Romans 9, 10 & 11

Romans 9, 10 & 11

Why did Paul include this block of teaching in a letter in which, as he said, the righteousness of God is revealed (1;16,17)? Firstly, in chapters one through eight he had shown that his gospel was entirely in keeping with God’s character as many of his readers (Jews) should have already understood it from their knowledge of the Old Testament. Secondly, it offered to mankind a righteousness which, coming from God, was infinitely superior to anything that humans could produce by their own efforts. On those two counts and more it was a message of which Paul was not ashamed.

And it was good news for everyone who would believe it, regardless of their race. So some critics would be asking, “Did not such a universally offered message ignore privileges that were bestowed on Jews only?” And was Paul no longer grateful that he was born a son of Abraham? Had he “crossed the floor”, so to speak, adopting views that he once so vigorously attacked? The messenger’s credibility was at stake and so was his creed. These and related questions must be answered satisfactorily.
So in the ninth chapter, Paul begins by assuring his readers that on this last count their fears were unfounded. Those promises made to Israel which had not yet been fulfilled would yet be realized.

But they needed to understand that they would not be enjoyed by those who, though they were Abraham’s physical seed, did not share his faith. And God’s choice of the younger of Isaac and Rebecca’s twins (Jacob) rather than the older Esau, who would be the natural heir, showed that He could and would do as he pleased in such matters. Such privileges did not result from order of birth, merit of some kind or human effort, but were granted on the basis of Divine election.

It is essential to a true understanding of this letter that we do not think of this election as if it referred to God’s choice of individuals to personal salvation, but of his raising up some of them to fulfil strategic roles in human history. Like a potter God has power over men so that they end up doing His will. This meant that He showed mercy to some who did not deserve it and hardened the hearts of others who sought to resist His will. This calling of God to carry out a predestined and foreseen plan involved not only the destiny of these individuals, but also the families from which they sprang and the nations they came to represent. But salvation from personal sins is open to anyone from any nation who calls upon the name of the Lord.

But to hear of this salvation demands that the news of its availability must be conveyed to men. That required messengers and in this context, Paul may well be justifying his own calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles, an idea so unacceptable to persons who thought that God’s favor was limited to their own nation, Israel.
Characteristically Israel had shown either ignorance of God’s righteousness being distracted by an insistence on maintaining their own, thus showing themselves disobedient and contrary. But God had not and would not cast them away because His gifts and calling were without change of mind. The elect among them might be relatively few in number but they refused to yield to the general apostasy and resembled the 7,000 in Elijah’s day. The rest were given over to being alive nationally but spiritually insensible.

But this was not Israel’s death-knell. The salvation that had been brought to the Gentiles was, in part, to make that nation jealous. Currently, and as regards to the gospel, they might be enemies, but when God has completed His gracious work among the Gentiles, Israel would experience revival and her sins taken away. This revelation of God’s superintendence of history should bring all to worship Him whose ways are otherwise beyond human knowledge.

Author’s note: This paper began as test for a young man who comes once or twice a month for Bible study. For that reason, there are almost no scripture references. He was required to supply as many as he could find in order to make sure he learned the truth was from the text of Scripture rather than from the points made. I provided some sign posts but he would not learn much if he did not take the mental journey himself. Like the Bereans, see if you can find the scriptural support for this article.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

Colin Anderson

Bible teacher, with a particular interest in building up new and struggling churches. Commended from Danforth Gospel Hall. Married Joan Michell from Grace Bible Chapel, Timmins, ON in 1960. Worked with Chester Donaldson in the early days of Northland Bible Camp, and with Jim Booker to start Galilee Bible Camp. Taught for three years at a Bible school in Kampala, Uganda (1967-1970). Helped establish Richvale Bible Chapel, Markham Bible Chapel, and Sudbury Bible Fellowship. Currently serving in southwestern Ontario.