bkmitchell — 2017-08-14T07:34:06-04:00 — #1
THE CONTEXT OF ROMANS 9: THE “TRUE ISRAEL”
In Romans 9–11 the apostle Paul, having carefully developed the doctrines of justification and sanctification in the earlier part of this epistle, then explained how these truths relate to Israel as God’s people. Since righteousness is not gained by keeping the Mosaic Law (3:20) and since one can be declared righteous before God only by faith in Jesus Christ (vv. 28–30), what does this say about Israel, whom God told to keep the Law?
In 9:6 Paul wrote, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” His comments at this point have nothing to do with those who are Gentiles, as though “God’s Israel” were a people composed of Jews and Gentiles. Paul was clearly referring to the Jewish people. This relates to what he said earlier in 2:28–29. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” In other words being Jewish by birth did not guarantee a person a right standing with God. That had to be accompanied by “circumcision of the heart” (Deut. 30:6) and partaking of the Holy Spirit—both being matters related to the New Covenant. Thus in Romans 9:6 Paul was saying that there is a “true Israel” within “ethnic Israel,” and this true Israel is the believing remnant of the nation. For God to fulfill His promises to Israel, He need not do so with every single physical descendant but only with the believing element within ethnic Israel.
This is confirmed by the way Paul consistently distinguished Israel from Gentiles throughout Romans 9–11. A clear case for this is found in 9:30–31. “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.” Certainly the term “Israel” cannot mean the church, because Paul clearly distinguished Israel from the believing Gentiles and even affirmed that Israel (as a whole) failed to attain to God’s righteousness.
In Romans 11 the apostle clarified this distinction between ethnic Israel in unbelief and the believing Israelite “remnant.” God’s covenant promises to Israel have not failed, because God will fulfill them with the believing remnant. Paul wrote in verse 1, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be.” Then in verse 5 he added, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” God will fulfill His promises of blessing with the believing remnant of Israel.
Tanner, J. Paul. “The New Covenant and Paul’s Quotations from Hosea in Romans 9:25–26.” Bibliotheca Sacra 162 (2005): 95–96. Print.
dave_l — 2017-08-14T07:57:56-04:00 — #2
This assumes circumcision of the heart did not exist until the New Covenant. And ignores that all believers from Abel to Job, Abraham and beyond were circumcised in heart (born again) according to Hebrews 11.
bkmitchell — 2017-08-14T08:06:35-04:00 — #3
Actually, the opposite of the above statement Being that Circumcision of the Heart is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible long before NT and Christianity came into existence.
(1) Deuteronomy 10:12-16:
(2) Deuteronomy 30:6
(3) Leviticus 26:40-42
(3) Jeremiah 4:4
dave_l — 2017-08-14T08:15:15-04:00 — #4
This is good, it helps prove what I'm saying. Circumcision of the heart (new birth) is found in all listed in Hebrews 11 from Abel on.
bkmitchell — 2017-08-14T09:53:24-04:00 — #5
Dave, in general, I try to (or at least I want to) post both sides of an issue and the present article above is one which supports the position you hold to or is very close to it. The same writer in the same article goes on to more fully clarify(although this is evident from the above as well):
The blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament were for the “true Israel” of faith (the believing remnant), not unbelieving ethnic Israel in general. This remnant was to be seen as “vessels of mercy.” Yet Gentiles chosen and called of God would also be included as “vessels of mercy.” In Romans 9:24–29 Paul gave scriptural support for both groups, drawing verses from Isaiah to demonstrate the inclusion of the Jewish remnant, and then verses from Hosea 1–2 to support the case of believing Gentiles. In their original context the verses quoted from Hosea (2:23 and 1:10) revealed no implication of Gentile inclusion in their fulfillment. Paul’s quotation of these verses, however, was not to deny a fulfillment with Israel, but rather to bring out the full scope of the fulfillment that would include both Jews and Gentiles. For this reason he was not guilty of reinterpreting or spiritualizing Israel. The fulfillment simply was not exhausted by the believing remnant of Israel alone.
Paul’s treatment of the Hosea passages must not be seen as a mere utilization for purposes of analogy or application of principle. The inclusion of the Gentiles was a legitimate phase of fulfillment for the Hosea passages, as 1 Peter 2:4–10 confirms. Believing Gentiles had now become “the people of God,” full and equal participants in the New Covenant. The unfolding events of the New Testament (coupled with the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the mystery of the church) allowed the Hosea passages to be seen in their fullest perspective. It was the New Covenant that made it possible for the Jewish remnant to become “the people of God.” The context of Hosea (particularly the mention of a “covenant” in Hosea 2:18) confirms this. Since it was the New Covenant that made it possible for Gentiles to become part of the church, the “not my people” in the Hosea passages ultimately had Gentiles in view.
Tanner, J. Paul. “The New Covenant and Paul’s Quotations from Hosea in Romans 9:25–26.” Bibliotheca Sacra 162 (2005): 109–110. Print.
justin_gatlin — 2017-08-14T22:08:28-04:00 — #6
In your theology, has the nature of Israel ever changed, or has it always been all of the regenerate, regardless of circumcision or ethnicity?
dave_l — 2017-08-15T06:54:36-04:00 — #7
There has always been children of God since Abel. Many listed in Hebrews 11 among the faithful. But beginning with Abraham God began using unbelievers to protect and serve them, much like the chaff does the wheat. So from Abraham on, we see an institutional church of unbelievers fending for the Children of God. Later called Israel, the institution continued in this format under Moses. Jesus abolished the institutional church at calvary when he abolished circumcision. And from that time on the Church/Israel is believers only.