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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Romans 11



Verses 15-28

Missions in the Epistles

Romans 10:11-15 ; Romans 11:15-28


This study as a whole will give some idea of the missionary vision as set forth in Paul's Epistles.

1. The scope of missionary endeavor. Romans 10:11 reads: "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." Here is a "whosoever" just as deep and broad as the "whosoever" in John 3:16 . In John it says, "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish," and here it says, " Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." The explanation of this "whosoever" is given in Romans 10:12 , where it says "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him."

Then comes the second "whosoever." Romans 10:13 reads, "For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved," The "whosoever" in the heart of God, should be met in the "every creature" of our proclamation of the Gospel.

If God has made no difference between Jew, Greek, Scythian, bond or free; if the white man, the black man, the yellow man, and the red man are all welcomed, let us never limit God, or seek to isolate Him to any one group. All nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, is the scope of our missionary vision and responsibility,

2. The great necessity laid upon us. Romans 10:14 says, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Of course, we all know that he who believeth not shall be ashamed. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and coming again, is absolutely necessary on the part of us all.

The first thing, Christ crucified, is necessary for redemption; the second, Christ risen, is necessary to the victorious life and power in service; the third, Christ coming, is necessary to the inspiration of hope, as well to its consummation our own resurrection and presence with the Saviour.

The word has been given, but the preacher is needed to proclaim its message. We remember how Philip said to the eunuch, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" and the eunuch replied, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" It is not enough to mail literature and send tracts, "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Herein, God places the great burden of missionary endeavor back upon the churches. The missionaries themselves cannot go unless they are sent. In order to send them there are outfits to be purchased, transportation to be furnished, and the needs of daily living to be kept up.

God sends us forth, but with God must be the Church itself.

3. God's cursing or blessing is upon us, according to our faithfulness in preaching the Word. In the 11th chapter of Romans the question is asked, "Hath God cast away His people * * which He foreknew?" The chapter proceeds to give a sevenfold proof that God has not ultimately cast off His people. However, Israel is temporarily set aside.

(1) Why Israel was cast off. There is but one answer to this question, and it is suggested all through the second part of our Scripture lesson. It is because Israel failed to bring forth fruit.

In Romans it speaks of the "casting away" of Israel, and then it speaks of some of the branches being broken off. This latter expression occurs three times.

(2) The Church was graffed in. The natural branches being broken off, God graffed in the Church, and told it to carry on for Him. We became, at once, partakers of the root and fatness of the Jewish vine.

(3) There is, however, a great warning to the Church. In Romans 11:18 we are told, "Boast not against the branches." If we do boast and say, "The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in," we speak the truth, "Because of unbelief they were broken off"; pray, therefore, that we may stand by faith. We should not be highminded, for, "If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee."

(4) The setting aside of Israel was for the reconciling of the world. This is the expression in Romans 11:15 . In Romans 11:25 and Romans 11:26 we are told that after the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, all Israel will be saved. That is the time when she will be graffed in again. The mission of the Church, however, is to bring in the fullness of the Gentiles.


Here are verses which demand the deepest consideration.

1. Jesus Christ has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," and now God hath committed unto us, in our ministry, the word of His reconciliation. Is it not beautiful to have that kind of message to carry to the ends of the earth? 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ, and we are, as though God were beseeching others by us, and we, in Christ's stead, were pleading with others to be reconciled unto Him.

2. The great ambition of the true missionary. This will be found in 2 Corinthians 10:15 , 2 Corinthians 10:16 . Paul said it.

Some of us may delight in taking a task that is well on its way to completion; we like churches already built, the towns already evangelized. Not so with the Apostle Paul: he wanted to plow his own ground, and sow his own seed. May God grant that this same glorious ambition may be ours,

3. The great sufferings of a true missionary. In chapter 6, 2 Corinthians 6:4 and on, read what the Apostle says.

It is not until we are ready for all of this that we may think of ourselves standing approved. In the eleventh chapter Paul spoke of other ministers and their boasting; then he said, "I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft," and so on. Beloved, here is the Spirit of the true missionary.


1. A man called before he was born to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. This is suggested in Galatians 1:15 , and it is set forth very clearly in the words of God to Ananias. When Ananias was commanded to go and anoint Saul of Tarsus, God said, "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the Children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My Name's sake." We still believe in the definite call to the mission fields. We must not go where we are not sent, neither must we go until we are sent.

2. A man to whom God revealed Himself. This is the message of Galatians 1:16 . Mark the words: "When it pleased God * * to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen."

We take it from this, that a man or woman who has never had a real revelation of Jesus Christ, in him, is not yet panoplied to preach. He may know a great deal about Jesus Christ, and understand fully the message of redemption through the Blood, but how can he go and face what Paul faced, and what many missionaries have faced, unless the Son of God is revealed in him?

