Monday, January 30, 2012

Romans 10: All are Welcome

As we’ve seen in the last nine chapters, Paul has a problem. He is a Jew and as such believes in the covenant (read unique, special, one of a kind) relationship that God established with Israel. However, Jesus has come, died, and was resurrected, fulfilling long standing messianic prophecies and bringing salvation to the Jews. Thing is Jesus didn’t fulfill the expectations of the Jews. The Romans still had the upper hand. Israel, the nation, was just a pipe dream. The Kingdom of God had come, but the oppressor still lord it over the Temple. To further complicate matters, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, the early church soon understands that Jesus didn’t come just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. To a dedicated Jew all this makes no sense. How can God have a covenant relationship with Jews, yet say that all can belong in His Kingdom? And if Gentiles are part of the family do they need to follow the law? And if they don’t need to follow the law, then are these Christians saying the law (and therefore God’s word) is worthless?

These are difficult questions that to the modern ear seem irrelevant. Yet the answers to these questions are central in understanding our relationship to God. Paul wants us to understand two things:
  1. Everyone and anyone can now be part of God’s story. Even if you are a Greek from Attica, your story and identity includes what God did with Abraham and Moses and David. Gentiles are grafted to the tree. 
  2. The central character in that story is Jesus, who has come for the Jew and the Gentile. 
Paul continues to address these questions in following chapters, but he makes clear in chapter ten that it is Jesus who brings us hope and that with Jesus comes our salvation. As Paul says in verse twelve, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”


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