Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Romans 11:33-36 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.


Romans 11:33-36

Paul’s Anthem to God’s Grace

On all that he has written in chapters 9-11 Paul now stops to give God the glory for His "unsearchable ways"! No one can counsel God as He unfolds world history. He is its author and does as He pleases. But what He does will be perfect, good, and right! The apostle had a similar hymn of praise in 8:35-39. That hymn had to do with His plans for personal salvation. The hymn in 11:33-36 is about His world encompassing plans for the Gentiles and the restoration of Israel.

Oh, depth of plentitude and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His degrees (judgments) and incomprehensible His ways! (11:33) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:33 Depth is the Greek word bathos from which we get the word bathysphere—a submarine-like vessel that dives to the bottom of the ocean. You cannot fathom the depth of God’s plans and purposes! Plentitude is ploutos and means the fullness, completeness, or the totality. You cannot get to the bottom of the depth of what God is doing with the nations and with His earthly people, the Jews! You cannot get to the bottom of His wisdom and knowledge! His degrees are unsearchable (anexereunata). This word is used only here by the apostle Paul. It is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It is a compound word: an=a negative, ex=out, ereunoo=to search. No one can dig out or explore all that God is doing.

Decrees is from the normal word for judgments (krimata), but here it seems it is best to translate the word differently. God is not judging His works; they are pronounced by Him and they form the tapestry of His many actions and plans in world history.

Incomprehensible is used only twice in the New Testament, both by Paul, here in Romans 11:33 and in Ephesians 3:8. The meaning is that God cannot be "traced out." One cannot follow His paths. We cannot figure Him out in His dealings with the nations and with Israel!

Ways is the Greek word hodos and means "paths, roads." What the Lord has shown us is what He has shown us! No more and no less! He is in charge and knows exactly what He is doing. We have to trust that He is all wise and is carrying out a perfect plan! Vine adds: "The verse emphases all His providential dispensations, His decisions, and decrees." (p. 412)

For who knew [the] mind of the Lord; or who became His Counselor? (11:34) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:34 This verse simply reinforces the verse above. He is all sovereign and does not need out advice or counsel. Vine concludes: "This is a quotation from Isaiah 40:13. Cp. Jeremiah 23:18. The verbs are in the aorist tense with no specific time period in view." (p. 412) In other words, it is just plain impossible at any time to understand the Lord’s mind. And no time, past, present, or future, can anyone advise God as to what He ought to do!

Or who gave to Him that it might be returned to Him? (11:35) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:35 And in like manner, God owes nothing back to anyone at anytime. He is not beholding to any human being. He has to answer to no one.

Because from Him and through Him and to Him [are] all things. To Him the glory into the ages! Amen. (11:36) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:36 All pathways and all conclusions end with God. He is the final cause and the ultimate Author of all things. He does as He pleases. He is not trying to satisfy us; we are to be following Him! God’s glory will carry right on into the ages of eternity. All of earth’s history will end, as we now know of it. But what He has done in time will be glorified and honored for ages (aionas) to come. Vine well concludes this verse and well states the final thought of these three chapters. He writes:

He is the ultimate object, and all things are for His glory. In Colossians 1:15, the same facts are expressed in regard to Christ. There, however, the first of the three prepositions is en, in (an instrument use). In Him as the architect, by Him as the Creator, and for His glory, were all things created. (p. 413)

Romans 11:26-32 by Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 11:26-32

The Jews will be Restored and all the Messianic Promises of an Earthly Kingdom will be Fulfilled

These could be the most important verses in this Romans 9-11 section. Here Paul comes to his most important point—God is not through with the Jews! He will return to bless them as a nation, as a theocracy, as a whole people, planted again in the Holy Land. He will keep His promises to them which are seen as unconditional and irrevocable in nature. The Gentiles will forfeit the blessing giving to them as an international group, and the Lord will again touch the hearts and souls of the Jewish people.

In verses 29, 31 we are told that "God is not sorry for his gifts to and calling of the Jews." (A. T. Robertson, p. 399) And, "God’s purpose is for the Jews to receive a blessing yet." (Ibid) It is impossible to read these verses and misunderstand the apostle’s meaning. The Jews will be restored and all the messianic promises of an earthly Kingdom will be fulfilled.

And thus, all Israel will be saved, as it has been written: The Rescuing One will in the future come out of Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. (11:26) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:26 "And all Israel shall be saved". "That is, national; not all Israelites in the past but the nation as such at the time of Christ’s Second Advent, and the inauguration of the Millennial reign." (Vine, p. 410) On this phrase Kroll adds: "This does not mean every Jew will come to Christ, there will be a large evangelistic movement among the Jews in the future. Still, only elect Jews will come to faith during that evangelistic movement. … It is then, at the coming of Jesus Christ to reign in power and glory, when He delivers the earth from the Antichrist’s rule, that Messiah will restore Israel to be the apple of God’s eye. Massive numbers of elect Jews will fall at the feet of Jesus, not only as King of Kings and Lord of lords, but as their Messiah as well. … Paul seals the restoration of Israel with a prophecy from Isaiah 59:20, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion’ (v. 26). This reference is to a manifestation to Israel of her Redeemer and Messiah. When He comes, Israel will be restored to the Root of God." (Kroll, p. 184)

Nicoll concurs and writes: "Israel as a nation, is a key part of the Messianic kingdom, is the content of Paul’s thoughts. … Israel, or to the elect, is to miss the mark: it foretells a ‘conversion of the Jews’ so universal that the separation into an elect remnant and the rest who were hardened shall disappear." (p. 683)

Everyone agrees the "all Israel" means the whole of Israel, not every specific Jew. A remnant will survive the tribulation and be saved. Some will be taken before their Savior, their King, and be judged. That is what Matthew 25 is all about.

The One Rescuing is a Present Participle of the verb ruomai. It means "to rescue, deliver." Christ then in the verbal sense is known as the Rescuer of the Jewish people, and of course also the world (but that is not the point here). The Future Tense comes from the verbs "shall be saved" and "will come" (ako). Ako means "to arrive, to be present," and has the force of the Pluperfect. "He will have arrived." (Thayer) "He will remove" also is a Future Tense of apotrepo. Thus, "He will remove, turn away" ungodliness from Jacob, or Israel. Jacob was the father of the twelve tribes, not the founder of the Church of the Inner Springs in Horseshoe, Texas! The name Jacob is a representation of the Jews. Jacob and Zion means the Jewish people, not the church! Zion was the hill in Jerusalem that was the site of the residence of the kings of Israel. The word became a catch-all term for describing Jerusalem, Israel as a whole, or the Jewish people.

Only someone not thinking, or who has a pre-set agenda, would miss the fact that the verse is telling us that the Jews will be restored and receive the benefits (and fulfill) the application of the New Covenant, which has to do with personal blessings, i.e. personal salvation!

And to them, this concerning the covenant of Me, when I should Myself remove the sins from them! (11:27) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Paul here quotes the prophecy of the New Covenant first given in Jeremiah 31:31-on.

When in the future the Messiah comes to save the Jews the New Covenant will be fulfilled with the nation. The New Covenant was ratified by the death of Christ and His shed blood on the cross (Luke 22:20). The Covenant was launched at Pentecost (Acts 2), with the Gentiles presently receiving the benefits of it in salvation, but not in a prophetic sense fulfilling it. But Israel will embrace the New Covenant as they enter the blessings of the Kingdom and trust Christ as their personal Savior. When the Jews rejected Christ, they rejected the provision for salvation that comes by the New Covenant but in the future that Covenant will bring them salvation from their sins.

God is not through with the nation of Israel!

On the one hand, concerning the gospel, they are enemies because of you (Gentiles), on the other hand, according to the calling out (election), (they are) beloved because of the fathers, (11:28) (Couch, Greek Translation)
This is a profound passage of Scripture because it tells us, that though the Jews presently reject Christ, they are still beloved (loved) in God’s sight because He made promises to the patriarchs, the Jewish fathers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Twelve Tribes! When Paul wrote the Romans letter, the Jews were at war with the Christian Gentiles. They were angry because these "pagans" were accepting Christ as the Jewish Savior and King!

God’s relationship with the Jews is based on His election. And though they are now in unbelief He is not through with them. That national election stands. It defines His future work with them. God chose Israel to be His people; they are the object of His love even presently—on account of the fact that He is a Covenant-keeping God!

for irrevocable are the gifts and the calling from God. (11:29) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Irrevocable (ametamelata) means that it can not be repented of. God cannot change His mind about the nation of Israel. He will fulfill all His promises to them. "God’s gifts of grace, and His calling, are things upon which there is no going back." (Nicoll, p. 684) His Spirit will bring a great remnant back to life and, following the terrible seven year tribulation, they will be restored to their Holy Land by faith, with Christ their King ruling over them. The "calling (kalasis) from God" here Nicoll says has to do with their place in God’s earthly plan. "It is His authoritative invitation to a part in the Messianic kingdom. From Israel these things can never be withdrawn." (Ibid)

For just as you then were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience. (11:30) (Couch, Greek Translation)
A perfect example of how God is dealing with the Jews is how He dealt with the Gentiles. He can show mercy even when there is gross unbelief.

