Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 5 Study # 2
February 10, 2009
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
1901 ASV Translation:
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling;
33 even as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame
- I. Paul's Explanation.
- A. The astounding conclusion that Paul drew in 9:31-32 -- that the Gentiles got what Israel failed to get, and that without effort -- needs some explanation.
- B. Why did Israel fail to obtain a right standing before God even after having been given a clear declaration of what that would look like in real life (the Law of Moses)?
- 1. Paul's answer begins with his declaration that there are two sources for a "right standing".
- a. There is an "out of faith" righteousness.
- b. There is an "out of works" righteousness.
- 2. Paul's answer continues with his declaration that a "stumbling stone" had been set in place in "Zion" and Israel "stumbled over it".
- a. The "stumbling stone" is re-identified as "a rock of scandal".
- b. The issue of "shame" is put front and center as a promise of what happens when a person believes/disbelieves. This is directly related to the issue of "boasting" that was put front and center in 3:27, which has the very same contrast in mind. There is a "law of works" that inescapably leads to boasting (and, thus, to "shame"), and there is a "law of faith" that inescapably destroys "boasting" (and, thus, also "shame" -- one can hardly be put to shame over something about which he made no boast).
- 3. Paul's answer concludes with his focus upon the promise that "faith" leads to an absolute escape from "shame".
- a. This "promise" is probably more crucial than most of us realize.
- 1) How crucial is the promise that an absolute escape from "shame" is possible?
- 2) Why would such a promise be made in the setting of a deliberate placement of a "rock of scandal" in "Zion"? What in the world would cause God to deliberately put a stone in Zion which has, as its essential identity, the intent to trip people? The answer seems to be that there is a malignant evil loose in the midst of the people of God that simply cannot be ignored; it must be surfaced, exposed, and destroyed. That evil is the intention of self-elevation for the purpose of undercutting God and it is best exposed by the placement of its nemesis in the path. The nemesis of self-exaltation is humiliation. Making a pompous person fall flat on their face in public is humiliating. Hence, a stone of stumbling is the method for dealing with arrogance.
- b. "Faith" in this promise is also of a high level of importance. It is not "lip-service", nor is it some kind of manipulative device. It is resting oneself upon Truth so that there is no legitimate basis for fear.