The Offering Up of the Gentiles

Romans 15:16  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
“Because of the grace given to me by God, for me to be the minister of Jesus Christ to the nations, carrying on, as a sacrificial service, the message of good tidings of God in order that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:1616That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:16); lit. translation.)
The full meaning of this verse can only be seen, I believe, in connection with verses 8 and 9. “Now, I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”
The mission of Jesus Christ was primarily to the Jews, with a consequent blessing, through them, to the Gentiles. But He was cut short in His work, for the Jews rejected Him” We will not have this man to reign over us.” Therefore as yet, the Gentiles, as nations, do not put their trust in Him (v. 12). He does not reign over them.
For the blessing of the nations must flow through the Jews. “God shall bless us (Jews), and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”
Paul, therefore, is chosen to carry on this work, as he says— “The grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,” carrying on the message of good tidings. He had not only a distinct call and revelation from the ascended Christ to make known the mystery (Eph. but he was chosen, as a Jew, to carry on the mission of Christ to the Gentiles as such. This explains the use of passages from the prophets, belonging critically to a future day, as in verses 9, 10, 11, 12 of this chapter. The Gentiles are not to be losers through the unbelief of the Jew. Although that manifested blessing which was to come to them through the Jew is still in abeyance, there is nevertheless a presentation of Christ to the Gentile, as such, corresponding to the presentation of Christ to the Jew. And to this work the Apostle Paul was called by the Lord Jesus by special revelation from heaven, “To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light.... that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified.” (Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18).)
There is beautiful fitness as regards the instrument chosen to carry on this Word of life. That the blessing may still flow in God’s order. A Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, receives the commission as minister of Jesus Christ. He does not go up to Jerusalem to receive his credentials from thence; there is no owning of the nation, nor of that apostate city as a center of blessing for the earth; hut, in the person of Paul, the prescribed order is maintained.
Thus in the mercy of God they partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree, and not one Gentile who, in the purpose of God, would have been blessed, is allowed to suffer through the unbelief of the Jew. Moreover, although those quotations from Old Testament Scriptures in verses 9, 10, 11, 12 regarding the Gentiles, will have their true fulfillment when the Jew has his proper place in the earth, yet are they here used by the apostle in connection with their present blessing.
Now, as in the humiliation of Christ, the Jews received Him not, and are for the time cast away; so during his rejection the Gentiles, in like manner, own Him not, continue not in the goodness of God, and must, in the crisis of their unbelief and self-will, also receive the judgment of God “Thou also shall be cut off.” Thus, both Jew and Gentile corporately reject the “Messiah,” the “seed of the woman,” and bring out this great truth, that blessing for man on earth must flow from Him who is risen from the dead, the beginning of the creation of God. Paul, the pattern Jew, with a mission direct from the risen Christ, cannot inaugurate blessing for the Gentile on earth.
But, as in every previous dispensation, there has always been a path known to faith, and a secret order of blessing underneath that which through the unfaithfulness of man has failed; so now, during the casting away of the Jew, and the growing apostasy of the Gentile, the Lord is gathering out from the Jew “a remnant according to the election of grace; “and from among the nations “a people for His name,” Who together form the Church—the body of Christ—neither Jew nor Gentile, but the one new man in Christ Jesus.
This is the present joy of His heart, the compensation for having, as regards Israel, apparently labored in vain. (Isa. 49) Thus, in the unfailing resources of our God, He has treasured up in the purposes of His heart that mystery, now revealed, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Rom. 16:25,2625Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (Romans 16:25‑26)), which, without interfering with the exact fulfillment of His promises, and in the exact order of blessing prescribed from the first, brings out now a pre-fulfillment of it, evident to faith; and by which, in the coming day of manifestation of the sons of God, He will make known the exceeding riches of His grace, even in His kindness toward us by Christ Jesus.
There is another thought—verse 16— “That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” This appears to be the character of the meat offering, and especially of the wave loaf baken with leaven, as in Lev. 23:16,1716Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. 17Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:16‑17). It is called “a new meat offering,” but two wave loaves constitute it. It follows upon the waving of the first-fruits—Christ risen and accepted. Fifty days afterward the loaves were offered— “they are the first-fruits unto the Lord.” In view of His mission to the Gentiles, as filling up what remained of the work committed to Christ, this would appear to be an allusion to the presentation of the Gentile to God— “For through Him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
There is a wonderful symmetry or harmony in all God’s actings. Although man may seem to interfere with His purposes, His counsels they shall stand. He will work, and who shall let it? His prerogative is to bring His own good out of man’s evil; and every effort to set aside His authority in the earth not only ends in the overthrow of His enemies, but affords scope for a still further unfolding of His grace and manifestation of Himself. “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” “To Him be glory forever. Amen.”