Romans 1:16-17 What is the Gospel? To the Jew First and also to the Greek [Part 4]
Last updated: 18 May 2020 16:52
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.
for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
This phrase “to the Jew first and also the Greek” can be easily taken out of context and used weirdly if we are not careful. For many people reading this commentary, I could assume in you grew up in a church heavily influence with a Eschatology that involved rapturing of all believers to heaven, followed by a Great Tribulation, then the reigning and ruling of Christ. I know I did. I am not here to debate and pit one eschatology over the other. First, I am not an expert. Second, I would guessing just like any other theologian. Lastly, that is not what we are here to talk about. We are here to discuss Romans 1:16-17.
I am not going to lie, however, on initial reading, I found this phrase particularly peculiar. Why would Paul mention this? What is the purpose of this? Let us go to the rest of the Bible to try to resolve this.
If Christ is the centered of the Scripture and of all history, what would being Jew first and also to Greek have anything to do with Him, if anything? Let remind ourselves that when Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God came to our existence fully God and fully man, he came as a Jewish male.
Now why is that so significant? Jesus being Jewish is what God promised in the Old Testament.
The fact he is in the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, through Judah, to David, through both of David’s sons, Solomon and Nathan down to Joseph and Mary. That is incredibly Jewish.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth in the Galilean region of Israel. That is incredibly Jewish.
But let us not forget that Jesus, while “being the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29), he grew up worshipping as a Jew. He studied in the temples (Luke 2:46-47). He loved and memorized the Scriptures (Luke 4:1-13). He communed with His Father who is God. He preached and taught in the synagogues (Luke 4:14-30). He observed the Sabbath (Luke 6) and celebrated the feasts (John 2:23, 4:45, 5:1, 6:4-5, ch. 7, 10:22-23).
But why the Jews? The Jews were not in power. The Jews have been slaves to Egyptians, at war with all of their enemies on all sides, and was allowed by God to be conquered by those same enemies. They were rarely a regional power. And at the time of Christ, they were being in held in oppression by the Romans. So why a Jew?
Look at what God tells Moses in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 7:6–11 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.
You see that. It was not because what the Jews had done but all because of what God has done and will do. They are small and weak. God is strong. His people flee and run away and live in fear. But God always his people.
And through the Jewish people and the Jewish nation, in this feeble, tiny little boy who grew up filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ would send his Jewish disciples to the corners of the Greco-Roman empire, to the end of the earth to herald that the kingdom of God is here.
And we, as believers in the Christ who lived, died, and was risen to life and glory, proclaims this good news until He returns or calls us home (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:16-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:6-8).