Ἀλήθειαν λέγω ἐν Χριστῷ,
I am speaking the truth in Christ
a I am speaking the truth in Christ—
I am not lying
I am not lying;
συμμαρτυρούσης μοι τῆς συνειδήσεώς μου ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ,
( evidence of my truth-telling:) my conscience is bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit
my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
ὅτι λύπη μοί ἐστιν μεγάλη
( the truth I am talking about is ) that grief is great to me,
that I have great sorrow
καὶ ἀδιάλειπτος ὀδύνη τῇ καρδίᾳ μου.
and unceasing pain is in my heart
and unceasing anguish in my heart.
ηὐχόμην γὰρ ἀνάθεμα εἶναι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα,
(the situation which is causing this grief and pain is that) I could wish myself to be accursed on behalf of my brethren who are my kinsmen according to the flesh (implication: my brethren are accursed)
For b I could wish that I myself were c accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, 1 my kinsmen d according to the flesh.
οἵτινές εἰσιν Ἰσραηλῖται,
(what is so profoundly grievous is that their current accursed state is in spite of the fact that) they are Israelites
They are e Israelites,
ὧν ἡ υἱοθεσία καὶ ἡ δόξα καὶ αἱ διαθῆκαι καὶ ἡ νομοθεσία καὶ ἡ λατρεία καὶ αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι,
(to be an Israelite means that to them belong) the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple worship and the promises
and to them belong f the adoption, g the glory, h the covenants, i the giving of the law, j the worship, and k the promises.
ὧν οἱ πατέρες
( furthermore , to them belongs) the fathers
To them belong l the patriarchs,
καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα,
and (above all ) from them is the Christ insofar as the flesh is concerned,
and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ,
ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.
(Christ fully explained) is God over all, blessed unto the ages. Amen
m who is God over all, n blessed forever. Amen.
Study Question on Rom. 9:1-5 John Piper 1. What is the one main point of these five verses? 2. Why does Paul think he must take an oath to vouch for the truth of what he is saying (9:1)? For clues to an answer do three things: a) read the other places where he stresses his truthfulness: Gal. 1:20; 2 Cor. 11:31; 1 Tim. 2:7; b) read Acts 13:44-52; 21:27-28 ; c) find places in Rom. 1-8 where Paul said things that might call the truth of his assertion here into question. 3. What point does Paul seek to make with the words "in Christ" and "in the Holy Spirit" (9:1) cf. Phil. 1:8 4. What is the intention behind the "could" in v. 3 (see NAU translation)? How does verse 3 relate to verse two? 5. Why does Paul qualify "kinsmen" in verse 3 with "according to the flesh?" 6. What is the logical function verses 4 and 5 in 9:1-5? 7. After "Israelites" in verse 4 the privilege of sonship is listed. Read the following passages and then in a few sentences describe what the privilege of sonship really was for Israel: Ex 4:21-23 ; Hosea 11:1; John 8:33-34; Matt. 3:7-10; 8:5-12; 21:33-43. Is it the same as the sonship of Rom. 8:14-16? 8. What glory is spoken of in verse 4? In what way was it given to Israel that it was not given to other nations? Why is it so ironic that they should have this blessing and not believe in Jesus as the Messiah? Read for clues: Ps. 19:1; Ex. 24:16, 17; 29:42-46; 33:17-23; 40:34-35; John 1:14; 7:18; 13:31; 17:4? 9. Paul seems to view the "giving of the Law" (9:4) as a great advantage just like glory and promises and sonship, etc. Read the recounting of Israel's history in Nehemiah 9:5-15 to see if that gives a similar view of the giving of the Law (which verses?). How could the Law with all its demands be a blessing? 10. If one of Israel᾽s greatest sins was the proud boast that descent from Abraham guaranteed their salvation (Matt. 3:9; John 8:33) then how can Paul think of having "the fathers" (9:5) as a great advantage. For some help read Romans 4. 11. What in verse 5 explains the need to qualify Christ with "according to the flesh?" In the NAU he is called God. Is that a good translation? Paraphrase of Romans 9:1-5 John Piper [ARC] 9:1a I speak the truth in Christ b I am not lying 1c-2 The way I am speaking the truth is that my conscience bears witness with me in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and continued pangs in my heart 3a because I could almost pray to be accursed, cut off from Christ b in order that my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh might come to believe on Christ and be saved. 4a The reason the condition of the Jews is so grievous to me that I am ready to be cursed to change it is that they are Israelites b that is, theirs is the sonship and the glory and the giving of the law and the service of worship and the promises 5a Another feature of their privileged status is that they have as their fathers the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob b And above all from Israel has come the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Main Point : Paul is deeply and continually grieved that Israel is rejecting her Messiah and is thus accursed. [ARC] Main Point : I truly have the kind of grief that expresses itself in a willingness to be accursed for my kinsmen, for they are Israelites. Study Guide for Romans 9:1-5 John Piper A. Paraphrase the passage as usual B. Write short answers to the following questions. Think on them before you flee to a commentary. 1. What is the main point of these five verses? That is, what assertion is supported by all the others and supports nothing (the top of the stairway)? a) Paul grieves deeply and continually for his (lost) countrymen. b) Ask: This is an indirect way of saying that the vast majority of the Israelites are accursed, since Paul grounds his grief by saying he could almost wish to be accursed for them. 2. Why does Paul think he must take an oath to vouch for the truth of what he is saying (9:1)? For clues to an answer do three things: a) Read the other places where he stresses his truthfulness: Gal 1:20; 2 Cor 11:31; 1 Tim 2:7; b) Read Acts 13:44–52; 21:27–28; c)Find places in Rom 1–8 where Paul said things that might call the truth of his assertion here into question. a) Gal 1:20 : arguing for his apostolic authority against Judaizers in Gal. who were demanding circumcision (6:12) and probably belittling Paul’s authority and his attitude to Jews and OT 2 Cor 11:11, 31 : Here Paul again is defending his apostleship against the super apostles (11:5) and averring his love (2 Cor 11:11) and his zeal in persecutions for them (2 Cor. 11:31) 1 Tim. 2:7 Here he is expressing the divine call he has to the Gentiles ؞ Each time the oath concerns the truth of his divine commission and hence his authority to teach. Once the stress is on his love (2 Cor 11:11). It is obvious from all this that Paul didn’t speak to please men (Gal 1:10) and so his words and actions were often misconstrued and he had to enforce them with an oath. [Jesus’s denunciation of oaths in Mt 5:34 ff. was a denunciation of lying which said some things were binding if sworn by but others weren’t Mt 23:16–22. He wanted a person to be so honest that he didn’t need an oath and didn’t look for a king of oath which would be breakable—like gift on altar instead of altar. But Paul was not known and was not understood because of the newness of his message to the hearers. Hence the oath] b) In Acts 13:44–52—Paul shakes dust off his feet against them (Acts 13:51). So Mt 10:14 = Mk 6:11 = Lk 9:5/10:11a. This meant: we have no trace of fellowship with you left on us. It was done by Jews who left heathen territory before entering Palestine. ؞ Paul’s life ministry (as apostle to the Gentiles , Gal 2:7; Rom 11:13) looked to the Jews as if he were anti-Semitic: He was always the liberal who seemed opposed to circumcision etc. As Acts 21:28 says, he was accused of opposing the people, the Law, and the temple. c) In Rom 2:9 Paul says wrath will come on Jew first Rom 2:23-24 —they dishonor God and cause others to blaspheme 2:27—they will be judged by Gentiles 3:9—no better than Gentiles for all are under sin ؞ The epistle itself could give the impression to the Roman church that the apostle to the gentiles was callous about his kinsmen with no concern for them at all (1:6, 13 he expresses desire to come to the Gentiles). In Rom 1–8 the Jews have hardly any special place: only in Rom 1:16 and Rom 3:1. 