Rabbi Schneider - A Cultural Foundation
You see, in order to really more fully understand this book, we need to understand it once again through the heart and the eyes and the mind of the one that wrote it. And when Paul wrote it, beloved, he had something in mind that's bigger than what you and I generally conceive of today. We're going to see as we go through the book of Romans that one of the primary elements of the book of Romans is understanding the role of Israel in God's redemptive plan.
There's much in the book of Romans that we're going to uncover by the grace of the Lord that will help you in understanding this book, beloved, from a Hebraic perspective. We're going to go through the book from beginning to end, and by the grace of the Lord, I believe that by the time we're done with this study, you'll have a much stronger doctrinal foundation in your faith walking in Jesus Christ, walking in Yeshua. And beloved, there's nothing wrong with doctrine. Doctrine is simply understanding truth. And remember, Yeshua said we would know the truth in John 8, and the truth would set us free.
So Father God, I pray that through the course of this series, you would release truth and Rhema revelation into the hearts and minds of your people and that their eyes would be enlightened, Father, and that they would be able to walk in freedom in Yeshua through understanding your truth in the Word of God. In Yeshua's name we pray, amen.
So we're going to begin today Romans chapter number 1, verse number 1. Hear the Word of the Lord. I'm reading from the New American Standard version. We begin Paul, I'm just going to begin to take this apart verse by verse. Notice once again, Romans 1 verse 1, it begins with the word Paul. Now, many people believe that when the Lord met Paul or when Paul met the Lord on his way to arrest Jewish believers, Jewish Christians, that he encountered Yeshua and that he had a name change on the road to Damascus. But I want you to know, beloved, when Paul met the Lord, he did not get a name change. Many people think his name was changed from Saul to Paul. But that's not true. As a Roman citizen, Paul had both a Hebrew name that we call Saul, or it's pronounced in Hebrew Shaul, and he had a Roman name, Paul. So it wasn't a name change. We don't find that recorded anywhere in the Word of God.
In fact, we find that when Paul met the Lord, the Lord spoke to him in the Hebrew dialect, calling him by his Hebrew name. Saul, Saul, or Shaul, Shaul. The reason Paul refers to himself as Paul in his gospels... not gospels, but in his letters, is because remember, Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. He wasn't the apostle to the Jews first. He was the apostle to the Gentiles first. And so because he was the apostle to the Gentiles and to the Greeks, he used his Roman or his Greek name.
Let's continue on, Romans chapter 1, verse number 1. Paul, a bondservant of Christ or Messiah. Once again, the word Christ is just the Greek name for the Hebrew Mashiach. The Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, what Jewish people call the Tanakh, was written in Hebrew. The reason being is because up until the time of the New Testament, the only people that Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew Bible and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, was communicating to were the Jewish people. Remember, Yeshua came, and what did he say? He said he came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Remember when the one woman came and wanted a healing, and remember Yeshua said it's not right to give the children's bread to the dogs, for I have been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And so up until the time of the New Testament, we find the first episode being where Peter in the book of Acts was up on the roof and he had the vision of the sheet being lowered, and in the sheet he saw the unkosher animals, and he heard a voice saying Peter, take, eat. And Peter said Lord, I've never eaten anything unholy or unclean. And this happened several times, and then the vision ended. And Peter, the Bible says, was pondering the meaning of the vision, and while he was still pondering the meaning of the vision, beloved, Cornelius' servant knocked at the door and said I need you to come and share the Gospel with Cornelius.
And then Peter, we speak in Hebrew Kephas was his Hebrew name, realized that the meaning of the vision when he was on the roof with the unkosher animals inside it and the Lord saying to him take, kill and eat, Peter then realized when Cornelius' servant came to the door that Peter wasn't to consider the Gentiles unclean any longer and that God was now saying to Peter I want my word and I want my love and I want my covenant to extend just beyond the Israelites, beyond just the Jewish people, but to extend to the entire world. And so the Hebrew Bible of the Old Testament or the Tanakh was written in Hebrew because the only people the Lord was communicating at that time with were the Israelites. But when Jesus came, the time had come for the Gospel to extend to the entire world.
Remember, the Lord said to Abraham, Abraham, through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. And we read in the book of Galatians that this seed that the Lord was speaking of when he said to Abraham through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, that this seed was actually referring to Jesus. So now that Jesus has come, God's goodness and favor is extending to all the peoples on the face of the earth. And so now that the Gospel has come, beloved, and it's coming to all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord will no longer communicate in Hebrew. He's now going to communicate in terms of the writing of the Scriptures in Greek, the reason being that Greek was the most common language in the world at this time.
And so when we get to verse number 1 and we hear Paul saying he's a bondservant of Christ, the word Christ is a Greek word. And it comes from the Hebrew Mashiach, meaning anointed. And so Mashiach is the Anointed One in Hebrew. Now that we're again extending the Word of God to entire world, we're going to write it in Greek because it was the common language of the world, and the Greek word for the Anointed One, for Mashiach, is Christ. And so Paul says here he's a bondservant of Christ. And let me make another comment if I could, and that is that the word Christian is a very Biblical word. I am a person, I'm all for Biblical accuracy.
