You guys probably think I’m slacking.  It’s actually crunch time, as in, we are in week 5 of 7 of class and EVERYTHING is due at once.  I’m knee-deep in a close reading assignment (I chose Romans 1:18-32 – ’cause you know, I’m nothing if not easy and non-controversial) and am still trying to answer these weekly assignments with as much fervor (and annoyance to my classmates) as possible.  All that to say…not slacking, just tired and crazy which is my preferred m.o.
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(2) Heralds of the Good News: “Lord, who has believed our report?”: (A) Discuss your basic understanding of Paul’s main point(s) in Romans 9:30 – 10:21. What might Paul mean when he says that Christ is the “end/goal/destiny (Greek =τέλος; telos) of the L/law” (10:4)? How does Paul read both Leviticus (18:5) and Deuteronomy (30:12–14), and how does this relate to the role of the Law (Torah) and the resurrected Christ? (What do you think is Paul’s message? How does this section relate to what comes before [9:1–29] and after [11:1–36]? Moo, Romans, [p. 618] claims that this section is “something of an excursus from Paul’s main argument in chaps. 9–11.” Do you agree?)

 

2a.  I find myself, in Week 5, perhaps being weighed down a bit not necessarily (since it would be easy to blame) by Paul’s incredible mind but rather, by my own as it continues to try diving so deeply into what we are learning that I might fail to step back and go, “Ok, big picture – don’t miss it.”  While Paul had his regular main points all interwoven and tied back to Old Testament Scripture, the “big picture” main point in 9:30-10:21 is his effort to hammer home his entire point of the epistle:  to display God’s righteousness in the salvation that comes through the crucified and risen Christ.[1]  I read this passage as a continuation of Paul’s tireless effort to bring those in Rome to Christ, and he is doing it in such a way that maybe, just maybe they won’t miss this time.

 

I believe that Paul might mean (in fact, I think he does mean…) that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, as righteousness comes through Jesus, not through the Law.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses.  Christ is the end of the law; He is (and was always) the goalof the law.  Christ is what the law was always pointed toward.  Jesus Christ is the culmination of the Torah so that there can be right standing and covenant membership for all who believe.

 

David Lincicum’s Chapter 14 in Blackwell/others book painted a helpful picture in terms of understanding how Paul read both Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-14 in relation to the role of the Torah and Christ’s resurrection.  Basically, Paul’s argument here is that it was not only because of God’s divine hardening that Israel missed the Messiah they had been awaiting, but also because they failed to approach the law in the right way.  The law should have led Paul’s fellow Jews to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, but Paul adduces they messed it all up and because of that, there is now an inclusion of Gentiles in the righteousness of covenant community.  “The ‘righteousness’ that Israel unsuccessfully sought and the Gentiles unintentionally found, Paul argues, is available to all indiscriminately on the basis of faith in the Messiah (10:5-13).”[2]

 

The fact that Paul writes about this situation/concept here (that Christ is the end goal of the law), in this section [of 10:4], has an absolute direct and brilliantly calculated bearing on the whole topic of election which preceded it in Chapter 9.  It was, in my mind, a rhetorical Paul-like cry out of “How could you?” to God’s chosen people (Israel).  Paul had to bring home the concept that there had always been a process of election inside the perceived impenetrable walls of Israel.  And because of that, of course God’s word had not failed and of course it was entirely conceivable that some (of the chosen) hadn’t believed.

 

Therefore, Paul may have very well read the Leviticus and Deuteronomy passages strictly in an effort to emphasize the “why” behind the fact that they (again, Israel, God’s chosen people) were unrighteous since they had failed to have faith in Jesus as their Messiah.  Paul obviously knew wholeheartedly what the misguided belief/response/reaction had been to the law to date, and thus had to appeal to additional texts to substantiate further his claim and illuminate the differences of the “kinds” of righteousness.

 

But I believe it goes beyond that.  The more I thought about Moo’s response to Johnson, the more I began to question if Paul perhaps went to those passages to sort of appease the Jews and their disgruntled mindset regarding (some of) their exclusion and Gentile inclusion.  The Gentiles did not have the Jews’ “stories” or their chosen “lineage” and therefore their knowledge of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Sure, they may have known or heard or even memorized the passages, but it wasn’t the same.  Humans are proud of their heritage, their genealogy, and knowing where they “came from” because it carries the most emotional sense-of-belonging weight.  So, if you’re Paul, and you are trying to reassure the Jews that God is still faithful to His promise to them, but yes, there are other “chosen” people whom He loves too, wouldn’t you use the equivalent of what we call today “an inside joke?”

 

I side with Johnson on her position that Paul was teaching the content in Romans 9-11 because of Jewish unbelief, but ALSO because (and probably equally if not more importantly because) the acceptance of the Gospel among great numbers of Gentiles was a big deal.  How could you, as a Jew and part of “chosen Israel” not think that maybe God didn’t mean they were actually chosen or worse, that they could even believe at all what He said and His promise would remain true?  Paul had to work double-time in Chapters 9-11 to show both God’s impartiality and His faithfulness. 

