Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 9-11 Introduction - 9:3
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 9-11 Introduction
In the first eight chapters of this letter, Paul explained and defended the gospel he preached and, in particular, the truth that a person can only become righteous by faith. He made it clear that no one ever has or ever will do enough good works to earn eternal life. No human is even remotely capable of doing so because each of us is hopelessly infected with a spiritual rebellion inherited from our ancestors. Yet by sending His Son to the cross and resurrecting Him, God made this gift possible. Now, beginning at chapter nine and continuing through chapter eleven, Paul turns his attention to a widespread spiritual crisis which had been exposed by the preaching of this gospel.

Monday: Romans 9-11
By the time he wrote this letter (around AD 57-58) the Christian church was about 25 years old and by that time a very troubling pattern had emerged which could not be ignored. Simply put, the problem was this: large numbers of Gentiles were turning to Christ, but after an initial season of ingathering, Judaism had rapidly hardened to the gospel. From Jerusalem to synagogues throughout the Mediterranean region it was persecuting the church. In particular, Jews rejected the concepts that the Messiah had been crucified (1Co 1:23) and that righteousness could be achieved by faith alone—the very foundational elements of the gospel Paul was preaching everywhere he went.

Tuesday: Romans 9-11
And the obvious question raised by their reaction is this: Why? One would have thought that Jews would have been the most responsive of cultures, not the least. After all, God had been prophetically preparing them for millennia, and the Messiah was one of their own. Yet by the time Paul wrote this letter they routinely rejected appeals to believe in Jesus and had become the church’s most aggressive opponents. To every believer in Rome this situation must have been disturbing, but to Jewish believers it may well have posed a serious challenge to their faith. What did so many of their family members, elders and rabbis see that they themselves had missed? Could it be that this gospel was false doctrine? Had they, by believing in Jesus, become disloyal to their own beloved nation?

Wednesday: Romans 9-11
This crisis of faith could not be ignored and no one was in a better position to address it than Paul, who had himself been a violent persecutor of the church (Ac 7:58-8:3; 26:9-11; Gal 1:13, 14; 1Ti 1:12-14). So, over the course of the next three chapters he will address this question as well as one which apparently arose in his own mind: Did such widespread spiritual blindness mean God had abandoned Israel? Had they disqualified themselves from the promises made to their forefathers?

Thursday: Romans 9:1, 2
vs1-2: He opens this new section with a revelation about himself so shocking that he feels the need to assure his readers that he is not lying or self-deceived (Gal 1:20; 1Ti 2:7). He says, “I am telling the truth in Christ” meaning the Lord has instructed him to say this. Then he asserts that both his human conscience and the Holy Spirit within him bear witness that it’s true. And what is this revelation about himself that needs such an introduction for us to believe it? It is that he lives with a constant state of grief over Judaism’s widespread rejection of Christ. Why, one might ask, is this so surprising? After all, Paul was a Jewish rabbi so he would naturally love his people and grieve when they reject the Savior, but we need only review the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters to recall that the past 25 years of his life had been filled with persecution instigated by his own people. In fact, he will close this very letter asking the Roman believers to pray that he will be protected from hostility during his upcoming visit to Jerusalem (Ro 15:30-32). So it would be very normal for his readers to assume that he had become resentful toward Judaism, or at least had lost hope that they might still respond.

Friday: Romans 9:3
v3: Yet not only does he tell us there is “great and incessant pain in my heart” (literal), he says his compassion for his brethren is so strong it has led him to do the unthinkable: over the course of some indefinite period of time in the past he tried to bargain with God on their behalf. He actually asked that whatever curse had fallen upon Judaism be transferred to himself so that they would again be given mercy. This is, of course, an impossible request, one which God could never honor. Only Christ can carry our curse (Gal 3:13), and Paul is certainly not recommending that we follow his example, but it should be noted that he was following Moses’ example (Ex 32:30-33).

Saturday: Romans 9:3
v3 (continued): Still Paul tells us about this episode to show us the depth of his love. If it could be done (which it can’t) he would have willingly forfeited his own eternal life in order to save his “brothers,” his “kinsmen according to the flesh.” His literal words are, “For I was praying myself to be accursed (anathema) from Christ on behalf of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (1Co 16:22; Gal 1:8). Knowing how confident he was of eternal life (Ac 9:3-8; 2Co 12:1-4; Php 1:21-24) the thought that he would even consider such an exchange is breathtaking. Few of us love even family members to this degree, let alone our persecutors.

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