So the word Christian is a very Biblical word. It's used three times in the Scriptures, and it simply refers to a follower of the Anointed One. A Christian then, beloved, is a follower of the Anointed One. The word Christian is a Biblical word. It's used in the Scriptures three times. But did you know that the word Christianity is not a Biblical word? The word Christian is in the Bible three times, but the word Christianity is nowhere found in the Bible. Because Christianity is a word that coins a brand new religion. And the Lord never sent Yeshua to start a brand new religion called Christianity, but rather Yeshua was the fulfillment of everything that had been written before in the Hebrew Bible. He was and is the Messiah that the Hebrew Bible spoke of.
And so Jesus said that salvation in John chapter 4 comes from the Jews, that he didn't come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill. He's the fulfillment of that which God had already given the Jewish people. It's not a new religion from that which the Lord had given the Israelites, but it's the fulfillment of that which the Lord had given the Israelites. That's why there was a sign above Jesus' head when he was crucified, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. That's why Yeshua's coming back in Revelation chapter 22 as the offspring of David. Who's David? The king of Israel.
So the word Christianity speaks of a new religion, a world religion that's separate from that which the Lord had given the Israelites in the Tanakh, in the Hebrew Bible. But Jesus didn't come to start a new religion. That's why, beloved, the word Christianity is nowhere found in the New Testament. You see, what we're doing is we're trying to understand the Bible from a Hebraic perspective. Jesus once again said in John 4 to the woman of Samaria, Woman, we know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews. And so as we can understand our faith from the Hebraic or a Jewish perspective, we're going to have a more accurate understanding, beloved, of the Word of God and of the ways of God, because the God of Israel is also the God and Father of Yeshua HaMashiach, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So let's continue on once again, verse number 1 of Romans. Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. Now, notice the word apostle here. The word apostle means one that has been sent. In our culture today, I think we misuse the word apostle. In many circles, everybody's calling themselves an apostle. And it really isn't a very accurate use of the term. An apostle is one that's been sent, beloved, to build the kingdom of God or to preach the Gospel and lay a church foundation in a place where it had not previously been laid. An apostle is one that plants, he's a foundation builder, he's one that's sent forth to preach the kingdom of God and to establish local congregations in areas where they had not yet been established.
I believe the closest thing today to an apostle would be a missionary that goes into an area that's been unreached, preaches the Gospel, brings people to faith through the grace of God, and plants local churches there. That is the correct use of the term apostle. I think church planters are the closest thing that we have today to apostles. People that are taking people that are unreached through the grace of God, bringing them to saving faith and establishing congregations, and then building on that congregation we bring in the pastors and the teachers, et cetera, et cetera. But once again, the use of the word apostle today is a title that many people are taking to themselves, and it's really not an accurate use of the title.
Paul was an apostle. Paul received a call to be an apostle. He traveled all over the world, beloved, preaching the Gospel to those that had never heard it before, and through the power of God they were brought to saving faith, and then Paul established local churches in those places, appointing elders, and then moving on to the next city to preach the Gospel there. He was a church planter, and he was laying the foundation, beloved, for the kingdom of God in local geographical regions. So Paul identifies himself. Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
I want to point out two words here and make some general application for all of us today. Number one, he was called, and secondly, he was set apart, and thirdly, it was for the gospel of God. Notice that he was called. It wasn't he that chose the Lord, but the Lord chose him. Jesus said you do not choose me. I choose you. So we should always I think be conscious of our hearts and our motives and ask ourself is what we're doing because God has called us to do it, or are we operating out of self initiative? Paul was not operating out of self initiative. He was operating out of the call that was on his life.
And I think you and I should be conscious of our energy, of our soul, we should be conscious of our motives to determine if what we're doing and what we're saying is because God's calling us to do it, or are we operating in self ambition and self initiative? Remember, Jesus said he did nothing by his own Secondly, beloved, he was set apart. He was set apart unto the Lord first of all, and he was set apart also unto the gospel of God. And I think this is a very applicable term, the term being set apart. Do you know that every single one of us, if we've been brought into a relationship with Yeshua, if we're in relationship with Jesus, we are called to be set apart. We should be different.
That's why Jesus said if the salt loses its saltiness, what good is it? Jesus said to all of us, you are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. But if the salt loses its saltiness, what good is it? We should be different. We are set apart. If there's nothing different about us, if people don't know we're different, if people don't know we're believers, if we're not bringing salt into every relationship, if we're not bringing salt into every social gathering, if we're not bringing something unique, something different, if we're not there representing the Lord Jesus, beloved, then somehow we've missed it, because Yeshua said if you're living in this world and your goal is to be accepted, he said woe to you, for woe to you when all men speak well of you, for I have chosen you not just to reign with me, but to suffer with me.
