Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 12
September 30, 2008
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:
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" [See Notes for Sept. 23 <436>].
- K. From "whose are the fathers" Paul moves to "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ".
- 1. The Greek is "iffy", as a perusal of the variations in translation reveal. It can easily be translated in different ways according to whatever punctuation is imposed on the text by the translator (as Robertson notes in his Grammar).
- a. The "problem" is not really textual. It is theological. If one adds nothing to Paul's words, the "text" says that Christ is the One being over all, God. If, however, one does not like such a pointed declaration of Christ's deity, it is possible to "posit" an "understood" verb so that the text can be made to say, "May the God Who is over all be blessed unto the ages."
- b. But, this raises this question: Why does Paul specify "as regarding flesh" in his description of Christ as a product of Israel? Since that is the only sphere where they could be given any credit for His existence, it seems a bit redundant to say it unless there is the issue of His dual-realm existence. The "Christ" is the King of the Kingdom of God. In the human realm, the "king" was always a human being and served as a surrogate for the Heavenly King. This made the ultimate "King" the "heavenly" One and the "fleshly" king a surrogate and, in many of the cases in Israel's history, a usurper. But, in the heavenly realm, the "Christ" is the Ultimate King. He is not a surrogate. The Kingdom is His. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. This does not mean that somehow He displaces Another (the Father), but it does mean that calling the Kingdom "the Kingdom of God" means that its Ultimate King is God. It is quite possible that, before any "creation", what the Father, Son, and Spirit generated by their existence could not be called a "kingdom" in any sense. Perfection does not need to be "ruled". It is only that which cannot be "perfected" that needs the guiding hand of rule. Creatures, by definition, can only be "perfect creatures"; they cannot be "Perfect". Only deity is "perfect" and not even God can create deity. Thus, though creatures can share in the perfections of God to a significant degree, they can never be "Perfect". Thus, they will always "need" a "King".
- 2. It is highly likely that Paul was actually committed to identifying Christ in a way that would more highly exalt the "advantages" of being "Israel". If this be so, it is more than likely that his identification of Christ would go beyond a "traditional" (Jesus was a man) statement. And if this be so, he actually declared in this text that Jesus as the Christ is "God over all, blessed unto the ages" in a phrase that conjures up a link to Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3 where "blessedness" is ascribed to God.
- 3. If, then, Paul ascribes "highest deity" to "the Christ", he has made his final point regarding the significant advantages of being "of Israel": it is no small thing to be "of those" through whom God became incarnate. This is very much like being "of those" into whose midst God came in the "Glory" of cloud and pillar of fire to fill the tabernacle and, later, the temple. It is one thing to be on the other side of the planet when God appears on the earth; it is altogether a different thing to be "of those" who are physically present at the place on the planet where God appears. Though there are "problems" with recognition of His identity as Deity because of the "veiling" of flesh and the assumptions of human beings to the contrary, proximity does far more to remove those "problems" than does "distance". It would be far easier for the one who is very close than for the one on the other side of the world.
- a. The question is this: what is the specific "advantage" to having the fleshly connection to the Christ?
- b. The answer may be "kingdom reality". In the content of biblical revelation there is a deliberate focus upon the trinity of man's composition and, thus, his needs. This came first in Genesis 3 where the tempter hit Eve on the three main issues of "the way she was made" (body, soul, and spirit). In the outworking of this revelation, the "Kingdom" is the arena of the spirit in the specific sense of highlighting the meeting of "spiritual" needs. In biblical revelation, the "spirit" is a "doer", a "performer", an "active pursuer of accomplishment". For this cause the Spirit of God is presented as the One Who actually produces the results called for by the Father. Thus, His presence in believers as the source of their "good works" is simply an extension of the notion of "spirit". Because of this, the actual placement of a person into a position of service in God's Kingdom is the highest form of "need-meeting" for the spirits of men. Within this framework of the Kingdom being the realm where man's greatest "spiritual" needs are addressed, the most fundamental issue is the "worthiness" of the works which he accomplishes. And, given that "worthiness" is measured by the real benefit accomplished for the benefit of others, there is probably no greater "accomplishment" than to be within the framework of those through whom the Greatest Benefit to humanity came. Thus, God gave "Israel" the highest spiritual privilege: being those who brought the greatest benefit of all to human kind.