Also likewise they now were disobedient in order to show mercy to you, they also may now be shown mercy. (11:31) (Couch, Greek Translation)
In a classic statement Nicoll writes:

The past unbelief of the Gentiles and the mercy they presently enjoy, the present unbelief of the Jews and the mercy they are destined to enjoy in the future—these things not only correspond to each other, but they are interwoven with each other; they are parts of a system which God controls, and in which every element conditions and is conditioned by all the rest; there is a Divine necessity pervading and controlling all the [so called] freedom of men—a Divine purpose mastering all the random activity of human wills." (Ibid)
For the God has closed up the all into disobedience in order that the all might be shown mercy (by Him). (11:32) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Paul has spelled out the distinction between God’s dealings with the nations and His work with the Jews. Presently, both groups are placed together in the body of

Christ, in this dispensation (PERIOD) of grace, and the church age. Presently, the majority in the church, the body of Christ, are Gentiles, but in the dispensation (PERIOD) of the Kingdom, the majority people, special people, will be the nation of Israel. The Lord has specific plans for both groups. Vine correctly concludes:

When Israel as a nation is restored to Divine favor and privilege in the earth, He will show His mercy to all nations, i.e., in the Millennium. The word "all," in reference to Israel, is to be viewed in the light of verse 26, and, as to the Gentiles, in the light of what is said in verses 12-25. In whatever way man enjoys salvation he will never be able to attribute it to anything but the pure mercy of God. (p. 412)

Romans 11:13-25 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 11:13-25

The Restoration of Israel as a Theocracy assured

Some of the greatest prophecies in Scripture are found in Ezekiel 36-37. They deal with the restoration of Israel, both spiritually and in regard to the Jewish return to the Promised Land! The apostle Paul was well familiar with these passages and one could almost say that he is paraphrasing their message here in chapter 11.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 deals with the prophecy of the dry bones. Israel is like bones scattered in the desert, but by a miracle, God will bring them back to life and plant them in their one land. Humanly speaking these bones cannot come back alive. Ezekiel is shocked with the word that God is giving him about Israel and their future restoration. The Lord said, "I, Jehovah, have spoken it and will perform it." God will use means to accomplish His purposes.

"What is the state of the nation in this vision of the dry bones? They are buried among the Gentiles (v. 21). They are a disunited, disjointed, formless mass of people living under the flags of many nations without a national awareness of their own. In the national and spiritual sense they are a mass of scattered, dry, i.e. dead bones. … The first phase in the work of the Restoration of Israel is of a physical nature. They develop a national consciousness and begin to leave the various countries of their dispersion. . . . The state of the Jewish people in the last 200 years is a remarkable fulfillment of this passage." (The Restoration of the State of Israel, Arthur Kac, pp. 44-45)

This passage of Scripture, Romans 11, gives meaning to this restoration! The church is not Israel, and Israel is not the church. There is no such think as Replacement Theology. It is a heresy pushed upon the Christian public by the allegorical guys of the (falsely describe) Covenant Theology.

But to you the Gentiles I am speaking. Insomuch then I am an apostle of the Gentiles, I am glorifying my work. (11:13) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Paul is making it clear that his argument which he will develop in the verses that follow is not based simply because he is "pro-Israel." He has been assigned by God to reach the Gentiles, yet the fact stands that God is not through with His earthly, theocratic people. The church will apostatize and turn away from the gospel. In fact that event is now happening. The church is dying. The apostasy of the church is upon us! Gentiles are rejecting Christ as Savior! Again, the apostle is using the Present Tense when he writes, "I am now speaking." What he has to say is current in its meaning and application to the argument.

If someway I might [come] alongside [and] anger the flesh [brothers] and shall save in the future some out from among them. (11:14) (Couch, Greek Translation)
During this dispensation (PERIOD) of grace Paul has a task to perform, and that is, saving spiritually those of his own by the flesh. By his proclaiming of the gospel Paul wants to antagonize his fellow countrymen in order to cause them to deal with the issue of their King, who is now in this PERIOD their Savior, though His reign on the Davidic throne is not far off! He wants to force them to examine the claims of the son of David and see what God is presently doing with the past historic fact of His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. By using the Future Tense of "shall save," Paul is saying he is planting seeds that may later sprout spiritually and bring many Jews to Christ at some latter time.

Again the verb paralaloo should not be translated "to make jealous." Paul’s point is that the gospel, which is blessing the Gentiles, is making the Jews mad, angry. They can sense that God has turned away from them, if only for a season! In a twist of the Lord’s providence, that anger will someday play a role in bringing Jews to Christ!

For if their throwing away (casting down of the truth) [became] a reconciliation of the world, what the receiving towards [them] if not life out from among the dead ones? (11:15) (Couch, Greek Translation)
It would be impossible to read this verse without believing that Paul is telling us there will be a restoration, a reconciliation of Israel back to the Lord. A. T. Robertson gets the point but then turns away from the obvious meaning of the passage. He writes, "Many think that Paul means that the general resurrection and the end will come when the Jews are converted. Possibly so, but it is by no means certain. His language may be merely figurative." [Italics mine.] How in the world can Robertson come so close and then back off of the meaning of the passage? He shows that if one wants to deny the obvious he can easily do so. Robertson, with all his Greek skills, was locked into his Covenant, anti-premillennial way of thinking! He denied what he saw in his exegesis!

Alford gets the point and writes: "Life from the dead literally should follow on the restoration of the Jewish people." (p. 430)

For if the first (chunk of dough) be holy and the lump also, and if the root (is) holy, then the branches also. (11:16) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Paul now makes a very important point. He shows that the starting point, of a loaf of bread (or of a branch coming out of a root), establishes the end product. From the chunk of dough the lump is broken off, and, from the root, the branch of the tree comes forth. So the nation of Israel. The chunk of dough, or the root, represents God’s blessing came down to Abraham and his descendants the Jewish people. This principle will establish what Paul says in the verses that come after.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive were engrafted in among them, and together-fellowshipping of the rich root of the olive tree, (11:17) (Couch, Greek Translation)
The branches (some but not all) represent the Jewish people who originally were the recipients of God’s blessings. He reached down into ancient Babylon and Ur and called out Abraham in order to establish a people for His name. But because of their rejection of God’s blessings and their repudiation of Christ, they were broken off of the olive tree of blessing. Now the Gentiles have been engrafted into the root, that place of blessing. The elect Gentiles are now sharing of God’s goodness with elect Jews. This new body constitutes the church. The Gentiles are not being grafted into Israel but into the place of blessing. This new arrangement is temporary and it represents a postponement of God again working with the theocracy of Israel. This new arrangement is not Replacement Theology that would say God is through with the Jews and will not restore His work again with the regathered nation of Israel.

Do not triumph (as a winning gladiator) against the branches; but if you are to be triumphant, (remember) it is not you who bears the root, but the root (bears) you! (11:18) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Gentile believers in Christ cannot gloat or become arrogant as if they are better than the disbelieving Jews. "Triumph" is in the Present Tense. Apparently some of the Gentiles at that time were arrogant about their faith and felt they were better than the Jews. But by God’s sovereignty His root of blessing is supporting the Gentiles and blessing them, not the other way around! This, and in all areas of Bible interpretation, is where we dispensationalists are correct. We understand that we now are living in a new dispensation (PERIOD) of grace. But the story is not over yet. Other chapters of the drama are to follow. God is not through with Israel!

You will in the future then be saying, branches were broken out in order that I might be engrafted. (11:19) (Couch, Greek Translation)
At some point in the future the Gentiles will get it! They have to understand that the Lord ceased His time of blessing the Jews in order to turn to the Gentiles. While the church is made up of Jew and Gentile, the majority in this new body is Gentiles. Israel was set aside and the grace of God came upon the Gentile nations.

Rightly so! In unbelief they were broken out, but you in belief stand. Do not be conceited ones but fear! (11:20) (Couch, Greek Translation)
"Conceited" means to be high and lofty, to be highly exalted. This is almost precisely what happened to the church as the decades passed from the founding of the early church. The church began to look down the nose on the rejecting Jews, and in time, began to kill and persecute them. But actually, this was done in the name of Christendom not true biblical Christianity! Fear is a Present Imperative. Gentile Christians are to be continually fearing, constantly watching and monitoring their attitude towards the Jews. Anti-Semitism can raise its ugly head at any time. Most in the arena of Covenant Theology have a tinge of Anti-Semitism overtly or at least by their silence toward the plight of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.

For if the God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. (11:21) (Couch, Greek Translation)
God is not under obligation to continue to offer salvation to the hard-hearted Gentiles. A day is coming, and may be here already, when the Gentile world no longer responds to the gospel. God will be finished then with the world and the judgment of the tribulation will descend like a flood! He will again turn to the Jewish people and restore them to favor. I believe this is already beginning to take place. Israel is back in the land. Thousands of Jews in the Holy Land are now turning to Christ. Dozens of churches have been founded.

Behold then, kindness and unrelenting judgment from God, on the one hand on the ones who fell, unrelenting judgment, but on the other hand to you, kindness of God, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be in the future cut out! (11:22) (Couch, Greek Translation)

The Greek word kindness (chrastotes) is related to the word grace. Unrelenting judgment is the Greek word apotomian. The word implies severity, sharpness, cutting. In judgment, God will slash away at the Gentiles who are rejecting the gospel. This certainly has overtones of the meaning behind the words tribulation, wrath.

The apostle had no idea of God’s timetable for the Gentiles, but this verse clearly implies that the age of grace for the world will someday end. The Gentiles will be judged and rejected by the Lord, though salvation is always available even during the time of the seven year tribulation. (God is always gracious though the dispensation [PERIOD] of grace itself will end.) Because of apostasy the church dispensation (PERIOD) will end with the rapture and God will bring about a cleansing work on Israel. At the close of the seven year tribulation, Israel will be fully restored in her glory and Christ will return to reign in Jerusalem for 1000 years!

And then, if they should not remain in unbelief, they will in the future be engrafted for the God is powerful to engraft them again. (11:23) (Couch, Greek Translation)

The great Greek word specialist and dispensationalist Vine notes on this verse: "The point here is that the rejection of the Jews is not irrevocable." (p. 409) This is another verse that is virtually a guarantee of what the Lord will do in the future. The Jews will be engrafted again into the root of blessing from which, as a nation, they were removed. God is not through with the Jews! The engrafting will be a sovereign work of the Lord by His power (dunamis).

