Full Text for Romans- Volume 31 - Overview of Romans 9-11 (Video)

No. 31. >> You mentioned that Romans 9 through 11 make up the third major section of Paul's presentation in Romans. And that these chapters should be read together. Again, it would be helpful if you could give us a general overview about what we will find in this section. >>PROFESSOR DAVID I. M. LEWIS: Thank you for that question, David. And I commend to you again the outline that Martin Fransman suggests in his commentary. Kind of a basic four-fold outline for the body. The main body of the epistle to the Romans. Again, the first part Romans 1:18 through 5:21. Fransman entitles: The Gospel creates a new status. And that again is the focus upon justification as the declaration of God that we are righteous when we believe in Jesus. Then Romans 6, 7 and 8 should be read together. And Fransman entitles that section: The Gospel creates a new life. And of course here we hear about our death to sin and our rising again to lead this new life that's led by the Spirit. And now Romans 9, 10 and 11 is a third section that ought to be read together. And Fransman entitles this section: The Gospel creates a new Israel out of Jews and Gentiles. And so Fransman here is pointing out that one major theme here is that a new Israel is created by the Gospel. And this is a new Israel that is made up both of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ. And so I might recall again a question that was asked earlier about why this -- why the issues of Jews and Gentiles seems to be such an important topic for Paul to deal with. And now one reason is because something very radical and revolutionary has taken place. Before Jesus came, God's people were this national ethnic group, the of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jacob's 12 sons. And they were given the torah, certain practices that made them unique. They circumcised their males. They had a unique sacrificial system. They could only eat certain foods. They couldn't eat other foods. They had their unique festivals. And these things set God's people aside as being his holy, his unique people. And it would be a hard thing for a Jew in those days when Jesus had come when all of that suddenly had changed. And we're now -- that law, the torah, doesn't apply. And now to be God's people, it's simply believing in Jesus Christ. And then, as Paul explains in Romans 6, 7 and 8, in baptism participating in Christ's death and resurrection so that God has acted upon you in such a way that your old man has died and a new man has risen who'll lead a Spirit led life. In other words, on this side of Christ and the cross and resurrection, circumcision and kosher foods and the festivals and everything that made a Jew a Jew and even this much, even Jewish identity, do not matter. What matters now is faith in Jesus Christ. And that new birth given by the Spirit. This is what matters after the death and resurrection of Jesus. And so these chapters in a sense are dealing with this very revolutionary shift that has taken place in salvation history. Where God in fact in the Christian church is creating a new Israel through his Gospel. The old Israel is no longer the locus of the people of God. Now the locus of the people of God is wherever people have faith in Jesus. Wherever the Holy Spirit is active giving people this resurrected life in Jesus Christ. And again, I just draw to mind, David, how this would be a revolutionary shift. And even for Jews who became Christians at that time, we need to appreciate what a struggle and how hard it would have been for them to have actually seen this shift take place. I mean, I think this is one reason why the apostles so often in Jesus' ministry just didn't get what he was saying. Because God was doing something new. And basically, whether you're a Jew or a Gentile, to really take the power of the Gospel, God's means of converting and really take God working through his Gospel and his Spirit to convert you so you can actually see that something new has happened. So in these chapters Paul is dealing with this sudden shift in the locus of God's people. Before Christ it was national Israel. Now it is the Christian church. Before Christ it was the Jews and those Gentiles who became Jews. But now it's Jew or Gentile. And you don't have to become a Jew anymore to become one of God's people. Rather, that's accomplished through faith in Jesus. When Fransman looks the at these three chapters, he has three sections. First he deals with God's freedom to create Israel as he wills. This is the issue of God's sovereignty in Romans 9:1 through 29. Here in a sense Paul describes why God has the freedom to make this shift, to create a new Israel. And Paul makes the argument that it really lies in God's sovereign choice. And when the sovereignty of God becomes an issue, then election and predestination become issues, as well. Maybe we'll talk about that as we go on. But God's sovereignty is such that he has a right to create a new Israel if he wants. And then the second section according to Fransman: God's justice in rejecting ancient Israel is vindicated. And in this section Paul makes note of the fact that even in the Old Testament Israel was often faithless to God. That the Jews in the First Century could not say: We have been God's faithful people throughout our history. Because all you need to do is read the Old Testament and read Exodus through Deuteronomy or read Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings and you'll see so often in their history Israel was rejecting God and going after other gods which then finally resulted in the Assyrian captivity and the Babylonian captivity. God finally had to destroy his nation because in fact they were not faithful. They were rebellious and rejected him. And so God was just in rejecting rebellious Israel. Then the third section according to Fransman would be Romans 11:1 through 36: That God demonstrates his wisdom in the creation of a new Israel which is described as an olive tree that has branches. Some of whom were natural branches, which means they were Jewish people who were descended from Abraham. But also some wild branches that were grafted in. And those wild branches would be the Gentiles who were now grafted into God's people by means of faith in Jesus Christ. Now, if you would like to go through just a little more specifically, I'll work through my outline of these chapters. This is my general overview of Romans 9 through 11. Paul makes an argument to explain God's faithfulness to his promises in light of the rejection of the Gospel by Israel. And to exhort Gentile believers regarding their proper attitude toward unbelieving Israel in light of this rejection. In other words, the issues for Paul are this: If God is faithful to his promises that he made in the Old Testament to Israel, how can you explain the fact that today so many of the