Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11
September 23, 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" [See Notes for Sept. 16 <434>].
- J. From "the promises" Paul moves to "whose are the fathers".
- 1. In Jewish/biblical thinking, "the fathers" are critical for one specific reason: God elected them and covenanted with them to accomplish His plans of blessing for them. Yahweh is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Note Genesis 28:13 for an example of the trans-generational plans of God).
- 2. The phrase, "the God of my father has been with me" is used in Genesis 31:5 as a statement of faith and "the God of your father" is used in 31:29 as the reason for Laban's behavior toward Jacob. The phrase, "God of my/your father" continues in the Genesis 31 conversation as a considerably weighty element.
- 3. There are multiple other references to the same concept through the Old Testament.
- 4. One of the more difficult issues for the Jewish mind of God's transition from an "Israel" focused method of dealing with the world to a "new" focus upon a "new" entity -- the Church of the Firstborn -- was precisely this issue: "those Samaritans/Gentiles have no part or lot with us, for we are the seed of the fathers." [Note Paul's argument in Ephesians 2:11-22 as confirmation of this way of thinking.]
- 5. Even in Romans, being connected to "the fathers" really does mean something: 11:28 -- enemies are "beloved" because of "the fathers".
- a. That it "means" something significant is a reality, but what that "meaning" is must be clearly understood. Paul was writing to the Romans with a serious level of grief in his heart because his kinsmen according to the flesh were not receiving the benefit of that "meaning".
- b. This "meaning" has to do with "generic Israel", not "individual Israelites". In Jesus' words to "individual destroyers of the true theology of Israel" there is this distinction (Matthew 23:31-33). It is "within" generic "Israel" that a "true" Israel exists (Note Paul's argument even in our context here in Romans 9:6-7).
- c. This must mean, then, that "whose are the fathers" is a statement about "proximity" possibilities, not specific individual participation in blessing realities. For Paul, that God is sovereign over all and that His sovereignty means that many of his kinsmen will never enter into the blessing is a great grief while simultaneously being a bedrock foundation of his love, faith, and joy. This sounds strange, but the facts are that sin's entrance into God's creation not only came as of "necessity", but also with "real consequences" of eternal grief. The bottom line seems to be thus: for "some" to enter into Life, "many" had to be lost to Death. Even God is not "free" of His own Reality: what He is puts specific boundaries upon what He "can" do (Note Titus 1:2). Within that reality, created persons "cannot" be given the privileges of Life apart from an understanding of the "glory" of God (Paul addresses this in the chapter before us: 9:22). Also, Paul's participation in unmitigated grief (9:2) is, actually, a "sharing" by him in the "glory" of God because He also grieves thusly. This, to self-absorbed man, is an exceedingly strange reality -- that God subjected Himself to "grief" for the "joy" that was possible beyond it (Note without carelessness the pointed statement of Hebrews 12:2). The selfless God, unlike self-absorbed man, has no aversion to suffering grief for the sake of joy. It is only the self-absorbed who whine about being subjected to suffering.
- 6. Deuteronomy 10:15 records Moses' contribution to this mindset.
- 7. The question remains: what is the significance of the Israelites being those whose fathers were chosen of God since it was doing them no good? The reality is this: it is a massive grief to have and know the redemption/Redeemer, to have the message of His love, to be involved in the declaration of that message to people day in and day out and to have them simply turn up their nose at it or, worse, decide to vehemently and viciously oppose it. But, why? Is not "grief" over the lost a total waste of emotional energy? Given the fact that God has a plan for blessing that does not include the majority of the wicked, is it not a total waste to "feel" unending grief because of them?
- a. What is the alternative? Those who close themselves off from the grief because it will be fruitless become two things: first, they become less like their God -- not more -- because He refuses to close Himself off from the grief (1 Timothy 2:4); and, second, they become more like those who have no hope -- not less -- because of the incipient hardness of heart that closes off one's "bowels of compassion" (1 John 3:17; Colossians 3:12).
- b. What is the final reality? There is a day coming when "Death" will be "swallowed up" by "Life" (1 Corinthians 15:54) and everyone who "wasted" his emotional energy by "feeling sorry for" those who were irremediably lost will find that the "waste" actually generated a larger capacity for sharing in the joys of others -- those "others" who were saved and are joyfully ensconced in Life by the victory.
- c. What is the core reality? God is "like this": He is the root of "wasted compassion". As hard as it is to fathom, it is the nature of God to do "stuff" that seems to have no direct "rationale" in "efficiency" -- that seems to be an ineffectual waste of effort. Maybe we ought to ask this: Who was it that enthroned "efficiency" as a virtue? It seems to me that "abandoned magnanimity" is more greatly to be admired that parsimonious "efficiency".
- K. From "whose are the fathers" Paul moves to "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ".