The Epistles of Paul - Romans Part 14, 07-11-2014: Jacob, Esau and the Nations

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The Epistles of Paul - Romans Part 14, 07-11-2014:

The last two segments of this presentation were spent in a lengthy discussion of Romans chapter 9, which Paul began with an ardent plea for his “brethren”, whom he defined as his “kinsmen according to the flesh”. Here it is evident, that Paul did not use the terms brother and kinsman the way today's denominational sects claim that they should be used. Rather, Paul's brethren and kinsmen were “according to the flesh”, and those whom he was concerned for he was praying for because they did not yet accept the Gospel.

Paul went on to explain that his brethren and kinsmen “according to the flesh” were Israelites, and to the Israelites belonged the adoption, covenants, law, service and promises of Yahweh God. That leaves nothing for non-Israelites. We see that Paul reckoned Israel “according to the flesh”, and not according to what any of them as individuals may have believed. Rather, he was concerned that he still had brethren “according to the flesh” in Judaea who did not believe. This is a clear refutation of the so-called “spiritual Israel” doctrine of the denominational sects. Israel is “according to the flesh”, and Israel was reckoned by tribes in Matthew chapter 19 and Luke chapter 22, Acts chapter 26, James chapter 1 and Revelation chapters 7 and 21. Tribes can only be natural, genetic Israelites.

While Paul had, from the beginning of this epistle, already explained to the Romans that they too were of the children of Abraham and of the nations promised to come from the loins of Abraham, here in Romans chapter 9 and 10 he uses the term Israel more specifically of the Israelites in Judaea, and we must bear in mind that by it he does not mean to reference the Edomites of Judaea who he already told us were not Israel. But where Paul uses the term Israel as a label for the Israelites in Palestine, that does not mean that those dispersed Israelites of the Nations were not Israel, even though they were not explicitly called by that name. Paul wrote in Romans 9:30 “Now what may we say? That the Nations not pursuing justice, have happened upon justice; but that justice is from of faith. 31 But Israel pursuing a law of justice, with law did not attain.” The Majority Text, and therefore the King James version has an interpolation in Romans 9:31 which makes it seem as if Paul is saying that. None of the ancient manuscripts contain the text which the King James Version reflects.

After Paul explained in Romans 9:24 that Christians are called from among the Nations as well as from among the Judaeans, he immediately cited Hosea where the prophet explains that Israel would be put off by Yahweh God and later reconciled to Him. Paul then cited Isaiah in Romans 9:27 where he stated “Moreover Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, 'If the number of the sons of Israel were as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be preserved'”. At Paul's time the number of Israelites long ago scattered among the Nations certainly were as the sands of the sea: they were the Israelites among the Nations to which Paul brought the Gospel. Paul's statement here does not count them out of the salvation of Christ. However Paul's expression in quoting this passage of Isaiah agrees with his prayer at the beginning of Romans chapter 9, which was his hope that the remnant of true Israelites bearing the name of Israel in Palestine would continue to be preserved. The Judaean Israelites were the progeny of the remnant of the nation that was preserved in Isaiah's time, those who returned following what Isaiah had prophesied concerning the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations of the greater part of Israel, those who later became the Nations, those who were as the “sands of the sea” which Paul also refers to here.

Contrasting Jacob and Esau in Romans 9 Paul asserted that the Word of Yahweh would not fail, inferring that those in Judaea who continued to reject the Gospel did so because not all of those in Israel were Israelites, a reference to the historic fact that at that time the remnant of Israelites in Judaea were indeed mingled with the accursed Edomites under the same government and religion. Paul goes on to compare Jacob and Esau in order to corroborate that fact. Therefore, reading Romans chapters 9 and 10, and chapter 11 also, we must understand that Paul is referring to three parties, and not merely two. For most people cannot remove from their minds the false “Jew vs. Gentile” dichotomy of the denominational sects. First there are the remnant Israelites among the Judaeans, then there are the Edomites among the Judaeans, and finally there are the scattered Israelites among the Nations. Only two of these parties are candidates for repentance and conversion to Christ.