For if you were cut out from the natural wild olive (tree), and were engrafted against nature into a cultivated olive (tree), how much more shall these who are the natural (branches) be engrafted into their own olive (tree)? (11:24) (Couch, Greek Translation)
On this verse Nicoll writes: "Paul believes in his logic, and has probably in view in the words now writes that actual restoration of the Jews of which he now proceeds to speak." (p. 682)

In our lifetime we have witnessed the restoration of the Jews, though in unbelief, back to their Promised Land. This is in preparation of their coming alive spiritually with the Holy Spirit placed within their hearts. They will embrace their own Savior and Messiah, the Lord Jesus! But before it all falls into place, the church will be removed from the earth, and the terrible seven year tribulation will act as a purge on the world and on the Jewish nation. Yet, without a doubt, these prophesied events are not far off. Kac in his great volume The Rebirth of the State of Israel writes:

If this present restoration (since 1948) is preparatory to Israel’s final and complete redemption—and all signs point in that direction—it will issue forth in the transformation of the kingdoms of the earth into the Kingdom of God. This is the teaching of the whole Bible—Old and New Testament. In the New Testament this even is associated with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). (p. 375)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Romans 11:7-12 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 11:7-12

Though Israel stumbled over Christ, a Restoration of the Nation is Certain

There is no question that Paul’s generation of Jews, as a whole, rejected Christ. However they are to be restored. A future fulfillment is guaranteed and promised. That Gentiles are now being saved through the Jewish Old Testament promises, is only making the Jews angry! But one day they will see the light! The Jews had forgotten Genesis 12:3: Through you (Abraham) I will bless all nations!"

What then, that which Israel is seeking, it did not hit upon, but the outcalled ones hit upon (it), and the remaining ones were hardened! (11:7) (Couch, Greek Translation)


Some of the Jews found the truth but the rest, the remaining ones (the left over ones, hoi loipoi), were rejected and hardened by God. Hardened is the Aorist Passive of poroo. The word is used to describe hardened skin, a callus. It means to lose the power of understanding. It can mean the mind has been blunted, dulled, or, the hardening of the heart, stubbornness. Since it is a Passive Voice it means the action is coming from outside, from God. He is the one who has hardened the hearts of the Jews so that they may be judged! There is a judicial blindness that has fallen temporarily upon the people of Israel, yet they are to be restored as a nation, a theocracy established soon in the future!

But as it has been written, the God has given to them a spirit of sleep and an eye to not see and an ear to not hear even to this very day! (11:8) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:8 This substantiates the verse above. God has brought a judgment down upon the Jews!

With "it has been written" Paul uses what is called a Perfect Tense. The action starts in the past and comes right up to the present. What God said in the past (in Deut. 19:4; Isa. 29:10; 6:9) has come all the way up to the present time and, in a sense, is now being fulfilled. A "spirit of stupor" could better imply going to sleep. The spirit is pulled down as if asleep or as if the person is drunk. The word "sleep" has the thought that the spirit has been pricked or stuck. It has lost its sensation, dulled by incitement into apathy, as if one is sound asleep! The majority of Jews at that time could in no way comprehend the gospel message.

Nicoll adds: "The ‘spirit of sleep’ is defined by what follows—unseeing eyes, unhearing ears; a spirit which produces a condition of insensibility, to which every appeal is vain. … Who sends this spirit of stupor? It is God! He does not send it arbitrarily nor at random; it is always a judgment." (p. 677)

And David is saying, let their table become into a snare and into a trap, and into a stumbling block and into a retribution to them. (11:9) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:9 The table represents the abundance of plenty found at a banquet meal. The blessings to the Jews have become a snare and a trap. God’s goodness has become a stumbling block and a retribution. The word means something paid back, a requital, something returned, a vengeance. In the bad sense it is only used here by the apostle Paul. For the Jews there is a pay-back judgment for rejecting God’s goodness, and especially His provision for salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul is quoting Psalm 69:23.

Let their eyes be darkened and to not see and let their back (be) together bent always (11:10) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:10 The Psalm 69:23 quotation continues. This Psalm is an amazing prophecy of Israel’s rejection of Christ. It foreshadows His death on the cross. The notes of the Scofield Reference Bible add:

Christ’s rejection and humiliation are mentioned in verses 4, 7-8, 10-12, with verses 14-20 describing the suffering of His soul in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-45). Verse 21 is a direct reference to the cross (Matt. 27:34, 48; John 19:28-30). The imprecation or judgment section is found in verses 22-28 which is connected to Romans 11:9-10. Israel’s present blindness is prophesied in verse 25.
On Psalm 69 Unger writes: "The psalm is about the sufferings of the suffering One, the rejected Messiah-Savior, at His first advent, as the numerous quotations and references to it in the New Testament amply attest, demonstrating it to be a great Messianic psalm."

The "back bent" is often used as an expression of a slave carrying a heavy load or burden. The Law will weigh the stubborn Jews down but too, they will suffer the penalty of their rejection through the present dispensation (PERIOD) of grace. Persecution and rejection among the nations will follow the scattered Jews far and wide! Some translations cite always (pantos) as forever but this is a bad way of explaining the word from the root pas. It is better translated by all means, in every way, certainly, altogether. The Jews will not remain in this humiliated position "forever." They are to be redeemed soon and rescued by the return of the Lord Jesus as their promised King!

I am saying then, they did not stumble [merely] to fall? May it never be! But in contrast, by their transgressions the salvation [came] to the Gentile into the anger of them! (11:11) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:11 T. Robertson says that we need to add the word "merely" to the passage. Did the Jews stumble "merely that they might fall"? The implication is that their stumbling is but temporary and that they will rise again as a believing nation!

Even allegorist and amillennialist Nicoll sees the light on this passage. Their fall is not to be permanent. He writes "This stumbling of the Jews is not to be interpreted in the sense of a final fall. A recovery is in prospect." (Nicoll, p. 679) Hodge adds: "Paul shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away." (Commentary, p. 362) This does not sound like REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY to me!

Vine concurs: The word "fall" denotes a moral fall as in 5:15. "Neither is the rejection of Israel total nor is it final. … There will be a recovery of divine favor." (Vine, p. 407) Kroll concludes: "Thus Paul begins to lay the groundwork for the proof that Israel’s rejection is not permanent. The Jews will be restored to God." (p. 179)

Now if their transgressions [became] riches for [the] world and the failure of them riches for [the] Gentiles, how much more the fulfillment of them [be]! (11:12) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:12 The old scholar Alford gets it though Hank does not! Alford writes about this verse that the word "fulfillment" (plaroma) carries the idea of enrichment, completion, re-exaltation. (p. 428) "How much more their full (restored) number! If so few Jews can do so much for the Gentile world, what will not the whole number do? … If then the disgrace of Israel has had such a blessing accompaniment, how much more blessed shall Israel’s honor bring with it, when His own people shall once more be set as a praise in the midst of the earth, and the glory of the nations." (pp. 428-29)

End of argument! Sorry, Hank, you missed it!
11:7 Since it is a fact that God did not push Israel away, as with His hand in their face (see v. 1), what then happened to them? The outcalled ones (the elect) obtained (or actually in the Greek), hit upon the truth. This word (epitugkano, Aorist Tense) is only used by Paul here. Seeking is the Present Tense of epizateo and is an unusual word. It may be translated as meditating on, reasoning about, seeking in order to find, striving for. With the epi at the front of the word it takes the idea of to intently strive for. But the Jews sought God’s blessings and approval by their own efforts and not by His mercy and grace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Romans 11:1-6 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 11:1-6

God’s Covenant Promises with Israel are still valid

While God now is mainly working with the Gentiles, He is not through with the Jews! His covenant promises remain and will have ultimate fulfillment. Presently, however, during this dispensation (PERIOD) of grace, there is a remnant now coming to Christ and receiving personal salvation. National salvation is yet to take place. To make his point Paul uses in this chapter nine Future Tenses and forty Aorist Tenses. What he says here is distinct, definite, and certain to come about in time!

Romans 11:1-6 A Jewish Remnant is being saved according to Grace

The Lord has not permanently and forever discarded the Jewish people. They are not replaced by the church. God "foreknew" them in an intimate and personal spiritual way. And though they as a whole have grown arrogant, the Lord still has a remnant "according to God’s gracious election."

I am saying then, the God did not Himself reject the people (His)? May it never be! For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, tribe of Benjamin. (11:1) (Couch, Greek Translation)

11:1 The apostle continues his discussions about Israel using the Present Tense with "I am saying." He wants to make sure his audience understands that these issues are pertinent to the present. They are not facts that touched only on the past. It is presently certain in Paul’s mind that God has not rejected His own earthly people though they are now in unbelief.

The then is oun in Greek and here has the force of however. (D&M, p. 258) The apostle Paul sees this verse as a contrasting thought. Though Israel has been unfaithful, yet (however) God is still not finished with them. His promises in the Old Testament will be brought to pass.

The God did not Himself reject the people (His) whom He foreknew (in an intimate way). Do you not know what the Scripture is saying concerning Elijah, how he is engaged in accusation with the God concerning the Israel? (11:2) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:2 The concerning Elijah ties the story of that prophet closely with the events that were taking place in his day. This is called "The Instrumental of Association." (D&M, p. 90) During the lifetime of Elijah, when Ahab and his wife Jezebel were in power, it seemed as if none of the Jews were trusting God. It appeared as if all the Jews were apostate. Elijah cried out, "The sons of Israel have forsaken Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away" (1 Kings 19:10). The Lord replied, "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him" (v. 18).

Paul draws on the Scripture to get his point across. The Word of God is authoritative and it alone gives the full story as to what was happening in Elijah’s day. The story is applicable now. Not all the Jews have become apostate. Even now during the dispensation (PERIOD) not all have forsaken the truth!

