In Romans 15:25-26, Paul speaks of taking a contribution to the poor saints at Jerusalem. The kingdom saints in Judea and Jerusalem had not only suffered persecution, but were in great need, having sold their land and possessions in accordance with the Kingdom program of early Acts (See Acts 4:34-37). Then in Acts 8:1-3 we read of great persecution at Jerusalem, with Saul (Paul) being a leader of it. But some years later, after God mercifully saved him, he was chosen with Barnabas to send relief to these Jewish believers. Quite a change in the man!
Then on Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, he stands before Governor Felix and says, “I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.” This is the offering (evidently a large amount) that Paul writes of in Romans 15:25-26, “…for the poor saints at Jerusalem.” Then verse 27 reads, “It has pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in carnal things.” The question addressed here is, how are we made partakers of their spiritual things?
The first thing we might think of is what Paul said in Acts 28:28, “…the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it.” This was the third time Paul said in Acts that he would turn to the Gentiles, because, for the most part, the people of Israel rejected his preaching of salvation in Christ. More is said of their rejection and fall in Romans 11:11, “…through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles.” In Ephesians 2:12-13, we read that the Gentiles were “…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” So now that Israel has been set aside, we are made partakers of the spiritual things they once had as the people of God.
Perhaps the next thing that would come to our mind is that we now possess the Word of God that came to us through Israel. Romans 3:1-2 says that the chief advantage of the Jew was that “…unto them were committed the oracles of God.” So now we have the entire Bible: the truths of creation, the history of Israel and mankind through the centuries, the judgments of God, the covenants, the promises, and many prophesies concerning Christ and the things to come.
As Romans 15:4 states: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” The things “written aforetime” would include the warnings Paul mentioned in I Corinthians 10:1-11. Verse 11 reads, “now these things happened to them for examples, and they are written for our admonition….” Furthermore, “All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (II Timothy 3:16). There is a great wealth of these things in Scripture, and how thankful we are for them. For wisdom, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, we read Proverbs. For examples of worship, prayer and praise, we read the Psalms. For a knowledge of prophecy, we have all the prophets, including the Lord Jesus who prophesied of the judgments to come and the future Kingdom.
In addition to the Old Testament, there is blessing for us in reading the four gospels that teach concerning Christ’s first coming. The doctrines of the virgin birth, His deity, His ministry on earth, and His future Kingdom are things we should know, and for our learning we read the chapters that tell us of His suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Concerning the New Covenant that was originally promised to Israel, we Gentile believers now have the spiritual blessings of it. We have salvation through His blood. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 26:28 saying, “This is the blood of the New Testament (covenant) which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” However, the great truths of the New Covenant were not fully revealed until the Book of Hebrews was written. The author of Hebrews, who this writer believes is Paul, wrote to the Jewish Christians who knew all the ordinances and prophecies of the Old Testament as Paul did. The New Covenant shows that all the types, offerings and sacrifices, priesthood and ordinances of the Law are fulfilled in Christ. Although Hebrews is not addressed to Gentiles, we do rejoice in the truths of it. As II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture…is profitable….”
Paul says in II Corinthians 3:6, “Who also has made us able ministers of the New Covenant.” This covenant was promised to Israel (Jer. 31:31-34), yet we are partakers of “this great salvation” mentioned in Hebrews 2:3. Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to when he said he was a minister of the New Covenant.
Besides all these “spiritual things,” we have those epistles of Paul that are addressed to Gentile believers, and they contain the revelations concerning the truths that God has especially for us in this dispensation of grace. Although Paul often used “proof texts” from the Old Testament saying, “according to the Scriptures,” his writings contain a complete body of doctrine for the Church today. For knowledge of our salvation by grace, our position in Christ, our spiritual life and our destiny, we must know Paul’s epistles. In order to be established in doctrine and spiritual understanding we must know Paul’s gospel, “…and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25). However, when we consider that we have all the Word of God, how thankful we should be that we are made partakers of the spiritual things of the Jews as well.
Our good friend John Willson is one of our senior Grace Bible teachers, and has been a frequent contributor to the Berean Searchlight over the years. You can write him at 407 W. Hickory St., Neosho, MO 64850 with any questions about the above article, or for information about his Grace Bible Courses correspondence ministry.