Israels rejection of Christ and the Gospel raised profound questions, wherever Paul went across the Roman Empire. Since we don’t have Jewish roots we probably will have a bit of a hard time understanding the depth of some of these questions.
At first glance Romans 9 contains some theological concepts that we have some difficulty dealing with. The overall thrust of this chapter is that Israel was the special, elect people of God. They had a privilege to know God… yet because of their unbelief they missed it when it came to Christ and the Gospel.
In the first three verses of this chapter Paul explains his anguish and passion for the people of Israel, his people. His deep “pathos” is not easy to identify with. Such deep feelings are difficult to identify and deal with.
Paul continues to give us a conceptual understanding of their heritage. They were of the adoption… of the all the people of the earth they were chosen by God. They were the recipients of the covenants, promises of blessings. Through the law the character of God was made known to them.
Beginning at verse 6, Paul gives us a clue about the nature of the question that Jewish people had. It’s the thing that was hindering them from opening themselves to Christ and the Gospel. They were the physical descendants of Abraham, they thought that this gave them a special relationship with God. Paul counteracts this concept, by explaining that being part of the faith of Abraham is what counts.
Paul talks about the justice of God, the mercy of God and the sovereignty of God. Central to all of this he tells us about Pharaoh, one who resisted the sovereignty of God.
Paul refers first to Israels ignorance of God’s righteousness. This is defined in two ways, they have a misdirected zeal towards God. Secondly their ignorance is an obstinate ignorance. A willful ignorance that is a result of unbelief.
Gods righteousness, being made right by God, by faith. In verse 5 we see Paul saying that the law is complete and finally complete because of God’s work on the cross.
Throughout chapter 10 Paul goes on to reiterate the justification through Faith in Christ.
This is a concise explanation of being saved by Faith and not by works. We see that Israels rejection of God is not total, nor is it final. There is a remnant, Paul himself is proof of this remnant.
Verses 16-24 Paul talks about how the gentiles were grafted in. Grafting is technically contrary to nature. Grafted trees always produce fruit according to the kind of tree grafted in, not the root-stock.
Paul is talking about a grafting process that is not normal, not natural. This is how the gentiles were grafted in to be made partakers of the root and stock of the olive tree they were grafted in to. Paul says, that the wild olive branch grafted in produces the fruit of the root-stock! Not its own fruit… Instead of producing wild olives it produces fruit from the tame root-stock.
Paul continues on to say that the branch that has been cut off can be grafted back in again, he is talking about Israel and how they can be brought back in.
Two statements that Paul makes to conclude this chapter. In verses 25-26 he talks about a mystery. There is a time coming when Israel will come out of her stupor and unbelief and will be saved. Israel can and will be grafted back in to the olive tree. The hardness and blindness are not total, nor is it permanent.