We need to realize, beloved, that we are set apart. Our calling isn't to be accepted. Our call is to be unique and to be different. In fact, the word holy, you and I are called with a holy calling to be set apart, and this word holy comes from the Hebrew word ka dosh. And part of the underlying meaning of this, beloved ones, is to be cut out. We are cut out from the world to be different. We're set apart. That's why Jesus said if you were of the world, the world would love you. But because I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. I hope that you're making a difference, that your salt has flavor to it, that you're speaking of the Lord wherever you go and that people know you're a believer, that you're being a fragrant aroma to him, hallelujah.
And notice that Paul here said in verse number 1 that he'd been called as an apostle, set apart, notice the next phrase here, for the gospel of God. Now, the word gospel means good news. And yet some Christians, the message that they have, the witness they have, the testimony they have, it's not really good news. They walk around judging people, condemning people, telling people they did this wrong and they did that wrong and this and that and the other. I want you to know, beloved, that's not good news. The good news is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should have everlasting life.
The gospel of the Lord Jesus is good news. It's God loves you right where you're at. All you need to do is come to him, receive him, surrender for him, turn your life over to him, begin to live for him, and he's got plans for you that are beyond your wildest dreams. The Gospel, beloved, is good news. And I hope our witness to people reflects that. I hope it's not a witness of judgment and condemnation, but I hope it's a witness, beloved, of good news, because the gospel of God is good news. Again, that's what the word gospel means.
Let's continue on here to verse number 2. This Gospel, it says here, he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. Now, this is really interesting, because we're going to see later in the book of Romans that it says that the law and the prophets witnessed to the coming of Messiah, that the law and the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, they testified that Messiah was going to come. But we're going to find out when Messiah did come, he came apart from the law and the prophets. What this means is that the law and the prophets prophesied of his coming, but when Jesus came, the righteousness that he brought to us was apart from the law and the prophets.
In other words, it wasn't a righteousness that was based on works. The law, beloved, is a righteousness that comes from works. If you do this, do this, do this, do this, and do this, Deuteronomy chapter 28 and 29, you'll be blessed. But if you don't, you'll be cursed. The law wrote that mess Messiah would come, but when Messiah did come, the righteousness that he brings us, it's apart from the law. It's not based on works, beloved. David said happy is the man whose lawless deeds the Lord does not count against him. The righteousness that came to us through Messiah, beloved, is the gift of his imputed righteousness to us, that when we receive Jesus, he imputes his righteousness to us and he takes our sin away. It's apart from works. We're going to get to that a little bit later as we continue through the book.
But this Jesus, Paul tells us here, was written about in verse number 2 through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. This is why it's important to have an appreciation for the whole Word of God. Because when Paul says here that when Jesus came, he came in accordance with what the prophets had written about him in Scripture, let me read it again, verse number 2, Romans chapter 1, this Gospel that Paul was preaching, Paul says in verse number 2, Which he promised, meaning the Lord, which the Lord promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.
The point that I want to make here is I hope you're developing an appreciation through this broadcast of how important it is to know the Hebrew Bible, because Jesus didn't appear 2,000 years ago in a vacuum. He was, beloved, prophesied and promised beforehand in the Hebrew Bible. And as we understand the foundation of the Hebrew Bible and how it all was fulfilled in Jesus, we're going to have so much better comprehension of the Christian faith, hallelujah. And notice also he says that this Messiah that was prophesied and promised us in the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, notice he says it was written also he uses the term in the, here we go, holy Scriptures. And the Bible says that no Scripture was ever given by one's own interpretation, but rather that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
My point being that we need to cultivate a reverence, beloved, for the written Word of God. Paul said this Messiah was prophesied about in verse number 2 in the, listen now, holy Scriptures. We need to develop and cultivate an appreciation and a love for God's written word. You see, today, many people, they love to worship. And I love to worship. I love worship. We worship in our services an hour and 15 minutes oftentimes before I begin to preach. I love worship. But the problem today is that many of God's people, they love worship, but you know what? They don't read their Bibles. We need both. We need to love to worship, but beloved, we also need to know and appreciate and respect the written Word of God.
You see, Jesus said if my words abide in you, you shall bear much fruit, and you shall ask what you will, and it will be done for you. How do we know what his words were? There's only one way we know what his words are, beloved, and that is to know the Scriptures. Father God, we bless you today. We ask you to fill us, Father God, with strength, wisdom and understanding through the Ruach Hako-dosh. Beloved, what we've covered today is this, that Paul never had a name change. He had a Greek name and he had a Hebrew name. We also notice today that Paul, beloved, was called and set apart unto the gospel of God.
You and I, beloved, are also called and set apart unto the Lord Jesus to be his witnesses on the earth. We talked today, beloved, about the fact that gospel means good news and that our witness should be, beloved, good news. Finally beloved, we talked today about the fact that we should be being the light of the world and the salt of the earth. When the Lord said to Paul you've been set apart, it's the same terminology that the Lord uses for us when he says we've been called with a holy calling, we've been cut out, beloved, to be the witnesses of Jesus. Let's take our stand for him, beloved, on the earth.