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!

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