Lord, they killed the prophets (of You), Your altars they tore down, and I am left alone, and they are seeking the life of me. (11:3) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:3 The slaying of a group of Old Testaments prophets by Ahab is mentioned in 1 Kings 19:1. Elijah then fled from the wrath of Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, when she threatened his life (vv. 2-3). In fear, he begged for the Lord to take him home (v. 4). "It is enough now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." Nevertheless, Elijah was zealous for the Lord and desired to serve Him. He then mentions the death of the prophets and the destruction of the altars that were for the purpose of worshipping God (vv. 10, 14). Paul’s point in quoting this incident is that Elijah said that "he was left alone" (v. 10), and of course this was not true. So even now, there is a remnant of Jews who come to Christ for salvation. God continues to work with Israel but also will restore to them the promised theocracy, with Christ reigning in Jerusalem!
But what is saying to him the divine statement? I have received down for Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal! (11:4) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:4 God made it clear that seven thousand Jews had not bowed the knees to Baal nor had they kissed the idol representing him (v. 18).
Yet likewise also in the now time there has come to be a remnant according to the gracious outcalling! (11:5) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:5 The word remnant (limma) is only used here in the New Testament. When a word so technical is used only once the word is considered very important and significant. We get a better fix on the meaning as it is used in Classical Greek. There it can be translated residue, remains. It is used in music to describe an interval, something left over. In medicine it was used to describe an intermission in fever, or a deficiency.

In other words, what is now happening with the Jews is but temporary, transitional. There is something missing but a restoration is implied. And what is taking place is not the real or final purpose meant for them. The present Jews coming to Christ constitute a left-over with something else yet on the horizon.

In 11:7 Paul will use another word for remnant (loipos) but only once in the contextual meaning of the Jews. Surprisingly, John the apostle uses the word in the same way to describe the remnant of the Jews being pursued by Satan in the tribulation. He writes, "And the dragon was enraged with the woman (Israel), and went off to make war with the rest (the remnant, loipos) of her (Israel’s) offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17). This is the devil’s last attempt to subvert God’s plans for the Jewish people. Satan would like to destroy every last Jew because they are living symbols that the Lord is going to restore the nation under the leadership of Jesus the Messiah who returns from glory!

The out calling is divine election. God must by His providence save all by this miraculous calling that brings one to Christ. Outcalling is a compound Greek word (eklogee) with ek=out and logee=word, or summon out with a word. This is a word synonymous with ekklatos or outcalling. The Lord uses eklogee when describing Paul’s salvation. "He is a chosen vessel unto Me" (Acts 9:15). It is to be translated chosen or election in all of the other verses where it is used (Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10).

But if by grace, it is no longer out of works, otherwise the grace is no longer grace! (11:6) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:6 The Greek conjunction epei translated otherwise, is in a rare use here. Its significance is "else, otherwise," with a causal sense. (D&M, pp. 247-48) Grace comes about by the graciousness of God and it can in no way be based on works!

Paul wants the point made that the Jews are not presently blessed by good works but by the grace of God that comes through trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Jews and Gentiles are presently saved only by faith in Him!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Romans 10:14-21

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 10:14-21

God Provides the Blessing of Salvation for All

In these verses Paul expands on his argument to show that the Lord always had in mind reaching the Gentiles who were not part of the people of the Jewish people who are the children of Abraham, and who have given to them directly the covenant promises. The nations, or Gentiles, would be blessed through what God was going to do with Abraham, i.e. the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3). "Through you I will bless all the families of the earth." The apostle also discusses salvation from the human level, in that God would use the messenger, a man sent with the gospel, to reach the pagan world.

How shall they call upon [Him] into whom they believed not? Or, how shall they believe in whom they heard? And how shall they hear without one who is proclaiming? (10:14) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:14 Paul now comes down to the human level and shows that, in God’s providence, He uses human instruments to reach men for Christ. God is the Author of history and He moves men, opens and closes doors, as He sees fit!

And how should they proclaim if they were not sent forth? Just as it has been written, How beautiful the feet of the ones good-messaging of good things? (10:15) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:15 In biblical days the feet were the ugliest parts of the body. People had dirty, rough, cut and callused feet because their feet were exposed to the elements. And, they wore open sandals as they traveled on rocky, filthy roads. But Isaiah takes another view about the feet of the messenger of the gospel truth! It is as if these feet are beautiful (horaios). The Greek word can be translated "with the vigor of life, young looking, well formed." The physical-ness of the feet are ignored but the purpose of these feet are seen by the spiritual message they bring to those in darkness!

The word "good-message" is actually the word "gospel." It is a compound word: eu=good, angelizomai=message. And it is used here as a Participle: "The ones who are continually bearing the good message."

Paul is actually quoting a premillennial verse from Isaiah 52:7. In verse 6 the Lord says "My people that know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’" That is the day that the nation of Israel as a whole will return to God and seek His face again. Paul uses the passage as a principle of how the truth is moved—through human agency.

But on the contrary, they did not all obey the gospel. For Isaiah is saying, Lord, who believed the report of us? (10:16) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:16 Now Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1. The covenant people come through Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-the Twelve Tribes. They have all the promises made to them. But this does not mean every one of the covenant people will personally believe in the Lord.

But on the contrary is a strong adversative conjunction alla (D&M, p. 240). It is used three times in this section of verses (vv. 16, 18, 19). Alla is always emphatic and can be used, as I use it here, as a "contrary" or as an "exception." "Report" is the Greek word akoe. It is related to the word "to hear" (akouo) and refers to a message verbally delivered.

The great amillennial commentator Alford falls into his allegorical trap but then comes out on the side of premillennialists. He writes: "The persons meant in this verse are as yet kept indefinite." But I ask, how can that be? Paul is clearly quoting from Isaiah 53 about the Jewish people! However Alford recovers and adds: "But evidently the Apostle has in his mind the unbelieving Jews, about whom his main discourse is employed."

Thank you Dr. Alford!

For the faith [comes] out of hearing, and the hearing because of the utterance concerning Christ. (10:17) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:17 The word "For" is the Greek word ara and is called a postpositive conjunction. This means that the word introduces a conclusive statement. It makes a summary. Again Paul’s point is to show how God has sent forth human instruments, men who carry the "utterance" (ramatos) about Christ. Thayer defines the word ramatos: "That which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken." It can even mean "doctrinal instruction." One could then say people need to hear the doctrinal instruction about Christ!

But on the contrary, I am saying, they heard not. Have they? [Yes] they have: into the earth the voice of them went out and into the ends of the [inhabited] earth, their utterances. (10:18) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:18 Paul now quotes Psalm 19:4. For "voice" he uses the musical word phthogos that means a musical sound. Psalm 19 is about the heavens declaring the glory of God. The expanse, the stars and galaxies are His handy work and proclaim His greatness. There are several ways to take Paul’s quoting of this passage about God and His creation:

(1) He could be saying that by "natural theology" God has sent forth His "good news" to the world, whether everyone has heard about Christ or not. This is similar to what he says in Romans 1. (2) He could also be saying, in so many words, that the gospel of Christ is kind of embedded in natural revelation. Humanity cannot deny God’s handiwork nor can people deny the gospel. (3) Finally, he could simply be making a parallel of natural revelation with the fact that the gospel of Christ is now going around the world so that all may hear its message.

But on the contrary, I am saying, did not Israel (distinctly) know? First, Moses is saying, I will make jealous you by [that which is] not a nation, by a nation without knowledge I will anger you. (10:19) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:19 "(distinctly) know" is an Aorist Tense of the verb ginosko. I translate it with the word distinctly because of the Aorist. Paul’s point is that the Jews were not in the dark, and never were, on this issue of hearing God’s truth. The Jews were not ignorant or innocent. The Jews were aware from the Scriptures of God’s intention with regard to themselves and the Gentiles. (Alford, p. 422)

The verbal phrase parazeloo is a compound of para=alongside, zaloo=jealous. The word carries the idea of "to provoke to jealousy or anger." I believe we have made a mistake by translating this word "jealous," rather than anger. The fact that God had begun to work with the Gentiles made the Jews furious. Alford agrees. He writes, "God be receiving into His favor a "no-nation" (Gentiles) to make [the Jews] jealous, and provokes them to anger." (Alford, p. 423)

Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 32:15-25 where God is prophesying the apostasy of the Jews and a judgment that will then fall upon them. There Moses wrote that his people "forsook God who made him (Israel), and scorned the Rock of his salvation" (v. 15), and, "forgot the God who gave you birth" (v. 18). Then the Lord adds:

They have made Me jealous with what is not God, they have provoked Me to anger with their idols, so I will make them jealous with those who are not a people, I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (v. 21).
Paul uses nation in the singular. He has no specific country or nation in view. It is a broad description in general of the pagan Gentiles, as a collective, whom God is now reaching with the gospel!

For Isaiah is bold and is saying, found Me by the ones not seeking. I "became found" to the ones not asking for Me! (10:20) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:20 The apostle continues to build his case and now quotes Isaiah 42:6-7. The prediction from Isaiah the prophet is that Israel will stop seeking God but the Lord will then turn to those not seeking—the Gentile nations.

The expression became found is the Greek word eurisko. It is the common word "to seek." It is an Aorist Passive Indicative. By God’s sovereign work with the Gentiles in this dispensation (PERIOD) of Grace, a new work was begun in reaching those who wallowed in lost-ness and unbelief! The cause of this "finding" was not a self-generated searching; it was by design and carried out by the Lord’s sovereign work of predestination and election! Innately the Gentiles never asked for God! "There is none who seeks for God. … There is not even one!" (Rom. 3:10-12). This is a key component of the doctrine of TOTAL DEPRAVITY!

