Thesis:The roots of the Jewish rejection of Paul consisted of both his "apostleship" and its "direction".
Introduction:As we have pointed out multiple times, Paul's argument in Romans 9-11 is focused upon the answers to the question, "Why should I believe Paul's 'Gospel of God' given the fact that Israel, God's elect nation, rejected it?" Another way of asking this question that is even more to the point is this: "Why should I believe in Paul's "God" given the fact that His "election" of Israel has proven to be such a total disappointment?" The objector might even say that Paul's very argument that "Israel's failure shows its lack of legitimacy in the Truth" is itself more of a reflection on his "God's" failure than the nation's.
Now, these "problems" came as no surprise to Paul and he did have answers, but they were not to the liking of his kinsmen according to the flesh. The big "answer" consisted of Paul's argument that the antagonism by his opponents arose out of two things: first, that rejecting Paul's "God" on the basis of the present condition of Israel was too short-sighted because it did not take into account the multiple threads of the weave that would produce Messiah's kingdom; and, second, that rejecting Paul's "God" for what appeared to be a breakdown in the "success" of "election" was too generalized because it refused to recognize two sub-theses -- "election" has always been a matter of a minority within a larger group and "election" was not about creating a rosy "big picture". The "elect" have never been able to so dominate the whole that the appearance was that of a successful production of national godliness.
This evening we are going to return to one of the major sub-sets of Paul's argument: the fact that God uses His dealings with "others" to produce a longing in oneself for what He does for them, which longing eventually results in the salvation of those outside of the loop.
I. A Couple of Overview Issues.
A. First, Paul's declarations in 11:13-15 are a reiteration of God's method of generating faith.
1. The declarations are simply his application of God's methodology.
2. The only "new" information in the declarations is the hint that his meaning in the question of 11:12 centers around the issue of "life from the dead", or, to say it another way, resurrection reality.
B. Second, the translators of the AV "did it again".
1. In 11:1 those translators would have us to believe that Paul asked if God had "cast away His people" and answered with an emphatic denial.
2. Then in 11:15 those same translators turned right around and declared that God had cast away His people.
3. When we ask how they stumbled so badly, we have to consider their "theology" in order to answer.
a. The translators of the AV were of a theological tradition that believed firmly that God had cast Israel off.
b. This made it difficult for them to translate accurately.
II. The First Element in Paul's Application of God's Method.
A. He claimed "apostleship" for himself.
1. This was radically "out of the loop" for the Church because Paul was not one of the original Twelve, nor was he in on things "at the beginning" as the remaining Eleven required (Acts 1:1526).
a. This claim was going to be an "affront" if pride was allowed to guide the debate.
b. Interestingly, it was Peter, the one who had established the "requirements" in Acts 1 who supported Paul's apostleship in Acts 15 when the issue was the question of whether Paul's "Gospel of God" was, in fact, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and James (Acts 15:13) backed him up even though it was some of his disciples who had created the row in the first place (Galatians 2:12).
2. This was also radically "out of the loop" for Israel because Paul had been one of the leading opponents of his own current message and to switch over was bad enough, but to switch over with the claim of being the "top dog" in the "new movement" was just too much.
a. Paul had made a lot of enemies as the most zealous of the Jews.
b. He made a lot more when he turned his guns on Jewish theology.
3. This was, however, an issue that had to be faced head on and, when it was, it was confirmed to be a legitimate claim by the entire Church leadership.
4. This was clearly an example of God putting special favor upon a despised person with the result that it generated a lot of jealousy.
B. He claimed that his "apostleship" was focused upon Gentiles.
1. This was the major root of the upheaval in the Jewish perception of God's Plan.
a. They all believed that God had turned from the nations at Babel.
b. They hated the proclamation that God had now turned from Israel at Pentecost.
2. This was the major root of the destruction of Jewish theology.
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.
a) Complete selflessness is, alone, the requirement for the existence of multiple personalities in harmony.
b) If, at any point, any "person" decides to press for his/her own desires at someone else's expense, "division" is instant and inevitable.
c) 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.
a) They embraced His "election" of them, but secretly always believed that it was because of their moral superiority.
b) 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.
C. The rage was nothing more or less than a cloak to hide the reality of the emptiness of a loveless theology and life.