Religion Historical Purpose of Romans 11 Exegesis Research Paper

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Historical Purpose of Romans 11

Exegesis of Romans 11

Israel Not rejected

A Remnant is Left

Warning to the Gentiles

The Eventual Blessing of Israel

The Epistle to the Romans: Chapter 11

It seems that there is more writing about Romans than there is any other book outside of the actual Gospels themselves. The reason for this can be explained in the fact that most regard Romans as a fifth inspired Gospel tract. Even though there are other versions of gospels that were supposedly written by the apostles (Thomas, James, and others), they were not authenticated or endorsed by God as worthy of inclusion into the final tome. Some even believe that some of the later writings of people who knew Jesus, but were not considered apostles deserved to be accepted as books of the New Testament. But, ultimately, it was not up to any person what books were included in the Gospels or in the New Testament. If Christians are to be believed then God personally inspired the writing of these books and set the order in which they were to be placed. Thus, Romans is a final revelation that completes the Gospels.

One of the reasons it can be said to be a completion, is that it is written as one author puts it as "A Jewish theology for the gentile world, and a welcome for gentiles designed to make the Jewish world jealous."[footnoteRef:1] This treatment may be a little bit tongue-in-cheek from the author because he admits to believing that Paul was trying to play a small joke on his readers[footnoteRef:2] who were, in reality, mostly Jewish exiles from Israel. This was a book that discussed the lives of the followers of Christ as they were to be after the ascension. He (Paul) believed this message was especially needed by the Jewish believers because they should have known who the Messiah was to be and what form He would take.[footnoteRef:3] Paul, being a Jew by birth, knew the education the Jewish believers had, and he was concerned that they still did not completely accept the Gospel message of Christ. Basically, as one writer puts it "To know Romans is to know Christianity."[footnoteRef:4] Thus, Paul discussed with the Roman, Jewish believers the structure of the church as it was set by Christ. [1: Wright, N. T. 'Romans and the Theology of Paul', 1995, viewed on 6 April 2012, ] [2: Ibid. ] [3: Utley, Bob. 'The Gospel According to Paul: Romans', 2010, viewed on 7 April 2012, ] [4: Ibid, 1.]

In Romans Paul has a twofold purpose of "addressing himself to the church at Rome," and "addressing the problem in the Roman church between believing Jews and believing gentiles."[footnoteRef:5] This second seems to be the primary purpose of the epistle because he continuously reinforces the idea of Christian unity to the Christians there. Thomas [footnoteRef:6] said that "In the book of Romans, chapters 9,10, and 11 are a pause in Paul's thesis of justification to deal with the problem of God's old covenant people - the Jews - and their rejection of this gospel provision." In particular, chapter 11 (the subject of this paper) discusses whether the promises to the Israelites still remained in effect and that a faithful remnant had been established as it has been in Elijah's day.[footnoteRef:7] Paul was also interested in the unity that had formed in some areas of the Christian realm, but was not seen in areas where there were a large amount of Jewish believers. This paper will examine Paul's letter to the Romans the eleventh chapter from a historical, exegetical, and from contemporary philosophical perspectives. [5: Ibid, 3.] [6: Thompson, Daniel. 'Romans 11:11-32: A Commentary', from Milpitas Bible Fellowship, 2010, viewed on 5 April 2012, .] [7: Ibid.]

Historical Purpose of Romans 11

The book is considered by many as the greatest of Paul's works and it is also regarded as something of a "hodgepodge." [footnoteRef:8] But, in the eleventh chapter of the book he tries to explain what he has been saying to the Jews. He draws upon their knowledge of the ancient texts when he uses them nine times in seven of the verses. This history lesson though is not to be lost on the gentiles either. They are to know that God has given riches to the gentiles because He sent them Paul as an apostle, but the greater riches are reserved for the Jewish remnant that was brave enough to stand up for God.[footnoteRef:9] [8: Kulikovsky, Andrew S. 'The historical context of Paul's letters to the Galatians and the Romans', 1999, viewed on 7 April 2012, ] [9: Rom. 11:12 (New International Version).]

This is a theme that has echoed throughout the history of the Jews. It started with Noah and his family. God determined that only Noah, and by association his wife, sons and their wives, were worthy of salvation. Only Noah had been faithful to God throughout his life.[footnoteRef:10] Another remnant was established when God would not allow the Israelites to enter into the promised land and made them wander in the desert for 40 years. God said "22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times -- 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it."[footnoteRef:11] Others that God endorsed because of their faithfulness to Him were Job because God knew that he would remain faithful despite all that Satan could do, those who went back to Jerusalem after the Babylonians allowed them to leave, and the diaspora Christians which Paul was talking to through his epistles. [10: Gen. 6:8 (NIV).] [11: Num. 14: 22, 23 (NIV).]

The history of the gentiles and the Jewish Christians was not a good one because they came from different sets of belief. The Jews thought that they had a superior knowledge of God, and that the gentiles joining the church should adhere to what they were saying. They were correct in believing that they had a greater knowledge of the original books of the Bible because they had been taught from them from birth. But, instead of assisting the gentiles with this knowledge, they were also adhering to the laws which forbade them from even being in contact with a gentile. However, the population of Jewish believers was small in comparison to the gentiles who would join the church eventually[footnoteRef:12], and Paul realized that this was to be the truth of the church going forward. Thus, the remnant, as can be taken from a historical perspective, was not the entire church, but the Jewish portion of it. This remnant was a "grace"[footnoteRef:13] to the rest of the church. Paul was trying to show the people of the church that they were brothers and sisters in Christ regardless what their particular heritage was, and he tried to prove this to the Jews by using historical references that he knew they would understand. [12: McClaren, James. 'From Jewish Movement to Gentile Church', viewed on 5 April 2012, ] [13: Rom. 11:5 (NIV).]

Exgesis of Romans 11

It is not difficult to see Paul's passion and purpose from the very first few verses of the chapter. He was unhappy with the way that the Jewish and gentile Christians were treating each other (with special emphasis for the Jews because he understood their motives), and he used strong language, as he often did, to convince them of the path that they should be following. Paul was not shy about his revelations from God. He was willing to take on governments[footnoteRef:14], stubborn people who wanted to throw him out of town, Christians, and the other apostles.[footnoteRef:15] So, when it came to writing to the Roman Christians regarding the unity that they were supposed to have with each other, he did not quail. Paul was a man of strong convictions and close to the heart of God. He said himself that he was the worst of men, and that he still did things that he knew God did not want him to,[footnoteRef:16] but they knew that he was always striving to be Christ's man. He was a modern day David; a "man after [God's] own heart" as Paul had recounted in a speech on Cyprus and recorded in Acts 13:22.[footnoteRef:17] [14: Acts 13:49 (NIV).] [15: Gal. 2:11 (NIV).] [16: Rom. 7:15-21 (NIV).] [17: Acts 13:22 (NIV).]

Paul was also not willing that the gentiles would somehow look on what he was writing them as a license to defame the Jews and declare what Paul said as ammunition against them. In the chapter he gives the gentiles just as strong a warning as he does the Jews because he realizes that they could also think that they are somehow blessed by God over the original chosen people. The new Christians may…

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