Israel and the law (Rom 9:31)

“Israel,

Who pursued

Righteousness

That is based

On the law,

Did not succeed

In fulfilling that law.”

Ἰσραὴλ δὲ διώκων νόμον δικαιοσύνης εἰς νόμον οὐκ ἔφθασεν.

Paul noted that “Israel (Ἰσραὴλ), who pursued (δὲ διώκων) righteousness (δικαιοσύνης) that is based on the law (νόμον) did not succeed in fulfilling (οὐκ ἔφθασεν) that law (εἰς νόμον).”  Paul indicated that Israel pursued the righteousness of the law, but did not succeed.  They were trying to follow the law of righteousness, but did not get there.  Could you succeed by not trying and yet fail by trying to reach righteousness?

Gentiles and righteousness (Rom 9:30)

“What are we to say?

Gentiles,

Who did not pursue

Righteousness,

Have attained righteousness,

That is,

Righteousness

Through faith.”

Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; ὅτι ἔθνη τὰ μὴ διώκοντα δικαιοσύνην κατέλαβεν δικαιοσύνην, δικαιοσύνην δὲ τὴν ἐκ πίστεως·

Paul came back with another question, “What are we to say (Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν)?”  Did the gentiles (ὅτι ἔθνη), who did not pursue (τὰ μὴ διώκοντα) righteousness (δικαιοσύνην) attain righteousness (κατέλαβεν δικαιοσύνην), that is, righteousness (δικαιοσύνην) through faith (δὲ τὴν ἐκ πίστεως).  Paul now posed the question did the non-Jewish people who were not seeking righteousness actually attain it via faith?  How could the gentiles have righteousness, when they were not seeking it, yet the Israelites who were seeking it could not attain it?  Paul obviously answered his own question with this play on word of righteousness.  Can you be righteous without trying to be righteous?

We could have been like Sodom and Gomorrah (Rom 9:29)

“As Isaiah predicted.

‘If the Lord of hosts

Had not left survivors,

We would have fared

Like Sodom,

And been made

Like Gomorrah.’”

καὶ καθὼς προείρηκεν Ἡσαΐας Εἰ μὴ Κύριος Σαβαὼθ ἐγκατέλιπεν ἡμῖν σπέρμα, ὡς Σόδομα ἂν ἐγενήθημεν καὶ ὡς Γόμορρα ἂν ὡμοιώθημεν.

Paul continued citing the prophet Isaiah (Ἡσαΐας), chapter 1:9-10 who had predicted (καὶ καθὼς προείρηκεν).  “If the Lord of hosts (Εἰ μὴ Κύριος Σαβαὼθ) had not left survivors or seeds (ἐγκατέλιπεν ἡμῖν σπέρμα), we would have fared (ἂν ἐγενήθημεν) like Sodom (ὡς Σόδομα), and been made (ἂν ὡμοιώθημεν) like Gomorrah (καὶ ὡς Γόμορρα).”  Isaiah had said that “We would have been like Sodom.  We would have become like Gomorrah.  Hear the word of Yahweh!  You rulers of Sodom!  Listen to the teaching of our God!  You people of Gomorrah!”  This seems to be another oracle of Yahweh pronounced by Isaiah.  Isaiah called out the people of Jerusalem, comparing them to the rulers and inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah of Genesis fame, chapters 18-19.  Jerusalem could have suffered the same fate as these famous fiery valley towns.  Paul continued with his short history of Israel and its problems.  What do you know about Sodom and Gomorrah?

The Lord will execute his sentence (Rom 9:28)

“The Lord

Will execute

His sentence

Upon the earth

With quick decisiveness.”

