Paul’s main point thus far in Romans 9 is:
- God’s purpose of election explains why God’s chosen rejected their Messiah.
This means a main objective of Paul…
- Is to zero in on the Jews who have rejected their Messiah – the vessel for dishonorable use.
- And to tell us exactly what God’s purpose-of-election-use is for them.
So what is God’s purpose-of-election-use for the dishonorable vessel?
- Last week we finally answered this question.
And Paul’s answer was quite jarring.
- “desiring to show his wrath…
- “…to make known his power…”
- “…to make known the riches of his glory…”
We saw two really important things in his answer.
- (1) God’s-Action=God-Knowing.
- (2) And the basics of God’s purpose-of-election-use for the dishonorable “the vessels of wrath”.
In short –
- (1) God gives redemptive knowledge of Himself through His action in history.
- (2) God’s purpose of election is a giving of such knowledge in specific ways, to specific corporate groups of people, for specific reasons.
The peoples are the “vessels of wrath”, “vessels of mercy” and Gentiles.
- The purpose is to “show his wrath”, “…to make known his power…”, “…to make known the riches of his glory…”.
Last week we drilled down into the God’s-Action=God-Knowing principal – number 1.
- Both in the OT generally…
- And then specifically in the coming destruction of the Temple in 70.
Today we dig into the details of God’s purpose of election – number 2.
- In other words, the specifics of the peoples and the purposes.
People and Purpose – Show Wrath to the Dishonorable Vessel:
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (verse 22).
The Jews who rejected the Messiah from their own flesh…
- Are the Jews God chose to tear off of the lump and make into “vessels of wrath”.
We learned way back in Romans 3 how to understand God’s wrath.
- God’s wrath is best understood as His “judging righteousness.”
- This is in contrast to God’s “saving righteousness”.
This means then, that “vessels of wrath” are:
- The corporate group of Messiah rejecting Jews…
- That will come under God’s judging righteousness.
This is huge.
- Paul is now completing his argument.
The Jewish rejection of the Messiah was part of God’s purpose of election.
- It did not catch God by surprise.
- And it doesn’t compromise the legitimacy of Jesus as Messiah.
And about this wrath…
- We saw last week that this judging righteousness was the destruction of the Temple.
- And the resulting fragmentation of the Jewish people.
The historian Josephus described the events that accompanied the destruction of the Temple.
- Speaking about the Jewish rebels, “…so they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city”.
- And about the crucifixions, “…the soldiers out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest; when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.”
Judaism would never be the same again.
Paul wants us to see, however, that God “endured with much patience” Jewish unbelief (vs. 22).
- The idea here with “endured” is that God literally “put up with” them (BDAG).
- Meaning that God choose to withhold His wrath (show them mercy) until the time (70 AD) of His choosing.
And what was the purpose for this judging righteousness upon the Jews who rejected their Messiah?
- “make known His power” (vs. 22)
- “make known His glory” (vs. 23)
Make known to whom?
- “the vessels of mercy” (vs. 23)
- “the Gentiles” (vs. 24)
Paul already hinted at all of this with his allusion to Malachi’s handling of Jacob and Esau.
- Malachi 1:3–4 (ESV) — 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’ Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, ‘Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!’” – Malachi 1:5.
And we he referenced Pharaoh.
- “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Exodus 9:16.
So God used His judging action against unbelieving Jews for the benefit of two other peoples.
People and Purpose – Make Known Power and Glory to Remnant Jews and the Gentiles:
“…even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (vs. 24)
This is a remarkable text.
- Paul says there are a people on a different purpose-trajectory than that of the Messiah-Rejecting Jews…
- And these are a people Paul calls “us”.
The “us” Paul speaks of are:
- Messiah believing Jews – “a remnant” (vs. 27).
- And “Gentiles” (vs. 24).
It is these – the remnant and the believing Gentiles –
- Who are the beneficiaries of the God’s purpose-of-election-use of the unbelieving Jews.
- It is they who know God’s power and glory as a result of this use.
Paul cites a number of OT texts to make this point.
- We will deal with those shortly.
Before we do, we need to emphasize something that will help us solve a puzzle later.
- When Paul says, “even us whom he has called”…
- He is being controversial!
Paul is not making a distinction between believing Jews and Gentiles.
- Paul is not making a distinction between the Church and believing Israel.
He is doing the opposite.
