Updated: Nov 22
Read Romans 9:1-5
After the big celebration in Romans 8, where we read about God's faithfulness to us through Christ, that there is no condemnation for us and we can not be separated from the love of Jesus, that we have been defended and loved, we see that we should jump to the start of chapter 12:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Roamsn 12:1)
Instead, we are faced with chapters 9, 10 and 11. These chapters seem out of place, yet they are incredibly important, if not confusing. They are vital because they back up Paul's case that he has put in front of us in chapters 1-7 climaxing in chapter 8 as the pinnacle of the movement. But, like he has done all the way along his case, he now answers a pivotal question that he assumes the listeners will voice.
To understand what that question is, we need to remember that this Church has had its demographic changed, going from a predominantly Jewish group born out of the Synagogue, to one that now sees the Gentiles heavily outnumber the Jews following the Jew's expulsion from Rome approximately 3 years before.
The question is, can we trust God to follow through on the promises and the grand statements of chapter 8? After all, God had a plan in regard to His Chosen People, the Israelites (the Jews), yet now where are they? The Old Testament is full of covenants and promises of land and descendants. Even the Disciples thought that Jesus had come to fulfil these promises by kicking out the Romans from the promised land and restoring a King over the lands. What Paul now sets out is a discussion on how it is one continuous story, one plan - God's plan!
In Romans 3:1-8 we see the prelude to this, beginning with the statement "what advantage then is there in being a Jew..." We must therefore follow Paul's line of argument that aligns the promises we see in the Old Testament with Christ and the Gospel.
The Jews need it to see how the Gospel is the fulfilment of the Old Testament.
Jewish Christians need it to be assured that their faith in Christ does not mean they have ceased to believe in the God of the Old Testament and they are still linked to their heritage.
Gentile Christians must also see the connection between the Old Testament and the Gospel, with the plan of salvation being rooted in the Old Testament.
The second consideration is that the Gentiles in the Roman Church had begun to brag and boast over the Jewish minority. These next set of discussion points aim at stopping the arrogance that had manifested in the heart of the Church. It did this by showing their spiritual blessings are all a result of what God has done through Isreal.
Prior to chapter 9, the word "Israel" or "Israelites" had not been used. Paul now uses it 15 times in 3 chapters. Paul in the earlier chapters used Jew, a reference that foreigners (non-Jews) used. "Isreal" is the term used by Jews, for themselves, referencing that they are God's Holy People.
The next 3 chapters are broken up as follows:
9:6-29 - God's promises in the past are consistent with what He is now doing
9:30-10:21 - Jewish response compared to Gentile response now
11:1-10 - God is still saving many Jews
11:11-32 - is a promise that Isreal will be saved (verse 26)
Paul is full of sorrow and is really concerned that Isreal is not saved and that he would, if he could, take their place. What love we see for his neighbour in this gesture. The phrase, "I could wish" finishing in an Amen, makes it read as a prayer. In verses 4 and 5 we see the Jew's special position: adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah.
God had been with them (dwelt with them) in the Tabernacle and then the Temple, but after 70AD, the Temple was destroyed, but we see here Paul draws a line of ancestry from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the patriarchs) through to the Messiah. Paul sets up the position of Israel, that is, accused before God, illuminated by the Gospel, some have accepted Christ, and others have not (rejected Him).
We don't often like to focus on the Israelites' position before God, but here at the start of 3 challenging chapters, Paul begins by telling us that they too have fallen short of God's Holiness. As a result, they need to seek and accept Jesus as the Messiah, as the son of God and as the only root to the Father. That we are saved by faith in Him and through Him.
We have no condemnation and we have no separation, because of what He has done, not through the Law of Moses. This has been God's plan all along and it is through God's people, the nation of Israel, He has shown us this wonderful plan.