3Gentiles/nations”) or locative (“among all the Gentiles/nations”).
While virtually alltranslations accept the locative sense (e.g., NRSV, NIV, NJB, ESV, etc.), most commentatorsresist the notion that Paul’s apostolate is oriented towards a geographical signifer of the“nations” rather than simply to non-Jewish “Gentiles”.
Yet why is “among the nations” anillegitimate framework for Paul’s mission? Paul can switch from
as non-Jewishindividuals (Rom 2:14, 16; cf. Gal 2:12), to the “nations” who are distinct from national“Israel” in Romans 9-11, 15. Clearly in Rom 15:15-20 Paul is thinking of “nations” ratherthan of non-Jewish individuals, because his mission in the east can only be “finished” if thesense that he has preached in all of the territories of that region and not in the sense that hehas converted all individual Gentiles.
Also, including the Diasporan Jews within thisapostolic remit is hardly incredulous when the gospel is for the “Jew first” in Rom 1:16, Paulknows of a remnant of Jewish believers in Rom 9:24-29, a continuing Jewish mission isimplied in Rom 10:12-21, the hope for Israel’s salvation emerges climactically in Rom 11:26-32, a list of Jewish Christian friends and colleagues is supplied in Rom 16:1-16, and Romansis filled with Paul’s concerted effort to assuage explicitly Jewish objections to his gospel andmessage? On top of that, Luke presents James informing Paul that the Jewish anger at him iscaused by the perception that “you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles/nations (
) to forsake Moses” (Acts 21:19-21). The similarities in the phrasing betweenRom 1:5 and Acts 21:19 are remarkable. However apologetically contrived the Lucanaccount may be, and regardless of whether
specifies “Gentiles” or “nations” at this point,Luke asserts that the Pauline mission in the geographical territory of non-Jews encompassedJewish groups as well.
In sum, if the preceding analysis about the geopolitical frame of Paul’s apostolate is correct and if the implied reference to “nations” in Rom 1:5 and Acts21:19 hold firm, then Paul the apostle to the
understood his missionary work to consistof the announcement and persuasion of all people that Israel’s God’s has disclosed hissalvation through Jesus Christ for Greeks, Barbarians, and Jews
among the nations
Cf. discussion in Theodor Zahn,
Der Brief des Paulus an die Römer
(KNT; Leipzig, Deichert, 1910), 47; OttoMichel,
Der Brief an die Römer
(14th ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 76; Rick Strelan,
Paul, Artemis, and the Jews in Ephesus
(BZNW 80: Walter de Gruyter, 1996), 303-6.
Cf., e.g., James D. G. Dunn (
Romans 1 – 8
[WBC; Dallas, TX: Word, 1988], 18): “(
certainly means‘the Gentiles’ (and not ‘the nations’ including the Jews)”; Robert Jewett (
[Herm.; Minneapolis:Fortress, 2007], 111): “This [i.e., meaning of ‘nations’] seems highly unlikely in view of Paul’s description of his calling to be an apostle to the ‘Gentiles’ (Gal 1:16; 2:8) and also in view of Paul’s purpose in writing hisletter, namely, the mission to Spain, where there were yet no Jewish settlements.” See in contrast Don B.Garlington (
‘The Obedience of Faith’: A Pauline Phrase in Historical Context
[WUNT 2.38; Tübingen:Mohr/Siebeck, 1991], 234) who thinks that
includes “Jews” and J.M. Scott (
Paul and the Nations: TheOld Testament and Jewish Background on Paul’s Mission to the Nations with Special Reference to the Destination of Galatians
[WUNT 84; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1995], esp. 27-61) focuses on “nations” ratherthan “Gentiles” and proposes that Paul was influenced by the “table of nations” in Genesis 10 and 1 Chronicles1:1–2:2. Ksenija Magda (“Unity as a Prerequisite for a Christian Mission: A Missional Reading of Rom 15:1-12,”
2 : 47) writes: “It is much more plausible to believe that he uses the term neutrally anduniversally, i.e. in most cases it should include the Jews” (see further his
Paul's Territoriality and MissionStrategy: Searching for the Geographical Awareness Paradigm Behind Romans
[WUNT 2.266; Tübingen:Mohr/Siebeck, 2009]).
, 361n15; Johannes Munck,
Paul and the Salvation of Mankind
(London: SCM, 1959), 52-55.
It is likely that James’ words convey a false accusation against Paul from Jewish critics, specifically, that “youteach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise theirchildren or observe the customs”. An allegation that is false of both the Paul of the Epistles and the Paul of acts.Undoubtedly though, regardless of the historicity of Luke’s reporting of James’ words, that Paul was “teaching”Jews and that he held controversial views on “law” and “circumcision” can be taken as historical, and therefore,so can Jewish reservations about his ministry.