Romans 9-11, Part 0

I’ve put up a series of posts now (the remainder are being formatted), commenting on my studies on Romans 9-11. I hope they will be useful to anyone trying to sort out the myriad of questions that Romans 9-11 (and really, 1-8 as well) inevitably provokes. If you would like the full text in one document, please let me know and I would be happy to send you a copy.

Introductory Remarks

The controlling issue of Romans 9-11 is the fate of Israel. But the fate of Israel brings up a deeper question regarding the faithfulness of God. The message of salvation and the power of God was proclaimed unto the Jews first (Romans 1:16), but they have not been saved. And as Paul’s exposition gathers steam through Romans 1-8, the question of Israel’s fate necessarily grows more acute, for Israel has occupied the central position in the history of revelation.

At first glance, Romans 10 appears to be a non sequitur. Between Paul’s defense of election in Romans 9 and his revelation of the great plans of God in Romans 11 lies a small chapter that deals with the problem of Israel’s unbelief. The theological truths revealed in chapter 10 are a deep valley compared to the soaring peaks of chapters 9 and 11. But it is nevertheless very vital to the argument, for it grounds the realities of chapter 11.

It is important, therefore, to keep in mind that the primary issue at hand is the fate of Israel (and subordinately, the faithfulness of God). We must not force Romans 9-11 to bow down to theological questions for which it was never built to answer. To lose sight of this is to lose our orientation within Paul’s argument, and to miss the points that he is making.

This commentary was written as an exercise in tracing Paul’s flow of thought. The primary concern here is how Paul develops his arguments over the course of Chapters 9-11. As such, side issues regarding interpretive debates, positions of different commentators, etc. are consigned to the footnotes. The assumption that the English text is mostly sufficient is made, since an argument over the semantics/syntax of Greek is not profitable to the one who does not know Greek (exceptions are made where a mis-translation significantly changes the meaning of the text). Rather, the determination of a word’s meaning will be reasoned out from the context and the flow of the argument. Finally, most of the commentary will reflect my own observation and thinking (and supported by external sources). Citations are made in places where I have missed something in the text, but have been brought to prominence by another author.

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