The Gifts and the Calling of God is Irrevocable

Hi friends! Let’s begin the week on an encouraging note!

"There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 2:9). Years ago I tried to convince a pastor of the importance of Jewish evangelism. He responded by citing and, in my opinion, misinterpreting a well-known verse: "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" (Rom 1:16). In the pastor's understanding, "first" refers to chronological order. Historically, the gospel went first to the Jews. But since they rejected it 2000 years ago, it's now time to go to the Gentiles. The best interpretation of Scripture, however, is always Scripture, and fortunately, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" doesn't only appear in Roman 1:16. It appears twice in the very next chapter (Rom 2:9, 10), and its meaning there sheds much light on the meaning in Romans 1:16. In Romans 2:9-10, Paul argues that eschatological punishment and/or reward will be "to the Jew first." Paul obviously cannot mean that one day the Jews will stand at the head of the long line of nations on judgement day to be punished first. Here the word "first" means "especially" (as in the case of Matt 6:33: "Seek first [especially] the kingdom of God...."). Since the Jewish people as a people group have received far more revelation than the Greeks (special revelation as opposed to general revelation) they will be held far more accountable than on other people group on the judgement day. And in this light, we are able to understand Paul's words in Romans 1:16. Since Jesus and the patriarchs are all Jewish, and since the Scriptures, the promises, the covenants, the gifts and the calling were all given to the Jewish people, the gospel is most especially (but not exclusively) for them. Paul's point in Romans 1:16 to a church in Rome that had wrongly concluded that the Jews had their chance and blew it (i.e, the pastor's understanding of this verse) was this: since God's gifts to and calling of the Jewish people are irrevocable, the gospel will always and forever be most especially for them no matter what their response! "From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11:28-29).

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