3. The missionary separated unto God in preparation. God took Paul off into Arabia, where He could personally teach him the Gospel. His message was not after man, neither did he receive it of man; neither was he taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. The missionary is necessarily separated more or less unto a life of loneliness; however, when we have God, how can we be lonely?


The verses before us give some wonderful inside views of the ministry of Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles.

1. Paul expressed "That the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel." When we stop to consider the things which happened unto Paul, we find that they were many.

Paul was delivered unto death for Jesus' sake. To the Corinthians he added these memorable words, "So then death worketh in us, but life in you." To the Philippians read what he says, in Philemon 1:12 .

Thus, even in prison, Paul was still rejoicing in the privilege of suffering for Christ. In Philemon 1:14 he says, "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear."

2. Paul's expression of the great inner throbbings of his heart. Philemon 1:18 reads: "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." The great mission of the Apostle was to see Christ preached, and preached to every creature in the whole wide world.


1. The Gospel preached to every creature under Heaven. This is the expression found in Colossians 1:23 . Paul was made a minister of Jesus Christ, and Paul had already found himself able to say that he had never been moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which the Colossians had heard, and which had been preached to every creature under Heaven. Beloved, shall we, with Christians numbering into many millions, fail to give the Gospel to every creature of our day?

2. Paul made a minister according to the dispensation of God. It is a wonderful thing when you go forth to preach the Word, knowing that you have been made a minister by the hand of the Almighty; that you are a diplomat sent from Heaven; an ambassador from on High. We know, if this is the case, that we are truly God's representatives under orders; we will know, then, that He who sent us will never forsake us.

3. The great ambition of the Apostle. In Colossians 1:28 we read, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

What an ambition is this! We are not preaching only to get souls saved; we are to teach them, that we may present them perfect before the throne of glory. It was for this that Paul said, "Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." Somehow or other these words stir our soul to activity. Paul was working out, while God was working in.

When we are true preachers or workers there is no forcing of our message, or of our labor. There is something within us that will not let us stay. We are pressed on by the Spirit of God, which dwelleth within us.

V. THE MISSIONARY MESSAGE IN THESSALONIANS (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-10 )

We have some wonderful things before us now.

1. The reach of God's love in us. In chapter 2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 , read what he says. Now we can see that wonderful preacher, the Apostle Paul, as a man who deeply loved those to whom he preached. He was "affectionately desirous."

What did this love prompt him to do to preach the Gospel of God unto them? Certainly, but not only that. He was willing to impart not only the Gospel, but his very soul. He was willing to do this because the Thessalonians were dear to him. When they remembered his labor and travail night and day for them, they began to realize something of his love, something of the passion of his heart, Somehow or other, the Gospel which he preached seemed to them more precious because, in order to preach that Gospel, he labored night and day, that he might not be chargeable unto them.

2. The sweep and sway of the Gospel. We now go back to chapter 1, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 , Read 1 Thessalonians 1:8 . Here is a missionary endeavor that should never be forgotten. Why do we go to China, or Africa, or anywhere else? Do we go that they may receive the Gospel and be saved? Certainly; but we go also that they themselves may "sound forth" the Word of God which they have received from us.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:5 of chapter 1, Paul speaks of how the Gospel came unto Thessalonica not "in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."

1 Thessalonians 1:6 tells us that the Thessalonians became followers of Paul, and that they themselves "received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." Afterward we find that those who received the Gospel, heralded the Gospel.

We will never reach every creature in our dispensation until those who hear us in the foreign field receive the Gospel in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; and until, having thus received it, they are panoplied to sound it forth.


It is not until we come to the Epistle of Timothy that we find this tremendous statement, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." This is the "whosoever" of John 3:16 , and of Romans 10:1-21 , stated in a different way. Let us look at it carefully.

1. God our Saviour. This is the closing expression of 1 Timothy 2:3 . In the Epistle to Titus we read similar expressions four different times.

In chapter 1 Timothy 1:4 , are the words, "the Lord Jesus. Christ our Saviour."

In chapter 2, _Titus 2:1-15 __verse 13, is the expression, "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

In chapter 3, _Titus 3:1-15 __verse 4, are the words "God our Saviour," and in _Titus 3:1-15 __verse 6, "Jesus Christ our Saviour."

From these Scriptures we are ready to assert that Jesus Christ is God. Our Saviour could be none other than God; if Jesus Christ had been son of Joseph, He could not have been Son of God; nor could He have been our Saviour.

It is such an One who died that all men might be saved. It is such an One, as God our Saviour, or Jesus Christ our Saviour, whom we preach.

In Philippians we read, "That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Here is the great capstone of all missionary endeavor, the presentation of God incarnate, even God our Saviour.

