Many Christians consider the book of Romans their favorite because of how clearly it teaches the gospel message. The apostle Paul presented the Good News wonderfully, teaching some fundamental truths about sin, sacrifice, and forgiveness. In part 2 of our series on Romans, Chris explores Paul’s teachings on the work of Christ and the Old Testament truths that inspired the apostle to write the epistle that lays out God’s plan of salvation.
Paul ties the New Testament to the Old Testament by teaching that all have sinned and must repent and that God desires to reconcile humanity to Himself. Chris draws our attention to Leviticus 17:11, which teaches us that blood sacrifice has always been necessary for atonement and redemption. That’s why God graciously sent His Son, Jesus, to shed His blood to cover our sins and provide eternal life with Him!
If you missed the first part to this series, you can catch up in our Archives.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. All month we're asking you to consider how you might support the broadcast ministry of The Friends of Israel. If this program has been meaningful in your spiritual life and it's giving you a better understanding of God's Word, program for Israel, the church and the nations, we'd ask you to consider supporting this ministry. More on that later.
Chris Katulka: Hey Steve, we're continuing our conversation, our study on the letter to the Romans, and last week we looked at the phrase that Paul uses several times, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Well, today we're going to develop some of Paul's Christology in the letter to the Romans, which means it's the study of Christ. What did he think about Jesus? And we're going to highlight one particular verse as well. Romans five, six, which says, “for while we were still helpless at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Steve Conover: But first in the news, Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur along with top figures in the AI industry, are set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in San Francisco. This comes even as Musk's platform X, formerly Twitter, faces accusations from the Anti-defamation League of increased antisemitic content on his social media platform.
Chris Katulka: Steve, here's my take. Netanyahu is using this opportunity to position Israel at the forefront of AI innovation. However, this meeting with Musk also presents an opportunity to address antisemitism. While the rift between Musk and the ADL may lean more political than actually antisemitic, every chance to address the perils of antisemitism, particularly on social media, should be seized.
We're continuing our series on the letter to the Romans, one of Paul's most significant letters in the New Testament. The famous theologian and leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther once said, “this letter to the Romans is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is the purest gospel. It is well worth the Christians' while not only to memorize it word for word, but also to occupy himself with it daily as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. Romans is theologically deep and meaningful, giving definition to many of the doctrines we hold near and dear. Paul gives definition to sin, the need of a savior, salvation, christology, justification, sanctification, security, and even the place of Israel in God's plan today and in the future.”
Now, last week we talked about the phrase “to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” in light of the fact that God shows no partiality when it comes to sin and salvation. We discussed the fact that of all the people to understand the gospel, the Good News of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, it's the Jewish people, but of all the people to understand God's judgment for not calling on his name as the prophets had once cried out in the Old Testament, well again, especially the Jewish people. The message of sin and salvation is also for the nations, for the Gentiles. Now, if you didn't get a chance to listen to last week's program, please be sure to visit foiradio.org.
Now, the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans is setting the stage by saying, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And today I want to focus on Christ. I want to talk about Paul's Christology in his letter to the Romans. Christology is the study of Christ. For this particular episode, what did Paul think about Christ as he was writing about him? I believe Romans 5:6 through 11 gives the best definition of Paul's understanding of Jesus as he's writing to the believers in Rome.
Listen to what he says here in Romans chapter five, six through eleven, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person. Though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us and that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God's wrath. For if while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son. How much more since we have been reconciled will we be saved by his life? Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.”
Okay, I want to stop here for a moment. Remember last week we said that Paul uses that phrase “to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” and that to the Jew first can mean both to the Jew first chronologically, the call to make sure we are ministering to Jewish people first, but its call can also be qualitative. Answering the question, why? Why do we minister to the Jew first? Because God's whole plan of redemption, the arc of the story of redemption is built around the narrative of the history of Israel. It's a Jewish story. The Bible's a Jewish book, Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. So we say to the Jew especially and also to the Greek. And I highlight this because when I read through Romans 5, six through eleven, I can't help but see the Jewishness in this text.
And what I mean by that is the concept of sacrifice or even a deeper theological word is the concept of substitutionary atonement, which means that God would provide a substitute. I'm reminded of the account of the binding of Isaac in Genesis chapter 22, when God commanded Abraham to take his one and only son, the son of the promise that God made to Abraham. In Genesis 12, 15 and 17, the one who would receive Abraham's inheritance, God commanded Abraham to take Isaac and offer him up as a burnt offering, and Abraham obeyed the Lord and just as he was about to offer up his one and only son, an angel appeared and told Abraham to stop. God knew that Abraham truly feared Him alone and because of his faith, Abraham looked up, and the text says this in Genesis chapter 22, verses 13 and 14. It says he saw behind him a ram caught in the bushes by its horns, so he went over and got the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Provides. It is said to this day in the mountain of the Lord, provision will be made. God provided a substitute offering for Isaac on the altar that day. A ram caught in the bushes. And it would be on that same mountain 2000 years later where God's one and only son Jesus would hang on a cross. This time, however, there would be no substitute for Jesus. No rams stuck in the bushes. God's innocent sinless son would die a sinner's death and in his obedience to the Father, much like Abraham and Isaac's, Jesus would become our substitute.