3. What point does Paul seek to make with the words “in Christ” and “in the Holy Spirit” (9:1)? Cf. Phil 1:8. He is stressing that he is not speaking on his own, it is not mere opinion but what he is saying that has the confirmation of Christ, the Spirit. In fact, as Phil 1:8 suggests the very emotions and longings of Paul are Christ’s longings: it is no longer I who live but Christ in me (Gal 2:20). The Spirit of Christ not only vouches for the truth of the emotion but engenders the emotion itself. 4. What is the intention behind the word “could” in verse 3? How does verse 3 express verse 2? a) Moule ( Idiom Book p.9) “Desiderative imperfect. It seems to soften a remark and make it more vague or more diffident or polite… Rom 9:3 ‘I could almost pray to be accursed’—the imperfect softening the shock of the daring statement, or expressing awe at the terrible thought.” The point is separation for another is impossible; cf. 8:32, 35, 39. One sinful man can’t bear the condemnation of another. ؞ It is a hypothetical wish (Murray p.3). If it were possible, he would be willing. Cranfield: “For I would pray (were it permissible for me to pray and if the fulfillment of such a prayer could benefit them)…” b) If you are willing to be accursed, separated from Christ in order to change a situation (i.e. the accursedness of Israel) then that situation must give you more anguish than the thought of being accursed . Therefore the lostness of the Jews must give Paul great anguish of heart, more than the prospect of Hell. 5. Why does Paul qualify kinsmen in verse 3 with “according to the flesh”? Even here where he is expressing the grief he feels because they are his people, even here he confesses to be bound more closely to another group, the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13) where there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28). He knows that physical, social relations in themselves mean nothing. At the point where it really counts, Paul is not their kinsman for they are “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3); not all Israel is Israel (cf. Mark 3:34 , those who obey God are the new family). 6. What is the logical function of verses 4-5 in Romans 9:1-5? These are a list of the privileges of Israel which have the function of showing why Paul’s sorrow is so great, continual, and deep. That is: his grief is not only from personal attachment (he even qualified that attachment), but also from the disparity between the greatness of Israel’s glory and the depth of her fall . The grief is like the lament of Jeremiah over Jerusalem: “She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations” (Lam 1:1). 7. Do you see any kind of order or pattern among the elements of verses 4-5? Not much: ISRAELITES seems to be interpreted by the rest. · There is a culmination in the Messiah—and it may be with the “fathers” a sandwich of all the others. Concerning the meaning of “Israelites” (9:4) read Ellison, p. 317-32. Do you agree with Ellison on the distinction between the term Jew and the term Israelite ? (Read Romans 2:17-3:9 where only the term “Jew” is used.) · He says, “Jew in itself is a purely ethnic word” (31.8); Then he says Paul regards Israel and Israelites “not as an ethnic but as a spiritual entity” (32.6). He means by “spiritual”—a people defined in terms of their relation to God (32.7) rather than their culture, heritage, etc. · Note p. 43.7 —He deems that Paul uses Jew in the merely ethnic sense. ① In fact, he draws a parallel between 2:28, 29 and 9:6. ② Not only that he uses “the oracles of God” (33.6) along with the privileges of Israel though it comes from 3:2 where it is the advantage of the Jew ! This distinction cannot stand the test of cross references in Romans. ③ In 2:17 ff. it is precisely as Jew that the Israelites have all the advantages of the Law . ④ The quote from Isa 52:5 in Rom 2:24 with reference to the Jews refers in the OT to “My people,” i.e. a people defined in terms of their relation to God. · I can see no essential difference between Jew in Rom 3:1 and Israelites in 9:4. When unqualified they refer to the national or ethnic entity which had enjoyed the benefits listed in 9:4-5. 8. After “Israelites” in verse 4 is given the privilege of “sonship.” Read the following passages and then in a few sentences describe what the privilege of sonship really was for Israel: Exod 4:21-23; Hos 11:1; John 8:33-44; Matt 3:7-10; 8:5-12; 13:38; 21:33-43. Is it the same as the sonship of Rom 8:14-16? Do you agree with Ellison (32.8) that the Israelites only “seem to be accursed” but are “still the people of God”? · It is not the same as the sonship of Rom 8:15, 23 because that is a sonship which is a result of the Spirit’s leading. But the Israelites of 9:4 are accursed but in 9:6 the tension is relieved (Ellison 32.8). Ellison cannot make 9:3-4 mean otherwise especially in view of Matt 8:12; 21:43; John 8:35, 44 (not remain in house and have fathers for devil); and Rom 10:1; 11:14 (save some). · The Sonship that constituted the advantage of all Israelites was a status of favor which resulted in the special care and blessing of God but not necessarily in the blessing of repentance (Matt 3:9)—often their heart was far from God (Matt 5:8; Isa 29:13). Jesus’s woes on Jews worse than Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon (Luke 10:10-15; Matt 23:15, son of hell). You cannot flatten out the meaning of “son” in the NT, but each context must contribute to its meaning. · Just like not all Israel is Israel (9:6) so not all sons are sons (Gal 3:29; Rom 9:26-27) and not every Jew is a Jew (Rom 2:29). 9. What “glory” is spoken of in 9:4? In what way was it given to Israel that it was not given to other nations? Why is it so ironic that they should have this blessing and not believe in Jesus as the Messiah? Read for clues Ps 19:1; Exod 24:16-17; 33:17-23; 29:42-46; 40:34-35; I Kg 8:10-11; John 1:14; 7:18; 13:31; 17:4. It is the manifestation of the presence of God in various ways (Ez 1:28). The uniqueness of this glory is that according to Exod 29:42-46 it was a glory of God’s saving presence: manifested especially in the Exodus (Exod 14:4). He was present to guide through wilderness and to consecrate the sacrifices. There is a glory evident to all nations (Ps 19:1; Rom 1:21) but this is not what is referred to in Rom 9:4. Jesus manifested this same glory as John says (John 1:14) and sought only to magnify his Father’s glory. But the Jews for the most part were seeking their own glory (John 5:44; 12:43) and had no eyes for the gift of God’s glory. Do you agree with Ellison on p. 36.5 where he says that the Shekinah glory rests between two Jews when they read the Torah together? Only in the sense that God is glorious and rests objectively in the revelation of himself in the Scriptures whether seen or not! In this sense the glory rests between two Indians or two brides which have the Torah between them. So that advantage then wouldn’t be the same as the “oracles of God” (3:1). 