Paul was jealous to see the Church come of age in Christ, that his own kinsmen might see a demonstration of the Gospel. His primary ministry was to Gentiles, and while he was wholly eager for the glory of God and the salvation of nations, his motives were also mixed with a jealousy for the deliverance of his own kinsmen. He knew that the veil over their hearts could only be penetrated by a demonstration of the spirit and character of Christ through the Church, which was made up mostly of Gentiles, and so he labored for their maturity, “if somehow” he might move them to an awakening unto salvation.
The magnification of his ministry was not in self-promotion or advertising, but in the blood, sweat, and tears of true apostolic sacrifice. Do we know anything of it?
Paul glorified his ministry by giving himself wholly and unreservedly to it.
(Romans: Word Biblical Commentary, J.D.G. Dunn)
I believe Paul was gripped with a vision of the future salvation of Israel, the descent of the New Jerusalem, and the return of God Himself. He had that Davidic yearning for God to have a resting place in the earth, and for him, it began in the planting and nurturing of Churches, which would eventuate in a sweeping salvation of his kinsmen at the end of the age. Hear Dunn again:
Israel’s ‘already’ rejection has meant ‘reconciliation for the world.’ It’s ‘not yet’ acceptance will mean nothing less than ‘life from the dead,’ that is, the final resurrection. The climax of God’s final purpose as marked by the resurrection of the dead will be occasioned by the incoming of Israel.
…. Paul’s conviction and hope evidently was that his own missionary work would be a crucial trigger to the final resurrection.
Oh, that the Lord would brand and raise up men of like vision and passion! Men with faith and courage and concern enough, not merely to create ministries and organizations, but to go into the darkest nations with a gospel that isn’t “in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction,” causing men to turn “to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thess. 1. 5, 9-10)
For the salvation of men, the deliverance of Israel, and the glory of Christ! Amen!