But toward Israel I am saying, all the day I put forth the hands of Me to a people disobedient and obstinate. (10:21) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:21 God, for a PERIOD (during this dispensation of Grace), has ceased working with the nation of Israel in the larger sense. This does not stop His future working again with them to bring them into the promised kingdom blessings. For now, Israel is set aside. We are in the PERIOD of the postponement, though many Jews, a remnant, is coming to Christ and added to the church. But the distinct theocratic work with the nation of Israel will again resume. The Lord will touch the hearts of His people and restore them to their promised Land. They will enter by faith. This is made clear by the prophet Ezekiel. He writes:

I will vindicate My holiness. I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will cause you to come out of your graves, My people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it, declares the Lord. (Ezek. 36-37)
How blind of the Reformed allegorists, amillennialists, and preterists, to deny these clear passages! One allegorist, Ellicott, caved in and had to be honest about the above verses. In a weak moment he became a dispensationalist/premillennialist and admitted: "The promise of earthly restoration must yet be made, and must in due time be literally fulfilled." (Ellicott, p. 305) It is too bad that most Reformed guys remain in darkness and deny the plain meaning of the Word of God!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Romans 10:1-13 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 10:1-13

Dispensation (PERIOD) OF Grace—Salvation available to all

In this section the apostle Paul shows that the Jews sought God’s righteousness by law-keeping and not by faith. But for now, the Lord is mainly reaching and calling the Gentiles to salvation. They are coming to Christ by faith and not by works. In Isaiah 11:28 it was prophesied that all can come to God by faith alone. The Law was never given as a way of salvation but as a goad to drive sinners to seek God’s mercy and grace. The object of that belief now is Israel’s Messiah!

Brothers, the blessing of my heart, and the prayer toward the God, concerning them (the Jews), [is] towards salvation. (10:1) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:1 The word "blessing" is a compound (eudokia) from eu=good, and dokia=thinking. Thus: to think good toward. It usually is translated "blessing" but why the NAS translated it "desire" I am not sure! Heart (kardia) has to do with the affections, the emotions. Paul wants his emotions "moved," "blessed" by the salvation of his Jewish brothers. Alford translates "blessing of the heart" as "the inclination of the heart," signifying "the motion of desire." Paul continues his "prayer" (deasis) or "petition" to God that He would open their eyes to accept their own Messiah and King as their Savior!

God is not presently working with the Jews under the dispensation (PERIOD) of a theocracy, or of the Law, as in the Old Testament, but now the gospel of personal encompasses by Jew and Gentile. Someday, the Lord will again work in the future Kingdom PERIOD with the Jews as the central people of history. For now, we are in the PERIOD of Grace!
For I am testifying to them that they a zeal for God they are having, but [in contrast], not according to knowledge. (10:2) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:2 "For" (gar) leads us to an explanation in Paul’s thinking. He now shows the reason and the "whys" he has sympathy for the efforts of the Jews, for salvation, thought that effort is misdirected! "Having" is a Present Indicative of the verb echo. One cannot disclaim the enthusiasm Israel has for the Lord. They posses a zeal (enthusiasm) for Him but they fail to come to Him by His prescribed method—by faith.

"Knowledge" is the word epignosin. Thayer translates the word as "precise, correct knowledge." Alford adds: "accurate apprehension of the way of righteousness as revealed to them." They are aiming in the right direction but they keep missing the target!
For being unaware of the righteousness of God, and being zealous to establish their own, they have not submitted [under attached] [themselves] to the righteousness of God. (10:3) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:3 The word "unaware" (agnoeo) is a compound word with the a=negative, and gnoeo=related to knowledge. We must be careful because the apostle is not saying they really want the truth but just seem to keep missing it be accident! The Jews are un-excusable because they have traveled down a path of salvation that is clearly marked as wrong! Paul would probably add that they had the truth before but now are choosing to ignore and overlook it!

"Submitted" (upotasso) is a compound word: upo=under, tasso=to attach. It is an Aorist Passive in form and can be translated: "They have not been attached-under God’s righteousness." "To establish" is the Greek word histami with the idea of "to set, place in order." The Jews had reached a stage of arrogance in which they thought they did not need God’s provision for redemption. They could make it on their own!
For the end of the law—Christ—into righteousness to all the ones believing (10:4) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:4 The "end" (telos) means: Christ is the object at which the law is aimed. Christ is the termination of the law. Some say: Christ, who had succeeded in keeping the law, was also the object and aim of the law. But this may not be the meaning of Paul here.

By writing "to all the ones believing" the apostle Paul now opens wide the door for the Gentiles. Works and law keeping could not bring about righteousness. If the Jews had only used the law rather than abuse it, they would have embraced the advent of Christ as their Savior! Alford points out that the law was never intended as a way of salvation, it was powerless to justify. The law rather was meant to impart to the sinner a knowledge of his sinfulness, and to awaken in his heart earnest longings for some powerful deliverer! If they Jews would have looked more closely at their sinfulness, as amplified by the law, they would have quickly embraced the saving grace of Christ!

"All the ones believing" is a Present Participle and vividly pictures a sea of those who are coming to Christ by believing. It is an ongoing surge of a great host of people who today, tomorrow, and the next day, keep on coming to the Lord for salvation!

The into (eis) is a Preposition of Reference (D&M, p. 103). "With reference to righteousness."

For Moses writing—that the man who does the righteousness out of the Law shall himself live in them. (10:5) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:5 Again, the apostle uses the Present Tense with the word "writing." What Moses wrote is still applicable to the argument presently. Paul is quoting Leviticus 18:5 where Moses puts the Jews on notice. If they desire to keep the law they must live out the laws in their life. But this is not what the Jews were doing by the time of Christ and Paul. The law was kept only in a sloppy way, yet the Jews were pretending that what they did was enough to secure their salvation.

Paul is creating or presupposing a hypothetical argument. If one is going to claim law-keeping for salvation then they had better get with it and follow through! The apostle uses a Future Middle Indicative of the verb "to live," zao. "He himself had better start performing and living perfectly the law if he hopes to be saved by it!" Or, as Alford puts it, "He must live in the strength of it, by means of, as his status, accruing from it righteousness." However because of the weakness of the flesh this is impossible!
For the righteousness out of faith likewise is saying, Do not say in your heart, who will himself go up into the heaven? (This is to be bringing Christ down), or, who himself will go down into the abyss? (This is to bring Christ up from the dead ones) (10:6-7) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:6-7 This at first seems to be a complicated argument of the apostle taken from Deuteronomy 30:11-14. But after looking after it carefully, it is not! The point of the passage, beginning in verse 11, is to ask the question: "Is God’s commandment from His law "too difficult for you, or is it out of reach?" The argument continues in verses 12-13: "Must we go up to heaven in order to get God’s laws and to be able to hear them?" Or, "Is God’s laws beyond the sea where we have to go in order to hear them and serve Him?" No. His word "is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it."

Paul applies these principles found here in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to the issue of trusting in Christ. To trust Him is not a complicated issue. It is not a secretive process. He is near and all one has to do is simply trust Him!

Thus, as Alford notes, "Justification by faith in Christ is a plain and intelligible doctrine. It is not shut up in mysterious language. It is like what Moses says of the statutes which he gave to Israel, plain, intelligible, accessible. It is brought before the mind and heart of every man." (pp. 418-19)

What is so interesting about these verses (10:6-7), and Paul’s quoting of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, is that the apostle is really trying to show the Jews how simple and basic it is to trust Christ as their Savior. The Deuteronomy 30 passage is trying to tell Israel how fundamental and fulfilling it is to hear the law and understand its message. Paul then quotes Deuteronomy 30 and applies its principle to the simplicity of just trusting in Christ as Savior, as over against trying to keep the law!

But in contrast, what is [it] saying? Near is the utterance in the mouth of you and in the heart of you. This is the utterance of faith which we are proclaiming, … (10:8) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:8 This verse, and verse 9, has often been misunderstood. To understand Paul’s point one has to go back to the Deuteronomy 30:10-14 passage. Moses is saying that there is a close connection, not separateness, with what is in the heart and soul, and what comes out of the mouth. The mouth reflects what is in the heart. The law written in a scroll (v. 10) is available and one must turn to the Lord God "with all your heart and soul." Then what one hears and observes (v. 14) is tied together "in your mouth and in your heart."

Some falsely have thought Moses, and now Paul, is arguing for a "two-step" in salvation. You must (1) believe and then (2) verbalize your faith or you are not saved. But this is not Moses’ point about law-keeping nor is it Paul’s point about being saved.

that if you should be confessing in the mouth of you [the] Lord Jesus, and if you should be believing in the heart of you, that the God raised Him out from the dead ones, you shall be saved! For with the heart it is being believed into righteousness and with the mouth being confessed into salvation. (10:9-10) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:9-10 The grammar of these two verses makes my point. Both the confessing and the believing are Aorist Subjunctives but they are controlled by only one "if" which is the Particle ean. This means the "confessing" and the "believing" are not separated, they are tied together grammatically. The "you shall be saved" works off of the two verbs (confessing, believing) together. One could almost translate the passage, "If one is confessing, that is, believing, he shall be saved!"

The same can be said of verse 10. One Particle (for, gar) controls "with the heart/with the mouth." T. Robertson, the great Greek scholar, gets the point that I saw many years ago in my study of Romans. This passage is really a passage that is tremendously applicable to the Jews. And the key issue is the word Lord (Kurios). When one says "Lord Jesus Christ," the "Lord" issue comes from Psalm 110:1. This is an expression of deity and one of the designations of God Himself. For a Jew to believe in Christ’s resurrection, in a sense, is not enough. He then cannot deny the issue of the deity of Jesus. He must accept the fact that Christ is the Son of God (Psa. 2). His confessing this fact is something that was extremely important for the Jews. The Gentiles coming to the Lord for salvation did not argue this point, but the Jews might. Amillennialist A. T. Robertson sees the light about the Jews and states in his Word Studies:

Concerning confession of Jesus as Lord, no Jew would do this who had not really trusted Christ, for Kurios in the LXX is used of God. No Gentile would do it who had not ceased worshipping the emperior as Kurios. The word Kurios is the touchstone of faith. (p. 389)
Amillennialist Charles Hodge also comes close to agreeing with us dispensationalists and premillennialists—he sees the light when he writes:

This confession, therefore, includes in it an acknowledgement of Christ’s universal sovereignty, and a sincere recognition of his authority over us [as Israel’s Lord, Psa. 110:1]. To confess Christ as Lord, is to acknowledge him as [Israel’s] Messiah, recognized as such of God, and invested with all the power and prerogatives of that office. (Romans, p. 341)
For the Scripture is saying, each the one believing upon Him will not be disgraced! (10:11) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:11 Again, from Isaiah 28:16, Paul is using the Present Tense for "the Scripture is right now, presently saying." Its message is applied to us today. The word "disgraced" is the better translation of "disappointed." See Romans 9:13.