10. Paul seems to view the “giving of the Law” (9:4) as a great advantage, just like glory, promises, and sonship, etc. Read the recounting of Israel’s history in Neh 9:5-15 to see if that gives a similar view of the giving of the Law (which verses?). How could the Law with all its demands be a blessing? Nehemiah’s picture is just like Paul’s: with the choosing of Abraham; Exodus, pillar of cloud, the giving of the Law is one of the great blessings (v.15). The Law can be a blessing with many demands, just like gospel came with many demands. It offers Israel God for her hope, protection, and adoration as a ground for her obedience (Exod 19:41; 20:1; 34:4-6); so, the gospel offers Christ and his mercy as ground for doing all the commands of NT (over which threat hangs). 11. If one of Israel’s greatest sins was the proud boast that descent from Abraham guaranteed their salvation (Matt 3:9; John 8:33), then how can Paul think of having “the fathers” (Rom 9:5) as a great advantage? Read Rom 4. · To have the fathers is to have an example of justification by faith apart from circumcision (4:9-11). As Heb 11 shows, Abraham was a great example of faith but this archetype of faith was distorted into a progenitor of a saved race. 12. What in verse 5 explains the need to qualify Christ with “according to the flesh”? In NASV he is called God. Herein lies the peak of the irony: they were God’s chosen people but rejected by God himself. Hence the curse…
The place of Romans 9-11 Since the gospel that he proclaims in Rom 1–8 is the power of God unto salvation “to the Jews first” (1:16) and since the Christ is “descended from David according to the flesh” (1:3) and “there is great value in circumcision” (3:2) and “the faithlessness of the Jews does not nullify the faithfulness of God” (3:3) and a saving promise was made “to Abraham and his descendants” (4:13), the question of Israel’s destiny becomes acute. It grows necessarily out of the exposition of Rom 1–8 18. JP translation: 1a I speak the truth in Christ. b I do not lie, c my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit 2 that I have great grief and unceasing pain in my heart. 3a For I myself could wish to be anathema, separated from Christ b on behalf of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4a who are Israelites; I am inclined to the plural (covenants) because of how much more probable it seems that a copyist would assimilate the plural to Paul’s common singular usage, and because I think the parallel with ἐπαγγελίαι is Paul’s intention, not a copyist’s (see below p 21). It is precisely this contrast between the privileges of Paul’s kinsmen in 9:4, 5 and their plight in 9:3 which seems to imply that God’s word has fallen. 20–21. Cf Paul’s use of οἵτινες in Rom 2:15 and Michel’s (Roemer, 80) comment: “The relative connector οἵτινες (cf 1:25,32) is always given emphasis by Paul and has the effect of a demonstrative pronoun.” JOG, p. 20) ; This designation is probably intended to resonate with a richness that sums up all the other privileges in 9:4, 5. Not only does it stand at the head of the list of privileges, but also grammatically the rest are subordinate to it. Its significance for Paul is unfolded through three relative clauses (ὧν ... ὧν ... ἐξ ὧν) whose antecedent in each case is Ἰσραηλῖται. p.21 b whose are the sonship (ἡ υἱοθεσία) and the glory (ἡ δόξα) and the covenants (αἱ διαθῆκαι) and the giving of the law (ἡ νομοθεσία) and the service of worship (ἡ λατρεία) and the promises (αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι); 5a whose are the fathers b and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, c who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen the willingness to choose some words on the basis of rhyme or assonance implies that the meaning may lie more in the total, unified impact of the six-fold group than in the separate, distinct meanings of each member “Israelites.” The word is redolent with a blessed antiquity and a glorious future (Is 49:3; 56:8; 66:20; Joel 2:27; 4:16 MT; Ob 20; Ps 25:22; 53:6; 130:7f). It sums up all the other privileges in its richness (see p 21). Its promissory import is evident from Paul’s use of it in Rom 11:1f: “I say therefore, has God rejected his people? No indeed! For I myself am an Israelite, from the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” To be an “Israelite” is to be among the people of God, and God does not reject his people. What could be more auspicious than to be called an “Israelite”! sonship --Ex 4:22f; I do not think that Hodge or Murray has been able to show that the sonship of Rom 9:4b is any other than the sonship of Gal 4:5 and Rom 8:15, 23, or that this sonship is not uniquely the prerogative of corporate Israel, whether they experience it now or only in the future. 32...υἱοθεσία is an unusual word: only Paul uses it in the New Testament (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5), it does not occur in the LXX and it has virtually no history with a religious meaning before Paul. So the only pertinent evidence we have for υἱοθεσία used of sonship in relation to God is the evidence in Paul. Therefore only if the context absolutely demands it should we assign a different meaning to υἱοθεσία in Rom 9:4b than we find in all Paul’s other uses. Lexical considerations are all in favor of construing the sonship of Rom 9:4b with the fullest saving significance of Rom 8:15, 23. 32. the effort to distinguish the sonship of Rom 9:4b from that of 8:15, 23 does not have the preponderance of evidence on its side. It is precisely because the prerogative of υἱοθεσία is so rich with saving implications that the problem of Israel’s unbelief is so intense. 33. glory --The absolute use of δόξα without any modifier (as in Rom 9:4b) refers regularly in Paul not to a past but to a future, eschatological glory (Rom 2:7, 10; 8:18; 9:23; Col 1:27; 3:4; 2 Tim 2:10; 2 Cor 4:17). Especially noteworthy is Rom 2:10 where it says that God will render “glory, honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” This implies that for Paul the glory of the age to come was in a special sense the prerogative of Israel. The same thing is implicit in Rom 9:23f where Paul says that God “makes known the wealth of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory, whom also he called: us, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.” The phrase “not only Jews but also Gentiles” reveals that Paul expects the reader to infer naturally that vessels prepared for glory include Jews. Why? Probably because “to Israelites belong the (eschatological) glory!” (Rom 9:4b). Furthermore in Rom 8:18 δόξα is used absolutely (as in 9:4b) with reference to the future age; but in 8:21 it is called “the glory of the children (τέκνων) of God” which links it in an essential way with eschatological υἱοθεσία of 8:23. It seems to me, therefore, that we have no good grounds from the Pauline context to give δόξα a different historical orientation than we gave υἱοθεσία just before it. They both look to the future with roots in the past....Isaiah 43:7 stands out for special consideration as an expression of post-exilic hope: “Bring my sons from afar … whom I created for my glory.” That the glory of the Lord is the special portion of Israel is expressed again and again (Is 40:5; 42:8; 46:13; 48:11; 58:8, 60:1, 2, 7; 62:2, 3; 66:11, 18; Jer 13:11; Hag 2:7, 9; Zech 2:5)...Lk 2:32 probably gives us a glimpse of popular messianic expectation: Simeon, having seen the Messiah, blesses God and says, “My eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared before all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory of your people Israel.” We may conclude, therefore, that in Paul’s Jewish milieu there is more than adequate stimulus to direct his thought toward an eschatological δόξα as one of Israel’s privileges. 