Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 Or is God the God of Jews only? is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yea, of Gentiles also:
30 if so be that God is one, and he shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law.
August 2, 2005
- I. Paul's Next Bombshell for the Jewish Mind.
- A. Is God "only" of the Jews, or does He actually have real connections to the Gentiles also?
- 1. The "theological exclusivism" of many of the Jews had, in effect, made Yahweh a God Who had "beneficial interest" only in the nation of the Jews.
- a. Whereas there was a tendency among the nations to regard Yahweh as a tribal deity who had all of the same "problems" of the many gods of the nations, the Jews, on the other hand, regarded Him as the only true God, but One whose salvific interests were locked in on only the Jews and those who were willing to embrace the Law of Moses as the true form of religion and the only way of salvation. The conclusion of this "Jewish" mode of thinking was that Yahweh was only "of Jews" (whether born so, or convinced by Jewish evangelists to embrace Judaism).
- b. The result of Yahweh's election of Israel was that Jews had a very difficult time with any idea that the nations were of significant interest to Him. Having turned election from its roots in "divine selection in light of a given divine objective" to "divine selection of the blessed", it was most difficult for the "elect" to see any real divine interest in the "non-elect". This error is being repeated today by those whose concept of "election" moves them to deny that Jesus Christ, the Righteous, is the propitiation for the sins of the entire world of humanity as John declared Him to be (1 John 2:2).
- c. The root problem for the Jewish mindset was their thinking that the Law was given as the way of salvation so that no one outside of its boundaries had any hope whatsoever of being saved. For the most part, the idea that the Law was given to make Sin manifest was a foreign notion to the Jews, so their exclusion of the nations from salvation was pretty much automatic. Thus, there was no "Jewish" grasp of the fact that Yahweh had "elected" Israel to be a kind of showcase to the nations for the good of those nations.
- d. Paul's doctrine, on the other hand, was that the "Law" was imposed upon the "Jews" to make one thing clear: Humanity (as illustrated by the Jews) was "under Sin" and the imposition of the Law upon the Jews was to showcase this truth so that no one, Jew or Gentile, would be inclined to seek salvation by works. This understanding of the Law was a theological bombshell within the Jewish community of "faith" and it is being followed up by Paul in our text with another bombshell -- that God was "of the Gentiles" also.
- 2. The implications of Paul's use of the genitive of "Jews" and "Gentiles".
- a. When Paul wrote, "Is God 'of the Jews' only?", he used what is called the "genitive" form of the word "Jews". He did the same thing in the phrase "of the Gentiles also".
- b. The question is this: what type of "relationship" is he attempting to identify by raising the question of whether Yahweh is "of the Jews only" or "of the Gentiles also".
- c. The answer to the question involves...
- 1) The fact that the opening phrase in 3:30 is the root of Paul's argument. In other words, "Yahweh's Oneness" forces Him to be both "of the Jews" and "of the Gentiles." This pushes our focus in the direction of Yahweh as "God", not so much Yahweh as "Yahweh". In other words, Paul is actually raising the question of whether Yahweh can even remotely be considered as "having no relationship to" the Gentiles. His answer is emphatic: Yahweh MUST be considered to be "of the Gentiles" in the same sense that He is "of the Jews" because to do otherwise is to deny the "oneness" of Yahweh and open the door to the "multiplicity" of the polytheism of the nations. This means two things: one, that Yahweh is "God" both of Jews and Gentiles in the very same sense; and two, that Paul's declaration of Romans 2:12-16 stands as a part of his meaning in that he there says that everyone, Jew or Gentile, will come to accountability before Yahweh and no "other". In other words, part of the "sense" Paul intended in making Yahweh God of both Jews and Gentiles is that He is the Executor of Power over all of His creatures and all are equally accountable to Him as their "God".
- 2) This fact stands also; that both genitives describe the very same "relationship" because otherwise the question would lose its significance. This means that the error of both Jew and Gentile in relegating Yahweh to some kind of ultimate "exclusivism" is being addressed. The Gentiles had "removed Yahweh from consideration by making Him a part of the pantheon of polytheism". This made Him "not One". On the other hand, the Jews had removed Yahweh from being involved with the Gentiles in one particular "exclusive" way. And which "particular" way was He "exclusive"? According to 3:30, it was in the area of His work of "justification". In that verse Paul claims that Yahweh is "God of the Gentiles" in that He will "justify them" through the faith and "God of the Jews" in that He will "justify them" by faith. Here we have the issue laid out plainly: the particular area of "relationship" of which Paul is thinking as he writes of God's "Oneness" in being in the same relationship to both Jew and Gentile is not merely in the area of their equal accountability to their Creator (2:16), but in His equal extension of justification to both groups.
- B. This notion -- that Yahweh would justify both groups equally -- was the second bombshell Paul dropped into the debate. It demolished the arrogance of the Jewish superiority complex that was rooted in a false perception of the point of Yahweh's special attention to the Jews. So, the Jewish attention to Paul's gospel was complicated by the fact that any "Jew" was going to have to jettison two "favorite theological foundation stones" just to listen. He was going to have to embrace the first "bombshell" -- that the "Law" was not given to justify but to reveal bondage to Sin -- and, then, go further and embrace the second "bombshell" -- that Yahweh had as much concern for the Gentiles as He did the Jews...in other words, the real purpose of God's election of the Jews was not to exclude the Gentiles, but to actually provide a way to include them. [Note how "explosive" was this second bombshell in Acts 22:21-22.]