Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
September 1, 2009
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
1901 ASV Translation:
13 But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry;
14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
- I. Paul's Reiteration.
- A. Romans 11:13-15 is the Pauline application of the divine action.
- 1. God turned His focus upon the "not My people" (9:25-26) in order to "provoke" (11:11) those who are "My people" so that they would be "saved" (10:1).
- 2. Paul "magnifies" his office as apostle to the "Gentiles" ("not My people") so that "by any means" he might "provoke" those who are of his "flesh" (9:3) so that he might "save" some of them.
- a. Paul's claim is that he is "of nations an apostle", which focuses upon two facts: he is a duly 'created' apostle; and his apostleship is "of Gentiles".
- b. These two claims, taken together, shattered Jewish pride and exposed its lack of the most critical characteristic of any true religion: Love.
- 1) Anyone with half a brain can easily see that "no kingdom divided against itself can stand" and that the only thing that keeps any kingdom from being divided is "Love" as defined by God's own example. Complete selflessness is, alone, the requirement for the existence of multiple personalities in harmony. If, at any point, any "person" decides to press for his/her own desires at someone else's expense, "division" is instant and inevitable. Calvary, with its distinction of being the ultimate in selflessness, is the definition of "Love" and, thus, establishes "Christianity" as the only true "religion".
- 2) The "Jews" were never able to take Moses' words in Deuteronomy 9:4-6 to heart. They embraced His "election" of them, but secretly always believed that it was because of their moral superiority. It was this "secret belief" that the lack of "Love" always sponsors that made Paul's apostleship to the Gentiles such an affront that rage was the automatic response.
- B. This is reiteration. The question is "why?".
- 1. Clearly Paul has not only set this procedure before his readers as God's method of approach, but has embraced it as a model for his own labors.
- 2. Is it so important for our understanding that he must repeat himself? Apparently.
- a. What is it that is so important? To answer, we see that Paul is spending a goodly bit of ink and parchment to explain the obvious shift in God's focus of attention. This is a major element of "faith" since the shift in focus, without explanation, would tend in the direction of denying any legitimacy for "faith" in what would be seen as "failed" words from God. The words of the prophets regarding the utopian future for Israel were clearly not coming to pass. That Jesus of Nazareth could, and did, produce a kind of "a bubble of Kingdom reality" everywhere He went (exorcisms and healings banished evil forces of wickedness and physical forces of disintegration), the hard fact was that He did not (and thus, they argued, could not) leave a lasting result (both demons and diseases returned). Thus, "He is not the Christ" was the conclusion of the majority, and the rejection by that majority was a major stumbling block to faith: If Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, why was He rejected by those who know the Word of God better than we do? And does not the fact that this rejection exists prove that He did not have the ability to establish His Kingdom? "Paul," say they, "has as much as admitted that he can get no traction for his 'theology' in the nation of those who know the words of God, so his turn to those 'ignorant' Gentiles only proves that he can only get traction where there is ignorance."
- b. Paul's response is that the "unbelief" of the majority is not rooted in knowledge of the words of God, but, rather, in an ignorance that is created by the "pride of knowledge". The methods of God, and of His Christ, are simply not what is expected from those whose pride does not allow them to see the lovelessness of their hearts and their expectations. The fact is that those who "believe" in Jesus as the Christ are "lastingly affected" for good as long as that faith is not undermined. Paul's "explanation" is not for the proud, but for those who have believed so that they may continue to believe. The "bubble" of Kingdom Life continues to exist where "faith" continues to exist, but it exists at a deeper level than the physical and without its "contributions" (i.e., the "body" is not the "life-producer" it's cracked up to be in the minds of the mindless). Qualitative "Life" is dependent upon One reality: the presence of God. Those who exalt the body to the position of "the arbiter of Life" are simply idolaters who make physical pleasure the "greatest good". Even in the post-resurrection Reality, the "body" will still not possess the status of "the arbiter of Life". It was only in Israel with its "shadow" status that the physical gained such a position. According to the Book of Hebrews, God used the "shadow reality" as a tool for teaching of the "actual reality" so that Israel was supposed to be a physical-level shadow of the Real. In such a shadow reality, it was natural that the "body" would take on the characteristics of the soul in order that the soul might be known, but it was never intended to be more than a teaching tool. However, the "Jews", blinded by pride, exalted the material to a level that created an idolatrous fact so that when Jesus' "bubble of Kingdom Life" did not extend "healing" to "permanent health and no death" He was dismissed. They stumbled over the scandal of "Life is not a physical thing" and "goodness is not a whitewash job".