Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9
September 9, 2008
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
- I. Paul's Focus Upon His "Brethren".
- II. Paul's Description of His "Brethren".
- A. The first question is why Paul goes through the list of his "brethren's" identity issues [See Notes for July 29, 2008 <420>].
- B. He clarifies the concept of "brethren" with "my kinsmen according to the flesh" [See Notes for July 29, 2008 <420>].
- C. Then he calls them "Israelites" [See Notes for Aug. 5, 2008 <422>].
- D. From "Israelites" he moves to the issue of the "adoption" [See Notes for Aug. 12, 2008 <424>].
- E. From the "adoption" Paul moves to "the glory" [See Notes for Aug. 19, 2008 <426>].
- F. From "the glory" Paul moves to "the covenants". [See Notes for Aug. 26, 2008 <428>].
- G. From "the covenants" Paul moves to "the giving of the Law". [See Notes for Sept. 2, 2008 <430>].
- H. From "the giving of the Law" Paul moves to "the service of God".
- 1. There is a general sense to this word that means "to do something God will approve" (as in John 16:2 and Romans 12:1).
- a. The verb form of this word is used in the New Testament to refer to "directing one's activities toward a specific object" when that "object" is seen as "the" one from whom approval is important. This is most easily seen in Luke's use of the word in Acts 7:42 where he quotes Stephen in declaring that God "turned and gave them up to 'worship' (this is the word toward which we have directed our attention) the host of heaven."
- 1) There is no indication that anyone had a prescribed form for gaining the approval of "the host of heaven", but these people sought "their" approval anyway ... by their own sense of what might bring that approval. In Israel's case, they took the "prescription" for "service to Yahweh" and turned it toward the host of heaven.
- 2) Paul, in Luke's record in Acts 24:14, claims that he "worshipped" (this is our word in that text) "the God of my fathers" according to a specific "set of beliefs" ("believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets") which he called "the way which they call heresy". This is set in the context of what Paul called "the hope of the promise" (26:6). Thus the issue is "hope" and the content of that "hope" is "approval by God unto the fulfillment of His promise(s)."
- b. That the issue inherent in the word is the gaining of approval is highly significant in light of Paul's "theological" understanding of the great wickedness of pursuing the approval of men in the stead of God.
- 2. There is a specific sense to this word that focuses upon the prescribed activities of the priests in respect to the tabernacle (as in Hebrews 9:1 and 9:6). It was this sense that was most likely in the mind of the apostle as he laid out the special privileges of the "Israelites".
- a. Paul wrote, in Romans 2:15, that the Gentiles have "the law written in their hearts" even while admitting that their behavior, which belied the presence of that law in that place by some of what they did, was atrocious. Then, in the promise of the "New Covenant" of Jeremiah 31:31-33, it is the promise of God that sometime in the future the presence of the law in the "heart" will solve the problem of the first covenant "which they brake" even though God had been "a husband to them". That Paul acknowledged on the one hand the presence of God's law in the hearts of terribly ungodly men and taught on the other hand that the presence of God's law in the heart was what would resolve the "ungodliness" problem has to mean that there is a large difference between the two realities and that that difference is a matter of degree arising out of potency. If there is a "law" written in large and bold characters across the heart, it will come out (out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks -- Matthew 12:34), but if that "law" is written with vague characters and tiny, it will still come out occasionally and reveal its presence, but it will not dominate the behavior. This seems to correspond to Nash's thesis in The Word of God and the Mind of Man that man is created with a kind of "form" of reality built in that, in the educational process, is constantly seeking the bits and pieces of truth that "fit" it. Thus, when a "fact" that fits the "form" comes across the attention of the learner, there is an "aha" moment as it slips into place and the learner "gets it".
- b. This theory requires that there be both an exposure to the missing details of truth that the "form" seeks and a timeliness to the exposure so that the missing details can fit into their rightful place. By way of illustration: if a person who is putting a 2,000 piece puzzle together goes about it properly, he/she will likely seek out all of the pieces with at least one straight edge. Then he/she will attempt to "fit" the pieces with straight edges together until there is a successful "boundary" for the puzzle. After that, it is a matter of testing and trying all of the other pieces so that, from the boundary inward, the pieces can fit into their place. In respect to the issue of exposure, all of the pieces lie face up on the table, but there are no "aha" moments until each, in its own timeliness, can be fitted because the prior pieces have been found and fitted into their places. Thus, as the "aha" moments occur more and more, the picture of the whole gradually comes into clarity.
- c. This would mean, then, that Paul's Romans 2:15 doctrine corresponds to the bare form of the outward boundary and Jeremiah's "new covenant" doctrine corresponds to the possession of the entirely assembled puzzle. In the former case, certain "right" behaviors will erupt almost unconsciously, but not with sufficient potency to dominate the person's values, beliefs, and choices. But in the latter case, all "right" behaviors will erupt deliberately with sufficient potency to govern a person's entire life because the picture is complete and clear.
- 3. In Romans 9, the apostle Paul apparently considered the possession of "the service" to be a huge benefit, but also considered that possession to be largely ineffectual by reason of the fact that those "Israelites" who had it were not supporters of its Truth, a fact that brought on the apostle's "great grief". This implies that Paul considered "the service" to be a large aspect of the "method" of God for bringing the bits and pieces of Truth across the view of those involved in that "service". It is a fact that each of the details of "the service" was a "shadow" of Reality (Hebrews 8:5). But it is also a fact that none of those "shadows" revealed Reality unless the observer had "eyes to see and ears to hear". Thus, there was a need for the apostle's doctrine of "faith".
- a. The "big" question for the "Israelites" in respect to "the service" would have been this: Why would our Most High God require this particular detail in regard to service to Him? If a person would ask that question and seek for a solid answer to it, the pieces of the puzzle could be fitted together. But simply going through the motions would not help without this seeking.
- b. God gave "the service" to "reveal", but He required a legitimate attitude of heart and mind that the people, for the most part, simply did not have.
- I. From "the service of God" Paul moves to "the promises".
- J. From "the promises" Paul moves to "whose are the fathers".
- K. From "whose are the fathers" Paul moves to "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ".