Romans 9-11

 

Tom J. Nettles

 

Paul discusses in these chapters the phenomenon of Israel’s rejection of that which, by divine revelation and other special gifts, they should have freely embraced. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 begin with statements of the special privileges of the Jews, and how through them God brought ot the world the inestimable blessing of the Christ. Each passage serves as introduction to how they mishandled the blessings [an extension of his explanatory narrative of chapter 2] and is dong so showed the true sinfulness of all humanity. Each occasion become an opportunity for Paul to explain why salvation must come as a work of pure grace without any incrimination of the mercies of God.

 

I. Romans 9 – 10:4  If it is true that the bestowment of grace—“If God is for us”—unfailingly culminates in living eternally in the presence of God, how does one explain the unbelief of the Jewish nation as a whole?

A. Paul  Shows that his discussion of the faithlessness of the Jews in Chapter 2 does not come from any lack of natural affection for them or from any dismissiveness toward the divinely bestowed blessings and advantages that defined their history 9:1-5

B. Paul explains that the principle of selectivity, promise, and discriminating grace had operated from the time that Abraham first received God’s promise. 9:6-11

C. Does this kind of selectivity involve injustice?  On the contrary it is a clear demonstration of mercy. 9:14-18

D. But, if this mercy operates solely according to God’s will, can he find fault with any that according to is choice he has excluded. Who can resist his will? Paul rebukes the question answering from three standpoints.

1. The prerogatives of divine sovereignty – 19-21

2. God’s legitimate purpose to manifest his attributes – 22-24

3.  The Scripture has set this forth in Scripture as the divine purpose, so the substance of God’s actions should not be a surprise – 25-29

4.  The Jews are not hindered in responding to the divine revelation according to their own will. They have done so, and did not respond in faith but in a confidence in their own powers of attaining a works righteousness. 9:30-10:4.

 

II.  Romans 10:5-21.

A. Verse 5 -The provision of righteousness before God, and therefore life, by a keeping of the Law were set forth clearly in Scripture quoting Deuteronomy 30:12, 13. If there has been no single case of this kind of obedience than there is no such thing as righteousness anywhere within the human family.

B. Verses 6-8 - Even as the provisions of the Law are clear, and no one kept them, so that same clarity of revelation applies to the gospel. The righteousness of obedience applied to the first, the righteousness of faith applies to this. Even as God revealed the Law through Moses, wrote them on tablets of stone, and put them before the people [“Who will ascend into heaven . . . who will descend into  the abyss? . . . The word in near you.”] So the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ came in accordance with Scripture and were accomplished in the open with witnesses all around. That Jesus the Messiah has performed a work of sacrifice resulting in the conquering of death, fulfilling all the prophecies of the work of Messiah should be a fact easily established and easily believed were it not for the resistance of hard, self-righteous hearts.

C. Verses 9-13 – Paul now interprets that word of revelation that was given in Deuteronomy 30:12-14 about the Law in terms of the gospel. [“in you mouth and in your heart.”]

 

1. If one will confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord:  This is the public identification of a person with the historical Jesus showing that he is persuaded that Jesus is the God that has acted to procure redemption that He might be the covenant God of his people. It does not mean the mere mouthing of the words, but a confession of a convinced and subdued mind.

2.  Believe in his heart that God has raised him from the dead. “Raised him from the dead” is a synecdoche for the entire event of salvation brought to fruition. [A “synecdoche” is a figure of speech where one part is used for the whole. Paul uses this single phrase as a distillation of the constituent elements of the gospel (Romans 1:16) that he has explained to this point.]  The heart is the center of judgment and affections of the individual. This “confessor” has heard the gospel of reconciliation, has judged it to be true, and has placed his hope for eternity on the promises intrinsic to the gospel. He sees the resurrection as God’s approval and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for sin. Such a belief reasons: “Christ was a substitute for sinners under the wrath of his Father; had he not endured this none could be forgiven. Christ was buried and showed that he had truly experienced the wages of sin both in body and soul. Had he not done this none could escape law of sin and death. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ raised him from the dead showing that all his work for sinners was effectual and has fully satisfied every aspect of the sentence of death on sinners. Had he not done this, none could have eternal life. His resurrection means that he has been lifted also to heaven and now sits at the Father’s right hand, in the presence of God, and intercedes for us on the basis of his perfect righteousness. If this were not so, there would be no single case in human nature of perfect obedience to gain life. But Christ is risen, and though I am justly condemned in myself, God has promised to receive all that come to God by him; in belief of that promise, I come.”