Comparing Jacob and Esau, Paul reinforces the faith in the ancient promises of Scripture and asserts that the promises in Christ were according to the promises of the Old Testament made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He explains that it is not for us to question this, and that it was the will of God to show mercy upon Israel, and only upon Israel. Paul said in verse 16 “So then, it is not of he that wishes, nor of he that strives, but of he that Yahweh shows mercy upon.” Saying that, Paul had spoken in response to Yahweh's election of Israel in Exodus chapter 33, in the very same place where Moses said “so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” Therefore no other people can strive for or wish to be a Christian, according to Paul of Tarsus himself here in Romans chapter 9.

Returning to verse 24 of Romans chapter 9 where Paul stated that Israel was called not out only from among the Judaeans but also from among the Nations, Paul explains how Israel was among the nations by quoting several passages from both Hosea and Isaiah in reference to the Israelites cast off by Yahweh in the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations which began over 750 years before Paul wrote this epistle. These passages which Paul quotes in verses 25 and 26 of Romans 9 demonstrate as much, where he wrote: “25 And as He says in Hosea, 'I will call that which is not My people, My people; and that which is not beloved, beloved.' 26 'And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them, you are not My people, there they shall be called sons of Yahweh who is living.'” Here Paul demonstrates that the Gospel being brought to the Nations was being brought to the Nations of the descendants of Israel who were taken away captive by the Assyrians, because that is who Hosea was addressing, and by citing Hosea Paul is explaining that those very people were the recipients of the “adoption”, or sonship, mentioned by Paul in Romans 9:4. With this, Paul is also corroborating his earlier definition of the faith of Abraham given in Romans chapter 4, that Abraham's seed would become many nations, and that those nations would be the heirs of the promises of Abraham's faith. Paul is teaching the reconciliation of ancient Israel to Christ according to the prophets, and that would of course include the Romans. Paul was certainly not teaching universalism, since he himself stated that “it is not of he that wishes, nor of he that strives, but of he that Yahweh shows mercy upon”, and Hosea also explains that Yahweh promised mercy to these cast-off Israelites. Throughout Scripture, there are no other recipients of the promises of mercy from Yahweh God in Christ outside of Israel, whether it be the remnant in Judaea or those who were long ago scattered abroad.

Now proceeding into Romans chapter 10, we must bear in mind that Paul is often still contrasting Jacob and Esau, Israelites and Edomites in Judaea, and he only cares about those in Judaea who are Israelites. But as we have seen, that comparison does not discount nor exclude those cast-off Israelites from among the Nations who were being reconciled to Yahweh, who are also a part of Paul's discourse. So there are three parties being considered by Paul in these chapters, and not merely two.

1 Brethren, truly the preference of my heart, and supplication to Yahweh is for preservation on their behalf.

The Majority Text has the end of this verse to read “on behalf of those who are of Israel.” The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Claromontanus (D). It is clear from the context of chapter 9, which is not broken by the artificial chapter divisions contrived centuries after Paul had written, that Paul is concerned with the Israelites among the Judaeans, and that not all Judaeans are Israelites.

2 I attest to them that they have zeal for Yahweh, but not in accordance with full knowledge. 3 Ignorant of the justice of Yahweh, and seeking to establish their own justice [A, B, and D want “justice” here; the reading agrees with P46, א, and the MT], to the justice of Yahweh they would not submit.

Even today men create images of god that originate in their own minds rather than in Scripture, and they zealously pursue what they come to believe are the desires of that god in their minds, which are in reality mere idols that they have invented for themselves. Doing so they create their own sense of right and wrong. Influential men can persuade communities to follow along, and we have witnessed that today in the formation of the denominational sects. Judaism in the centuries before Christ became such a sect, when the door was opened for the conversion of the Canaanites and Edomites. The Christian duty is to examine the Scripture and to discover and pursue the will of Yahweh the God of the Scripture, who is the God of their fathers and the God of Creation.

The prophet Ezekiel foretold of the very thing Paul explains here, in Ezekiel chapter 33 where the Word of Yahweh address the “children of thy people” and the “house of Israel” which is facing the captivity: “10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. 13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Yahweh in Ezekiel explains that those who would trust to their own righteousness would find death for a single sin. But those who were sinners and repented would find life. Paul explains here in the next verse that Christ is the fulfillment of the law. Therefore Israel should not seek their righteousness in the law, but in Christ. If they continued to seek righteousness in the law, it was their own righteousness which they sought, and not the righteousness of Yahweh.

