The Importance of Ministering to Israel
I have a small confession to make—I’ve repeatedly read and studied the book of Romans, but somehow I missed the critical importance and significance of these few verses in chapter 15. Paul wrote:
But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things (Romans 15:25–27).
Over an extended period of time, the Gentile churches had been collecting money to send back to the church in Jerusalem (see 2 Corinthians 8-9) in support of the poor believers there, and Paul was going to deliver that money before he continued on his journey to Spain. This was more than just an act of generosity (though it was that). It was an act of bridge building, of solidarity, between two groups who had been unfriendly at a natural level but now were unified at the spiritual level.
In these times I feel it’s absolutely critical for us to understand why this is important for us as believers to not just know and understand the facts, but to also act in our faith.
First, this offering was an expression of love to the Jewish people.
Second, this offering was practical. There were many poor Jewish believers who needed help.
Third, and most important for us to know in our hearts today, it was in a way a paying of a debt. The Gentiles had received spiritual wealth from the Jews and they were now returning material wealth—paying their debt. When we read the first chapter of Romans we realize that Paul considered himself a “debtor.” He felt the Gentile Christians were debtors to the Jews. Why? Because it was the Jews who gave to the Gentiles God’s Word and His Son.
K.S. Wuest, in his commentary on Romans, wrote:
The spiritual things of which the Gentiles partake are the spiritual blessings of salvation, and they are debtors to the Jew for them because as our Lord said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). The carnal things which the Gentiles minister to the Jews are the necessities of life, food clothing, and shelter, in short, money. The word “contribution” is in the Greek text, koinōnia), the verb form of which means “to participate jointly with some other person, to have fellowship.” Here it speaks of the Gentile saints participating jointly or having fellowship in the sending of the money to the Jewish saints in Jerusalem and of having fellowship with them in their necessities by making these necessities their own
The result of Paul’s efforts was a spiritual uniting of Christians and Jews. Practical needs were met and deep spiritual bonds were tied.
Like Paul, we need to feel humbly obligated to Israel. We should be in prayer for Israel. We should help with resources and a heart-felt feeling of gratitude for the heritage, the Word and the Savior they gave us.
Are you with me?
 Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Ro 15:25). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.