Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

So if the gospel is for all…

Then we need preachers of the gospel! That’s how I read Romans 10:11-17. What is more, in the context of 10:18-21, this gospel preaching about Jesus Christ is to designed to provoke “Israel” — who is Israel? — to faith. Out of jealous (not envy).
Paul asks four questions to make his point:
1.How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
2. And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
3. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
4. And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
Let me add a question to Paul’s, and ask you to answer it today:
Who are the “they” in the “how can they call on the one they have not believed in?” Is this the Gentiles and the Jews of 10:11-13, or is the Israelites of 10:18-21? That’s a good question.
Which leads to this: Is Paul’s Gentile mission in part designed to provoke Israel to be jealous of its own status with the Covenant God, manifest now in the Messiah, and to return to covenant relationship? Do you think it is possible Paul is out in the Diaspora working the sticks in order to prompt the Israel of those lands to return to God?

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Dana Ames

posted September 1, 2006 at 10:48 am

Yes, to return to God;
No, not the same way as before, never again the same way…

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Robert E. Mason

posted September 1, 2006 at 11:30 am

It is interesting that there has been only one answer to your questions, and it is 12:20 EDT. What happened to your verbose following? Are the questions you posed too tough? I’m bold enough to hazard an answer to your first question. It’s not either/or, but both/and. “They” in verse 14 looks back to the Gentiles and the Jews of 10:11-13 and forward to the Israelites of 10:18-21. The Israelites are a subset of the Jews. What Moses and Isaiah said of old applies to Paul’s now, as well. At least that’s how I read the flow of his argument.

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posted September 1, 2006 at 10:37 pm

i can’t believe more people didn’t jump on this post! i remember a certain professor of mine jumping all over people trying to psychoanalyze Paul, but it is an interesting point you bring up. i wonder, at what point is it that Paul decides his mission is for the Gentiles and not the Jews? maybe this is the wrong question. maybe his mission with the Gentiles was, as your post asks, a mission intended to excite the Jews to action. good stuff to ponder…

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posted September 2, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Apologies to Robert E. Mason for allowing the first week of classes to put a temporary damper on my verbosity… But no longer!
Notice how much Paul advances his argument here (in vv. 11-17) by drawing from Isaiah’s oracles about Zion vindication & Israel’s restoration (v. 11, Is 28:16; v. 15, Is 52:7; v. 16, Is 53:1; vv. 20-21, Is 65:1-2). He also quotes from the closing section of Deuteronomy 30-32 a lot (vv. 6, 8, Dt 30:12, 14; v. 19, Dt 32:21). Both of these sections of (Paul’s) scripture (the law & prophets) reveal God’s plan to effect a transformative restoration for Israel, after their exile. Despite the persistent unbelief and rebellion of Israel, God (and Paul) will not forsake them. Indeed, God is now fulfiling his plan for Israel and the nations, by sending Paul to the Gentiles, which is where Israel has been scattered for centuries.
It may be profoundly ironic, then, for Paul to be citing here in Rom 10:20-21 an oracle (Is 65:1-2) where Isaiah was describing the moral condition of unbelieving Israel(“those not seeking me,” “an unbelieving and contentious people”), before and throughout their protracted exile. For Isaiah, Israel had to live among the Gentiles — in exile, as fitting punishment for having lived like the Gentiles — in idolatry. At last, God is now fulfilling Isaiah’s larger oracle, not only by sending the Christ & the Spirit to all flesh, but also by sending Paul among the nations, where his fellow-Israelites still live in exile — to proclaim the gospel to all flesh.
It seems to follow that Paul still has Israel primarily in view, even here in Rom 10:11ff.; although it initially sounds like Paul’s speaking about gentiles. At the same time, it doesn’t follow that Paul is referring to Israei to the exclusion of the gentiles; instead, by describing the situation in prophetic terms, Paul views Israel and the gentiles living in the same place and predicament. And for Paul, only those who believe in the gospel can be saved. Nonetheless, God’s elect encompasses a remnant of faithful believers from all nations, including Israel. For Paul, preaching the gospel is not only what will save the elect from all nations (the fulness of the gentiles), but from all twelve tribes (“all Israel”), not just Judah and Benjamin.
Paul demonstrates how God’s mission for him (as “apostle to the gentiles”) implies neither the failure of God’s word, nor the rejection of Paul’s Israelite kinsmen. In this way, Paul magnifies the Lord, who after “consigning all to sin” (even Israel), is now showing his abundant mercy to all (even us gentiles).

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