Sunday, 18 June 2017

Jacob Have I Loved, Esau Have I Hated

I benefited from Shane's thoughts about the firstborn versus the second-born.

I also think he was right to say that Paul's whole discussion in Romans 9-11 was really in answer to a question about Israel.

(Except, I don't think it's exclusively about Israel's future, but about the present scheme of things which was already seeing its outworking among Israelis even in Paul's own day.)

The question Paul was answering was not the questions Calvinists debated against Arminians in the 17th century!

And yet many today take Paul's statements in Romans 9-11 as if Paul was directly addressing the Calvinist/Arminian issues, when he really wasn't.

Correctly identifying the first-century issues which Paul was addressing, goes a long way towards answering the questions we (or Calvin and Arminius' students) ask today. In fact, I think it almost eliminates the questions!

The question Paul was answering (and he virtually says so, in the passage itself), put in my own words, I think was something like:

"If God's long-promised salvation is indeed now being offered to Gentiles, on the basis of faith alone, without them also needing to become Jewish by Observing Moses' Law, then wouldn't that imply that God has been unrighteous or unfaithful towards the nation of Israel, seeing they were the original custodians of the promises, and yet so many of them have not believed?"

And Paul's answer of course was, No...

It had always been God's plan to bless all nations on the basis of faith. God gave that promise to Abraham before Israel was even born, before the Law was ever given...

And it was God's prerogative to later choose the nation of Israel as the custodians of that promise, and to preserve their nation alive despite their unrighteousness, until the time of the promise came - and then to offer salvation to the people He'd always planned (which is, to all nations) and on the basis He'd always planned (which is, on the basis of faith)...

It didn't mean God's promises to Israel had failed, because the prophets already foresaw that only the remnant would believe...

And that Gentiles would then also hear and believe...

As Jesus said, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to all nations, and then the end shall come.

And it didn't mean God had utterly closed the door on a Jew, because God was still reaching out to more Jews, through believing-Gentiles.

Nothing unrighteous, unfair or unfaithful about that - it shows the extent of God's wisdom and mercy!

That outcome (the remnant of Jews, plus Gentiles) had been a bit of a mystery in Old Testament times - but it's the precise scenario which fulfils Prophecy, and will continue that way until the end.

Thus Paul was explaining and defending his Gospel - proving how it fulfilled Israel's promises; and defending the Gentiles' freedom against the Judaizers.

He wasn't discussing the questions which Calvin's and Arminius' students debated in the 17th century.

I think. But I don't know anything like I ought to.

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