Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Romans 9

I am looking at Romans 9. In the first several verses, Paul is saying that he loves his countrymen, the Israelites. He is here speaking in generalities of the nation Israel. He is sad that many have rejected Christ. He says that to them pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises and that through them Christ came. He does not equivocate on this. This is basic. He then goes on:

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
"For they are not all Israel who are of Israel."
This is a play on words in which Paul uses the word "Israel" in two senses ... one as a proper name (the first) and one in its meaning (the second). Paul speaks of Israel as his countrymen in general. But not all of these are "of Israel." The Hebrew word "yiśrâ'êl" means "he will rule as God." More simply put, "All of this nation will not rule as God." This is still pretty basic. He says that this is butressed by the fact that merely being a result of Abraham mating with a woman was not the being "the seed" ... because Abraham had offspring from other than Isaac. (Ishmael, etc) The "seed of Abraham" in the biblical sense were the physical seed, but it was that which was promised. (Not the creative engineering of Sarah re: Hagar) The physicality of this can't be denied, but it is not merely physical.

Help out if you can, but try not to jump ahead.


  • Romans 9 is a complicated passage.

    To understand it, one must look carefully at every verse and not just quote one's favorite verses to make punchy theological point.

    Have a good weekend.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/25/2007 10:26 AM  

  • I look forward to reading this road down Romans 9.

    At the risk of "making a punchy theological point";

    Do we not find it interesting that if Paul believed in perseverance unto good works until the end, that he could even have written the words in verse 3 of this chapter.

    Do we not have a group of teachers that believe a person cannot know they are elect until they have persevered until the 'end'? According to verse 3 Paul didn't believe this about himself.

    By Blogger Kris, at 8/25/2007 11:46 PM  

  • Hello Rose,
    Used in the broad sense, Israel means the descendants of Abraham including the servants, all those who were outwardly circumcised and enjoyed the outward privileges of the covenant community. Some of them had faith and some did not. God has chosen a remnant from both physical Israel and the Gentiles nations.

    Some who were part of the "physical Israel" assumed that they were God's children, but they had no faith. Their hearts were not circumcised and so their worship was only external. They were only children of Abraham in the physical sense, but not in the spiritual sense.
    -Matthew 15:5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

    “‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
    7 in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

    John the Baptist warned those in that group:
    Matthew 3:9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

    The second group was made up Abraham's physical descendants who were physically circumcised as well as being circumcised in heart. They shared in Abraham's faith. Their worship involved their whole hearts not just outward ceremony. They were the spiritual Israel as well as being Abraham's physical descendants.
    Romans 2:28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

    The third group was made up of gentiles who were uncircumcised, but had faith. Their hearts were circumcised and their worship involved their whole hearts. Paul called the Philippian Gentiles "the circumcision" and included himself with them.
    Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God [2] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
    In the NT church, there is neither Jew nor Gentile. As fellow believers, we are all one in Christ. We as saved Gentiles along with believing Jews are Abraham's spiritual children.

    Galatians 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify [3] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
    13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit [5] through faith.
    16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
    Romans 4:7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
    8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised,
    {SAVED GENTILES} so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
    12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised {SAVED JEWS} .

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 8/26/2007 12:24 AM  

  • Va~Susan & Rose,
    Thank you Va~Susan. I believe you nailed it. Scripture does give us answers when we look.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 8/26/2007 8:28 AM  

  • Hey Rose--

    I think this passage supports my previous arguments about the necessity of viewing the whole of Paul's argumentation throughout the complex of chaps. 6-13 through the lens of Paul's polemics against the Judaizers. As we've discussed before, these antagonists of Paul believed that reconciliation with God is achieved through national-ethnic identity, physical sanctification (circumcision) and participation within the cultus of Jewish worship rites. In the setting the stage for his future arguments in re: the inclusion of the Gentiles, however, Paul patently rejects the conclusions of his opponents, arguing in this passage in particular that the promises of reconciliation and restoration which God promised to Abraham are not obtained simply by the brute fact of being Abraham's descendants (whether by birth or proselytizing)--something which Paul's antagonists specifically affirmed. To the contrary, Paul vehemently argues that this promise to Abraham--reconciliation with God--is for those who are like Abraham, e.g., those who do the will of God (Paul's definition of faith).

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 8/26/2007 9:05 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You picked an interesting topic! In my high school days, when I first read Romans, Romans 9 was an enigma wrapped in a mystery (to steal a phrase), because I could not make sense out of it with my then held assumptions.

    I am going to sit this one out and watch the show. I've got the popcorn popping. I find it fascinating how people can wrap Romans 9 to fit their theologies. I think there is a relatively straightforward and elegant solution. But I've got my colored pencils ready to see how people diagram sentences and make this complicated. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/26/2007 10:58 AM  

  • I will come back to this a little later, but I just have to ask this quick question:

    I am surprised at your comment. One who is as reasonable as yourself should not assume that anyone is going to be "creative" with this passage when approaching it. Maybe I will come out the other end just like you ... you never know! Yet, you sound as though you assume one ot more who don't hold to particular redemption are going to do away with this portion of scritpure through creative interpretation. My, my. ... I am flushed with indignation!

