Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: Paul's "subject" for his clarification of God's larger plan is "Israel" (not the Church).
Introduction: In our studies thus far in Romans 9 we have seen that Paul is addressing certain false accusers regarding the roots of his Gospel. In order to blunt the effectiveness of his message, his opponents have adopted the "attack the messenger" tactic that is almost universal in its use by those who have no real arguments that can stand up to the bright light of truth. Their attack consists most fundamentally of the accusation that his message is rooted in hate for Israel and, thus, Israel's God. If this charge can be made, and made to stick, no thoughtful person will buy into his message for obvious reasons: hatred assumes a house divided against itself and is, therefore, both a lie and doomed to ultimate failure.
Paul's response has been to declare both the fact of his love for Israel and the evidence of it.
This evening we are going to look further into his attitude toward "Israel" as he developed it. But, we are going to look at it with at least part of our focus upon one of the most effective heresies that has ever been foisted upon "Christendom". This heresy is the claim that God's word must be understood under the rubric that the Church of Jesus Christ has taken the place of Israel by becoming the true Israel of God so that all of the promises God made to Israel must be interpreted as "spiritually intended". Thus, we should not look for any genuine, physical, real-world fulfillments of promises that have actual historical and physical elements embedded in them, such as Genesis 13:15. A notable example of this heretical notion is the claim made by those who migrated to North America that they were being given "the promised land" so that the original inhabitants were "spiritually" Canaanites and were to be killed.
So, what do Paul's words mean both in his setting and in ours?
October 29, 2017
- I. Paul's Words in His Setting.
- A. He calls his adversaries who reject his message and the promises of God by decidedly genetic terms.
- 1. He calls them "brethren".
- a. This word has a root meaning in the Scriptures that signals the offspring of a common father, or forefather.
- 1) It is applied to the actual "fatherhood" of the progenitor, either by physical, genetic linkage (no matter how diluted that may be), or by the biblical concept of the regeneration of the genetically linked by a different "Father".
- 2) This "fatherhood" is pursued "genetically" by both Peter (1 Peter 1:23) and John (1 John 3:9). even though they are writing of the regeneration of a child of Adam by God so that he/she is now the child of God, but yet living in the body generated by Adamic genetics (however, by resurrection, that body is going to be genetically transformed).
- b. Paul's use is indisputably applied to people who are not the children of God by a new birth, but are his "brethren".
- 2. He calls them "kinsmen according to the standard of flesh".
- a. This is a doubling down on the genetic linkage from Abraham.
- b. The "standard" of flesh is the physiological and genetic process that produces children and is contrasted immediately in 9:6-13 to the different process called earlier (Galatians 4:29) a "standard of Spirit".
- c. This is not "spiritualizing" the words, but revealing what God originally meant.
- 3. The Point: Paul is writing of physical descendents of Abraham who are not "sons" in the sense that "sons" mimic their fathers.
- B. He calls them "Israelites".
- 1. This is a second way of making sure we understand that he is talking about the people of the nation of Israel who are descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
- 2. There is a further clarification of his meaning in this context in 11:1 where an "Israelite" is of both Abraham and one of the sons of Jacob/Israel.
- C. He says of them that "the adoption" is "of, or through, them".
- 1. The difference is that the "genitive" case indicates "possession" and the "ablative" indicates "source": there is no linguistic difference between the two cases, which makes the meaning completely dependent upon the text/context.
- 2. Since, in no way do unbelieving Jews "possess" the "adoption", we have to conclude that Paul is using the ablative to tell us that it was "Israelites" who were the "source" of this adoption, not in the sense of ultimate source, but in the same sense as 9:5's "through whom the Christ".
- II. Paul's Words in Our Setting.
- A. Since there can be no debate that Paul was writing of "Israelites" as people who were decidedly opposed to God's Truth, there can only be a "spiritualizing" of "Israel" into "The Church" if one totally ignores this indisputable fact.
- 1. The word "Israelite" is never used in the New Testament to refer to anyone who did not have a genetic link to "Israel", and backward from him to "Isaac" and then further back to "Abraham".
- 2. Those whose genetics were from Abraham, but not from Isaac, were never considered to be "Israelites", nor were those whose genetics were from both Abraham and Isaac, but not from Jacob: Israelites were only from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- B. Similarly, there is no indication that "true Israelites" (as in John 1:47) were not actual Israelites.
- 1. There is indication in 2 Corinthians 11:22 that to be an "Israelite" meant to possess a superior status in the things of God, especially as the vehicle of His Word.
- 2. Paul clearly subscribed to this advantage in Romans 3:1-2.
- a. Under this subscription, however, he immediately addressed the fact that there was in the category of "Israelite" two sub-categories: those who believe and those who did not.
- b. Never, however, does Paul confuse the issue of "Israelite" with a gentile who believes but is not of Israel.
- C. Therefore, every promise God made to "Israelites" will be fulfilled to those who "believed" them, and The Church of Jesus Christ is not in view in those promises even though many of them were extended to The Church because of the universal nature of the requirements of Kingdom realities.
- 1. There are some things the Kingdom does not require of all who are included (geopolitical realities for one example).
- 2. There are other things that such a Kingdom does require (essential character and relational factors that produce the righteousness, peace, and joy of that Kingdom).