Now for the missed Romans class on Tuesday. I can't possibly go through the whole text of Romans 9-11, so what follows are some thoughts on verses of particular interest (at least to me :-). Below give 1) at least a 100 word comment reaction to some of the specifics of my post and 2) at least 2 responses to the comments below. Let's set Tuesday midnight as the deadline.
This is part 1 of three.
9:2 ... it is a great grief for me and a constant sorrow in my heart [for my Jewish kinsmen who have not believed]...
Romans 9-11 are not an afterthought or a later insertion into the text of Romans (an interpolation). The issue that has been driving Paul's argument is the question of how the Gentiles can be included, accepted by God, without having to enter into God's covenant with Israel?
Or perhaps to put it the other way around, how can Paul take seriously God's relationship with Israel in the Scriptures (remembering there was only the OT as the Scriptures at this time) if, as Paul claims,
1) the Law does not in any way make the Jews right with God and
2) the Jews are justified the same way as the Gentiles, apart from Law?
It seems to throw out the window all the Scriptures and depict God as "divorcing" the wife of His youth for a younger Gentile.
There is also the further question--how can Jesus be the Messiah when the majority of Jews have not believed in him? Since the audience consists of believers, this question seems less at issue, although we can see it poking its way through the text.
So Romans 9-11 addresses God's election of and covenant with ethnic Israel. Someone might see Paul as saying that God has suddenly changed His mind and plans with regard to Israel and the OT Scriptures. What's up with that, Paul?
9:5 ... belonging to whom are the fathers and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, the one who is over all, God, blessed forever, Amen.
This is a highly debated verse. The question is whether it should read:
1. "Christ, ... who is God over all, blessed forever," or
2. "... flesh. The One who is over all, God, be blessed forever."
I personally wonder if Paul intended some ambiguity here, some blurring of Christ into God the Father in the train of thought. In general, however, Paul maintains a fairly sharp distinction between God in reference to God the Father and Christ as Lord. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the word "God" only refers to God the Father.
And it would be unlike Paul to speak of Christ as over all things. Romans 11:36 for example only speaks of God (the Father) when it says that "from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory, forever. Amen." Similarly, after all things are subjected to Christ in the future, then Christ will turn the kingdom over to God (Paul never seems to need to say, "the Father," God always or virtually always refers only to God the Father). He will do this "so that God might be all things in all things" (1 Cor. 15:28). The subjection of all things in the creation to Christ is always ultimately, "to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11).
So while I would not be surprised if Paul means to blur the two together, I don't think there would be any question in his or the Romans' minds that 9:5 ends up being about God the Father and that therefore, while it perhaps does not capture the entire meaning of the verse, the best translation remains, "... belonging to whom are the fathers and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh. The One who is over all things, God, be blessed forever."
This verse is, however, one of those where an original meaning reading and a theological reading perhaps can legitimately go their separate ways. The Christian reader is allowed, along with most Christians throughout Christian history, to see in this verse a full affirmation of Christ's divinity, even though it is not exactly what Paul himself was thinking.
9:6 And it is not that the word of God has failed, for not all those from Israel are Israel.
A number of interpreters in the Calvinist tradition (Moo might be Lutheran, anyone know?) see Romans 9-11 as primarily being about "the justification of God" (e.g., John Piper, Tom Schreiner). Certainly that subject is in play. But I think the underlying issue is Paul's Gentile oriented gospel. If the question in Romans 9 has to do with whether God is to be blamed, this issue has arisen because of Paul's claim that the Gentiles are in by faith, at the same time that the bulk of the Jews are out.
The Moo/Piper/Schreiner approach thus still reads Romans 9-11 too much like a systematic theology rather than a defense of Paul's understanding of the gospel.
Moo suggests that the true Israel here refers to those ethnic Jews who have believed on Christ. I think he's probably right, with the understanding that believing Gentiles are grafted into that Israel as well. Ethnic Israel thus remains the center point, rather than some completely redefined Israel.
9:19-20 Therefore, you will say to me, "Why will He still find fault?" For who has resisted His will? O mortal, who are you yourself indeed, who are bringing God into judgment? The clay will not say to the potter, will it, "Why have you made me thus?"
This is a classic predestination text, but of course Paul isn't really talking about individuals, although there may very well be implications for individuals. Paul is discussing God's inclusion of the Gentiles and His apparent hardening of most ethnic Jews. Paul's answer to the person who finds this situation problematic is, "Shut up. God can do whatever He wants because He's God." That the Jew-Gentile issue is the real topic appears explicitly in 9:24 and following.
We should remember, however, that the same Jews whom God has currently hardened can still be saved in 11:11. Indeed, Paul indicates that all Israel, including those currently hardened, will be saved around the time of Christ's arrival, the parousia (11:26).
More to come...