34 the covenants --the parallel with ἐπαγγελίαι inclined Lietzmann (Roemer, 89) to settle for the simple observation that the “covenants” are simply “synonymous with the promises.”..Israelites are the people whose destiny has been, and will be, determined by the fact that God has made covenants/promises with them. The one other place where Paul uses the plural διαθῆκαι is in the phrase ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας (Eph 2:12). The phrase “covenants of promise” confirms the view that covenants and promises are probably indistinguishable in Rom 9:4b...[we must not exclude] the only other covenant mentioned in Romans, namely, Rom 11:26f—“And thus all Israel will be saved just as it is written: The deliverer will come from Zion, he will turn ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be for them a covenant with me when I take away their sins.” This appears to be a loose, composite paraphrase of Is 59: 20, 21; 27:9, and certainly refers to the “new covenant” which Paul construes as a promise of the salvation of all Israel. If we have properly determined the scope of the διαθῆκαι of Rom 9:4b it is not surprising that it should align itself with the other eschatologically promising prerogatives of Israel: sonship and glory. giving of the Law --in Hellenistic-Jewish literature νομοθεσία is often virtually a synonym with νόμος (2 Macc 6:23; 4 Macc 5:35; 17:16; Aristeas, 15, 176 in reference to Old Testament; Philo, Abr 5; Cher 87; Josephus, Ant VI, 93). In view of these linguistic and structural observations it does not seem possible to argue persuasively that Paul intended to stress the event at Sinai rather than the possession and content of the law...the λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ mentioned as a great privilege for Israel in Rom 3:2 refers to God’s revelation in Holy Scripture” (121) including the Torah, and that the possession (cf ἐπιστεύθησαν, 3:2), not just the receiving, of this revelation is considered by Paul to be a great blessing... I conclude that, since in the law itself God expressed his saving purpose for Israel (Ex 19:6; 29:45f; 31:16f; 32:13; 33:19; 34:6f) and taught the way to life through faith (Rom 9:32), both the giving of the law and the possession of its message were a great privilege for Israel, full of grace and a window of hope toward the future. 36-37 service of worship --Paul uses the word λατρεία one other time: Rom 12:1, “I urge you therefore, brothers, through the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship.” Elsewhere in the New Testament it is used once in John (16:2—they will think that killing you is offering service to God) and twice in Hebrews (9:1, 6—with reference to the priestly activities in the Old Testament sanctuary). In the LXX the term refers three times to the performance of the Passover or feast of unleavened bread (Ex 12:25, 26; 13:5), once to the sacrifices at the altar built by the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh (Josh 22:27), once to the total priestly ministry in the temple of Solomon (1 Chr 28:13) and four times in the Maccabean context with reference to sacrifices to pagan deities (1 Macc 1:43; 3 Macc 4:14) as over against the true worship of the fathers (1 Macc 2:19, 22). Strathmann is probably right that against the background of the LXX “the concrete idea of sacrifice seems [in the NT] always to cling to the noun no less than the verb” (TDNT, IV, 65). In the context of law and covenants (Rom 9:4), λατρεία would naturally be construed to refer to the various sacrificial provisions in the Old Testament...since the Old Testament λατρεία was the prerogative of Israel, therefore the fulfillment of that prerogative through the death and resurrection of the Messiah (who came “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Mt 15:24) is also the prerogative of Israel; and for this reason the good news of that fulfillment is preached “to the Jew first.” 37-38 and the promises --Within the Pauline corpus the word is used twenty-five times, five of which are plural (Rom 9:4; 15:8; 2 Cor 1:20; 7:1; Gal 3:16). As with διαθῆκαι so with ἐπαγγελίαι we do best not to specify which divine promises are meant and which are not. They no doubt embrace the “promises to the patriarchs” (Rom 15:8; Gal 3:16), but the use of the plural in 2 Cor 7:1 with reference to a collage of prophetic promises (2 Cor 6:16–18) and the absolute use in 2 Cor 1:20 (“all the promises of God are Yes in him”) forbid that we limit its meaning in Rom 9:4b...Paul’s meaning is best expressed in 1 Cor 3:21–23, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” Possessing or being heir of all things surely means that all things will work for the benefit of Abraham and his seed (cf Rom 8:28, 32). But is this not implied in a promise like “I will be their God and they shall be my people” (2 Cor 6:16; 7:1)? If all that God is in his sovereign majesty over the world belongs to Israel for her benefit, then the hope of “inheriting the world” (Rom 4:13; cf Mt 5:5) is not arbitrary. So we can see that for Paul the promises of God flow together into a summation of all the good that God can possibly offer his people 39...Today it is Christians—Jew and Gentile—who enjoy the “blessing of Abraham” (Gal 3:14): “If you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29). The enjoyment of this blessing and this promise is the enjoyment of salvation. But Paul’s word to the Gentiles is: Do not become proud; remember “you do not support the root, but the root supports you” (Rom 11:18). Ephesians 3:6 reminds us of the “mystery” that Gentiles may become συμμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. They become fellow beneficiaries of promises which already belong to the “saints,” the “household of God” (Eph 2:19). Only by being grafted into the cultivated olive tree do the Gentiles become heirs of the promise (Rom 11:17). Therefore the salvation which Gentile believers enjoy as beneficiaries of the promises of God is a salvation which belongs to Israel because “theirs are the promises” (Rom 9:4b). 40. Paul’s intention is missed if these privileges are described as mere antiquarian, theocratic distinctives or as simply passing over from Israel to the Church. Rather, the privileges are in some sense still the prerogative of historical Israel. And each one, more or less clearly, is laden with saving implications and eschatological promise. To whom belong the fathers-- The reference in Rom 9:5a is probably to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob since the privilege would lose its point if “fathers” meant all the ancestors, and since these three patriarchs are alluded to in 9:6–13. 