Paul had spent most of his Christian career trying to convince others that the Gentiles should be included in the Church. By the time he writes Romans, the tables had started to turn.
Mirror-Reading Romans Gives Us A Greater Understanding
Far away from the land of Judea and in the epicenter of a Gentile empire, the Roman Gentile Christians began to see the Jews as inferior. False teachers were saying that in order to accept the Gentiles, God had rejected the Jews. Salvation was no longer available to them because they had rejected Christ. Paul responds against this false teaching his letter to the Romans.
How Paul Proved That Jews Could Be Part Of The Church
Paul wastes no time addressing the issue and states in the first chapter that salvation is available to the Jews.
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.
Even though they had rejected Him, God still makes salvation available to the Jews.
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means!
Paul makes clear that he wants the Jews to be saved and then lists their qualities in relation to God:
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Paul plainly states that he wants them to be saved
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
God has not rejected the Jews
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Even though Paul was sent to the Gentiles, he hoped that one of the byproducts of his ministry would be to make the Jews jealous and provoke them to be saved. He continues that even though the Jews had been broken off from the people of God, God could still bring them back in. And that the Gentiles should not be arrogant about their position with God because God could break them off too.
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
The Jews were not the enemies of the Gentiles and should be included in the Church through Christ.
As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
What Do You Think?
What do you think of this mirror-reading of Romans? @@Was Paul trying to counter the idea that Jews couldn't be part of the Church?@@ What other situations do you think Paul was responding to in Romans?