Friday, October 01, 2010

The Destiny of Israel 1

I'm way, way off in my deadline for the second Paul book and have a new target of November 1.  In my mind, that means Romans 9-11 has to be done this weekend.  And since I never post more than 1000 words here at a time, that means I'll only be posting a fraction of the rest of the chapter here.  But for today, here's a pulse through the second section of the chapter.  Hopefully I can then blaze a trail tomorrow and Sunday through the rest.
The Destiny of Israel
As we have said, Romans 9-11 is not really about whether God determines who will be saved and who will be damned.  Individual predestination is a related issue, but it is really tangential to what Paul is really discussing in these chapters, which is the fate of Israel.  It must have seemed peculiar indeed that more Gentiles would believe that Jesus was king than Jews themselves! [1]  One of the purposes of Romans 9-11 was to explain this strange phenomenon.  Paul's answer, in the end, was the mystery of God's will.  If this is how God wants it, then that is his business and you had better shut up about it!

But to get the full picture of what Paul really thought, we cannot simply read Romans 9 by itself.  If we do not go on to read Romans 11 we will end up with a skewed sense even of Paul's view toward Israel.  For example, one perspective we sometimes find out there today is called "replacement theology."  It is the idea that the church has now completely replaced Israel within God's plan.  This view gets a lot of mileage out of Romans 9:6: "not all who are descended from Israel are Israel"...
Sorry... I've just run out of time and have to get to work on other things.

[1] We can debate what the precise percentages were, but surely Paul's argument doesn't make sense unless it was not at least perceived that Gentiles in general had reacted more positively to the message than Jews in general had.

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