Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Romans 11:1-10, The Remnant of Israel

     1 I say then, God did not1 reject his people, did he? May it never be! For even I am an Israelite from the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin2 . 2 God did not reject his people3, whom he knew before hand4. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in Elijah5, how he interceded with God against Israel? 3 ‘Lord, they killed your prophets, they destroyed your alters, and only I have been left and they seek my life.’6 4 But what was the divine reply7 to him? ‘I left myself seven- thousand men, ones who8 didn’t bend a knee to Baal.’9 5 In the same way then, even in the present time, there is10 a remnant according to the election11 of grace12. 6 But if by grace, then it is no longer from works13, otherwise, grace no longer becomes grace. 7 What then? What Israel is seeking14, they didn’t obtain this, but the chosen did obtain it.15 But the remaining16 were hardened17, 8 just as it has been written,

     ‘God gave to them the spirit of stupor18 
     Eyes that do not see 
     and ears that do not hear 
     until the present day.19

9 And David says,

     ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, 
     a stumbling-block20 and a retribution to them.21 
     10 Let their eyes be darkened that they don’t see 
     and bend their backs forever22.23

1 μὴ (not) 
This expects a “no” answer. Paul follows this up with μὴ γένοιτο (May it never be!)

2 Paul is providing proof that God didn’t reject Israel as Paul himself is a Jew.

3 An echo from both Psalms 94:14 and 1 Samuel 12:22.

4 A possible meaning to this could be: “Whom he knew before he created the world”.

5 Obviously, there is no book of Elijah. Paul is referring to a passage about Elijah. Paul is referring to 1 Kings 19:1-18 where Ahab kills the prophets of God. Elijah flees and intercedes against Israel.

6 From 1 Kings 19:10 and 14.

7 τί λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ χρηματισμός (what was the divine reply to him)

Greek: “what does the divine revelation say to him”.

8 οἵτινες (ones who) 

Greek: “such as”.

9 From 1 Kings 19:18. Paul uses this as allegory to show how God reserves a “remnant” from a defiant Israel.

10γέγονεν (there is)

Greek: “there has become”. The verb is in the perfect tense and describes an action that occurs in the past, but it’s actions are still being felt at the time of the reader. Thus, the translation “there is”. In other words, the remnant was created and still remains today (at the time of the letter being written).
The “remnant”, like the 7000 men in 1 Kings 19, shows that not all of Israel is defiant to God’s wishes. Although most of Israel during Paul’s time rejected the Gospel of Christ, a “chosen few” received the promise with gladness. Paul is one of these “chosen few”.

11 κατ ̓ ἐκλογὴν (according to the election) 

or “according to the choosing”. God chose the “remnant”.

12 χάριτος (of grace) 

God’s favor on mankind is the only reason that there is an election or choosing.

13 For the most part, Paul is referring to the Jewish law, but on a grander scale, there is nothing that people can do in order to receive the divine gift of eternal life other than to have faith in Jesus Christ. “...if human beings could by their works secure the blessing of God (as Paul points out in the second part of the verse), grace would “no longer” be grace.” Douglas Moo The Epistle to the Romans, page 678.

14 ἐπιζητεῖ (is seeking) 

The verb is in the present tense and carries a “continual” aspect. It could be translated: “continually seeking”.

15 Israel can not obtain the blessings of God by performing the works or the Jewish law or performing any other works for that matter. The “remnant” did obtain the blessings of God through faith in Christ.

16 “The remaining” are the Jews who reject the Gospel of Jesus. 17 Hardened in a spiritual sense. They refuse to believe in the Gospel of Christ.

18 From Isaiah 29:10. “A spirit of bewilderment”

19 From Deut. 29:4.

20εἰς σκάνδαλον (a stumbling-block)

or “a scandal”.

21 The whole passage could be translated, “Let their table be turned into a snare and a trap, into a stumbling-block and retribution to them.”

22 διὰ παντὸς (forever) 

Greek: “through all”. An idiom. The “bend their backs forever” may a reference to slavery.

23 From Psalms 69.

The Greek:

Ῥωμαίους 11·1 Λέγω οὖν, μὴ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ; μὴ γένοιτο· καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ Ἰσραηλίτης εἰμί, ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραάμ, φυλῆς Βενιαμίν. 2 οὐκ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ὃν προέγνω. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ἐν Ἠλίᾳ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή, ὡς ἐντυγχάνει τῷ θεῷ κατὰ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ; 3 κύριε, τοὺς προφήτας σου ἀπέκτειναν, τὰ θυσιαστήριά σου κατέσκαψαν, κἀγὼ ὑπελείφθην μόνος καὶ ζητοῦσιν τὴν ψυχήν μου. 4 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ χρηματισμός; κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ ἑπτακισχιλίους ἄνδρας, οἵτινες οὐκ ἔκαμψαν γόνυ τῇ Βάαλ. 5 οὕτως οὖν καὶ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ λεῖμμα κατ ̓ ἐκλογὴν χάριτος γέγονεν· 6 εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις. 7 Τί οὖν; ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραήλ, τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπέτυχεν, ἡ δὲ ἐκλογὴ ἐπέτυχεν· οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἐπωρώθησαν, 8 καθὼς γέγραπται·
ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, ὀφθαλμοὺς τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν καὶ ὦτα τοῦ μὴ ἀκούειν,
ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας. 9 καὶ Δαυὶδ λέγει·
γενηθήτω ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν εἰς παγίδα καὶ εἰς θήραν καὶ εἰς σκάνδαλον καὶ εἰς ἀνταπόδομα αὐτοῖς,
Ῥωμαίους 11·10 σκοτισθήτωσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτῶν τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν καὶ τὸν νῶτον αὐτῶν διὰ παντὸς σύγκαμψον.

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