40...The decisive text for clarifying how Paul conceives of the fathers being a benefit to Israel is Rom 11:28f. 41...the fathers are significant not as those who merited such great blessing but as those to whom the free and irrevocable promises were made. This is the point of the words κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἐκλογήν in 11:28. The saving intention of God for “all Israel” accords with God’s election of Abraham and his seed, which according to 9:11, 12 is based on no merit of the fathers at all. Therefore when Paul mentions the fathers as one of Israel’s privileges in Rom 9:5a, he is not referring to the distinction that is associated with being the descendants of notable men highly favored by God. He is referring to a theological fact which guaranteed the salvation of “all Israel”—albeit in a “mysterious” (Rom 11:25) way unexpected by any of Paul’s contemporaries. The privilege of having “the fathers” is, therefore, almost synonymous with the privilege of the “covenants” and the “promises” in 9:4b. 41–42. And from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen -- Since he did not want merely to coordinate “the fathers” and “the Christ” (“whose are the fathers and whose is the Christ”) but rather wanted to highlight the climactic character of Christ’s coming, he employed a grammatical construction which indeed does have a climactic ring to it (“and from whom”). The fathers, at the beginning, give rise to the people of Israel; the Christ, at the end, comes from the people. Therefore Paul is saying far more than that the Messiah is a Jew. He is stressing that, with the coming of Christ, the privileges of Israel have reached their decisive climax...Why then does Paul add τὸ κατὰ σάρκα? Surely the best clue to his line of thought is found in Rom 9:5c (“who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen”). The climactic privilege of the Israelites is that their Messiah is vastly greater than they had ever dreamed. Paul knows him now from the standpoint of Christian revelation as the universal Lord. He may have his human origin in Israel (τὸ κατὰ σάρκα), but he is God over all and his blessed life is eternally indestructible. The privileges of Israel could not come to a higher climax: the long-awaited deliverer (11:26), the savior (Lk 1:68–79) of Israel has come and he can be resisted by no one, for he is God over all. His saving purpose for his people cannot be frustrated. This is the ultimate meaning of the promise, “I will be their God and they will be my people” (cf Gen 17:7; Lev 26:12; Jer 31:33; 32:38; Ezek 37:27). The sovereign God himself (cf “Emmanuel,” Mt 1:23) comes for his own. anathema --translates חֶרֶמ. It can mean positively “a thing devoted to the Lord as holy” (Lev 27:28; Judith 16:19; 2 Macc 9:16; 3 Macc 3:17; cf Lk 21:5), or negatively “a thing devoted to destruction” (Num 21:3; Deut 7:26; 13:16, 18; 20:17; Josh 6:17, 18; 7:1, 11, 12; Zech 14:11). Deuteronomy 13:18 is especially helpful for showing how the meaning of ἀνάθεμα shifts from “votive offering” to “accursed thing doomed to destruction.” Paul always uses the term in its negative sense of “accursed” (1 Cor 12:3; 16:22; Gal 1:8, 9). 44. " could wish "--Paul’s statement in 9:3 must be taken to mean that he “could wish” to experience what 8:35–39 said the Christian never would experience: to be separated from the love of God in Christ and left under his eternal (2 Thess 1:9) wrath (Rom 5:9). 45... Paul’s emotion is not the main point of Rom 9:1–5. Paul’s response in 9:6a to 9:1–5 is, “But it is not such that the word of God has fallen.” Therefore, the point of 9:1–5 must appear to call God’s word into question....the words Paul chooses with which to express his love are chosen also because they express (albeit indirectly and thus sensitively) the precise condition of his unbelieving kinsmen: they are anathema, separated from Christ. 45....Romans 9:1–5 states the problem: it appears that what God has guaranteed is in fact not happening—the end-time salvation of Israel. Has then the word—the reliability—of God fallen, and with it the Christian hope as well? 46. My Anguish: My Kinsmen Are Accursed November 10, 2002 by John Piper Scripture: Romans 9:1-5 I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit – 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. There is a sad irony in the seeming success of many Christian churches and schools. The irony is that the more you adjust obscure Biblical doctrines to make Christian reality more attractive to unbelievers, the less Christian reality there is when they arrive. Which means that what looks like success in the short run, may, in the long run, prove to be failure. If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception. One of the results of this kind of "success" is that sooner or later the world wakes up to the fact that these so-called Christian churches look so much like them and the way they think that there is no reason to go there. If you adjust your doctrine to fit the world in order to attract the world, sooner or later the world realizes that they already have what the church offers. That was the story of much of mainline Protestantism in Europe and America in the 20th century. Adjust your doctrine – or just minimize doctrine – to attract the world, and in the very process of attracting them, lose the radical truth that alone can set them free. Many observers today are making note that what the liberal mainline churches did 60 years ago, evangelical churches are doing today. For example, Steve Bruce writes in his book, God Is Dead: Secularization in the West , The mainstream Christian Churches are declining in popularity, and the conservative Protestant churches are losing their doctrinal and behavioral distinctiveness. (Quoted in Philip Jenkins, "The Real Story of Secularization," in Books and Culture , 8/6 [Nov.-Dec., 2002]: 11) There are thousands of pastors and churches today that do not think that clear, Biblical, doctrinal views are vital in the life of the church or the believer. They believe it is possible to grow a healthy church while leaving the people with few and fuzzy thoughts about what God is like. But ignorance about God is never a mere vacuum. The cavity created by ignorance fills up with something else. Edward Norman, in his book, Secularization: New Century Theology , goes right to the heart of the problem when he describes what that something else is: Christianity is not being rejected in modern society – what is causing the decline of public support for The Church is the insistence of church leaders themselves in representing secular enthusiasm for humanity as core Christianity. (Ibid, p. 10) At first the world is drawn to a religious form of "enthusiasm for humanity," but then it wears thin and they realize that they can find it more excitingly on TV. Romans 9 is a great antidote against such diseases in the church. This chapter is not rooted in "enthusiasm for humanity," but in the staggering, shocking, deeply satisfying sovereignty of God. My prayer is that we will see God for who he really is with his jagged peaks and fathomless deeps, and that, by his grace, many will come – not to celebrate themselves, but to worship God. Our focus today is on verses 1-3, and specifically Paul’s sorrow and grief – his anguish over the fact that his kinsmen, the Jewish nation as a whole, are accursed and cut off from Christ. We will look at four aspects of Paul’s anguish: the cause of his anguish; the intensity of his anguish; the authenticity of his anguish; and the fruit of his anguish. The Cause of Paul’s Anguish Let’s read verse 3: "I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This means that Paul’s kinsmen are accursed and separated from Christ. He softens the statement of their loss by expressing it in relation to his own anguish. But the reality is unmistakable. They are accursed and cut off from Christ. They are lost. They are on their way to hell under the judgment of God. The word for "accursed" here is anathema and is used in 1 Corinthians 16:22 where Paul says, "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed." Now why are his kinsmen accursed and cut off from Christ? Paul gives two answers. One is that they have stumbled over Jesus Christ as the goal of the law, and rejected him as their curse bearer and their righteousness. And the other answer is that God has not chosen all ethnic Israel to be spiritual Israel. Consider Romans 9:30ff . What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in him will not be disappointed.’ In other words, Paul pictures Christ as the righteousness that the law was pointing to. Gentiles saw it, believed, and were justified by faith – God imputed the righteousness of Christ to them through faith. But Israel stumbled over Christ. She did not see him as her Messiah or her righteousness or the one to whom the law was pointing all along. They saw the way to God’s righteousness as works, not faith. And so they failed to attain what the law was pointing to; they stumbled over Christ. Paul describes this fall of Israel again in Romans 10:2-4 . For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For the goal of the law is Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes. In other words, Israel as a whole missed the meaning of the law and missed the meaning of Christ. The law was to lead them to Christ, and Christ was to be their righteousness. And the way to be righteous with Christ’s righteousness was faith, not works. "The goal of the law is Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes." But they sought to establish their own righteousness by works rather than have the gift of God’s righteousness provided by Christ through faith. So why are they accursed? Because they rejected the only one who could save them from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13 relates Christ to the curse: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’" So Christ became our curse and Christ became our sin and Christ became our righteousness. But they would not have him. And so they are accursed and cut off from Christ. This is the first answer for why Paul has grief and anguish in his heart. There is another answer – a deeper answer – to why his kinsmen are accursed, explained in verses 6-29, namely, that God has not chosen all ethnic Israel to be spiritual Israel. We will look at this after Thanksgiving. But it will be relevant this morning when we get to the third point. But first, point two: The Intensity of Paul’s Anguish Verses 2-3: "I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren." Notice the translation here: "I could wish" to be accursed. The point is that Paul’s grief is so great over the lostness of Israel that he stands on the brink of damnation, ready to throw himself in, if it were possible. But it is not possible. That’s why it says, "I could wish." The reason it’s not possible is found four verses earlier in Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate God’s elect, Paul included, from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In other words, God has not designed a world where a person can be damned because of Christ-exalting love. If there were such a world, then the Biblical standards of the world that exists would not apply, and Paul stands ready to take Israel’s place in hell. But he can’t. God does not send people to hell because they love others enough to sacrifice for them. So Paul cannot take the place of Israel; he can only grieve. Oh, that we would have more of Paul’s spirit here! Do you grieve? Do you feel sorrow and anguish over your kinsmen, that they are accursed and cut off from Christ? I know that hundreds of you do. That’s good. Nurture that grief with Biblical truth. And remember, Jesus said that we should love not only those who love us, but also our enemies ( Matt. 5:43-44 ). So may Bethlehem be a place of tears as well as joy. May we be Biblical Christian hedonists! As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10 , "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." And if anyone should raise the legitimate question: Will we then be sad throughout eternity because of those who are accursed and cut off from Christ in hell? Will heaven be a place of eternal grief? – the answer is no. "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore" ( Rev. 21:4 ). Why? Jonathan Edwards put it like this: With respect to any affection that the godly have had to the finally reprobate, the love of God will wholly swallow it up. And cause it wholly to cease. (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust], Vol. 2, p. 899) Those who die in their sinful rebellion – we say it with tears now – will not have the power to hold heaven hostage with their own misery. Here we groan and weep. There we are consumed with the glory of Christ. Let us learn from Paul. He knows that his kinsmen are lost and ready to be cast into outer darkness forever. But he does not say that with rage or fierceness. He says it with anguish. The Authenticity of Paul’s Anguish Verse 1: "I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit." This is Paul’s introduction to the words in verse 2: "I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart." This is a remarkable plea in verse 1: Believe me. Believe me. I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying. He can’t prove it – how can you prove your grief? Tears can be manufactured. Trembling voices can be learned and artificial. He can’t prove it. He can only plead that his conscience is moved by the Holy Spirit and that his testimony is shaped by Christ. But why is all this necessary? Because some doubted his love and the genuineness of his sorrow. Why? Because Paul has said things that could be taken as anti-Jewish. Back in Romans 2:24 he quoted the prophets, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." In Romans 3:9 he said, "Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin." In the next verse (v. 3) he is about to say that Israel is accursed and cut off from Christ. And then, most amazingly, he is about to say in verse 6: Not all Israel is Israel. God’s covenant does not guarantee the salvation of every Jew. The ultimate reason why some are accursed and cut off from Christ is that they are not among the elect. He will say in Romans 11:7 , "Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened." This is the deepest reason why Paul must virtually take an oath that he is telling the truth that his anguish is real. There will always be this kind of objection that Paul was facing here: people will say, "You cannot feel real grief over the lost if God chooses freely and unconditionally whom he will save." Paul knows this is an objection, and all he can do here is say: I really grieve over Israel, and I really believe that God is sovereign over who is saved and who is not. Beware of over-simplifying the heart of God and the hearts of loving saints. There are more emotional possibilities in this world than you may think. Paul set us an example to follow: He taught in verse 15 that God says, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." And he showed us how to grieve over those who do not receive mercy. Beware of the reasonings of man exalted against the word of God. Beware of making your present emotional possibilities the standard of God’s. Finally, the Fruit of Paul’s Anguish I find this in Romans 10:1 , "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." The fruit of Paul’s anguish for his kinsmen who are accursed and cut off from Christ is to desire their salvation and to pray for them to be saved. Again, I say, don’t follow the reasonings of skeptical men here. Don’t say: There is no reason to pray for sinners if God is sovereign to save. Say instead, Because God is sovereign to save, I will pray for sinners with hope. Because Paul prayed for their salvation, I will pray. Because Christ prayed on the cross for their salvation, I will pray. Because I have grief and anguish in my heart, I will pray. And as it says in 2 Timothy 2:25 , "God may perhaps grant them repentance." To that end let us pray for Israel and for the nations and for our kinsmen