4 Indeed Christ is the fulfillment of the law for justice [or righteousness] to each one that is trusting [or believing].

The Greek word παντὶ is the dative singular of πᾶς (Strong's # 3956), “all, the whole”, and Liddell & Scott (at πᾶς, A., III.) explain that the word has an idiomatic usage equivalent to ἕκαστος (Strong's # 1538), which is each or every. So the phrase may have been rendered “to every one that is trusting”, or “to every one who believes” as the King James Version has it. In any event, however, when we see a phrase such as to each one or to every one in any sort of writing, we must examine the context of the writing in order to discover what is meant by such a phrase. Here the context of Paul's discourse limits the scope of every one to every one of the children of Israel, since Christ came to redeem those who were under the law (Galatians 4:5), which is the topic of discussion here. Each one that is trusting is each Israelite who has faith in Christ. Paul is still comparing Jacob and Esau here, and speaking about the Israelites in Judaea who have not yet accepted the Gospel.

Christ is the fulfillment of the law. He Himself said “17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Paul explained in Romans chapter 7 that Christ fulfilled the law by dying so that Israel could be freed from the law, sacrificing Himself on behalf of Israel. When Christ fulfilled the law, Israel became reconciled to Yahweh. Submitting themselves to Christ, Israelites receive that justification promised in the prophets by Yahweh. From Isaiah 45:25: “In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Yet submission to Christ requires one to uphold the moral laws of God, while relying in Christ for propitiation rather than upon rituals.

5 Moses writes of the justice which is from of the law, “That a man who practices these things shall have life by them.”

Here Paul quotes from Leviticus chapter 18: “4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. 5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” Literally Paul's Greek, as the Hebrew also has it, reads “shall live in them”. However the meaning is that one would live, or have life, if one keeps the law, and therefore it is interpreted in that manner here in Romans. Some have been confused by the passage in Romans, imagining it to say that if one keeps the law, one would be obligated to continue in it, but that is not the meaning of the original passage in Leviticus where all Israel was indeed obligated to continue in the law. They were obligated to it, they were bound by it and therefore if they kept it they were assured life, but if they broke it they would surely find death. That is what Paul refers to here and our translation eliminates the possible confusion.

6 But righteousness from faith speaks in this manner: “You should not in your heart say: who shall ascend into the heaven?” That is to say, to bring Christ down. 7 Or “Who shall descend into the abyss?” That is to say, to bring the Anointed up from among the dead. 8 But rather what does it [D has “the writing”] say? “The word is near to you, in your mouth and in your heart:” that is to say, the word of the faith that we proclaim,

The word χριστὸς may have been translated as anointed in both passages here in Romans 10 verses 6 and 7. But it certainly cannot refer to Christ Himself in verse 7, or we must imagine that Paul denies the Resurrection, which is highly unlikely. Therefore it must refer to Israel as the anointed people of Christ in verse 7. It can also refer to Christ with His people, the anointed collectively, in verse 6 also, as the apostle Jude quotes Enoch where he wrote “14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints”.

The questions which Paul asks here in verses 6 and 7 are apparently a paraphrase of Deuteronomy chapter 30, verses 12 and 13, and the conclusion here in verse 8 is from verse 14 of that same chapter. There in the law Yahweh is concluding the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience which he had presented to the children of Israel. Since the Septuagint is not much different from the King James Version, we will read the King James from Deuteronomy chapter 30: “10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. 15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil”.

Christ is the Tree of Life. Christ is also the Word made flesh. Israelite Christians who love Him should keep His commandments, thereby choosing life over death. A return to Christ by Israel also necessitates a keeping of those laws which He had placed upon the hearts of the children of Israel. So we see Paul cite from Deuteronomy chapter 30 that “the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it”, and we see in Romans chapter 2 that “... when the Nations, which do not have the law, by nature practice the things of the law, these, not having law, themselves are a law; who exhibit the work of the law written in their hearts....” Likewise in Jeremiah chapter 31 we read: “33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Since Yahweh had only given His law unto Israel, then this message also must be exclusive to Israel, to both the Israelites in Judaea, as Paul explains here, and to the Israelites of the dispersion, as Paul explained in Romans chapter 2.

From Psalm 147: “19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” As we have previously explained, in Genesis chapter 3 the cherubim were set to keep the way to the Tree of Life, and later the cherubim were set atop of the Ark of the Covenant where the tablets of the law were kept. Therefore the keeping of the law is the way to the Tree of Life for the Adamic man.