2. Who will have all men to be saved. If God wants all men to be saved, then we must carry the Gospel to all men.

Need the missionary, then, who goes to the heart of Africa feel that any poor, struggling piece of humanity is not loved of God? We heard of one man to whom God said: "I want you to manifest My love to the tramps." Are not the tramps of our country included in the "all men" before us? Surely the tramp of our own country, as well as the out-caste of India, should be brought under the power of 1 Timothy 2:6 of the Scripture now before us. It reads; "Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Then let us testify.

3. Who will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth. If God, as we have just said, wants every man to be saved, then He wants everyone to know the truth of redemption. Beloved, let us determine, God helping us, that He may have our feet to carry us to the last man on earth, that we may give to him the message of salvation.


We have always loved this verse. Let us quote it to you: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."

1. The believer's titles. God has given us degrees; here they are: We are a C. G., an R. P., an H. N., and an S. P. Just write your name and place your four titles after it:

(1) We are a C. G., (child of God) because we have been born again. Not only are we born again, but we are chosen to be born.

(2) We are an R. P. A priesthood; but not only priests; but royal priests of God.

(3) We are an H. N. A nation; but not only a nation, but a nation marked by holy living.

(4) We are an S. P. A people; but not only a people, but a people chosen and peculiar to God: a special people.

2. The objective of our call. Let us put it this way, "Ye are * * that ye should," Certainly God did not give us our titles for nought. He made us what we are, in order that we should show forth His praises by our lives, and our good works, and our words, to those around us. That is the expression found in 1 Peter 2:12 .

3. That they should glorify God. Who are the "they" referred to? The Gentiles. We think of Peter as the Apostle to the Jews, but it was Peter who said, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."

Thus the heart of God is again seen, even through Jewish Christians. They were saved, they were a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and so forth, that they might show forth the glory of their God to the Gentiles. Let us glorify Him, and magnify Him before men; telling out the story of His saving grace, until all men shall know of Him.


"And here our work began. My message to the nations was that 'every creature' In every nation was to be reached in exactly the same way that God led Charles Cowman to place the Word in every home in Japan; later the same kind of work was begun in Korea and now, thanks be to God, is being carried on in the great, vast land of China. What has been done can be done again and again. Jesus said to 'every creature' and He meant just what He said. Charles Cowman laid down his life in literally obeying the last commission; and shall we, who live and remain to witness the afterglow of that rarely beautiful life, rest on our oars while millions die? Nay, we take up the torch that fell from his hands and on, on we press into the midnight lands.

"He simply said, 'Come follow!' And His footsteps led me clear up into Lapland amid the deep forests back where the Laplanders live in the bitter cold, where the mode of travel is on sledges drawn by reindeers, or on skis, leaping over the hills and mountains primitive life. Yes. it is there that the poor Lapps live in their huts made of skins. Live? Yes, they live and they die. The people gathered in schoolhouses, traveling miles and miles over the deep snow, and in the high snowstorms almost blinding and many of them found Jesus. What a glorious time we had in Lapland! We left several fine Christian workers there who have spent the winter visiting the Lapps' huts and bringing souls to the One who so loved that He came. Trophies of Calvary!

"Plans were made and prayed over for giving Finland and Lapland, as nations, the Word in every home. And then, miracle of miracles, He sent us to Esthonia, a little country to the north of Finland. There everything was in readiness Esthonia opened wide her arms they simply took the Water of Life proffered them, and a glorious work goes on and evangelists are going from home to home with the Word and many are seeing a great light and are 'Coming, coming, yes, they are.' My Esthonian audiences wept until there was a row of tears of joy, not sorrow, and never in any place in my entire lifetime have I seen such joy-lit faces. They had prayed for years for revival and they believed God had sent the answer.

"Not one word of the languages could I understand, but love is the universal language of the world and my heart was knit to them in a special way for it was an Esthonian hand, under God's, that held the wheel of the cargo boat, as we passed through the raging tempest and to them I was sent to God. * * *

"As we appear before Him on that day we want, through His power, to stand there unashamed, with trophies to lay at His pierced feet."

And with this, dear readers, we close. If through reading this report of the Lord's workings in our midst, you have caught a glimpse of His glory and power; a picture of the ripeness of these felds; and a vision of the lost, to the extent that you, too, will be different in your praying, in your giving and to your burden for souls, we shall praise Him. Tears have fallen in the writing; they may fall in the reading, but if it means tears that will water the seeds being sown, we know there will be an abundant harvest; and even greater glory shall be in the midst

"The seed that I've planted in springtime with weeping,

And watered with tears and with dew from on High;

Another may shout while the harvesters reaping

Shall gather my grain in the sweet by and by.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Romans 11:4". "Living Water".

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