Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Romans 9 Part 2

Barnhouse believes that in verse five, we see one of the strongest attestations of Christ’s divinity in the Scriptures. Some of our modern translations, especially the RSV, make this statement somewhat ambiguous. The RSV inserts a false punctuation almost entirely removing the deity of Jesus: “and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever.”(RSV Rom. 9:5) Whereas the New King James captures the meaning beautifully: “and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.”(NKJV Rom. 9:5) (19)

In verses six through thirteen, Paul labors to show how men have attempted to bring God, and therefore Christ, down to their level. Paul says God’s word has not failed; the people’s understanding had failed. It was prevalent in Paul’s day to consider oneself saved based on being Jewish alone. Paul makes very clear that this is not so. It was not so then, and it is still not so today. Paul is not only saying that no one is saved based on national origin, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” but that they had the wrong idea of the Messiah as well. The Jewish people today are still awaiting their Messiah, but they await a political Messiah who will deliver them in this world only. (MacArthur S. 17)

Paul then turns to the sovereign election of God. He shows through the example of Jacob and Esau, two men born to the same mother and at the same time, that it is fully dependent on God who is saved. He says, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” To be sure, that quote from Malachi is speaking of the election of nations, but Paul’s application here is not. Reese says, “Whether or not Jacob is saved, that depended on Jacob. Whether of not Esau was damned, that depended on Esau. But whether the Messiah comes through Jacob or Esau, that depended on God!” (Reese 386) These are nice sentiments, but they do not do justice to the text. Paul says these words immediately after saying not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. He is speaking of the eternal salvation of individuals here. To say he changes to nations in mid-thought does an injustice to Paul’s rationality.


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