Remember what Paul wrote about Jesus in Romans chapter five, he says, for while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person. Though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Look, Paul in many ways is taking us back to the Old Testament understanding of sin, sacrifice, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Remember Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews. He studied under the prominent Rabbi Gamaliel. In regard to the law, he was a Pharisee. He said he was from the tribe of Benjamin.
Listen, Paul knew the law of the Old Testament. He understood that the wages of sin, even in the Old Testament, was death. And when Paul says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, he's actually saying the payoff of sin is death. That Greek word that's used there for wages is the same word used to describe what a soldier would get paid. And as Paul already established earlier in Romans, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So death is befitting for everyone, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, God would provide a way for his people who were sinful, to have a personal relationship with him. The punishment of death, the guilty verdict was directed toward a substitute. The Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament talks at length about sin and trespass offerings. There's even a day on the Hebrew calendar to atone for the sins of God's people. That's the Day of Atonement. But see, when we come back, we're going to look at one significant verse in the Book of Leviticus that gives meaning to Paul's statement in Romans chapter five, “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Stick around.
Chris Katulka: Steve, for almost nine years I've had the privilege of hosting The Friends of Israel Today radio show and serving with you.
Steve Conover: Chris, I love getting to create these programs with you and Tom and to think that this radio program has been around since 1991.
Chris Katulka: I know. Almost 32 years The Friends of Israel has been producing radio content, and that's why it's an honor for us to both ask you, our listeners, today to join us on the ground level to help broadcast biblical truth all around the globe. Whether The Friends of Israel Today is airing on a local radio station or through our online podcast, never before has it been so needed to have the truth of God's Word running over the airwaves.
Steve Conover: It's what I love about radio that we have an opportunity for people to hear God's Word. In fact, Romans 10:17 says, so then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Friends, we need your help to continue to produce and broadcast the Good News of our Savior on the radio program and through our podcasts.
Chris Katulka: The Friends of Israel Today radio program is actually supported by donors, listeners, and friends like you, which is why we need your help to share biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah Jesus to the world. Now our goal is to raise $25,000 to produce and broadcast the program that you're listening to right now. So with your financial gift today, you'll be taking the gospel to the ends of the earth with trustworthy uncompromising Bible teaching.
Steve Conover: If The Friends of Israel Today radio has been a blessing to you and you want to make it possible for all to hear, you can make a gift right now at foi.org/radiosupport. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. And again, it's foi.org/radiosupport.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We are continuing our discussion on Romans five and we're looking at the Jewishness of the letter to the Romans. Remember, Paul said several times in Romans “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” In our previous segment, we have been studying Paul's Christology, his understanding of who Christ is, especially from Romans chapter five, where we see that Paul writes “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul has developed already that everyone has sinned and the result of sin is death, but Christ died for us. He became our substitute while we were still sinners.
But let's go back to the Book of Leviticus, specifically Leviticus chapter 17, verse 11. Now, when was the last time you did your quiet time or your devotions in Leviticus? Be honest with me. For me, I love Leviticus. It shows the way a holy God interacts with a sinful people. The fact that a holy God would have a relationship with a sinful people. You know what that's called? That's called grace. He graciously made a way. Yes, even in the Book of Leviticus. But let's go to Leviticus 17:11, which says, “for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.” This passage is couched in a section in Leviticus that prohibits Israelites from eating or drinking blood. In Leviticus 17, God says this, “any man from the house of Israel or resident foreigners who live in their midst who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats the blood and I will cut him off from the midst of his people.”
Even in Acts 15, as Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus, the apostles have to meet in Jerusalem to talk about this amazing movement that's happening. Non-Jewish people are believing in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, just as the prophets had promised, but the apostles used the law of God in the Old Testament to set guidelines for how Gentile Christians should walk. Did you know that? Gentile Christians don't have to become Jewish to follow Jesus, but Gentiles were to follow certain aspects of the law from Leviticus. They were to avoid things defiled by idols. That's in the 10 Commandments. Avoid sexual immorality, that's Leviticus chapter 18. Avoid meat of strangled animals, that's Leviticus 17, 13, and 14. And they were to avoid eating or drinking blood, Leviticus 17, verses 10 and 12. Yes, those are Levitical laws even us non-Jewish believers were asked to follow.
Why was this so important that even New Testament Christians were asked to follow certain Levitical laws to abstain from eating or drinking blood? Well, as Leviticus 17:11 shows, blood serves as a mechanism for ritual cleansing in Israel. This was a concept that was unique in Israel compared to all the other ancient near Eastern people that lived during that time. The blood represented the life or the life force of the animal, so the animal had to be killed for the blood to have efficacy. Therefore, as the IVP Old Testament backgrounds commentary says, it says, “eating the blood could be easily viewed as one way of absorbing the life force of another creature. This type of thinking is forbidden, as is the idea that by ingesting it, the individual has destroyed the life force by dissipation. Instead, the life is to be offered back to God once it came. The life of every living thing is in the blood and the blood makes atonement for one's life, which means it's the vehicle by which God can cover, cancel, cleanse, pardon and forgive the sin of the person.”