This verse makes it clear that the "confession" of him with the mouth is paramount to the believing. It is the believing specifically that saves!

Notice again the context of Isaiah 28:16: It is about the Jews accepting the Messiah, the rock of stumbling. They must believe in Him in order to not be disappointed. All of these verses have as the primary reference point the nation of Israel. It is always implied in Scripture that belief in Him is always to the Gentiles equally so!
For there is no distinction of Jew and Hellenist, for the same Lord [is] of all, rich into all the ones calling upon Him. (10:12) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:12 In this verse Paul says just what I said in the last sentence above. We are now in the Age (PERIOD, DISPENSATION) of Grace and God is not now working with Israel as a kingdom and theocracy, with the key city Jerusalem, from which the Messiah will reign worldwide. We are now in the PERIOD of the church, but this will end with the rapture of all believers just before the coming of the terrible Day of the Lord, the time of the Wrath! The earthly kingdom has been postponed but it is soon coming back on line when the Messiah comes dramatically from heaven following that gruesome and horrible seven year time of tribulation.

For whoever is calling upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (10:13) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:13 This is another "Jewish verse" though appropriate for the salvation of the Gentiles. Kroll writes:

Paul restates his belief that the gospel is offered to all by quoting the prophet Joel (Joel 2:32). The expression "call upon the name of the Lord" is a common Old Testament expression of worship to God (cf. Gen. 4:26; 12:8; 1 Kings 18:24; Psa. 79:6; Isa. 64:7). (Romans, Kroll, p. 169)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Romans 9:25-33 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 9:25-33

How the Jews came to disbelieve

Some Jews and Gentiles will be saved

During the time of Christ and Paul, a large number of Jews thought they were saved because they were Jews, or because they were Law-keepers! This of course was not true. In all dispensations one is saved only by faith in what God has revealed. This is clear from Genesis 15:6. Abraham was declared as righteous by believing what God had told him. Paul will use that story as the great example of salvation by faith alone. The new object now is of course Christ. One must believe in the fact that He died for our sins, and, our faith in Him must be personal!

Paul will argue here that though the covenant comes down from Abraham-Isaac-Jacob, the Jews in this line must still have a personal trust. But this same principle of trust is applied to the Gentiles who are saved. However Paul will discuss mainly in this chapter what caused Israel to disbelieve in Christ.

As also in the Hosea He is now saying, ‘I will call [the ones] not My people, My people, and the not-beloved, beloved!’ (9:25) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Wrongly so, this is often used by the allegorical, covenant guys to say that the passage is about the Gentiles, but in reality, in the context of Hosea, the verse is about the Jewish people who are His people in the covenant sense but not in the "believing" sense. In Hosea 2:14-23, the prophet is seeing Israel in her idolatry as the unfaithful wife. Yet in the future, He will betroth her to Himself forever (v. 19) and will betroth her to Himself "in faithfulness" (v. 20). God "will sow her for Myself in the land" and have compassion on her (v. 23). (Notice, "In the land") And then the Jews who were not relating to the Lord by faith, "who were not His people," will truly be "His people by faith." This would be a messianic/kingdom passage!

When Paul writes that God is "now saying" these words in Hosea, he means that what the Lord said in the past is still applicable today. But then the passage from Hosea 2:23 has the future tense: "I will call …" From the vantage point of Hosea this spiritual restoration is future and has in view the kingdom blessings for Israel. Many of the Jews will see the light and come to Christ as their Savior and their King!

When Paul writes that they will in the future be called "the beloved," he uses a Perfect Passive Participle of the verb agapao. The Perfect Passive means that He has always in the past seen Israel as the "beloved ones," though they were not responding to Him as such. In that sense they were "not beloved." The Perfect Tense action starts in the past and comes down to a certain point in the future with the establishment of the kingdom. God’s love will culminate at a point in the future when they are restored! The Passive Voice means that the action of loving the Jews comes from outside of themselves, that is, it is bestowed upon them again by the Lord by His divine, sovereign election!

Notice that there is an article after the name of the prophet Hosea (the Hosea)! The prophetic books carried a great spiritual authority. They were seen as proclamations from God and should be specifically honored as books that are very special.

Notice how the foolish allegorists and preterists, like Ellicott, torture and destroy what the Word of God is teaching. On this verse he writes:

The original of the prophecy in Hosea relates to the pardon and reconciliation promised to the apostate and idolatrous people of the northern kingdom. It is here typically and prophetically applied to the Gentiles. (p. 243)

How can Ellicott write this!

And it shall be in the place where it was said to them, you are not My people, there they will be called sons of the God-Living! (9:26) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Paul continues his discussion of how God in the future will draw a remnant of the Jewish people back to Himself for the kingdom. The apostle is quoting from Hosea 1:10-11. Though it was said of the Jews that they had departed from the Lord in their lack of faith, at that one point in the future when they "are not My people" (v. 10), "It will be said of them, ‘You are the sons of the living God’" (v. 11). We know this is a kingdom passage because the Lord says in Hosea 1:11 that He will "gather together" the "sons of Judah and the sons of Israel." This ties in with Jeremiah 30:3 where the Lord says "I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah. The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’"

How can the covenant allegorists and preterist guys be so foolish as to deny the obvious! It is clear that one of the key components of the Abrahamic covenant is the promise of the "Land of Israel" in perpetuity!

Notice how Ellicott remains in his blindness with his allegorical, amillennial, and preterist thinking when he further writes on this verse 26:

This too, was originally spoken of the restoration of the northern exiles to the land of Palestine. As applied to the conversion of the Gentiles, it would mean that the lands which had previously been heathen should now become Christian. (Ibid.)

How could Ellicott so destroy a passage of Scripture like this? He destroyed the context and the intent of the verses by his faulty allegorism!

And Isaiah is crying concerning Israel, though the number of the sons of Israel [should be presently] as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved! (9:27) (Couch, Greek Translation)
The "sons of Israel" are the Jews through the line of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-the Twelve Tribes! These sons do not allegorically represent members of the church! Church saints are never called "sons of Israel." We are children of Abraham "by faith" only because we trusted in God through Christ. The many theocratic promises to Israel were not transferred to us because of this faith. This faith only has to do with Christ’s sacrifice in that He ratified the New covenant which has to do specifically with the issue of sin. This is how the Gentiles are saved—through Christ’s work on the cross for sinners.

Paul’s point in 9:27 is that, through Jacob (Israel) there are many children but only a "believing" remnant will be saved. Jews are not automatically given the blessings just because they are Jews—they must be believing Jews!

For a word of [the] Lord is being together finished and will be in the future cut short, [He] will accomplish [the final work] upon the earth. (9:28) (Couch, Greek Translation)
"Upon the earth" should better read "Upon the land," as the land of Israel. Paul is quoting the prophet Isaiah in his prophecy of 10:23. The verse in Isaiah has to do with God executing His judgment in the tribulation, upon the Jews in the land. Isaiah 10:20 speaks about the remnant "of the house of Jacob" (not the house of Ishmael or Esau) who will return to Zion (the Land: eratz Israel) and wholly trust in the Lord only, "the Holy One of Israel." This remnant will come through the "overflowing destruction" (v. 22) of the tribulation period. The Isaiah 10 and the Romans 9:25-29 passages show that before it is all over, God will have spared many Jews, a remnant, who will survive and will have come through a terrible period of judgment.

"Upon the land" (Heb. HaAritz) in Isaiah 10:23, with the article, is according to Dana & Mantey (p. 138) the Lord’s "field of divine operation." God will scour Israel and bring to faith those Jews who are to be saved. God will do this quickly and efficiently!

"Together finished" is a Present Participle. God is doing this work right now, presently, with Israel. But someday He will "in the future cut short" (Future Tense) this work with the nation.

And as Isaiah has foretold, if not the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a posterity, we would be as Sodom and as Gomorah. (9:29) (Couch, Greek Translation)
The Hebrew word Sabaoth means Hosts, as Armies. God is the All Powerful "General" of the armies of heaven, more than likely meaning the angelic forces of the heavenlies. He is the Sovereign who deals with His people, Israel! If His sovereign election was not in operation, none of the Jews would ever be saved. They would be destroyed as the homosexual cities of Sodom and Gomorah.

Again, the passage is to the Jewish people. Without the Lord’s sovereign calling there would not be "posterity" (Greek, sperma) left for the Jewish nation. But God is not through with the Jews. A remnant of Jews is to be spared. Notice, this "seed" of "left us," not the Gentiles but the Jews. This is a Jewish remnant Isaiah and then Paul is writing about.

What then shall we say in the future, that Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness, they found righteousness, the righteousness out of faith. (9:30) (Couch, Greek Translation)
After making his point about the remnant of Israel Paul now shifts gears, changes subject, and discusses the issue of the salvation of the Gentiles. The "what then" is an Inferential Conjunction with the force of "What then shall we say?" The verb is lego in the Future Tense. Paul is virtually saying: "Now as time goes by, and we see what God is doing, how does the issue of Israel fit with the issue of Gentile salvation?"

The apostle will then show how the Jews blew it in that they sought salvation be their pedigree, their good works, their Law-keeping! Even with the Jewish covenant people, the Lord wants their hearts, their affections, their honoring of Him, their acceptance of His salvation accomplished through Christ! The Jews then tried to get God’s righteousness put on their account by their works, not by their faith. This is why Paul works so hard to show that even father Abraham was made righteousness, justified (legally acquitted) not by any works he might do but simply by his faith in God (Gen. 15:6). Through Christ by faith, this is how the Gentiles became saved!
Yet Israel pursued a law of righteousness did not arrive into [that] law (9:31) (Couch, Greek Translation)
The Greek word phthano (pursued) is in the Aorist Tense, carrying the idea that, for most of the Jewish population by the time of Christ and Paul, the Jews were after righteousness but sought it by self-effort. The word phthano can be translated to reach for. No word can better dramatize works-salvation!
Why? Because not of faith but as out of works. They stumbled over the stone of stumbling. (9:32) (Couch, Greek Translation)
The rocky landscape of Israel is a hazard to walk over at night. It is easy to stumble on the rocks strewn about. For the Jewish people, Christ was that stumbling stone over which they tripped. This was prophesied in Isaiah 8:14-15 and 28:16, and then quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 2:8. The Jewish people could not see the significance of Christ and therefore fell over Him and were terribly bruised spiritually.

