Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 10
September 16, 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" [See Notes for Sept. 9 <432>].
- I. From "the service of God" Paul moves to "the promises".
- 1. The initial issue here is the question of the distinction between "the covenants" and "the promises". As we consider the order in which Paul addressed the special gifts of God to the nation, we note that once he moves away from the "future" issues of the adoption and the glory, he presents the "foundations" for those future realities. These "foundations" were laid in the "past" with a focus on the "future". And, these "foundations" are four: the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service, and the promises. With a bit of thought, it is not hard to see a link between "the covenants" and "the promises", nor is it hard to see a link between "the giving of the Law" and "the Service". If these easily seen links are actually legitimate, it may well be that Paul is using an A,B,B,A form of order with the initial A and B involving the "larger" concept and the second B and A involving the major "specific" concept. In other words, both "the covenants" and "the giving of the Law" are broad strokes, whereas "the Service" was a central aspect of the "Law" and "the Promises" are a central aspect of "the Covenants". In Galatians 3:16-18 Paul clearly intermingled the issues of "covenant" and "promise" and tied the future issue of "inheritance" to them both. In Hebrews 8:9 the writer tied the concept of "covenant" to "the giving of the Law" and in 9:1 he tied the Law to "ordinances of divine service". Thus, the "covenants" contained "promises" and the "Law" contained "ordinances of the divine service". Therefore, we might make this conclusion: Paul is repeating himself in an A,B,B,A form with a movement into a more specific focus of attention. With this conclusion, we may make another: the "promises" are crucial to the effectual outworking of the "covenants".
- 2. The function of "promise", then, becomes a very major element of Paul's argument. In Romans 4, Paul had argued that "inheritance" was a function of "promise", not "Law" (4:13) and any co-mingling of the two would "void" faith. Then, in 4:15 he pointedly said that "Promise" has no "laws" than can be violated. And, finally, in 4:21 he defined the essence of Abraham's "faith" by saying that he "was fully assured that what He had promised, He was able to perform." In other words, the unique character of "promises" is that the one that makes them is the one responsible for bringing them to fruition.
- 3. This concept of putting the monkey on the back of the one making the promises does raise a critical area of concern: what, if any, part does man have to do with the actual process? Peter wrote to his readers that God "has granted to us His precious, and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Then, as if in anticipation of our question of man's "part" he immediately went into 1:5-11 where he gave men a "part" and tied it to his "entrance into the eternal kingdom" (not, I gather, "entrance" into the Heavenly City, which is rooted in the qualification of justification, but an "entrance" into the actual function of the Eternal Kingdom as a player, qualified by the result of the Judgment Seat of Christ). In addition, it goes without saying that "promises" are made to be "believed" and are of no significance to those who do not believe them. It may well be for this reason that all promises of the specifics are left undeclared as far as individuals are concerned (with a kind of "exception" at the point of Matthew 19:28). Interestingly, the apostle, in Romans 9:6-9, moves rather quickly into this issue of how God keeps His promises in the face of man's unbelief so that his readers do not stumble over his concepts overmuch.
- 4. Therefore, with Paul's focus upon "the promises" he shows how much Israel had at its disposal with no particular effort on its part. And, with this focus, he wraps up his presentation of the two-fold foundation for the two-fold glory.
- 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".