God's Gospel Patience
The gospel message should not have been new to the Jews in Rome. It was found throughout the Old Testament scriptures. Indeed, salvation through Jesus Christ is the real story behind all of Israel's history. The prophets saw Christ by faith, and Simeon and Anna recognised the "hope of Israel" as they held the baby Jesus (Luke 2:25-3 8). St Augustine is quoted as saying "Christ is in the Old (Testament) concealed; Christ is in the New revealed".
Religious people, who respect the Old Testament, should be reminded that it points to Jesus. The Jewish people in Rome had therefore already heard the essence of the gospel message, but not understood it and were not seeking the Lord. Nevertheless, God revealed Himself to those who were not seeking Him and offered the hope of salvation to people who refused to obey Him.
It is the same today. God does not only speak to the faithful. His gospel is for everybody. He does not only speak to Christians but to people of every religious and ethnic background. That is why we should not be afraid or ashamed to tell the gospel even if they don't listen, understand, or seek the Lord; and even if they refuse to submit to Him - because that was how God treated Israel. So we must never write off people who are uninterested or unresponsive to the gospel; it is still the power of God to salvation for everybody who believes (Romans 1:16). The fact that they have not yet believed is not a good reason to exclude them from hearing the gospel! It is only through the gospel that they will know who and what to believe. If God did not give up on Israel for 1,500 years, why should we give up on our friends?
© Dr Paul Adams