Covenant and The Mystery #2
Covenant and The Mystery #2. From Truth for Today Archives, Aug. 1964-July 1975, by Oscar M. Baker. Seven articles entitled, “Covenant and The Mystery” (from Vol. 22, #4, p. 253)
In 2 Cor. 3:6, Paul was still an able minister of the New Testament, not of the dispensation of the mystery yet. And now we open the epistle to the Romans, which undoubtedly was his last epistle before Ac 28:28. We look to see if there has been any change since 2 Cor 3:6. We find in Rom.1:16 that Paul is still preaching the gospel of Christ , to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. The Greek here, as in verse 14 above, refers to non-Jews or Gentiles.
Evidently Paul has been consistent in his preaching since Acts 13:46, for it was there he said he was to speak to the Jews first and when they rejected the message, then he turned to the Gentiles in the same synagogue and preached the good news of the kingdom to them.
It is interesting to see the prominence of the Jew in the epistles before Acts 28:28 and their almost lack of mention after that. The terms Jew, Israel, Israeli, and Abraham occur 61 times before this great boundary, and only 3 such occurrences after. Surely this in itself should make us sit up and take notice. It must be significant.
So in the Roman church, the Jew is first, has every advantage, except in the matter of sin. In that there is no difference between the Jewish and Gentile believers; all had sinned and come short of the glory of God. So in Romans we see the unfolding of the promise made to Abraham, that through his seed all the nations of the earth are to be blest. We must digress long enough here to clear up any misconceptions men may have.
We must note that the word blest is used. Nowhere does it say through Abraham will the nations of the world receive life. Salvation, not life, was of the Jews. And Gentiles received blessings only through Israel from Abraham till Acts 28:28 and in no other way. These blessings were either as crumbs from the children’s table, or after Peter in the house of Cornelius, the Gentiles received blessings as described in Romans by the wild olive branch in its relation to the true olive tree. The Gentile was dependent on Israel for blessings, but not for life eternal. The people of Nineveh repented and will be resurrected.
Also we must remember that Romans was written on the other side of the frontier of Acts 28:28 and we do well to hesitate in claiming any of it for ourselves as truth for today. It does not fit in with our dispensational setting at all. Many doctrines in it may be repeated in the prison epistles. If so, then they are valid for today. But it is best to go to the prison epistles to find them and apply them. I wish to stress this, for some tradition speaks of Roman stones for the Ephesian temple. The Ephesian temple is a new creation and contains no used materials. The old temple had to be completely demolished and the ground cleared before a new one could be created and which is still growing.
To the Jew first in Rom. 2:9, 10 does not refer to the historical or chronological order. It was the fact that the Jew had a priority in both blessing and in judgment. This gives a good picture of the character of the dispensation of that time.