3.  Now Paul enforces [10-13] the scriptural reality that all these advantages that Christ has won by dint of personal obedience and sacrifice become ours when we flee to take refuge in Christ. Whether Jew or Gentile all that seek union with Christ in his saving work will gain the fullness of the reward of Christ—they will not be put to shame. God is indeed “rich” to all that call on him. Through the conviction of the heart and the public identification with Christ one gains possession of all things. These are not things that pass away, but alone are true riches and alone have true and unfading excellence. Again, reinforcing his argument that both Jew and Gentile has the same access to God through Jesus Christ, Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

4.  Verses 14, 15 - In this section of argument, however, Paul is saying, that in spite of their being on an equal plane with Gentiles, they still have the message clear and plain, Christ receiveth sinful men. There is nothing intrinsic to the message that makes it a difficult message. He asks a series of rhetorical questions in order to sow that the Jews have never been without a witness to the gospel and that from the standpoint of clear opportunity, thee is nothing that hinders the Jew from being saved.

·        The first question, which follows the affirmation “Everyone that calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” is one that implies than none will call on the Lord if they do not believe. This shows that calling is more than mouthing words, it is an exclamation that flows out from the heart overwhelmed with the felt-vitality of the gospel.

·        Well, does the lack of belief come from their having never heard, for it is certain that if there in no hearing of the truth, there can certainly be no believing. A truth unheard cannot be considered and believed.

·        If not-believing comes from –not-hearing, have there not been preachers of this message to proclaim it to them. For it is sure that none will hear unless it is spoken. What is unspoken will be unheard.

·        If they have not heard because there has been no proclaimer, is it because none have been commissioned to proclaim? If this whole cycle of preaching, hearing, believing, and calling out bears within it the eternal riches of God, then we must conclude, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

5. Verses 16-21 – There has been no lack of opportunity for the Jews, they simply have been disobedient.

·        From the time of Isaiah, at least, they heard the gospel in prophetic form and did not believe it. Based on what Isaiah wrote, “Lord who has believed what he has heard from us?” Paul reminds his readers that faith comes from hearing , and the hearing is specifically the word of Christ, that is the message that God redeems his people through the coming of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sins.

·        Now he reminds his readers that the Jews have had that precise message set before them in many ways and at many times. He quotes the Psalms and Deuteronomy in support of this.

·        Paul inserts the effectuality of divine mercy in saving those, the Gentiles, who had not received any special revelation and had, therefore, not sought God. This introduces the next chapter.

·        Israel had God holding out his hands to them in every manifestation of revelation through Scripture, the prophets, the types and offices of the nation, the sacrificial system, and the promise of the Messiah, yet they were disobedient and contrary.

 

III.  Romans 11

A.  God has not rejected Israel but has operated with them in the way that he always did. He has saved a remnant. 1-10

B. Their disobedience has meant that now the world, that is the Gentiles, will come into favor and find the blessings of salvation. If Jewish disobedience means salvation for the world, what will their acceptance be? A massive conversion of large numbers of both Jews and Gentiles will occur. 11-15.

C. Gentiles should not be haughty about this shift, however, for just as easily as the Jews disbelieved so may the Gentiles turn from the gospel and disobey. And just as the natural branch, the Jews were taken out and the Gentiles grafted in, So even more easily can the natural branch, the Jews be grafted back in. 17-24

D. This hardening of the Jews has come about by divine purpose so that the full number of Gentiles will come in as a part of the true Israel spoken of in 2:28, 29. When the full number of the Gentiles has come in, God will remove the blindness from ethnic Jews because of his promises to the Fathers [in accordance with his divine purpose of election.} Both Jew and Gentile come into salvation out of what seemed to be an insuperable condition of unbelief. Sovereign mercy triumphs! 25-32

E.  Paul can only adore such wisdom and unsearchable judgments. God has designed the entire scheme and none can stand as his advisers telling him how he should conduct his purpose of grace. It is for Him alone that he has created, and that he sustains and that he redeems. All of the events will redound to the glory of God.  33-36