that they might be saved. May the Lord do it even now. If you are still under the guilt of your sins and accursed and cut off from Christ, don’t stay there. Christ has become a curse for us. He has died for our sins and risen from the dead. Trust him as your only hope and your all-satisfying treasure. And you will be saved. Amen. How Great Is the Honor of Israel? November 17, 2002 by John Piper Scripture: Romans 9:1-5 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. I hope to remind you again and again in the coming months that the very practical chapters, Romans 12-14, are coming and that you should read them now. They begin with "Therefore" and are built on Romans 9-11 and 1-8. This makes clear that what these practical chapters are built on is the mercy of God in Romans 1-11. "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God . . ." ( Rom. 12:1 ). There it is. All his practical teachings in chapters 12-14 about spiritual gifts and love and forgiveness and service and zeal and hope and suffering and prayer and hospitality and sympathy and humility and peace and vengeance and civil authority and drunkenness and sexual immorality and quarrelling and jealousy and many more – all of this is built on Romans 1-8 and 9-11, and especially on God’s mercy. "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God . . ." Therefore keep your eyes open for mercy. Almost certainly it will not come in the way you expect. But you will see it clearly, even here in Romans 9. Verse 15: "For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’" And again in verse 18: "So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills." And again in verses 22-23: "What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory." So three times already in chapter nine Paul trumpets the mercy of God – that is, the utterly undeserved goodness of God to those whom he chooses. And this is the mercy behind the Romans 12:1 , "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God . . ." In other words, all the weighty doctrine of Romans 9-11 is foundation for practical application. When the pastoral staff met for 16 hours of prayer and discussion on Monday and Tuesday this week, some of our most burdened hours were spent wrestling with how this church can be devoted more zealously and corporately to ministries of mercy – ministry to the truly poor and the sick and the dying and the disabled and the homeless and the orphans and those who seem trapped in a spiral of family and social dysfunction. We reminded ourselves that this is not icing on the cake of doctrine; this is fruit on the tree of doctrine. And where there is no fruit, there is no life, and the tree will be cut down sooner or later. William Wilberforce 200+ years ago traced racism and the casual tolerance of the African Slave trade in Britain straight back to doctrinal indifference. He said: The fatal habit of considering Christian morals as distinct from Christian doctrines insensibly gained strength. Thus the peculiar doctrines of Christianity went more and more out of sight, and as might naturally have been expected, the moral system itself also began to wither and decay, being robbed of that which should have supplied it with life and nutriment. In his view, the red-blooded, unshakable, solid doctrines of Christianity gave life and nutriment to the moral system of mercy and justice. I think that is exactly what St. Paul is saying when he begins his practical, ethical section with the words, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God . . ." Therefore, now that you see God and see Christ and see history and see human nature and see Israel and see mercy and justice and faith for what they really are – now with this root, bear the fruit of mercy and justice in your life. So when you go home each week from these messages, be stunned that you are a beneficiary of mercy – be reminded and stunned that you and I deserve nothing but wrath from God, and in Christ receive nothing but mercy from him. Be stunned. And then pray that God would make you merciful to the undeserving. Oh, how sweet marriages would be if we stopped thinking about what we deserve and thought more about how to show more mercy – how to do more undeserved good to each other. Oh, how sweet would be the fellowship of the church if we all really felt undeserving of any good and lavished with God’s mercy. And, oh, how bright the gospel would shine if we touched the poor with Christ-exalting mercy. May God raise up many who will build, with joy, ministries of mercy to the city and the nations. To that end we turn now to Romans 9:4-5 . Here Paul lists nine privileges of Israel. "[They] are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." Why does he do this? There is a main reason – a main point – and three subordinate implications for each of these nine privileges. The main reason for saying how privileged Israel is, is to show how tragic her condition is as accursed and cut off from Christ. You remember that in verse 3 Paul said indirectly that Israel, his kinsmen, were lost. "For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." What makes that so terrible is not merely that they are his kinsmen but that they are "Israelites," with all that implies. So Paul now spells out what that implies. And his main reason is to show how tragically huge is the problem he is about to tackle in these three chapters. Israel is God’s chosen people, with unparalleled privileges, and yet they are accursed and cut off from Christ. How can this be if God is faithful? The solution to this problem takes Paul three chapters to explain. So his main purpose in verses 4-5 is to agree with his critics: Yes, Israel is God’s people, and Yes, they are overwhelmingly honored and privileged, even with promises of salvation. That is what verses 4 and 5 are meant to show, so that everyone could see that Paul’s anguish was not only because the perishing Jews are his kinsmen, but that they are Israelites, with all that implies, and this creates a crisis in embracing God’s faithfulness. That’s the main reason for telling us these nine privileges of Israel. But I said there are three subordinate implications. I’ll sum them up and then take each of these privileges briefly. Three Implications These privileges belong fully and savingly to an elect remnant of Israel now. First, all these privileges are even now savingly still valid for an elect remnant in Israel. When Paul begins to explain how so many Israelites can be lost, and yet the word of God not fail, he says in verse 6, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel." In other words his explanation is that not all of the Israel of his day was Israel. Not all ethnic Israel is true, spiritual Israel. "They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel." So the first subordinate implication of verses 4-5 is that the full meaning of these privileges, while not applying to every individual Israelite, do apply to an elect remnant. As Romans 11:7 says, "Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened." These privileges will belong fully and savingly to all ethnic Israel at some future time. The second implication of these nine privileges is that they will someday apply in a full and saving way to all ethnic Israel – not every Jewish person who has ever lived, but the whole ethnic people of Israel at some future time. I say this for two reasons. One is that Paul speaks here in the present tense: "They are Israelites," and therefore have now all the benefits that go with that; not: they were Israelites and had all these privileges. I take this to mean that he is talking generally over the people as a whole. And this is confirmed in chapter 