A Simple Commentary on Romans 9-11: Introduction

28 Mar

Paul was a passionate proclaimer of the gospel. His mission was to reach the Gentiles. We see this Gentile-based ministry in God’s call to him in the book of Acts and we also see it in Romans 1:5 where he said his aim was the “obedience of faith among the Gentiles for the sake of his name.” We also know that Paul believed that Jesus alone was the hope of salvation for all mankind. All the great promises of Romans chapter 8 are dependent on one thing alone . . . being in Christ. Our great salvation comes through Christ. So Paul would never support the idea that everybody gets to God in their own way or that every type of faith is of equal value. People today like to think that way but the reality is much different. Jesus alone is the way of salvation. Paul has made this clear throughout Romans.
Now in chapters 9-11Paul will further explain the truth that Jesus is the only way of salvation by showing that He is the Savior of both Jew and Gentile. Paul has already hinted at this idea in Romans of course, with his words in 1:16 about the gospel being the power of God for salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek. And Paul has told us in chapter 3 that Jew and Gentile alike are justified by faith in Christ. But now he is going to be more explicit about Israel’s lostness apart from Christ. The reason he has to take three chapters to unfold and explain this is because it is, in a sense, confusing. After all, God did choose the nation of Israel and call them to Himself and make them His people. And through them came Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior their prophets had predicted. Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism. The problem is, in Paul’s day as well as ours, the Jews have largely rejected their Messiah.
So in Romans 9-11 Paul is trying to explain how Israel could reject their Savior. But at the same time Paul wants to be careful not to reject Israel and her role in salvation history. He affirms God’s plan for Israel while also seeking to explain why she has rejected the Messiah.
But more than anything else, what Paul is trying to do in chapters 9-11 is not to explain himself or defend Israel, what Paul is trying to do is to uphold the righteousness of God. How can God be loving if it appears that He has rejected His people? How can God be strong if His people seem to have rejected Him? This theme of God’s righteousness runs all through the book of Romans and now comes to center stage once again in chapters 9-11.
Romans 9-11 then is not a sideline issue or a divergence from Paul’s main argument. It is central to Paul’s argument in the book of Romans. Romans 9-11 sheds light on everything in chapters 1-8 and will open you up to a deeper understanding of who God is and what He has done.
In studying through these chapters I have come to the conclusion that in many ways Romans 9-11 is an extended commentary on Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I think this especially in light of the verses that follow, namely Romans 8:29-32, with their words about God’s plan unfolding link by link in an unbreakable chain of salvation.
The goal of our study of Romans 9-11 should be the same as Paul’s conclusion to the section (11:33-36). Just as Paul broke into a doxology in the last four verses of chapter 11, so our response to what we see in these chapters should be worship. I hope reading these short articles each day and meditating on these verses might prompt someone to worship Jesus more fully.

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