national Jews, those who are actually descended from Abraham, reject Jesus Christ? How can you say that God is faithful when this is taking place? And the other issue is: How are we Gentile believers to look at this situation? Well, in Romans 9:1 through 13, in the introduction to this section, Paul declares his personal sorrow over Israel's unbelief especially in light of the past blessings they had received. Paul also establishes his basic argument for this section: God's Word has not failed even in light of Israel's unbelief because not all of Israel is true Israel. But only those who are of the promise. He uses the examples of the choosing of Isaac and Jacob as evidence for this. In other words, Paul cites that not every one of Abraham's sons was the son of the promise. Isaac was, not Ishmael. That not every one of Isaac's sons were the sons of the promise. Jacob was, not Esau. And therefore, not everyone who is descended from Abraham is necessarily a son of the promise. But only those who have faith in the promise. And so here Paul makes a clear statement about national Israel that not all of them are true Israel but only those who have faith in the promises of God. Then in Romans 9:14 through 29 Paul deals with God's choosing, with his sovereignty. And Paul makes the point: God is not unjust in his dealings with Israel or with mankind because he has the right to show mercy to whom he wants to show mercy and to harden who he wants to harden. His creation does not have the right to question what he does. Paul does not push this argument so far, however, as to establish double predestination, especially as the next argument will move away from God's choice to Israel's unbelief. And here the example is used of God hardening pharaoh's heart. And Paul does discuss this in such a way that it seems to God always intends that pharaoh's heart would be hardened when God was trying to free his people from Egypt with the ten plagues. And it is true that God hardened Pharaoh's heart but I could draw mention to the narrative underlying this is that for the ten plagues, for the first five plagues, pharaoh hardened his own heart. And then only after that did God in response in judgment harden pharaoh's heart. Nevertheless, God is God and his sovereignty stands. And what he chooses to do, he has every right to do. And we as his creatures really have no right to question the justice or injustice of the decisions that he makes. This is the place where many people then would push election and double predestination. However, Paul doesn't go that far. Because then in Romans 9:30 through 11:32 Paul deals with Israel's unbelief now from the perspective of their rejection of the Gospel, not God's sovereign choice. In other words, Israel stumbled in relationship to Jesus because they pursued a righteousness based on works of the law and not on faith. This is just what the prophets proclaimed would happen. In other words, in the end, it's not that God decided that all of these Jews who don't believe shouldn't believe. Ultimately it's they themselves who have rejected their own Messiah and this is because their confidence now is in their own keeping of the torah and not in the promises of God and what he was doing in Jesus. And so it's Israel rejecting Jesus that has led to this state of many physical descendants of Abraham not being a par of true Israel anymore. But then Paul also points out that God has not rejected his people. For he has always preserved for himself a remnant even while hardening others. And so this is how God works. When people reject him, he can in punishment harden their hearts making it even harder for them to accept his promises. Nevertheless, God has always preserved a remnant of his people. This was true in ancient Israel. And this was true in the days of Paul. And Paul cites himself as an example of one who has been saved as part of the remnant that God has chosen to save out of his people. Then the practical implication is this olive tree illustration. And this is really -- this deals with the second major point. Paul has dealt effectively with explaining why it is that many national Jews, national Israelites have rejected their own Messiah have rejected their own God. So now we have a situation where Israel is not necessarily national Israel but a different institution. And it comes down to the fact that God is sovereign. He can do what he wants. But also it comes down to the fact that Israelites have rejected God just as they did in the past so they are doing right now with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But now the second practical implication is to us Gentile believers. And Paul uses the olive tree illustration. Gentile believes should not boast over the unbelieving Jews. The Jews can be restored by faith just as Gentiles who do not persist in God's grace and mercy can be cut off. And I think this is one of the great practical things that Paul is trying to accomplish in Romans 9, 10 and 11. He is trying to explain the unbelief of Israel. But with this he is also trying to caution us Gentile believers that we should not have an arrogant, boastful attitude over against the Jews, whether they are Jews who are Christians or Jews who don't believe. Because it is by God's grace not anything great inside of us that we have been grafted into that olive tree. We are in fact aliens who have become a part of the new Israel by means of God's grace in Jesus Christ. If we were to become arrogant and then have a hostile and boastful attitude over those national Jews, we should know that God could through faith graft them back in and if we become unbelievers cut us off. And so instead, we should be grateful for what God has done for us. And you might say we should share Paul's attitude that we should sorrow over the unbelief of national Israel and remain hopeful that God will call -- continue to call many of them out of unbelief and graft them back into the olive tree that by the inheritance of Abraham they were rightfully supposed to be in in the first place. And so Paul finally explains this mystery. God has hardened Jews to bring a full number of Gentiles into the faith. And then he says: All of Israel will be saved at the conclusion of this great section. And then he closes out this argument with a doxology praising the wisdom of God. Well, I hope this gives you a general overview of how to read these chapters. And again, I would caution you to look for these two things: Paul is explaining the unbelief of the Jews. But he's also giving a warning to Gentile believers that we should not use our salvation and their rejection as a reason to boast over them and to look with contempt upon them. Because God could just as easily graft them back in and cut us off if we should reject God's grace and mercy. I hope this outline is helpful in reading these three very difficult chapters in the epistle to the Romans.