Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers:…
The Messiah, in prophecy, was to have dominion over the whole earth. In the preceding sentences the apostle quotes several passages relative to the admission of the Gentiles, with a view to conciliate the Jews. God, as he had previously argued, is the God, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also; and Isaiah had distinctly predicted the Messiah as "a root of Jesse," which, though it might appear as "a root in a dry ground," spoiled of its branches, and without appearance of its vegetating, should yet "stand for an ensign to the people." "He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust." Consider —
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF TRUST.
1. This is necessary to the existence of society. The evidence of character is not the cause of our confidence in others: the first instance of trust cannot be accounted for, but as the result of Divinely implanted instinct. Children instinctively confide in their parents. All our information concerning external objects is matter of trust. The patient trusts his physician, the subject his governor; all are always trusting each other. Nothing can be more anti-social or mischievous than the violation of trust.
2. Trust supposes our own inferiority. We trust, for instruction or protection, in one whom we regard as our superior in respect to each: our reliance on him is the measure of our self-distrust.
3. What, then, is it for which the Gentiles trust the Messiah? Not for any present interest, but for our eternal destiny: it is that we may escape an evil and attain a good, not otherwise possible.
II. THE QUALIFICATIONS THAT JUSTIFY OUR TRUST. Three things are required as the basis of our confidence in any being: his voluntary engagement? his probity and goodness; and his ability to fulfil the promised undertaking. Each of these exists perfect in Christ.
1. He has entered into a voluntary engagement; He has held Himself forth as the object of our trust. "I give unto My sheep," He says, "eternal life." "Every one that believeth in Me, I will raise him up at the last day."
2. His probity and goodness cannot be questioned. He bears all the marks of perfect ingenuousness; as when we find Him entreating His hearers to count the cost of becoming His disciples; or when He says, "If it were not so, I would have told you." He looked upon our race with a Divine compassion, put on our flesh, toiled, agonised, bled, and died. He was free to have left such a work alone; but He engaged in it that God might be just and sinners justified. We cannot question His sincerity or benignity.
3. Nor can we distrust His power. Can He who calmed the winds, walked the waves, raised the dead, etc., be supposed insufficient here? He who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, the sufferings of His people, the triumph of His cause, must Himself be King of kings and Lord of lords. By rising from the dead, He proves that He has all power in earth and heaven.
III. SOME LEADING PROPERTIES OF THIS TRUST IN JESUS. To be valid and saving it must be —
1. A solemn, deliberate act; the effect of "seeing the Son," recognising in Him those qualities which justify unlimited confidence. You should "know whom you have believed," etc.
2. Exclusive, centred in Christ alone (Jeremiah 17:5). Trust not in any qualities or works of your own. He will never divide His glory with another. It was the ruin of the Jews, that they went about to establish their own righteousness, while the Gentiles, ignorant of the whole business, found Him whom they sought not.
3. Humble and penitential. We must acknowledge and feel our utter unworthiness; otherwise we contradict our profession. Humility and confidence dwell together in perfect harmony.
4. Submissive and obedient. They are the foremost to fulfil the law of Christ, who place their entire affiance in Him: constrained by His love, which constrained Him to die for them, they bind His precepts on their hearts. It is a practical trust, that sets in motion all the springs of action, purifies all the powers and affections: for Christ saves by His merit those only whom He rules by His authority.
(R. Hall, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: