Notice in the final words of this chapter that the apostle was praying that he would “be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea” (verse 31). This prayer was granted. Although the Jews [through the Romans] seized Paul (Acts 22:24 – 27) and his life was in danger (Acts 23:12), he survived and journeyed to Rome where he preached the gospel (Acts 28:16–31). Verse 33 brings the formal part of Paul’s letter to a conclusion. All that remain are greetings and a word of warning.
This chapter emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between the Jew, the Gentile and the church (1 Corinthians 10:32). In fact, Paul’s very last words in his letter to the Romans deal with that great mystery of the church, which he revealed through his message.
1. What was Paul’s priestly duty with reference to Romans 15:16?
2. Why were the Gentile Churches obliged and motivated in sharing their material blessings with the Jews?
3. Jesus has a dual ministry, both to the Gentiles and the Jews. Explain