11:26 where he says, "and so all Israel will be saved." In other words, there is coming a day when the veil will be lifted ( 2 Corinthians 3:14 ) and the hardening will be taken away ( Romans 11:25 ) and Israel as a whole will repent and believe in Christ and be grafted back into the tree of promise along with all the believing Gentiles. These privileges belong to all Gentiles who trust Christ and are grafted into the true Israel by faith. Which leads to the third implication of these nine privileges in verses 4-5: Gentiles who trust in Christ, the Jewish Messiah, the son of Abraham, are grafted into the tree of true Israel and become fellow heirs of all these privileges. Paul makes this explicit in chapter 11:17ff where he pictures true Israel as an olive tree with national branches that are broken off – referring to unbelieving Israelites – and wild branches that are grafted in – the Gentiles who have trusted the Messiah, Jesus. So if you are a believer in Christ this morning, Jew or Gentile, these nine privileges are yours. So, in sum, the main point is that these nine privileges underline the tragedy and crisis of so many individual Jews being accursed and cut off from Christ because of unbelief. But the three subordinate points are that these nine privileges belong fully and savingly to an elect remnant of Israel now; they will belong fully and savingly to all ethnic Israel at some future time; and they belong to all Gentiles who trust Christ and are grafted into the true Israel by faith. Nine Privileges of Israel That Show the Tragedy of Israel Now a brief look at each privilege. And I think the application you should make of each one of them is this: If you do not trust Christ, you lose this privilege. If you do trust Christ, you gain it. Therefore, if you want it for yourself – and surely you do – then trust Jesus the Messiah with your life. And if you want it for a Jewish friend – and I hope you do – pray and love and speak the gospel like Paul. "Who are Israelites…" This is the first and all-encompassing designation. It comes first in the list because it carries in it all the other benefits. To be an Israelite is to have all these privileges. It is to be God’s people with all that implies. In Romans 11:1 Paul says, "God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham." In other words, a true Israelite belongs to God’s people and is an heir of Abraham. And the spectacular news for us Gentiles is Galatians 3:7 , "It is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham." If you have the faith of Abraham, you are a child of Abraham and belong to true Israel. You are grafted into the tree of true Israel and are a beneficiary of all the rest of these privileges. ". . . to whom belongs the adoption as sons." The Greek word for this phrases (huiothesia) is used only by Paul in the New Testament. It is never used in the Old Testament. It was used a few verses earlier in Romans 8:15 (and 23). "You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’" ( Romans 8:15 ). The "you" in this verse is simply Christians – Jews or Gentiles. Those who "have the Spirit of Christ" and belong to him ( Romans 8:9 ). The true Israel, including Jews and Gentiles, are the sons of God. He has adopted us through Christ. ". . . and the glory . . ." This glory is not mainly the Shekinah glory that filled the Old Testament tabernacle. Paul uses the word glory mainly to refer to what is coming for the people of God – especially the children (sons) of God! "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" ( Romans 8:18-19 ). The sonship and the glory go together. And it is no mere past glory. It is the glory of God revealed to us and for our everlasting joy in the age to come. And Jesus himself is the fullness of it because Simeon said when he saw the baby Jesus, "[I have seen a] light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel" ( Luke 2:32 ). ". . . and the covenants . . . the promises" Take "the covenants" together with "the promises" later in the verse. The plural "covenants" and "promises" is probably Paul’s way of summing up all of them. All the covenants that God made and all the promises that God made belong to you: you elect remnant of Israel; you future ethnic Israel as a whole, and you Gentiles who trust the Messiah and are grafted into the tree of covenant and promise. How can this be? Because the new covenant that brings all other covenants to completion is purchased by the blood of Christ for all who believe ( Luke 22:20 ), and because "all the promises of God are yes in Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 1:20 ). ". . . and the giving of the Law . . ." The law was given to Israel for the sake of the nations – and for you. Romans 3:19 , "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God." And not only held accountable but pointed to the goal of the law found in Romans 10:4 , "The goal of the law is Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes." The long-term aim of the law was not condemnation but salvation. And if we are trusting the Messiah for our righteousness, the law has become for us what it was given for: a servant to lead us to Christ. ". . . and the temple service . . ." The word here refers to the ministry of the priests in offering sacrifices to make atonement for sins ( Leviticus 4:20 , 26 , 31 ) and gain acceptance with God ( Exodus 28:38 ). The supreme "temple service" was the Passover ( Exodus 12:25-27 ) and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7 , "Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." In other words, Christ has performed the final and decisive atoning "temple service" on the cross. And when we say that the "temple service" belongs to true Israel, we mean in the fullest, saving way: our sins are forgiven and God welcomes us into his fellowship. ". . . whose are the fathers . . ." The implication of this is stated in Romans 11:28 , "As regards the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies of God for your [the Gentiles’] sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers." In other words, God freely chose Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and promised that their descendants would be heirs of God. And what we are seeing is that this was meant in three ways: there is an elect remnant of Israel, there always was and always will be; there is a promise that all ethnic Israel will be saved at some future time; and Gentiles who trust in the Messiah become sons of the fathers with the same blessings as the natural children. Everything promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is yours in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. ". . . and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." What a privilege to Israel that the Messiah and Savior of the world should be born Jewish according to the flesh! But what a tragedy that he came to his own and his own received him not. But it holds true here as in John 1:12 , "To as many as received him to them gave he power to become the children of God." And most wonderful of all, when you receive Jesus the Messiah, you receive the One who is over all, God, blessed forever. The deepest tragedy is to fail to see that the Messiah Jesus is God; and the highest privilege is to know God incarnate and spend an eternity seeing so many new and wonderful things about him that you will never cease to bless him. That is why Paul says he is "blessed forever." Our eyes will never stop seeing new glories in Christ. Our hearts will never weary of savoring what we see. And our mouths will never tire of singing what we savor. So, don’t walk away from him this morning. Come to him. Receive him. Trust him. Amen.