- Paul is deliberately redefining believing Israel!
- And its definition has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion.
Believing Israel is now anyone – Jew or Gentile who submits to Jesus the Messiah.
- Specifically, in context of Romans 9…
- Believing Israel is anyone who is called by God through His purpose-of-election-use of the non-believing Jews.
Here is why this is so controversial.
- Paul has added the Gentiles to the lump of clay that is Israel.
And even more controversial:
- Paul says they are part of the lump of clay that God worked into “vessels of mercy” – not “vessels of wrath”.
Perriman and Bird help punctuate this point:
- “God choosesnow to destroy and disgrace the larger part of the lump of the descendants of Abraham and to preserve and glorify a smaller part, to which Gentiles have been added, in order that his name and power might be made known to the nations” – Andrew Perriman.
- “God is not replacing Israel with the church. Instead, God is preserving a remnant within Israel and then expanding it to include Gentiles as well” – Michael Bird.
Knowing this hugely important fact…
OT Allusions – Believing Gentiles:
As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
Here Paul seeks to reinforce his point about Gentile inclusion in God’s purpose of election.
- Believing Gentiles are to be God’s people – “sons of the living God” (vs. 26).
- And this was something God had always planned.
We need to see how Paul uses Hosea to reinforce this point.
- Hosea is speaking of a time when God will bring remedy to a rebellious Israel (as opposed to Judah).
- An Israel that God says is “not my people”.
The remedy (Hosea 2) comes from the “God’s-Action=God-Knowing” principal we hit on last week.
- “I will remove…”
- “I will make…”
- “I will abolish…”
- “I will betroth…”
The result of these actions:
- “And you shall know the Lord”
Specifically, the results of these actions as cited by Paul are:
- They were “not my people” and are now called “my people”.
- They were “not beloved” and are now called “beloved”.
- And, from Hosea 1:9, they are now “called ‘sons of the living God.’”
So Paul’s point is that Gentiles, like Israel in Hosea, had a certain status.
- They were “not my people”.
And by God’s action through the Messiah-Rejecting Jews, the believing Gentiles are now…
- “my people”.
- “called ‘sons of the living God.’”
The oddity with this allusion to Hosea is this:
- Hosea’s text has nothing to do with Gentiles.
So how does Paul’s interpretation here actually work?
- It appears the solution must have something to do with the “us” we just discussed.
In other words, the “us” is so fundamental to God’s “purpose of election”…
- Paul recognizes its existence within God’s purposes even though not explicitly stated in Hosea.
Also, Paul knows his OT – where there are many OT texts that do speak to this:
- Genesis 12:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
- Isaiah 2:2–3 (ESV) — 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Not to mention Paul knows this first hand!
Paul’s own ministry was part of God’s purpose of election for the Gentiles.
- Acts 13:46–47 (ESV) — 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you [Jews]. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
So given what Paul has been teaching in Romans 9…
- And the OT teaching on God’s desire to include the nations…
- Paul seems to be, under inspiration, showing us just how deep the “us” thread runs.
OT Allusions – Believing Jews:
Then after alluding to the OT to emphasize how the believing Gentiles were part of God’s purpose of election.
- He does the same for the believing Jews – the remnant.
He does this by quoting Isaiah 10:22-23 and Isaiah 1:9.
- “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”
These allusions are straightforward.
- God always purposed to pull off from the lump that is Israel a believing remnant.
- A remnant that would be known by its belief in God’s Messiah.
- This remnant is the “vessel of mercy”.
Paul, through Isaiah, refers to them as:
- “a remnant” who “will be saved”
- And an “offspring” that would not have existed if God had not purposed it.
- Paul is such a “remnant” and “offspring”.
The remnant, like the believing Gentiles…
- Were always part of God’s purpose of election.
So there was never a time when the entirety of Israel was in jeopardy.
- God’s purpose of election took care of that.
So with this we have concluded Paul’s main thought in Romans 9.
- We now understand how the Jews who rejected the Messiah were part of God’s purpose of election.
- We now understand what this purpose of election was.
God had always purposed to:
- Include believing Gentiles with believing Jews.
God had always purposed to:
- Preserve a remnant of believing Jews to which the believing Gentiles would be joined.
- And mold them into “vessels of mercy”.
God had always purposed to:
- Use his judging righteousness against the unbelieving Jews to facilitate Gentile inclusion.