We’re continuing in the book of Romans as Paul explains to us the place of Israel in God’s plan. He now looks at the Jew-Gentile relationship. He starts by asking another question.
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
He asks the rhetorical question; did Israel trip to the point where they fell and lost it all? The answer is a resounding “No!” He says that their side-slip opened up salvation for the Gentiles. At this point, God is using this chance at salvation to provoke a rivalry.
So, if their side-slip means riches for the world, and their deterioration means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their completion be? God’s goal through all of this is not Israel’s destruction. The Lord is looking for their total restoration.
Paul now reminds us who he’s talking to.
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
Paul is specifically writing to Gentiles. It’s important that we understand his ministry. That word, apostle, means one who is set apart and sent out on a mission.
According to Paul, his mission is the Gentiles. At one point Paul submitted his Gospel to the Apostles in Jerusalem. He wanted to make sure he was in sync with the rest of Christianity at that time.
As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
In their meeting, they clearly saw the hand of God at work. Peter was obviously called to evangelize the Jews. Paul, on the other hand, was uniquely qualified to bring the message of Christ to the Gentile world.
Both Peter and Paul understood this important truth. We’re not called to do everything and reach everybody. Each one of us has a unique and specific area of ministry. We get into trouble when we try to be like someone else.
In Romans 11:13, above, Paul tells us that he glorifies that area of service – it’s of great importance to him. Yet, in the next verse, he tells us that he’s still hoping to win Israel to Christ.
The Apostle Paul has to deal with the same issues in his ministry that we deal with each day. He has a God-ordained ministry, yet he would rather do something different. He would rather be reaching the Jews.
The simple fact is that Paul wasn’t a Peter. What was it about Peter that he could win a thousand Jews to Christ at a time? I don’t know, but God was at work through his gifts and personality.
Paul was a totally different person. It’s clear that reaching the Jewish people was not his strong point. In spite of that, he tried again and again to reach them. And, whenever he did, he ran into trouble – he was stoned, thrown into jail, or had to go into hiding and leave the city.
We need to learn this lesson. We have to go before God and spend time in His presence. That’s how we come to understand our unique calling. We’ll begin to see who we personally are meant to reach and how to accomplish it. Time in the spirit is a great benefit to our ministry.
Questions: Who are you called to reach? How has God qualified you to do it?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi