Monday, February 4, 2008

Romans 9 Part 1

James Boice calls Romans 9 the most difficult portion of the entire Bible. (1051) The controversy mainly surrounds the interpretation of Paul’s idea of election. Is Paul talking about election to salvation or election to service? It will be my purpose here to show that, based on the scripture at hand, Paul is talking about God sovereignly electing people to salvation. I believe that to interpret this chapter as speaking of election in any other manner does violence to the text, and such an interpretation can only be arrived at through eisegesis, the reading into the scripture of one's own preconceptions.

Paul begins the chapter with a testimony of his truthfulness through the Holy Spirit. “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.”(New American Standard Bible Ro. 9:1-2) He then speaks of wishing he could himself be condemned to hell on behalf of his fellow Jews. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”(NASB Ro. 9:3-5) This comes on the heels of chapter eight where Paul says: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (NASB Rom. 8:35) He says nothing can separate us, but then wishes for his own separation on behalf of his brothers. This is reminiscent of Moses in Exodus 32 when he cries out to God, “But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!”(NASB Ex. 32:32) Both men understood that God would never do this, but the passion they had for their brothers was so strong they would, if they could, sacrifice their own eternal wellbeing for them.

Paul gives us a testimony of Israel and her place in God’s plan:
“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. (NASB Ro. 9:6-8)

He tells of all the blessings God has poured out on her, even of the privilege of being the race through whom the Messiah would come. When Paul talks about the promises, he is speaking about the promises God made to Israel. These are promises God made to Abraham and his offspring. The promises of the temple, the covenants, the inheritance—all of these point to the ultimate fulfillment of these promises in Christ and His death on the cross.

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1 comment:

Rhea said...

Alan:

This is TOTALLY unrelated to this post, but I just wanted you to know that your blog is one of my favorites. I read it everyday...sometimes SEVERAL times a day. It's very informative, and I always feel like I leave learning something new. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate what you do. You've really challenged me to dig deeper in respects to my theology...to really question "why" I believe what I believe. I'll be honest...it's been hard. I've begun to question some of my preconceived notions about God. I definitely haven't jumped on the reformed bandwagon (yet ;-), but I'm definitely taking a more critical view of my beliefs.