Tuesday, December 23, 2008

D.4 God is Righteous

9 [D.4 Having come this far, Paul must account for the difficulty of the obedience of faith - he returns to the question of his own people. The white on purple type face is used to note Paul's personal sections.]

1: I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2: that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3: For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. 4: They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5: to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.

6: But it is not as though the word of God had failed.
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7: and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but
"Through Isaac shall your descendants be named."
8: This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God,
but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.
9: For this is what the promise said,
"About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son."
10: And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11: though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, 12: she was told, "The elder will serve the younger." 13: As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

[Now Paul returns to the troubling question of God's loyalty to the covenant of Torah]

14: What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part?[17] By no means!

15: For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
16: So it depends not upon human will or exertion, but upon God's mercy. 17: For the scripture says to Pharaoh,
"I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth."
18: So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.

19: You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault?[18] For who can resist his will?[18a]"
20: But who are you, a human, to answer back to God?
Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me thus?
21: Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?
22: What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, 23: in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, 24: even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?[18e] 25: As indeed he says in Hose'a,
"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'my beloved.'"
26: "And in the very place where it was said to them,
'You are not my people,' they will be called 'children of the living God.'"
27: And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
"Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
only a remnant of them will be saved;
28: for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch."
29: And as Isaiah predicted,
"If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah."

30: What shall we say, then?
That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith;
31: but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law.
32: Why?
Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works.
They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33: as it is written,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will make them fall;
and anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."
10.1: Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2: I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.
3: For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God,
and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.

[This is the same argument as chapters 1&2 - failure to see God's righteousness]

4: For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.

5: Moses writes that the one who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it.
6: But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart,
"Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7: or
"Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8: But what does it say?
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach);
9: because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10: For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the lips and so is saved.

11: The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame."

12: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.

13: For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
14: But how are people to call upon him in whom they have not believed?

[21] And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without a preacher?
15: And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"
16: But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says,
"Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
17: So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.
18: But I ask, have they not heard?
[22] Indeed they have; for
"Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."
19: Again I ask, did Israel not understand?
First Moses says,
"I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry."
20: Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
"I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."
21: But of Israel he says,
"All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

11 [D.9 Q 24-27 The completely explored thesis]

1: I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means![24]

I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2: God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Eli'jah, how he pleads with God against Israel?[24a]
3: "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have demolished thy altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life (psyche)."
4: But what is God's reply to him?
"I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Ba'al."
5: So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
7: What then?
[25] Israel failed to obtain what it sought.
The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
8: as it is written,
"God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day."
9: And David says,
"Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution for them;
10: let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs for ever."

11: So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall?[26] By no means!

But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12: Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13: Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14: in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

15: For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?[27]

[Finally he has to be satisfied with hope - the same hope that he invites the Gentiles into as promised in the ancient Scriptures. We must then determine if this hope is 'religious', 'political', convenient, a means to power, or a means of vulnerability and self-giving -].
16: If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump;
and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17: But if some of the branches were broken off, and you,
a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree,
18: do not boast over the branches. If you do boast,
remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.
19: You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."
20: That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief,
but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.
21: For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.

22: Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. 23: And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24: For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

25: Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, 26: and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
"The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
27: "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

28: As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
29: For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
30: Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,
31: so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy.
32: For God has consigned all humans to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

[Doxology] 33: O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
35: "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
36: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

This series on Romans begins here

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