He substitutes the sinner's blood with the shed blood of the animal, and that's why Paul picks up on this concept in Romans chapter five when he's describing who Jesus is and his Christology. In Romans 5:9 it says, “that we have been declared righteous by his blood.” Did you hear that in Romans 5:9? Paul will say this in Ephesians 1:7, that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins. In Ephesians 2:13 it says, “in Christ Jesus, you who used to be far away have been brought nearby the blood of Christ.” Colossians 1:20 says, “that through Him, to reconcile all things to himself, by making peace through the blood of His cross through Him.”
Hebrews chapter nine, verse 12 says, “and He entered once and for all into the most holy place, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He secured eternal redemption.” Hebrews 10:19 says, “therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 13:11 says, “Jesus sanctified the people by his own blood.” And first John 1:7 says, “we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son cleanses us from all sin.” Finally, Revelation 1:5, “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of His own blood.” My friends, Jesus and His shed blood became our substitute. As Paul develops this idea, and it's through His sacrifice, He gave life so that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Early last year many of my coworkers seemed interested in asking me about the Lord. They wanted to know who He was and why, such a long time after His death, He was still remembered. They wanted to know what they called the “secret.” I told them, there is nothing secret about the Lord. You can read about Him in the Bible, but ask me whatever you like. I'm not a Bible teacher, but the Holy Spirit always provides answers at the right times. One day a new worker joined us, a man full of hatred, blindness, and jealousy. When he heard my friends ask me about the Lord, he grew angry and stirred much hatred toward me among the workers. The devil attacked me through this man for a long time, but I was not afraid and I prayed that all of them might truly come to know the Lord.
Finally, because of all that hatred he had created against me, I was told I must leave my job in five days. That night he was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. The next day his wife came to the job site to ask if any of his work friends would give blood for him. It seemed as if everyone became deaf. Then I said, I will give him blood, but he must know that it came from the Jewish believer whose Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. The other men exclaimed, “What? After all that he has done to you, this is the time to take revenge.” I told them, now you can see the difference between me, a believer, and you. All of you say you believe in God and call for revenge. The man needs to be saved spiritually. Then I went with the man's wife to the hospital and gave blood.
Five days later, I left my job because of him. About a year later, I was shocked to find knocking at my door, this man with his family. He apologized saying, “I have had no rest since you were fired. I asked many people where you live, but they would not give me your address. I cannot excuse myself and I am even prepared to be cast away from your home tonight.” I told him I would not do that. The Lord has taught us to love our enemies. I then opened the New Testament, which this man despised and I read Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and prosecute you.” I then read Romans chapter 12, verse 20, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he's thirsty, give him a drink.”
After this, with tears, he asked himself, “Can this be true after I was so bad to him?” I told him, “We can forget all of that because of the Lord who died for us. And through Him we can receive forgiveness of our sins. As it is written in John 3:16, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, but whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” After I said this, I could not believe my eyes. This man who before had no conscience, faith or humanity was now soft as butter in the summer. He asked, “What can I do for you?” “Nothing,” I replied. “What you must do is for yourself. Pray to the Lord, our Savior. He can give you that which no one else can give. What I did for you was done through His love.”
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life in ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our friends of Israel Ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine and clothing, and we even promote the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. So when you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. You can click right there on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us this week. We continue our series in the book of Romans in our next episode. Chris, what can we expect when we open the Word of God together again?
Chris Katulka: Yeah, we're going to be looking again at Romans and we're going to develop a little bit more from Romans chapter five. We've been studying the Old Testament concept of sacrifice and the importance of blood and especially Jesus's blood and how it forgives us. But next week we're going to look at how that blood justifies us, what it means to stand righteous before a holy God.
Steve Conover: We hope you join us then. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
The Friends of Israel Today radio program is supported by donors, listeners, and friends like you. We need your help to share biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, Jesus, to the world! With your financial gift, right now, you will be taking the gospel to the ends of the earth with trustworthy, uncompromising Bible teaching and timely interviews. We need your help to continue to produce and share the Good News of our Savior on the radio, podcasts, and our website. Visit foi.org/radiosupport or click the button below to show your support.
Apples of Gold: We Can Forget All of That Because of the Lord
Zvi was regularly sharing with his coworkers about the Lord and what He had done in his life. But when a new employee started, Zvi was met with complete hatred and persecution. It escalated to Zvi losing his job. Sometime later Zvi heard the man was sick and in need of blood. Zvi went to donate but told the person to let the man know that it was given by the Hebrew believer. What happened next was something only the Lord could orchestrate.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us to continue proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.