    But really, just tell me - (and then go sit on the sidelines if you wish) - have I missed any of the meaning so far? Have I grasped the point of Paul's writting tot his point or does it not say what it seems to say to me?

    No fair dropping that comment and then not commenting on the actual content of the post, my reasonable friend. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2007 11:24 AM  

  • Actually,
    How about anyone else who has commented, answer the same question I just posed to Earl, please?

    have I missed any of the meaning so far? Have I grasped the point of Paul's writting to this point or does it not say what it seems to say to me?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2007 11:25 AM  

  • Jazzy,
    you addressed your comment "Susan & Rose" - but I don't see how what you said was to me at all. How about you tell me what you think about the content of this post? :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2007 11:27 AM  

  • gotta go for now

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2007 11:27 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    We're all "creative," even in the negative sense because we are fallen (and I am pointing a finger at me too).

    I've got a convergence of many activities this week and the next few. I'm on strong pain medication due to a pulled muscle in my leg that limits my attention span, plus I'm restarting my Revelation series next Sunday that will eat up all my free time, in addition my daytime job has gone through a crises, and my side business requires attention. So I am tapped out right now.

    My comment about what you said, I think its simpler than that. Romans contrasts those who have faith versus those who do not. Paul starts out in Romans 9 talking about about ethnic/religious Israel versus those who are the "true Israel," those who have the circumcision of the heart, who exercise true faith. True Israel crosses boundaries, it includes all those in ethnic Israel and gentiles -- the righteous -- who live by faith (back to the theme of Romans 1).

    Romans 9 answers the question that many had who heard Romans 8, that the predestined ones will, without exception, be glorified. The question that many who hear this is, what about Israel, weren't they called? Weren't they predestined, weren't they the elect? Why don't they have faith?

    I will not have much time to participate, I've got to spend my rational waking time on other matters.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/26/2007 1:25 PM  

  • Rose,

    it seems clear from the context as you continue to work through chpt 10 and 11, i.e. the divine response, that there will be a "remnant" of ethnic Jews who will be saved.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 8/26/2007 2:42 PM  

  • Rose,
    I very much liked va~susan's comment.

    I would say the following about Romans 9:6-9: The promised covenant of redemption is with spiritual Israel and not ethnic physical Israel. Not all of physical ethnic Israel will become sons of God, but only a remnant. The Godly line of the covenant of promise through which Jesus came would go through Isaac and not Ishmael.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 8/26/2007 3:15 PM  

  • Good evening, Rose. I'm watching a gorgeous sunrise as I type, so forgive my lack of focus from start!

    Can you look at this scripture for meaning without looking ahead? I'll try to give my understanding.

    God gave specific instructions to the physical seed of Abraham to sustain them through His promise - to keep them alive until the Christ had come. His lineage could not come through two brothers, only one. And yet, the promise carried out through those chosen ones brings reckoning for all.

    However, being a son (seed) of that promise does not make one a son of God.

    By Blogger Missy, at 8/26/2007 7:50 PM  

  • oops, that was a sunSET, not a sunRISE!

    By Blogger Missy, at 8/26/2007 7:51 PM  

  • DF,
    Good point and thank you.

    I was reading about that verse and it seems perhaps a legitimate way of translating that would be "For I was once myself accursed from Christ as my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. I know I cannot be accursed, and I want them to come to know Christ and be in my present position."

    One commentator was saying that this verse presents a real problem in translation - that it is like an oratorical gesture the way the Authorized Version states it, but that Paul was not known to use oratorical gestures - that he was sincere in his writings. Interestinng.

    I hope you will come back and put some more thoughts on future posts. I appreciate them.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/27/2007 11:43 AM  

  • Susan,
    Some very intersting thoughts and pertinent Scriture passages. Thanks so much!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/27/2007 11:47 AM  

  • Exist,
    Thank you. It is good to hear alternative thoughts.

    Thank you. I am seeing that too. It seems very clear.

    Thank you for your concise and very well written comment. I think we actually see this section the same, if you left it at what you wrote. Perhaps we would see "spiritual Israel" a bit different, but I bask in the agreement for the moment, purring. :~)

    Thank you as well and I hope the sunset was refreshing to you. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/27/2007 11:56 AM  

  • Exist,
    Thank you. It is good to hear alternative thoughts.

    Thank you. I am seeing that too. It seems very clear.

    Thank you for your concise and very well written comment. I think we actually see this section the same, if you left it at what you wrote. Perhaps we would see "spiritual Israel" a bit different, but I bask in the agreement for the moment, purring. :~)

    Thank you as well and I hope the sunset was refreshing to you. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/27/2007 11:56 AM  

  • You're very welcome Rose. I'm glad it was helpful.

    Thanks Jazzy Cat for your kind words too.

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 8/28/2007 12:08 AM  

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