Romans Bible Study Lesson 31

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Paul’s love for Israel

Romans 9:1—5

Chapters 9, 10 and 11 are, in a sense, parenthetical chapters. This becomes very evident if you read chapter 8 then skip to chapter 12. We can see a strong correlation between God’s immeasurable love directed toward us and our logical response to His love. Chapter 8 also marks an end to Paul’s doctrinal dissertation and moves into his exhortation mode. This is his normal mode of operation, to lay a solid foundation in doctrine then encourage us to put them into to practice.

The first eight chapters focus on members of the Church, the Body of Christ. This logically leads to the questions presented by those who are of Israel. They want to know if these things apply to them. They want to know what happened to all the promises given to Israel by God. Did God turn away from them and take away all the future promised blessings? Paul tries to answer these and more questions in the next few chapters.

Concerning Israel:

Chapter 9: Israel’s stumbling. Israel’s rejection of her Messiah  (a stone of stumbling) lead to her downfall because they approached salvation by works and not faith.

Chapter 10: Israel’s rejection.  When Israel rejected the Gospel of the Kingdom, God (temporarily) rejected them.

Chapter 11: Israel’s glorification. Even though Israel rejected God, God has not permanently rejected them. There is still a remnant of faithful believers in Israel. Through Israel’s fall, salvation has come to the Gentiles. God will once again show mercy to Israel and fulfill His promises.

God vindicated:

Chapter 9: God is completely sovereign.

Chapter 10: Man is morally responsible.

Chapter 11: God’s purpose fulfilled.

We can see Paul switching to the practical walk in the following passages:

Galatians 5:1 Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…

Philippians 2:1—2 1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

Paul’s method of writing makes a lot of sense because what good is having a lot of knowledge without practically applying that knowledge in our day-by-day walk? Have you ever met a person claiming to be a Christian but only acts like one when he attends church? Paul says it should be a lifestyle. On the other hand in order to walk correctly we need proper instruction as to what is expected of us. Without knowledge we would live ignorantly. Doctrine and walk need to be bound together. Neither one can function properly on its own.

We also need to understand what doctrine was written directly to us. If we take the whole Bible as our direct instruction, we will get confused because there are contradictions. We can’t, for instance, follow the Mosaic Law then follow what Paul says about not being under the Law (Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 5:18). How can these two ideas be reconciled?

The Mystery revealed to Paul is written directly to the Church, the Body of Christ. We can see that Paul was entrusted with this Mystery (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25; I Corinthians 4:1; 9:17; I Timothy 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:12—14). Note: 2 Timothy 1:12—14 is often misinterpreted to mean that God is able to guard the salvation that He gave to Paul. Literally the phrase “what I have entrusted to Him” is interpreted as: “my deposit.” The context of verses 9—11 are about the message (Mystery) not Paul’s salvation. Verse 12 goes on to say that Paul was convinced that Jesus Christ would guard what He had deposited (entrusted) with Paul. This is the deposit of the Mystery truth given to Paul by Jesus Christ. Verse 13 logically continues with the admonition to Timothy to hold a pattern of sound words. Paul was the pattern of Mystery doctrine and Timothy was to faithfully preach and teach it just as Paul had been doing faithfully for all these years and doing so without shame (verse 12). Paul was made a steward of this Mystery and was responsible to carry it and distribute it. Paul is seen to have passed this Mystery on to Timothy and told him to guard this truth that had been entrusted to him (1 Timothy 6:20).

In chapters 9—11 Paul turns his attention to his kinsmen, Israel.

Paul’s great sorrow for his kinsmen

Romans 9:1—5

Verse 1

We can see the interplay of two forces in the believer’s life: the conscience and the Holy Spirit. Every person has a conscience but sin has twisted the conscience so that it is not a reliable guide. There are many people who are able to do the wrong thing without any problem with their conscience. The believer, however, has a moral compass—the Holy Spirit. He is the Person who keeps our conscience true and reliable. In this verse we see Paul’s conscience was in line with the Holy Spirit. He was in Christ and had the indwelling Holy Spirit as his guide because he was a believer.