As it has been written, ‘Behold, I am placing in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of impediment, and the one who is believing upon Him will not in the future be disgraced.’ (9:33) (Couch, Greek Translation)
Has been written is another Perfect Passive from the verb grapho. The point is, what Isaiah wrote in ages past has now come down to the present when the Jewish people rejected Christ, the stone of stumbling! In other words, this prophecy was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus encountered the nation of Israel.

Trust and faith in Him is what is called for. By using a Present Active Participle Paul is saying that this belief, this faith, should continually characterize how the people of Israel should relate to their Messiah. But unfortunately the hardness of heart kept them from Him.

Be disgraced is also a Future Passive Indicative of the verb kataischuno. The verb is a compound: kata=with regard to; ischuno=repulsed, rejected. Those Jews who trust Christ will not in the future by rejected or discarded. One way the word is used is that it could mean "to bring to shame by being disfigured."

Notice that the Lord said He was placing in Zion this rock (Christ) over which the Jews would stumble. Their most compelling moment of crisis is when they rejected their Lord in their own homeland.

In chapter 10 the apostle Paul will go deeper into this issue of present belief in the Messiah for salvation. He will be discussing the dispensation (the PERIOD) of the age of Grace and the fact that now all, both Jew and Gentile, can come to personal salvation through Christ. This in no way abrogates or dissolves the issue of the dispensation of the kingdom (the PERIOD) and Israel’s special role in the future!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Romans 9:14-24 by Mal Couch

Romans 9:14-24

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Salvation is by Divine Sovereignty

By His divine providence, God is completely in charge of what happens among men on earth. He can do with both good and evil people as He pleases. The reason: He is the sovereign Potter (v. 21) who can do with the "same lump" (of sinful clay) as He wishes. God is not under compulsion to save, all though all may come to Him if they wished. However none will by themselves. There is none who seeks after God, "No not one!" (Rom. 3:11). Total Depravity is a true doctrine describing the spiritual propensity of the human species to never from within the individual to seek after the Lord!

Though Paul will use in these verses the encounter of Moses with Pharaoh to illustrate God’s sovereign work, he still is not addressing the issue of personal salvation. His context is the sovereign election of God in choosing Isaac and Jacob through whom the Abrahamic covenant blessings would pass. Paul is continuing his discussion as how God can use a nation, one group over another. He starts out this section as a continuation from the previous verses: "What shall we say then?" (v.14). Paul is attaching verse 14 to what he has just previously written!

God can elect people groups, clans, and different ones within families as He wishes! His calling of the Jews through Jacob still stands. Thus a warning to all allegorists, replacement theology folks, and Arab revisionists!

What shall we then say in the future? No unrighteousness with God [is there]? Never may it be! (9:14) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:14 The apostle projects his thoughts forward, into the future, in regard to how God may work tomorrow. He uses the future tense of the common Greek word "to say" (lego). Paul is projecting forward the principle he is about to explain in this verse and the ones to follow. God is always righteous (dikea) and what He does will never violate His justice and holiness!
For to Moses He is saying: I will in the future be merciful [with] whomever I shall be merciful [to], and I shall in the future be compassionate [with] whomever I am being compassionate [with]. (9:15) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:15 God can do with His creation as He sees fit. To prove this Paul quotes Exodus 33:19. In the context of this verse (Exod. 33:18-23), God is telling Moses that He reveals Himself, and His compassion, to whom He wishes. The larger context of Romans 9:15 is that God can do with sinful humanity as He pleases, and that includes the fact of His covenant election whereby He selected certain ones to receive the covenant blessings but not others. God’s providence selected Abraham’s children, from Isaac through Jacob, to be beneficiaries of the covenant promises. This is God’s prerogative!
So then, not the one willing, neither the one running, yet in contrast, but the God who is showing mercy. (9:16) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:16 On the bottom line, no matter what man proposes it is God who disposes! Humans cannot "will" something to be or to happen—the Lord is the One who is orchestrating grace and mercy, not people! Who is showing mercy is actually a Present Participle of the verb eleao which is better translated the One who is continually merci-izing. There is no mercy apart from God’s determination!
For the Scripture is right now saying to Pharaoh, because for this purpose, working out [with] you, so that I might demonstrate in you My power, and that My name might be demonstrated in all the earth. (9:17) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:17 Paul uses the Present Tense on the verb saying (lego) to emphasize that the Scripture, the book of Exodus in this case, is still speaking to us today. A principle is now being set forth that the Lord can demonstrate His power, for His namesake, wherever in all the earth. The verb might demonstrate is endeiknumi as an Aorist Passive/Middle Subjunctive used with the force of I Myself might bring it to pass (Theyer). The Subjunctive Mood sometimes seems to be speaking of contingency but there is a close relationship between the Subjunctive and the Future Indicative (D & M, p. 170) There is no question as to what God is doing! In His sovereign work, His power and His name are shown forth now and in the future by what He does!
So then [on] whom He wills, He "mercies," but [also on] whom He wills He hardens. (9:18) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:18 The word wills is the common word thelo. All four verbs here are in the Present Tense. God is still carrying out His purposes in every second of time. Nothing is happening by accident. He is always/presently at work in history. The verb sklaruno is a forceful and graphic word meaning "to make hard, to harden." God can take the person who is already a sinner and then harden his resolve and stubbornness so that he remains in his obstinate frame of mind and soul. The Lord does not make him a sinner—he is already one, but He can turn the sinner’s evil resolve into stubbornness that intensifies the judgment against him!
You will say then in the future to me, how yet is He finding fault, for who has been able to stand against His will? (9:19) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:19 If it is God who is at work in the inner recesses of the soul to bring about a moral and spiritual hardness, how can that person be responsible for what he does? Especially so since he cannot stand against the sovereign will of God?

O man, rather, who are you, the one who is judging against God? The thing molded cannot say to the molder, why did you make me like [this]? (9:20) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:20 The question put forth in verse 19 cannot really be answered without bringing a judgment against God. God is not the One to be judged. Human beings are sinners, not God! And since all are sinners He can dispose of this sinful race as He sees fit!

Has not the Potter power [over] the clay, out of the same lump to make, on the one hand, into an honorable vessel, or on the other hand, into dishonorable? (9:21) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:21 From the same lump of sinful clay, which is already condemned and judged, God can bring about a condemnation on some but show mercy to others. While this seems unfair it has already been established that He will be righteous, and holy, in all His actions, though from our viewpoint, He may not be fair! In this sense it is clear He does not treat all men equally. But that is the prerogative of the Potter with the clay that belongs to Him!
Hodge writes in his commentary:

All are sinners, and have forfeited every claim to his mercy; it is, therefore, the prerogative of God to spar one and not another; to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor. He, as their sovereign Creator, has the same right over them that a potter has over the clay. (p. 318)
God’s power (exousia) is absolute. The word is best understood and translated as: authority, right, lawful power, prerogative.

The key to understanding this verse is the same lump. The same lump is the sinful lump of clay described in chapters 1-3. The potter may pinch off a piece of clay and mold it as He sees fit. One pinch molds a worthless vessel while another pinch molds a vessel for His purposes, for honorable use. The potter has the right to discard and dispose of the entire lump of clay. The whole lump is polluted and spoiled!

For if the God wishing to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath fashioned (molded) for destruction? (9:22) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:22 It must be carefully observed that God "endures with patience" the vessels of wrath molder for destruction. This passage is not teaching a double predestination. The lost are most culpable of themselves. By themselves none will come to God and yet He waits for them. They cannot say "He kept us from Him!" It is the will of the lost that makes them reject God. Hodge adds:

And since for these ends it was necessary that some should be punished while others might be pardoned, as all are equally undeserving, it results from the nature of the case that the decision between the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy must be left to God. (p. 319)
Destruction is the Greek word apoleia which means to destroy, thrust away, repudiate, reject. Humanity is condemned but those He molds for salvation will be saved.
And in order that He might make known the plentitude of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He before-prepared into glory … (9:23) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:23 The vessels of destruction were not "before-prepared" for rejection. But the vessels that would become vessels "that had received mercy" were indeed "before prepared" for such glorious salvation. Election is TO salvation, but reprobation is simply the fact that the lost are left in their state of "lost-ness."

Thus also He called us not only out from the Jews but also out from the ethnon (Gentiles). (9:24) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:24 Paul here is saying that God’s calling ranges far and wide. While the covenant promises through Abraham are for the Jews with the line of Jacob, he now shows that God is presently going to reach the Gentiles "by faith" (v. 30). The Master Plan spells out from Abraham. The Gentiles are to be blessed through him as God promised all the way back in Genesis 12:3: "Through you all families of the earth shall be blessed."

In the verses that follow (9:25-33) Paul will show that, though the covenant promises come down through Jacob, those Jews who are to be blessed must still personally come to God by faith. They do not receive the blessings simply because they are Jews. Some of the covenant theologians falsely accused dispensationalists for teaching that the Jews are automatically saved by being Jewish. But no credible dispensationalist has ever said that! That is a foolish straw man argument leveled against dispensationalists in order to be argumentative!

