Romans 3:1-2 ~ world champs

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Are the Yankees the most successful baseball team in history?  Yes, in many ways.  First of all, they’ve won 27 World Series Titles.  Next question. 

I'm a Cubs fan, but I have to admit, no World Series titles in the past 100 years is pretty pathetic.  27 is a lot more than 0.  There would be great benefits to being a Yankees fan.

This is Paul's argument too… except for the baseball thing.  Paul says:

1 Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? 2 Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. (NLT)

In the previous chapter, Paul has launched such a “devastating attack” (Harrison, Expositors) on Israel’s system of religion that Paul asks the question that we all would be asking (assuming we had actually been paying attention to a long argument and that we weren't in the habit of just reading Romans by snippets and verses— please see this post), “So did Israel really have a περισσov (superior advantage) at all?

“Yes, of course they did!” Paul reminds us now.  “There are great benefits to being Jewish!” 

Okay, Paul, like what?  Because you've just spent quite a bit of energy making me question this whole living under God's law sort of lifestyle… So why would it be good to be Jewish?

Well, first of all, Paul says, Jews were “entrusted with the whole revelation of God." 

… and then Paul starts talking about something else in verse 3.

This is all Paul says about the benefits.  It seems that we’re left hanging.  The next verses switch to another sub-argument as he builds his multi-chapter thought process.  In fact, Paul isabout to take a six-chapter hiatus from the topic of the "superior advantage of Israel"— (he'll resume briefly again in 9:4-5.)   Paul’s mind is singular in focus… but his focus sees many things at once. 

Note:  (This is one reason why we shouldn’t take verses out of context… because sometimes they are informed by huge sections of Scripture.  I understand that reading entire sections of a book like Romans goes against how we've been trained to read the Bible… but it's how Paul meant Romans to be read.  I'm working through verses in small chunks so that we can understand it, but I'm constantly convicted that these small chunks cannot truly be understood devoid of their surroundings.)

So Paul says there are many benefits to being Jewish… but he only mentions one.  But does Paul really need to say any more?  Isn't what he says is enough.  Like 27 championships enough.  "First of all," Paul says, "Israel was entrusted with the whole revelation of God."  Next question.

Israel was entrusted (ἐπιστεύθησαν )… How many nations can claim such a unique history?  God placed his confidence, his credit, his persuasion, his fidelity upon Israel… the house that Abraham built.  And Israel was entrusted with the "whole revelation of God" (τὰ λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ).  Literally, the Jews were entrusted with the logia of God, or the "oracles" of God.  In classic Greek, logia is related to “logic” but carries a more specific meaning.  Logia was used to describe divine utterances, especially the ones that were to be passed down from generation to generation.  God’s word, and sometimes his very specific word, was given to Israel, including all of the implications and responsibilities that come with such a privilege.  As a result, Israel was entrusted to receive, to treasure, and to share the word of God… they were “entrusted” with it… and they were entrusted with all of it… the whole thing.  God revealed Himself to Israel.  That is the advantage.  First of all, enough said.

There could be no greater privilege than this: to receive, to hold and to share God’s word.  And this fits well into Paul's wider argument so far in the letter-book of Romans: the recipient of God’s word must also be a treasurer and giver of God’s word.

Final note: Israel’s advantage was like the blessing of a wedding vow.  God and Israel entered into a public, committed relationship.  God entrusted Himself to His bride, and His bride entrusted herself to Him.  God promised to be faithful.  Israel promised to be faithful.  God promised to be by her side.  Israel promised to be by God’s side.  God promised to have and to hold from this day forward… a promise reciprocated by Israel.  God promised to cherish and love in good times and bad… as did Israel.  Could there be more of an advantage than to have God entrust Himself to you?

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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