Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Possible Simple Structure of Rom. 9

(Note, this is an exceptionally simplified structure of Romans 9, and its contextual place within Romans...there is obviously much more to it than this, but such a structure allows us a sound stream through Romans, with this chapter being part of the flow, rather than anomaly or a hindrance.)

All of Romans 9 seems to be a single question ‘who now is Israel’ with the single answer ‘those who God has chosen.’ This is to explain the systematic assertion that though Jesus, and His new covenant, those individuals chosen to make up spiritual Israel, are no longer confided to physical Israel but are found in both Jews and Gentiles, united by faith in Christ.

This chapter epilogues the admonishment to, explanation of, and apologetic for, the developing Church shown in chapters 1-8, and it also prologues the explanation of Israel’s Remnant and Gentiles ‘grafting-in’ found in chapters 10-11. This allows a transition back to the place of the Church in chapters 12-16.

This single question is shown by a developing three-fold questioning, to address the same overarching question several ways (as has been posed by the Church in Rome), and provide several angles of answer to the question. Each sub-question builds on the last and develops the point further, leaving the reader with -no doubt- as to the answer of the question, and their subsequent response to the subject and nature of the question. With that in mind:

vv. 1-5Introduction, setting the apologetic and pastoral tone for Paul’s difficult answer(s), it gives us the key themes and peoples involved in the questioning.

vv.6-24The three-fold addressing of the question

- vv. 6-9 – Qu. 1 – Has God’s word failed? – Begins to answer with example (Children of Abraham)
o vv. 10-13 – Concludes answer with example (Jacob an Esau)

- vv. 14-15 – Qu. 2 – Is God unjust? – Begins to answer with example (Ex. 33: 19)
o vv. 16-18 - Concludes answer with example (Pharaoh)

- vv. 19-21 – Qu. 3 – Why does God still blame us? – Begins to answer with illustration (the potter and the clay)
o vv.22-24 – Concludes answer with illustration (vessels) and explanation of God’s ultimate purpose (to show the riches of His glory)

vv. 25-29Concluding and reasserting the answer with scriptural proof

vv. 20-33 – (smaller-version of whole chapter) Epilogue to Rom. 9, and small Prologue (to emphasis the over-all prologue of Rom. 9) to Rom. 10-11

3 comments:

EDGAR said...

>>>This is to explain the systematic assertion that though Jesus, and His new covenant, those individuals chosen to make up spiritual Israel, are no longer confided to physical Israel but are found in both Jews and Gentiles, united by faith in Christ.<<<

Israel in Romans 9 cannot be spiritualized, ie., spiritual Israel composing of all believers in Christ. To do so is to violate the plain sense of the Scripture, because Paul, in verse 3, was talking about his "kinsmen according to the FLESH". Also, in his conclusion in vv. 30-33, he distinguished Israel from the Gentiles. Thus, Israel here is clearly the "kinsmen of Paul according to the flesh" and not believrs in Christ.

Dave said...

Edgar,

You are absolutely right thart Paul starts with his kinsmen physical Israel -but he then moves on to say in verse 7 that not all Israelites are true Israel -so part of the argument here is that belonging to God's people is not through physical descent from Abraham. Then in verse 8 the children of the promise are counted as descendents -so the question is whether this verse simply means to exclude descendants of Abraham who refuse Christ or if it also is inclusive of the Gentiles who accpet Christ. Well to answer this we need to consider the Hosea quote in verses 25-26 from Hosea 1 v 10 which is a message to Israel but Paul reads it across for both Israel and the Gentiles. Then in chapter 11 Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree. So whilst in some respects Paul retains a distinction between the two in others he loses it. This is not the smae as spiritualising Israel -it means real descendants of Abraham will be part of God's kingdom on the basis of faith along with Gentiles.

EDGAR said...

Hello Dave,

>>>You are absolutely right thart Paul starts with his kinsmen physical Israel -but he then moves on to say in verse 7 that not all Israelites are true Israel<<<

Paul is simply distinguishing Israel as a whole and believing Israel within Israel as a whole. In short, Paul was making a difference between the remnant Jews and the Jews as a whole. Biblically, I think there are three definitions of "Israel." First, Israel is all the physical descendants of Jacob, members of the nation of Israel. Second, Israel is used as a designation of the northern kingdom, the ten tribes in contrast to Judah/Benjamin in the south. Third, Scripture differentiates between those who are Israel by mere descent and those who by faith live up to the status of Israel as God's people. This last one is what we have in Rom. 9:6. But still, they are literally Israelites and not believing Gentiles.

>>> -so part of the argument here is that belonging to God's people is not through physical descent from Abraham.<<<

I disagree because the verse in consideration says otherwise. Belonging to God’s CHOSEN people (Paul's kinsmen in the flesh) IS through physical descent from Abraham though not through Ishmael, but rather, through Isaac (v.7).

>>>Then in verse 8 the children of the promise are counted as descendents -so the question is whether this verse simply means to exclude descendants of Abraham who refuse Christ or if it also is inclusive of the Gentiles who accpet Christ. Well to answer this we need to consider the Hosea quote in verses 25-26 from Hosea 1 v 10 which is a message to Israel but Paul reads it across for both Israel and the Gentiles. <<<

The “children of the promise” is clear in vv. 7-9, viz., Abraham’s descendants through Isaac, not believing Gentiles.

Proving that the children of the promise in v.8 includes the believing Gentiles by quoting the Hosea passage in 9:25-26 is a long jump from vv. 8,9. Paul mentioned vv. 25-26 at this point only because he was now telling his reader that by God’s sovereign decision he did not bring those “wretches (Christ-rejecting Jews) to wretched end” right away but patiently endured them (9:22) so that he could make known his glory to the believing Jews and believing Gentiles (v.24), which is the Body of Christ. Paul was not saying that the Gentiles in vv. 25-26 were the children of the promise of vv. 8-9.

>>>Then in chapter 11 Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree. So whilst in some respects Paul retains a distinction between the two in others he loses it. This is not the smae as spiritualising Israel -it means real descendants of Abraham will be part of God's kingdom on the basis of faith along with Gentiles. <<<

I don’t think Paul loses the distinction between Israel and Gentiles in Romans 9-11. As a matter of fact, Paul was very clear in distinguishing the two.

The Jews were originally connected as branches to the Olive tree but were cut-off because of unbelief and then the Gentiles were grafted into it. The olive tree is God’s work or plan. Originally, God’s plan was through Israel, but because of their unbelief they were cut-off and God is now using the Gentiles (as perhaps proven by the fact that Gentiles are predominant in God’s church today unlike during its inception) in this divine plan.

Blessings,

EDGAR