Read - Romans 3:1-2
Message - Alan Burke
So far in the book of Romans Paul has been making it clear that what ever we may think is reason for our own confidence before the Lord, no matter who we are we have none! Unless that is of course our confidence is in the Jesus Christ and what he has done. What Paul has been doing is the dismantling work, the wrecking work, tearing down all the nonsense that people choose to believe, he wants to remove the false assurance, the false security, false comfort and presumptions that many people have in their relationship with God or more often their presumed relationship with God that isn’t based on fact, rather it a figment of their own imagination.
Last week Paul had been addressing specifically the relationship of the Jews with the Law, but the name of God was being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of them (2:24), as well addressing Circumcision and the confidence that was placed in the sign,. As Paul did he reminded them that a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, it must be inwardly (1:28-29). Ultimately the problem was religion, for they had a deficient understanding, they had the sign of the covenant without the inward reality so it was meaningless. The question now posed by Paul is one that would no doubt been raised from what he had just said in chapter 2 is that of advantage. Asking what advantage is there in being a Jew and circumcision? The answer comes and it is clear, in every way there is advantage!
Look to what he says in v2, “First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God”. Now I have the NIV, if you have the ESV or KJV, they both says “Chiefly” instead of “First of all”, simple reason, the Greek word used literally means first, but notice there was no second, so this is not a first of a argument of, first, second, third that Paul rhymes off to deal with this objection rather it is chiefly, the first of important and it’s not that the Jews were better off in every way economically, politically, strategically, socially, militarily, it might have been the case for those things at different times in their history but those things are neither here nor there, they didn’t matter, but what did is that they were entrusted with the very word of God.
You’ll read oracles in some translations. What was chiefly of their advantage was that they had the word of God, they had His orioles, they had his revealed will, the living and active Word of God, namely, the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. While both Jew and Gentiles are both equally guilty because of their sin, the Jews themselves had an advantage that the Gentiles did not have, that the nations around did not have, they had the word of God. For throughout points to the need of salvation by another, it speaks of God’s promised Messiah, the seed of the woman, the Lord of David. God had been making clear to His people that what they needed to do above all things is to put their faith in Him.
I want to take this passage from a different angle as we close. Now Paul as you can see is talking about the advantage of being a Jew or the value of being circumcised. We are not Jewish culturally, nor are we circumcised, but if you are reading this you more than likely have grown up in the church of Jesus Christ and would identify as a Christian one who has been given the covenant sign and seal of baptism. Do you know that you have so many advantages that there are people that surround you do not have. But identifying as a Christian and being baptised does not save. I’m often confronted with people who have attached some superstitious nonsense to baptism and the Lord’s supper, but these things do not guarantee salvation, if Paul was writing today he would remind us that membership, baptism, the Lord’s supper does not guarantee salvation, Jesus warned we may honour him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him, what we need just as the Jews need was faith, to have a heart transformed by the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Q3 What do the scriptures principally teach?
The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. (2 Tim. 1:13, 2 Tim. 3:16)