9 that if by [B has “by the speech in”] your mouth you were to agree with Prince Yahshua [P46 and A add “Christ”], and trust in your heart that Yahweh has raised Him from among the dead, you shall be delivered. 10 With the heart one believes in justice, and with the mouth one agrees in deliverance. 11 Indeed the writings say, “All who are trusting of Him shall not be ashamed.”

All who are trusting of, or believing in, Christ shall not be ashamed. However Paul is quoting Isaiah 28:16, and he had already quoted this same passage at Romans 9:33, where we cited and discussed it at length. This prophecy in Isaiah is addressing “the hirelings of Ephraim” (28:1, 3) and “ye afflicted men, and ye princes of this people that is in Jerusalem” (28:14). Then Yahweh says through the prophet “15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with Hades, and agreements with death; if the rushing storm should pass, it shall not come upon us: we have made falsehood our hope, and by falsehood shall we be protected: 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord, even the Lord, Behold, I lay for the foundations of Sion a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious stone, for its foundations; and he that believes on him shall by no means be ashamed. 17 And I will cause judgment to be for hope, and my compassion shall be for just measures, and ye that trust vainly in falsehood shall fall: for the storm shall by no means pass by you, 18 except it also take away your covenant of death, and your trust in Hades shall by no means stand: if the rushing storm should come upon you, ye shall be beaten down by it.” Isaiah is saying that those of Israel who reject the stone shall suffer trial, but their covenant with death shall nevertheless be taken away. However those of Israel who accept the stone, which is Christ, shall not be ashamed.

Christ was laid as the cornerstone of Zion so that the children of Israel who reject Him may stumble and fall, but those who accepted Him would be assured of their salvation according to His promise. Paul refers to this same prophecy again in Romans 11:11 where he asks “Now I say, did they stumble in order that they would fall?” Paul is referencing those Israelites which sided with the Edomites in the rejection and condemnation of Christ. However the Edomites themselves, those from whom today's Jews have descended, were not His sheep in the first place since they were not Israelites, and they were never intended to accept Him. Yahshua tells those opposed to Him in John chapter 10: “26 But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep! 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me”. The Edomites were pre-destined to stumble upon the Stone.

The Gospel was supposed to separate the wheat from the tares from that very time. Therefore it is not only for those who choose Christ, but for those whom Christ has chosen, and Christ has of course only chosen the children of Israel, as we have seen Paul explain throughout this epistle, that it is not for he that strives or he that wishes. But it is for the called “in accordance with purpose”, the chosen, the preordained, the “appointed beforehand” which Paul already explained, and which are only found in the Old Testament children of Israel. Paul refers to this same thing in another context, in 2 Timothy chapter 2 where he wrote “19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.” Paul tells those who accepted Christ that they must separate from those who rejected Him.

Paul is saying essentially the same thing, but in a quite different manner, that the apostle John taught in his second epistle, 2 John 9-11: “9 Each who going forth and not abiding in the teaching of Christ has not Yahweh. He abiding in the teaching, he also has the Father and the Son. 10 If one comes to you and does not bear this teaching, do not receive him into the house and do not speak to welcome him! 11 For he speaking to welcome him takes a share in his evil works.” Paul, in 2 Timothy chapter 2, was warning those who accepted Christ to reject those who rejected Christ, and the apostle John was teaching that same thing. Christ said “my sheep hear my voice”, and therefore in the Adamic world of the apostles, and out of the mingled children of Jacob and Esau among the Judaeans, the wheat and the tares were separated by this acceptance.

12 For there is no distinction of Judaean and Greek; since the Prince Himself is of all riches to all those calling upon Him. 13 Indeed “all who would call on the name of Yahweh shall be delivered.”

