Saturday, 11 January 2014
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, Romans 15:8
In verses 8-12, Paul is going to make an observation concerning the all-encompassing work of Christ for and toward the people of the world, both Jew and Gentile. As he said in the preceding verse, we are to “receive one another, just as Christ also received us.” This includes both Jew and Gentile and he will demonstrate this now. And so he begins with “Now I say…” He is affirming in advance what he is about to relay. His words in Greek are comparable to “I say indeed…”
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision…” The word “Christ” in Greek means the same thing as the Hebrew word we translate as “Messiah.” And both words literally mean “anointed one.” Paul is saying that Jesus is this anointed one of God and in this role as the Messiah of the Jews, He became a “servant to the circumcision.” The term “circumcision” specifically means the covenant people. The rite was initiated in Genesis 17 to confirm the covenant between God and Abraham. This covenant line went through Isaac, Jacob, and to the 12 sons of Israel.
Had Jesus not been born through the Jewish people, He could not have been the Messiah of the Jews because the covenant line was defined through them. But being born of this line, He was so qualified. And so as a member of this covenant community, He became “a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God.” He left His exalted heavenly position and, as Paul tells us in Philippians 2:7, 8 –
He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
This humbling of Himself had to occur in order “to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” The Old Testament is filled with promises of One who would come to correct the fallen state of man. The first promise was made to Adam just after the fall. After him, they continued to be made to the fathers – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, etc. The promises continued in the prophets as their proclamations clarified the role of this coming Messiah. These promises are so numerous and so detailed that ultimately only one person could ever meet them all. This then is one of the purposes of the gospels. They show that Christ is the fulfillment of the promises.
The book of Acts continues to demonstrate this and then the epistles explain His work as the “servant to the circumcision for the truth of God.” God spoke; God fulfilled. His word has proven itself both true and reliable. But the work of Christ did more than fulfill the promises to the people of the circumcision. There was another group to be included in Messiah’s work. Paul will continue to explain the details in the verses ahead.
Life application: If the Bible is from God, then it will be reliable, infallible, and inerrant in all it proclaims and teaches. The things it claims will happen will surely to come to pass. Because it meets these standards, it demonstrates that it is truly the word of God. And so, what it expects of us is authoritative. It is to be the guide for our life and doctrine. Let us continue to apply its precepts to our lives, to the glory of God.
Lord Jesus, it seems as if trying times are never far away. For each day of joy and happiness, one comes along that reminds me this isn’t really my home. I know that You have something better in store for us than the ups and downs of this daily life. And because of that, I will keep my eyes on You and my hope and heart in what lies ahead, not in the temporary and quickly fading pleasure of this world. I long for the day You gather us to You. Amen.