Verse 2

Paul continually anguished over his fellow Jews. His great love for them and desire for them to be saved is made apparent here and in other passages (Romans 10:1; 11:14). Imagine how hard it was for Paul to leave Jerusalem and confine his ministry to the Gentiles.

Verse 3

The usual understanding of this verse is that Paul would have given up his salvation if it would mean salvation for the Jewish nation. However, the verb “could wish” (Greek: eucomai) is in the imperfect tense and indicates the action was continuous in the past. (Examples found in Acts 16:7; Luke 9:16; Matthew 2:4)

Romans 9:3 for I was wishing, I myself, to be anathema from the Christ — for my brethren, my kindred, according to the flesh, (Young’s Literal Translation).

Applying this insight to this verse shows that Paul was wishing in the past that he could be accursed for the sake of his Jewish brethren. This past time would be before he was saved and probably before Pentecost when many Jews were believing on Christ as their Messiah. It was Paul’s desire as a zealous Pharisee that the Jews stay with their Judaistic traditions and not follow Jesus. He was wishing continuously in the past that he would be separated from Jesus Christ, would have nothing to do with Him, and that his Jewish brethren would do the same.

Verse 4

God worked only through Israel for at least 1,500 years. When God wanted to reveal anything to mankind He would do it through Israel. When God provided a way of salvation He did so through Israel. If any individual wanted to come to God they would need to become a proselyte. There are very few examples of God reaching out to other nations but when He did so, it was done with Israel in mind. (Nineveh)

The adoption as sons: God accepted Israel as a son.

Exodus 4:22—23 22and thou hast said unto Pharaoh, Thus said Jehovah, My son, My first-born [is] Israel 23and I say unto thee, Send away My son, and he doth serve Me; and — thou dost refuse to send him away — lo, I am slaying thy son, thy first-born.’

Hosea 11:1 Because Israel [is] a youth, and I love him, Out of Egypt I have called for My Son

The glory: God raised up Israel and glorified her among the nations. She will be ultimately glorified in the Millennial Kingdom.

The covenants: Israel is the covenant nation. Covenants include Abrahamic (promise of many descendants and much land) and Davidic (Ties the line of David with ruling in the Millennial Kingdom through Jesus Christ).

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear and come to Me Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.

Acts 3:25 “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’

The giving of the Law: The Law was given to Moses for Israel. Literally the Law was imposed upon Israel and was ordained or enacted by angels (Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:38).

The temple service: Israel was in charge of seeing that all the temple rituals were carried out perfectly. The temple was a picture of heaven and the picture was to be carried out in precise detail.

The promises: Made through the covenants and outside of the covenants and made only to Israel.

Verse 5

The fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even though Abraham and Isaac had other sons, all of God’s promises went through this line and no other.

Christ: the promised Messiah of Israel born out of Israel, raised in Israel, His ministry was limited to Israel. Christ is according to the flesh since that is how He revealed Himself. Paul knew Christ from both in the flesh and not in the flesh. He revealed Himself to Israel in the flesh but to us in the Spirit. We understand that the doctrine revealed to Paul from the heavenly Christ is written to us whereas the doctrine revealed by the earthly Christ was for Israel.

2 Corinthians 5:16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

So we see that Israel was chosen by God to be the nation through which He would reveal Himself to the world. They were chosen because God foreknew them in love (Deuteronomy 7:6—7).

We also see a reference to Christ being God although some would try to distort this fact by putting a period after the phrase “Who is over all” and making the phrase “God blessed forever” a doxology. However, this verse seems to say what my literal translation says:

Whose are the fathers; and of whom is the Christ according to the flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever, amen.

If there is any doubt that Jesus Christ is God we only need to look at John 1:14—18 or Revelation 1:7—8 or John 20:28 or Isaiah 7:14 or 9:6 or Titus 2:13 or compare 1 Corinthians 8:6 with Colossians 1:16—17.