Now Paul cites Joel 2:32, a message made exclusively to the children of Israel, and here Paul is proclaiming its fulfillment in Christ. From Joel chapter 2: “23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. 24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. 26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. 27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”

Paul is not merely taking words out of context. Those who would include the other races into the equation of “whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD” are inviting the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpiller, and the palmerworm to the table of the children. Rather, in the context where Paul is using the passage it refers to Israel in Judaea and Israel scattered into the Nations, and the context in Joel where the words were originally written refers to Israel in Palestine when they were taken into captivity, at the time they were being scattered into Nations. This promise was made exclusively to those people and it being the Word of Yahweh God, it cannot be changed. Therefore in the very next verse of Joel, in chapter 3, the topic changes to a prophecy of Armageddon, the harvest, the Valley of Decision and the regathering of a scattered Israel. Every Israelite who calls on the name of Yahweh shall not be ashamed, and shall be delivered.

14 How then would they call to Him that they have not believed? And how would they believe of Him they have not heard? And how would they hear apart from proclamation? 15 And how would they proclaim, unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How fair are the feet of those bringing the good news of good things.” 16 But they have not all listened to the good message. Indeed Isaiah says, “Yahweh, who has believed our report?”

The Word of Yahweh says at Nahum 1:15: “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” However in verse 15 Paul is certainly quoting Isaiah 52:7, and then in verse 16 he quotes Isaiah 53:1, which is also quoted in relation to Christ in the Gospel of John (12:38). We shall read parts of Isaiah 52 through to the beginning of chapter 53, so that we can see precisely what Paul was referencing.

From Isaiah chapter 52: “1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. 2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. [They were bought back from sin, as Paul explains in Romans 7:14, and reconciled to Yahweh through the passion of the Christ.] 4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. [They were taken by the Assyrians, and eventually spread throughout the Nations of Mesopotamia and Europe.] 5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? [by the Assyrians] they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. 6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day [the day of the Gospel] that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I [and Christ is Yahweh]. 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth [Christ is King]!” Here we see exactly why Paul quoted these words from Isaiah, and they apply to the children of Israel who were taken off into captivity, becoming the Nations from which Israel would later be called. To continue a little later in the chapter: “... for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD [those with Adamic spirits must separate themselves from those without]. 12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward. 13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations [the Nations of Romans chapter 4, promised to come from Abraham's seed, the sprinkling of blood on the people was done by the priests as a condition of the law, and Paul relates this to Christ in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10]; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

17 So then, faith is from hearing, but through hearing the word of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ and the report of Christ are matters of prophecy in Isaiah, and they were explicitly prophesied for the same children of Israel of the ancient captivities. Paul here in Romans 10:16 shows that Isaiah also prophesied that there would be incredulity on the part of the hearers. Isaiah chapter 53, a Messianic prophecy, goes on to explain how the Christ would be despised and rejected by men. In verse 17 Paul explains that the true faith of God is to be found in the words of the Gospel of Christ, and he is explaining how that Gospel is found in the prophet Isaiah.

18 But I say, have they not heard? Yea, rather, “into all the land went out their voice, and to the western extremities of the habitable world their words.”

The Greek phrase τὰ πέρατα τῆς οἰκουμένης is literally “the ends of the habitable world”. Liddell & Scott have at πέρατος “on the opposite opposite land or quarter, especially of the west, as opposed to the east, ἐν περάτῃ, Odyssey [Homer].” Another way to simply say “end” is ἔσχατος (2078). Aside from Homer, Herodotus in his Histories, 3:115, discusses the Casseritides (or Tin Islands), which was an ancient name for the Scilly Islands and Cornwall in Britain, and he calls this region “the extreme tracts of Europe towards the west” and “the ends of the earth” (George Rawlinson’s translation). Near contemporaries of Paul, Tacitus, the Roman historian, calls the islands at the extreme west of Europe “the ends of the earth” on three occasions in the Agricola, chapters 12, 24, and 33, and Strabo, speaking in geographic terms of “the east and west ends of” the οἰκουμένη (inhabitable world) in that sense uses not πέρατος or ἔσχατος, but instead calls them τὰ ἄκρα. Hence πέρατος is the “opposite side”, or in reality the “western extremity” of the οἰκουμένη, and not as some imagine, every point of land on the planet, with Paul’s choice of words and the ancient secular writers for nearly one thousand years to the dawn of the Christian Era. Therefore the reason for our translation here of τὰ πέρατα as “the western extremities” is cultural context.

This saying certainly seems to be an allusion to Psalm 19:4, where it says “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” There David is praising the glory of God declared in the majesty of the heavens. Paul seems to be making an analogy, equating the messengers of the gospel to that same majesty of the heavens which David describes.

