Historical Problem of Justification By Faith:
Rejection of Israel and Acceptance of Gentiles
Cecil N. Wright
1. Rejection of Israel not a
breach of faith (91-29).
a. Israel's plight a
matter of grief to Paul (9:1-5).
2. Rejection of Israel
not arbitrary (9:30-10:31).
(1) Because they are
his kinsmen according to the flesh (vs. 1-3).b. Israel's
rejection not contrary to God's promise (vs.
(2) Because of the great privileges that have been
(bearers of the sacred name)
(b)adoption (see Ex. 4:22; Hosea 11:1)
(c) the glory (visible presence of God in
tabernacle and ancient temple)
(d) the covenants (with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, and the law of Moses)
(e) the service (divine ritual of tabernacle
(f) the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and
other illustrious ancestors)
(g)the Christ as concerning the flesh
("who is over all, God blessed for
ever") (vs. 4-5).
Israel never intended for all of Jacob's
descendants any more than promises to Abraham were
intended for all his sons--demonstrating that being
children of God and heirs is not dependent on the
accident of birth but on action of the divine will
in keeping with the divine word (vs. 6-9)c. Israel's
rejection not contrary to God's justice (vs.
(2) Same principle illustrated in choice of Jacob
rather than Esau before the children had been
born--the choice depending on the sovereignty of
God's will, and not even on works, which neither
had at the time of the choice--hence, not depending
on the claims of either birth or merit (vs.
(1)God is sovereign,
and acts in the freedom of his own will either to
show mercy to sinners or to harden them--as in
cases of Moses and Pharaoh (vs. 14-18).d. Israel's
rejection except for a remnant, and the calling of the
Gentiles, foretold by God through his prophets (vs.
(2)God, notwithstanding his sovereignty, does not
exercise it unjustly in rejecting impenitent and
unbelieving Jews and saving Gentiles who repent and
believe (vs. 19-24).
(1) Calling of those
not formerly his people (Hosea. 2:23; 1:10).
(2) A remnant only to be saved (Isaiah. 10:22-23;
a. Because Israel
refused to accept Christ (:30-33).
3. Rejection of Israel
not total (11:1-10).
(1) Gentiles, who
had not been trying to follow after righteousness,
attained to it-- by faith (v. 30).b. Because Israel
(2) Israel, following after a law of righteousness
(the Law of Moses), did not attain to that law
(hence, did not attain to righteousness) (v.
(3) Israel did not attain to righteousness because
they sought it, not by faith, but by works (v.
(4) Israel stumbled at the stone of stumbling, as
it had been written (in Isaiah 28:16;
(1) Israel, zealous
for God but ignorant of his righteousness (his way
of making men righteous, namely, by faith in
Christ), sought to establish their own
righteousness (their own way of being righteous,
namely, by observance of the law), did not submit
themselves to the righteousness of God (vs.
1:3).c. Because Israel
rejected the gospel message (10:16-21).
(2) Christ was the "end" of the law for
righteousness to every one that believeth--that is,
he was its objective and terminus (v. 4).
(3)Righteousness by the Law of Moses was in
"doing" it (v. 5).
(4) Righteousness by faith is in confessing Christ
and believing God raised him from the
dead--believing it as an accomplished fact, not as
something yet to be accomplished (vs. 6-10).
(5) The Scripture says, "Whosoever believeth
on him shall not be put to shame," for there
is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile);
for the same Lord is the Lord of all, and rich unto
all that call upon him, for "Whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"
(6) Believing necessary for calling, hearing for
believing, preaching for hearing, and sending for
preaching (vs. 4:15--But preaching had been done to
Jews the same as to Gentiles, and to the Jews
(1) Israel did not
hearken unto the glad tidings--as Isaiah had said,
"Lord, who hath believed our report"
(Isa. 53:1, in connection with a prophecy
concerning Christ)--and that is the way faith
comes, namely, by hearing, and hearing by the word
of God (vs.16-17).
(2) Israel even heard the message, for it was
preached to the ends of the world--described in the
words of Psalm. 19:4 (v. 18).
(3) Israel even knew what was being preached, and,
as indicated by Moses (Deut. 32:21), it was
preached to the Gentiles to provoke them to
jealousy (and obedience) (v. 19)--This not the only
motive for preaching gospel to Gentiles, but one of
them (cf. 11:13-14).