λόγον γὰρ συντελῶν καὶ συντέμνων ποιήσει Κύριος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

Paul continued with his quotation from Isaiah, chapter 28:22.  “The Lord (Κύριος) will execute his sentence (λόγον γὰρ συντελῶν) upon the earth (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) with quick decisiveness (καὶ συντέμνων ποιήσει).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word συντέμνων, that means to cut in pieces, to cut short, bring to swift accomplishment, determine, or decide.  Isaiah said that he had heard a decree of destruction from Yahweh, God of hosts, upon the whole land.  Isaiah explained that Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it.  They were not to be scoffers, since Yahweh, had issued a decree of destruction for the land.  Once again, Paul indicated that Israelites were not always true to their covenant.  Are you always true to God?

The remnant (Rom 9:27)

“Isaiah cried out

Concerning Israel.

‘Though the number

Of the children of Israel

Be as the sands of the sea,

Only a remnant of them

Will be saved.’”

Ἡσαΐας δὲ κράζει ὑπὲρ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ Ἐὰν ᾖ ὁ ἀριθμὸς τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ὡς ἡ ἄμμος τῆς θαλάσσης, τὸ ὑπόλειμμα σωθήσεται·

Paul now cited Isaiah (Ἡσαΐας), chapter 10:22 that is like Hosea, chapter 1:10.  Isaiah cried out (δὲ κράζει) concerning Israel (ὑπὲρ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ).  “Though the number (Ἐὰν ᾖ ὁ ἀριθμὸς) of the children or sons of Israel (τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ) be as the sands (ὡς ἡ ἄμμος) of the sea (τῆς θαλάσσης), only a remnant (τὸ ὑπόλειμμα) of them will be saved (σωθήσεται).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word ὑπόλειμμα, that means a remnant, left behind, or left surviving.  Although Israel would have been as numerous as the sands of the sea, only a remnant of them would return from their exile.  Only a few of the Israelites would be saved.  Paul used this citation from Isaiah to point out that not all the Israelites were saved after the exile.  Have you ever heard of the remnant, the few who will be left as survivors?

Children of the living God (Rom 9:26)

“In the very place

Where it was said

To them.

‘You are not my people’,

There,

They will be called

‘children of the living God’.”

καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ τόπῳ οὗ ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς Οὐ λαός μου ὑμεῖς, ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται υἱοὶ Θεοῦ ζῶντος.

Paul quoted Hosea, chapter 1:10-2:1, that said in the very place (καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ τόπῳ) where it was said to them (οὗ ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς), “You are not my people (Οὐ λαός μου ὑμεῖς)”, there, they will be called (ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται) “children or sons of the living God (υἱοὶ Θεοῦ ζῶντος)”.  Paul quoted from the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 of the 8th century BCE prophet, Hosea, who had said that Yahweh indicated that in that place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them that they were now “the children or sons of the living God”.  Thus, there would be a unification of the people of Judah with the people of Israel in one land, a reference to the split in Israel between the north and south at the death of Solomon.  They would once again be known as the children of the living God with one leader, since all would be well.  Paul seemed to indicate that this citation was more about the unification of the Jewish Christians and the gentile non-Jewish Christians, not the Israelites of the north with the Judeans of the south, as in the original citation.  Can you go from not my people to being my people?

My people and my beloved (Rom 9:25)

“As indeed God says

In Hosea.

‘Those who were not my people

I will call

‘My people’.

Those who were not beloved

I will call

‘My beloved’.’”

ὡς καὶ ἐν τῷ Ὡσηὲ λέγει Καλέσω τὸν οὐ λαόν μου λαόν μου καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην ἠγαπημένην

Next Paul began citing the prophets that would have been very unfamiliar to these gentile Christians.  However, he cited the verse that was about those who were not God’s people becoming God’s people.  Those who were not his beloved had become his beloved.  This was an indication of the outreach of the Christian message, not just for the Israelites, but for all mankind, even the gentile, non-Jewish people.  Paul cited Hosea (ὡς καὶ ἐν τῷ Ὡσηὲ λέγει), chapter 2:25 in the Greek Septuagint.  “I will call (Καλέσω) those not my people (τὸν οὐ λαόν μου), my people (λαόν μου).  Those who were not beloved (καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην), I will call beloved (ἠγαπημένην).”  The original text was Yahweh speaking to Hosea that he was going to sow in the land itself.  Finally, he would have pity and love for the non-pitied ones.  He too would rename them, from “not my people” to “you are my people”.  He was going to be their God, loving them.  Paul tried to fit these gentile Christians within the wider tent of the Jewish Christians by using this 8th century BCE prophet, Hosea.  What do you know about Israelite prophets?

