Chapter 15:8-13 (ESV) - For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Question to consider: Paul describes God with words like servant and hope. How does the world view God?
After addressing the Gentiles in being loving toward the Jewish Christians in what they ate and in keeping the sabbaths, Paul reiterated that Christ came to serve the Jews. He healed their sick, went after the lost, and called the haughty to repent and depend upon Him for their entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Implicit in the commands given by God is the promise that they would keep them, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) We read “you shall” as God giving a command that Israel better follow “or else!”, but we should read it more like “you will” because God would make for Himself a people who one day would perfectly love Him in all righteousness. This was assured in a promise given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel that an anointed (one) would come, to “finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal both vision and prophet.” (Daniel 9:24)
This promise was completed at the point in which the household of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:34-48) It is then that the apostle Peter realized that Christ not only came to serve the Jews in fulfilling God’s commands for them, but the Samaritans and Gentiles as well.
In today’s passage, Paul wrote of a litany of prophecies that promised that Christ would come to be the hope and ruler of the Gentiles as well. He took from the Psalms (Psalm 18:49), from Moses (Deuteronomy 32:43) and from the Prophets (Isaiah 11:10) to make his point so that the reader would understand that it was God’s plan all along to reconcile people from every tribe and nation.
Because of this, the church in Rome (and by extension all churches throughout time) had (have) no room for prejudice or foolish pride. Paul stated this even more directly in his letter to the Galatians, “...in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
With this knowledge, Paul prayed that this knowledge would be used by the Holy Spirit to fill the reader of this letter with hope, joy and peace in knowing that the God of all hope would so mercifully reconcile all of us to Himself.
Today, the world is filled with people who believe God is either unknowable or filled with judgment and wrath. They feel this way because they know that based on their own merits, they only deserve wrath, and they do not know God because they reject the means by which He has revealed Himself. The Holy Spirit was sent into the world to convict us of sin (John 16:8) so that we may turn to Christ and live. Even though we see much darkness in the world, we can abound in hope knowing that God is working in the midst of this darkness to bring about His good plan of salvation.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for revealing Yourself to us in scripture as the God of all hope and the servant to people from every tribe and nation in reconciling us to Yourself. Help us to endure the trials and tribulations of this world knowing that You are at work in the midst of it to turn hearts and minds toward Christ. May we also be used by You to that end. Amen.