(4) Isaiah described the situation, saying, "I
was found of them that sought me not" (Isaiah.
65:1), speaking of Gentiles, and saying to Israel,
"All day long did I spread out my hands unto a
disobedient and gainsaying people" (Isaiah
65:2) (vs. 20-21)
a. God did not cast off
his people whom he "foreknew"
(foreapproved)--namely the ones willing to accept his
grace by faith in Christ (vs. 1-2a).4. Rejection of Israel
not irrevocable (11:11-24).
b. There remains a remnant not cast off, just as in the
days of Elijah a remnant had not bowed the knee to
Baal--a remnant remaining according to the election of
grace--and since it is by grace it is not of works (vs.
c. Israel as a whole sought for righteousness (by
works), but did not attain to it; but the election (the
chosen remnant) did obtain it (by grace), and the rest
were hardened (v. 7).
d. Hardening of the greater part of Israel was in
harmony with Scripture--a spirit of stupor (Isaiah
29:10), their table a snare and their eyes darkened
(Psalm. 69:22-23) (vs. 9-10).
a. Israel did not
stumble to the point of a necessarily irreversible
fall; but by their fall salvation has come to the
Gentiles, to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy (and, by
implication, salvation). (v. 11).
5. Rejection of Israel
not permanent (11:25-36): This is a mystery being here
(1) Had Israel not
fallen, but have stood by virtue of works, it would
have proved salvation (namely, by faith) not
needed, in which case salvation by faith would not
have been offered to the Gentiles.b. If Israel's
"fall" is the riches of the world, of the
Gentiles, (and it was), Israel's "fullness"
(conversion in significant numbers) would be much more
so; hence, Paul sought by his work among Gentiles to
provoke Jews to jealousy (emulation), and the receiving
back or reconciling of Israel in substantial numbers
("fullness"), would be nothing less than
"life from the dead" (vs. 12-15).
(2) But, since Israel as well as the Gentiles had
fallen and were unrighteous by works, and God had
provided salvation by faith for everybody (for the
Gentile as well as the Jew), it may be said that
salvation has come to the Gentiles because of
(3) In the plan of God the acceptance of the gospel
by large numbers of Gentiles was to result in the
salvation even of Jews who might not otherwise be
saved--partly, no doubt, by evangelistic efforts of
Gentile Christians toward Jews and partly by way of
"jealousy" (emulation) on the part of the
Jews (vs. 13-14, 30-31).
c. Receiving Jews back not impossible or improbable
(1) If firstfruit is
holy (in sense of possibility of acceptance--and
the first Christians were Jews), the lump (the mass
of Israel) is also holy (v. 16a).
(2) If the root is holy (may refer to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob as the roots of the tree of
Israel, and had no advantage over the natural
branches (Jews) who had been broken off because of
unbelief, for they could be grafted in again should
they not continue in unbelief--this more to be
expected than that the Gentiles should have been
grafted in (vs. 17-24).
a. Hardening in part
(the greater part) had befallen Israel until the
"fullness" of the Gentiles had come in (come
into favor with God through Christ); and all Israel
would be save, even as it is written (in Isaiah.
59:20-21; 27:9) (vs. 25-27).<<br> b. As
touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake (in
the overruling providence of God it has proved
advantageous to Gentiles); but as touching the
"election" (the choosing by God), they are
beloved for the fathers' sake (the sake of the
ancestors of Israel)--for the gifts and calling of God
are not repented of (vs. 28-29)--And thus they may yet
be saved.Go To Top Of The
c. As Gentiles in time past had been disobedient to God
but now have obtained mercy by the disobedience of
Israel (in the way already indicated), even so have the
Jews now been disobedient that (in the overruling
providence of God) they may by the mercy shown to
Gentiles yet obtain mercy (through evangelistic
activity of Gentile Christians and emulation of
Gentiles by Jews) (vs. 30-31).
d. This is the case, "for" God has shut up
all unto disobedience (counted all as being
disobedient) that he might have mercy on all--Jew and
Gentile alike (v. 32)--Using and overruling alike the
conduct of each to bring mercy (salvation) to the
e. Doxology (vs. 33-36).