 

That Paul has a “positive evaluation” (Moo) of Israel in the subsequent Chapter 11 substantiates my position further.  To me, the 9:30-10:21 section is not an excursus from Paul’s main argument within the three Chapters (9-11) as a whole.  Rather, I liken it to an age-old tactic of “parents outsmarting their kids”:  Paul was saying that “Hey, just because I volunteer in your classroom and am nice to that other little girl/boy does not mean that what I have been saying to you since they day you were born isn’t true.  It just means I want them to succeed in school too.”

 

 
2b.  According to Lincicum (Blackwell/others book, Chpt. 14), in the “most puzzling element of a passage that could by no means be called straightforward, Paul apparently contrasts two kinds of righteousness in 10:5-8: ‘righteousness that is by the law’ and the ‘righteous that is by faith.’”[3]  These different “kinds” of righteousness are supported by Paul’s Old Testament references, Lev. 18:5 and Deut. 30:11-14, respectively.

 

I found the comparing and contrasting of Philo of Alexandria to Paul helpful in un-muddying the waters under the heading of righteousness in this part of Paul’s argument.  Philo apparently paraphrases Deut. 30:11-14 more than once in his works, and specifically in his treatise On the Virtues, he uses it to speak of three “ways” of repentance – in thoughts, intentions, and actions (which correspond to the Septuagint’s heart, mouth, and hands.)[4] 

 

Contrarily, when Paul quotes Deuteronomy in Romans 10:6-8, he makes three meaty allegorical assessments.  First, in Deut. 8 and 9, Israel is warned not to grow proud after they have entered the land of promise and subsequently say in their hearts “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  This is paralleled to Rom. 9:4 where Paul is warning against self-reliance.  Next, Paul removes the idea of any thought of “doing” the commandment within the Deuteronomic text, paving the way for his third assessment: replacing the commandment (in Deuteronomy) with Christ.

 

Immediately before this passage, Paul argued that the “righteousness” which Israel unsuccessfully sought and the Gentiles unintentionally found, is available to all indiscriminately on the basis of faith in the Messiah (10:5-13).[5]  Thus, the “righteousness of God” was in direct relation to the “faith in Jesus Christ.” If they simply had faith in Jesus – the end of the law – then they would see God’s righteousness in action.  His promise would be fulfilled in the resurrection.

 

 

 

(C) Next, discuss how you see Paul engaging the message of the Prophet Isaiah (particularly Isaiah chs. 51–55, & 65:1–2). How does Paul relate his own mission to the mission of the herald of the good news in Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15)?

 

2c.  According to Keck, Paul is using Isaiah’s words (10:20-21) to reference the current abnormality which he had already stated in 9:30-31.  The believing Gentiles – who had not striven for righteousness based on faith – “have attained it,” whereas Israel “stumbled.”[6]  Paul then uses the prophet a second time to drive home his point by applying what Isaiah said first to the Gentiles:  “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not:  I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name (Isa. 65:1, KJV).  Paul then goes on to point out in v.21 that the next quotation doesapply to Israel and that is:  “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people’ (Isa. 65:2).  Keck makes sure to remind us not to miss that this quote expresses both Israel’s enduring obstinacy and God’s persistent “Nevertheless,” which then cues up chapter 11 nicely.

 

In Romans 10:8-13, Paul has outlined an amelioration “from the word of faith that we preach” to the response of a person who calls on the name of the Lord and thus participates in righteousness and salvation.  He then retraces this progression in 10:14-15 from an antithetical perspective via very Paul-like rapid rhetorical question firing.  Those questions build on each other in almost anticipatory fashion culminating in the necessity for preachers to be sent out with the Good News.  His language connects to the texts he has just cited (i.e. “call” 10:12-13, cf. Joel 2:32; “believe” 10:9-11, cf. Isa. 28:16; “preach” 10:15, cf. Isa. 52:7; “believe” 10:16, cf. Isa. 53:1; “hear” 10:16, cf. Isa. 53:1).  Paul’s very last question of “How will they preach unless they are sent?” references Isaiah 52:7, revealing (and probably reassuring his own mind and self which had to doubt/wonder sometimes, just like all of us) the crucial role that his own mission plays in the outworking of God’s redemptive plan.

 

 

 


[1]Kirk, Daniel J.R., Unlocking Romans.  Page 162.  Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.
[2]Blackwell, Ben C., Goodrich, John K., Maston, Jason. Reading Romans in Context, Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Page 122 . Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2015
[3]Blackwell, Ben C., Goodrich, John K., Maston, Jason. Reading Romans in Context, Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Page 123 . Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2015
[4]Blackwell, Ben C., Goodrich, John K., Maston, Jason. Reading Romans in Context, Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Page 123 . Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2015
[5]Blackwell, Ben C., Goodrich, John K., Maston, Jason. Reading Romans in Context, Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Page 122 . Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2015
[6]Keck, Leander E.  Romans.  Page 261.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 2005.
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