Jews and gentiles (Rom 9:24)

“This includes us,

Whom he has called,

Not from the Jews only,

But also from the gentiles.”

οὓς καὶ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς οὐ μόνον ἐξ Ἰουδαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἐθνῶν;

Paul said that this includes us (ἡμᾶς), whom God has called (οὓς καὶ ἐκάλεσεν), not from the Jews only (οὐ μόνον ἐξ Ἰουδαίων), but also from the gentiles (ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἐθνῶν).  Paul now turned to the gentiles or non-Jewish Christians.  He used the term us (ἡμᾶς), thus indicating Christians who may have been Jewish or gentile.  Previously, he had been speaking to Jewish Christians about their Israelite background.  Now, he was all inclusive with gentiles or non-Jewish people.  Do you make a distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish people?

The rich glory of God (Rom 9:23)

“What if God has done so,

In order to make known

The richness

Of his glory

For the vessels

Of mercy

That he has prepared beforehand

For glory?”

καὶ ἵνα γνωρίσῃ τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ σκεύη ἐλέους, ἃ προητοίμασεν εἰς δόξαν,

Paul asked what if God has done this (καὶ ἵνα) in order to make known (ἵνα γνωρίσῃ) the richness (τὸν πλοῦτον) of his glory (τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ) for the vessels of mercy (ἃ προητοίμασεν) that he had prepared beforehand (ἃ προητοίμασεν) for glory (εἰς δόξαν).  Only the Pauline letters used this word προητοίμασεν, that means to prepare before, appoint beforehand, or predestine.  Paul posed another option for God.  Perhaps, he wanted to show the richness of his glory.  He may have prepared beforehand or predestined his vessels of glory.  God was in control.  He had a wealth of mercy and may have decided who was going to get his containers of mercy.  Afterall, eternity has no beginning or ending, so that all human time is rolled into a divine eternal now.  Do you accept the concept of a glorious eternity?

God is patient (Rom 9:22)

“What if God,

Desiring to show

His wrath

And to make known

His power,

Already has endured

With much patience?

The vessels of wrath

Are made ready for destruction.”

εἰ δὲ θέλων ὁ Θεὸς ἐνδείξασθαι τὴν ὀργὴν καὶ γνωρίσαι τὸ δυνατὸν αὐτοῦ ἤνεγκεν ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ σκεύη ὀργῆς κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν,

Paul asked what if God has already shown patience?  What if God (ὁ Θεὸς) desired (εἰ δὲ θέλων) to show (ἐνδείξασθαι) his wrath (τὴν ὀργὴν) and to make known (καὶ γνωρίσαι) his power (τὸ δυνατὸν αὐτοῦ), since he has endured things (ἤνεγκεν) with much patience (ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ)?  But now the vessels of wrath (σκεύη ὀργῆς) are made ready (κατηρτισμένα) for destruction (εἰς ἀπώλειαν).  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἐνδείξασθαι that means to indicate, to prove, or to show.  Paul continued with his comparison of the creative God with a potter.  What if God had already shown his great patience.  Perhaps he was getting ready to get rid of these vessels of wrath by destroying them.  In other words, we really never know the thinking of God.  What looks irrational to us, maybe was something well planned out.  Maybe God has already patiently endured many things, so that now he wants to show his power by destroying the dishonorable vases.  Our ways are not God’s ways.  Do you accept the fact that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to?