“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:1–2, KJV 1900)
I would say that few Christians have studied the Old Testament. I have even heard that some think that the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures are unnecessary since we have the New Testament. I beg to differ with these people. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with deep truth for they portray Christ, the central figure of all sixty-six books of our Bible.
Here Paul asks a rhetorical question. “What advantage then hath a Jew?” He had just made a case saying that the circumcision of the flesh meant nothing as far as righteousness was concerned, that it was the circumcision of the heart that mattered. In hearing this one might ask this same question. If the rules and regulations that the Jews obeyed could not make a person righteous, then what was so great about being a Jew or the nation of Israel? He answers this question by saying, “Much in every way” and then goes on to list just one.
Here is where it is vital for us to understand the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. God called a man, who was not a Jew and not yet circumcised to be a great nation. He gave him the promise of a land and a covenant that through his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. From Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and the beginning of the nation of Israel, God chose and blessed Israel to be the nation through which the Messiah, Jesus would come.
As Paul states in verse two, He also blessed them to be the guardians of God’s Word, the Scriptures. They did this exceptionally well as we have today the books of the Old Testament. The problem was that while they as a nation were guardians of the truth, they historically wandered from the mark and at the time of Christ, missed the point completely. Yet, as Paul indicates in the next verses, their faithlessness does not nullify God’s faithfulness (v3-4). Nothing they could do or not do would every nullify the truth of the Hebrew Scriptures or His faithfulness to fulfill the promises contained therein exactly as they were written.
I write this to my Christian friends to understand that Israel in spite of their roller coaster ride played a huge role in our salvation. We ought to be grateful for God brought the Messiah to us through them and they brought the Old Testament Scriptures through which we see Jesus if we would just study them. Also remember this, now we who believe, the church, are guardians of truth (1 Tim 3:15).