In my book, I argue that Paul’s description of his “priestly” ministry in Romans 15:14-33 is drawn from Isaiah 60-61, which describes Israel’s eschatological priestly role toward the nations. This reinforces Paul’s depiction of his apostolic ministry as an eschatological Jew-Gentile dynamic.
Paul’s cultic terminology, like his self-description as the Isaianic Servant [in Rom 1:1], serves to locate his own apostolic ministry within the sphere of Jewish eschatological expectations concerning Israel’s distinct vocation towards the nations. Paul portrays himself as the first-person gospel-preacher of Isa 61:1, whose ministry is the catalyst for a more general “priestly” Jew-Gentile dynamic. Through Paul’s own apostolic ministry to the nations, Israel’s pre-eminent role as the source of God’s revelation to the world is restored. Thus Paul’s proclamation of the divine gospel is a metaphorical “priesthood” which fulfils and enables Israel’s own distinct priestly role in bringing divine revelation to the world. As we shall see when we examine the Rom 2:17–29 (ch. 5) and Rom 9–11 (ch. 6), Paul believes that these eschatological expectations can only be achieved through a thorough-going, radical redefinition of Jewish identity. Nevertheless, in the outer frame of Romans [Rom 1:1-15, 15:14-33], Paul deliberately presents his apostolic ministry in relatively straightforward terms, as the fulfilment of Israel’s vocation.
The full details of the argument and further references may be found in chapter 4 of the book (pp. 114-119). The chapter is available from the publisher in electronic format:
Windsor, Lionel J. Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans. BZNW 205. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.