19 Then I say, had Israel not known? Firstly, Moses says, “I will provoke you to jealousy by a nation that is not, by a nation without understanding I will provoke you to anger.”

As we have discussed at length, for most of Romans chapter 9 Paul was comparing Jacob and Esau in reference to the Israelites of Judaea and the Edomites of Judaea. In Romans 9:22-23 Paul introduced the Israelites of the dispersions into his dialog, who are those which are the called from among the Nations. Paul quoted passages from Hosea and Isaiah in reference to the captivities and dispersions of ancient Israel, which had long been pagan, which serve to substantiate that assertion. The cast-off Israelites of the dispersions were described by Hosea as being “not a people”, and in Christ they were to be reconciled to Yahweh, and once again to be considered His people and the sons of Yahweh. These who were “not a people” would provoke to jealousy those of Israel who continued to look to the law for their righteousness, not yet having accepted Christ.

Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32:21 and using it as a rhetorical device. In the context of Deuteronomy, Yahweh was warning Israel that he would provoke them to jealousy with another people who He considered to be no people. Here Paul is using the passage in much the same way, however this time the people who were “not a people” were indeed the Nations of the cast-off Israelites of old.

20 Then Isaiah very boldly [D wants “very boldly”] says, “I am found by those not seeking Me, I am become manifest to those not inquiring of Me.” 21 Then to Israel he says, “The whole day long I stretch out My hands to a disobedient and contradictory people.”

Here Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-2. These verses are important to universalists, however they cannot be used to support universalism once the context of the prophecy is understood. Paul uses the words “then to Israel he says” as a rhetorical device presenting the text found in Isaiah 65:2, however the statement does not mean that the words of Isaiah 65:1 were not also said to Israel, for indeed they were. We shall once again turn to the Old Testament in order to understand the original passages. To see the context, we shall begin in Isaiah chapter 64, where Isaiah provides a vision of the lands of Israel and Judah following the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions: “6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. [This is a reference to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities for the sins of Israel.] 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. 9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. [Yahweh had no other people.] 10 Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. [Isaiah prophecies the destruction of the temple.] 12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?”

Over two hundred years before the Assyrian invasions of Israel, from the time of the divided kingdom and Jeroboam I, the official religion of Israel was Baal worship, which is recorded in 1 Kings chapter 12 where Jeroboam commanded the people to forsake the temple worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem and to worship the calves that he had set up at Bethel and Dan. Judah had also fallen into long lapses of paganism during this period, which is also evident from the scriptures in descriptions of things such as the revival of king Josiah recorded in 2 Kings chapter 21. In chapter 64 Isaiah is portraying the appeals to Yahweh made by the people upon the destruction of their lands. But the people had no care for Yahweh their God before their troubles began. Now in Isaiah chapter 65 Isaiah portrays Yahweh's response to those appeals of the people: “1 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. [Paul quotes this here in Romans 10:20. But the Word of God is not referring to non-Israelites, but rather it is referring to the ancient Israelites which had forsaken their God.] 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; [Paul quoted the first part of this in Romans 10:21, and it is referring to those same Israelites, and the records of Yahweh reaching out to Israel are found throughout the Old Testament scriptures.] 3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. [It was not the remnant of Judaea which was doing those things, but Israel in captivity from the time of the Assyrians.] 6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, 7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom. 8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. 9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”

The subsequent verses foretell some of the punishments which the Israelites would suffer for their sins. However even with all of their sins the Word of Yahweh says here in Isaiah that “I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there” and we see that the children of Israel remain as the elect of God. Paul is not telling us, as the universalists love to claim, that non-Israelite peoples can be Christians. Rather, he is using the first two verses of Isaiah chapter 65 rhetorically, to show that the Israelites who were put off in the punishment of the captivity, who had long been pagans, were not seeking Yahweh but had found Him in Christ. Those are the people Isaiah is describing, and Paul has consistently cited these Old Testament prophets in reference to them. But Israel in Judaea were seeking righteousness through the law and could not find it, and they remained a rebellious people by rejecting Christ.

In Romans chapter 11, we shall see that Paul continues his appeal for his “brethren”, his “kinsmen according to the flesh” in Judaea, his comparison of Jacob and Esau, and his discussion of the cast off and long ago dispersed Israelites who were then being reconciled to Yahweh in Christ.

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