This verse is not an abrogation of the covenant promises to the Jews. It is not replacing God’s working with Israel with a "new deal" with the church. It is not the creating of a "New Israel." But it is Paul’s way of reminding us that Genesis 12:3 is now being enacted. The nations are being blessed by what the Lord is doing with Israel.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Romans 9:6-13 by Dr. Mal Couch

Romans 9:6-13


Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Israel Divinely Chosen As A Nation

Before going on and seeing what God has planned for the Jewish people as a nation, it must be understood what He has done with them in the past. The Plan for the future, having been determined in God’s providence in the ancient past, is that God will not be dealing with all the descendants of Abraham but only through the line of Isaac. This "election" or selection of God will continue forward. It is important even for the present to determine who is a Jew in God’s eyes! The Old Testament, and now Paul here in Romans, makes it clear that the future promises and blessings given to Abraham will come through Isaac, and then through Jacob and his sons, and they are to be finally fulfilled when the kingdom is established.



But by no means yet has fallen out the Word of God. For not all of the ones out of Israel [are] Israel! (9:6) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:6 Fallen out comes from two Greek words combined, ek=out, pempo=fall. God’s Word has not collapsed and imploded on this subject. "There is not a ‘falling out’ of the Word of God!" His Word has not failed as to what He has said. Paul uses here a Perfect tense which could be translated. "The force of what God has said in the past, has come all the way up to the present." What He has said about the Jewish people in the past is still applicable, still valid for today. And, just because a Semite has roots back to Abraham does not mean he is part of the covenant promise. God has confined the Abrahamic covenant, in terms of its national promises, only to those in Isaac. God’s Plan is still valid through the line of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-the twelve tribes! This will be explained further in the next verse.



Neither yet are the seed of Abraham all the children, but [instead] "in Isaac shall be called to you seed." (9:7) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:7 God made it clear to Abraham that He was differentiating between Ishmael who was born to Hagar the Egyptian handmaiden and the true son God intended, who was born by a miracle to Sarah—Isaac! Many of the tribal peoples of the Middle East come down through Hagar and Ishmael. They are not part of the covenant promises. And these covenant promises mainly, but not exclusively, have to do with the Promised Land, over which the Messiah will someday reign.

Kroll rightly states:

God has always worked on principle of divine sovereignty. Sovereignly God made a distinction between Abraham’s descendants. "Through Isaac your descendants will be named." … One wasn’t a Jew and heir to God’s promises just because he could trace his ancestry to Abraham; only through Abraham’s son Isaac were the promises made. And even then one wasn’t a faithful Jew and heir to God’s promises just because he could trace his ancestry to Abraham through Isaac. (Romans, Kroll, p. 156)

Nicoll correctly concludes:

The words in this verse literally mean that in the line of Isaac/Abraham should have the posterity which would properly bear his name, and inherit the promises made to him by God. Isaac’s descendants are the true Abraham-ites! (p. 659)

That is, [it is] not these the children of the flesh [who] are children of God, but in contrast (alla) the children of the promise, they are logically calculated as (eis) seed. For this [is] the Word of promise, according to the season, I will come, and [it] shall be in Sarah a son." (9:8-9) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:8 The preterists and amillennialists just love to misinterpret this verse! They wrongly want to say that Paul is denying the Jewish racial issue in what he is writing. They say the apostle is trying to blur or obliterate the Jewish lineage idea out of his thinking. But this is clearly not so, if one reads the entire verse honestly!

When Paul says "not the children of the flesh" he is not denying their flesh! His point is that, while the children are still of flesh, God has sovereignly made a distinction between Hagar and Sarah, and their two sons. Sarah was beyond the point of conception by her age. He pregnancy was by a miracle of the Lord!


Why is Paul working so hard to narrowly limit the promised birth-line? Because of the issue someday as to who owns and occupies the land. He will bring this idea to a conclusion in chapter 11. It is my opinion that Paul did not fully realize there would come someday Replacement Theologians who would try to get rid of Israel, and replace it with the church. However what he says here strikes at the heart of the thinking of the preterists and the allegorical amillennialists!

T. Robertson, though an allegorist, writes like a dispensational premillennialist on this verse. He says:

The promise is not through Ishmael, but through Isaac. Only the children of the promise are ‘children of God’ in the full sense. Paul is not speaking of Christians (bold mine) here, but simply showing that the privileges of the Jews were not due to their physical descent from Abraham. (Word Pictures, p. 381)

For a brief moment of sanity, Robertson is sticking to the text and not allegorizing the passage! He is not claiming here Replacement Theology!

9:9 The apostle now quotes Genesis 18:10, 14 to show that God sovereignly discriminates as He pleases. That discrimination will go even further with the next generation and the birth of Jacob and Esau by Isaac’s wife Rebekah. God is here defining what the nation of Israel is all about. He is drawing the perimeters and determines what constitutes the nation of Israel.

While Ishmael, Hagar’s son, is not mentioned, his name is implied in the background of the passage. Again, Paul is making it clear that no one other than a seed of Sarah and Isaac has a right to the Abrahamic covenant. No later generation of Arabic peoples, many being descendants of Ishmael, can claim the Promised Land!

Yet not only [this] but also Rebekah having from conception one man, Isaac the father of us all. (9:10) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:10 Now Paul in his argument segregates Rebekah who is the wife of Isaac. Wrongly some think the apostle is discussing here the issue of the saved vs. the unsaved, but that is not what is in view. He is talking about the line of the covenant from Abraham that marks out the strand of the Jews who own the deed to the Land, and who are the covenant people. Not all the covenant Jews will be saved, but still, the Land promises belong to them. As Paul well states, for legitimate Jews, Isaac is "the father of us all."

While Paul in Galatians will say that Gentiles are children of Abraham by faith, this is not his argument here. "Who owns the covenant promises" is his argument. And the answer is not the Church but the Jews through Jacob! This discussion is about a literal, historic issue: the physical line of the Jews who are the inheritors as determined by God. Isaac was "one man" and the physical father of those who were to receive the promises.

For not yet [the twins] having been born, neither accomplished the good or worthless, in order that according to election the purpose of God might remain, not out of works but out of the calling. (9:11) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:11 While spiritual and personal election may be in view in the verse, that is not Paul’s main point in his argument. He is still showing how God’s covenant promises are working out in God’s divine history and providence. The apostle uses two words for election: The noun out-calling (ek, log-an) and the simple verb to call (used as a present participle), kaleo. Purpose in Greek is two words put together: "to before put in place." God is by His sovereign plan orchestrating history! Human beings are not. This is what the apostle means by saying "not out of works but out of the calling." The word election in both of its forms in this verse can often refer to spiritual election and predestination but here, the point is continuing in Paul’s mind that God is determining the covenant line from Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob (and not Esau).

Who inherits the covenant from father Abraham, including the eternal ownership of the Land? It is not any of the people of the Middle East unless they are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob!

It was said to her that the greater (older) shall serve the younger. (9:12) (Couch, Greek Translation)

9:12 This poignant story is told in Genesis 25:19-26. The Lord told Rebekah that there were two nations in her womb (v. 23), two peoples, and, "the older shall serve the younger" (v. 23b). Esau came forth from the womb first, but Jacob (meaning the one who supplants), grabbed his brother’s heel, signifying a propensity to be the first, or to take the lead over his older brother (v. 26). This all happened under the direction of God’s providence and sovereignty. And that is the point Paul will make from the story. Referring back to Romans 9:11, we see that the apostle makes it clear God’s work of divine election and choosing is involved. Again, the main point is about the covenant promises before the issue of personal salvation.

The Lord’s choosing of Isaac over Ishmael, and His selection of Jacob over Esau, comes down in history to us today. Who owns the title deed to the Land, and with whom is God working to re-establish the Abrahamic covenant? The covenant issue shades both Old Testament history, and the history of our times. The children of Ishmael and Esau always fought with their kin, the Jewish people who came through Isaac and Jacob. And, the animosity continues today, though God has brought the children of Isaac and Jacob back to inherit the Land. This is part of the root cause of the tension now in the Middle East.

And it has been written, the Jacob I loved but the Esau I have abhorred, detested. (9:13) (Couch, Greek Translation)
9:13 "It has been written" is a Perfect Passive Indicative from the verb grapho. This is the common way to show prophetic fulfillment or to indicate that the action of the verb comes down even to that moment! With the Perfect, the action starts in the past and comes up to the present. It could read: "It was written in the past and, what was recorded, comes all the down to today!" What God determined by choosing the younger over the elder impacts us even now, in the present. The impact of God’s determination, concerning His people through the line of Jacob (and not Esau) is still with us in the Middle East! Again, not every Jew of this line will be saved because they must individually make a personal commitment to Christ. But still, the promise of the Land comes through this line of Jacob (not Esau, nor Ishmael).

Though you cannot see it in the English, both personal nouns, Jacob and Esau, have articles in front of them. Thus: "The Jacob," and "The Esau." Both names represent the clans, the families, not simply the individuals. Paul is quoting Malachi 1:2-3. Malachi is addressing the Southern Kingdom of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The prophecy is heavy to the prophet and he writes: "The burden of the Word of the Lord" (v. 1).

On these awesome verses in Malachi the great Old Testament scholar, Dr. Merrill F. Unger, writes:

The Lord is the great Lover of His elect, covenant people, Israel (Deut. 33:3; Jer. 31:3; Hos. 11:1). "I love you above others, even above other descendants of Abraham and Isaac. I love you freely, gratuitously, on the basis of My sovereign choice of you and My covenant grace manifested to you."

Malachi 1:4 may tell us why God so hates Esau (v. 3). Esau’s inheritance was with the jackals (v. 3) because this is what he wanted. He did not prize the Promised Land that in theory he could have had. He was a man of the wilderness, but he wanted Jacob’s territory still because he said: "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins" (v. 4a). However God answers, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory" (v. 4b). Unger adds that when the millennial kingdom comes that is promised to Jacob and his descendants: "When the restored Israelite remnant would see Edom (the land of Esau) irreparably ruined but Jerusalem rebuilt and restored, they would recognize God’s love rather than voice their querulous complaint, "In what way have you loved us?" (v. 2).

The Rapture and the Olivet Discourse

To my class studying with me. We have been studying the rapture along with other prophecy. Here are two articles on the Olivet Discou...