March - Reading 17

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Mar 17, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening all -

    Tonight in Matthew we read of a minor betrayal and a major betrayal. Our first passage was the account of Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gathsemane. While Christ anguishes over his destiny, the three accompanying disciples, James, John, and Peter fall asleep. What a disappointment this must have been for Christ. Why do you suppose these men fell asleep? Were they unaware of the swiftness with which events would be changing their lives and ministries? Were they emotionally and physically exhausted from the events in the previous passages? Was it Satan who lulled them to sleep and thus prompted Christ's statement,"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak?"

    Then, perhaps, the most famous betrayal of all times. Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver kissed Christ's cheek to identify Him to the crowd. This was all so the prophecies could come to pass and was necessary for the fulfillment of God's will, but what strikes me as truly hurtful to Jesus, the Man, is that the disciples "deserted Him and fled." :(

    I like the anology in Romans tonight of the tree and the branches. It is a reminder that God is in control of who are the elect and just as he cut off the Jews, so could He do to us. Our roots are in Judaism and it is from that philosophy that we draw much of our spiritual knowledge. I find this passage to be a lesson in humility.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson – 12/18/05

    Romans 11

    In this chapter Paul sums up his exposition regarding the Jewish people. Once again, it is important to remember that a large percentage of Paul’s audience was likely Gentile and the previous Passages may have given those members of the church a false sense of superiority over their Jewish brethren. Paul’s prayer at the beginning of chapter 9 that began the current discussion implied a seeming hopelessness for the Jews of Paul’s time. Therefore, chapter 11 may have come as a surprise for the Christian Romans.

    The doctrine of Grace, God’s unmerited favor as the only means for salvation is never far from the surface in Paul’s writings and a recognition of that doctrine puts all human boasting to rest. The Jews, as a corporate whole, had indeed started down the wrong path by believing that works would save them, but it could not be forgotten that The Gentiles had had no path at all! The only way to God’s favor was by faith through Christ. This applied to all of mankind.

    Many interpreters have followed a line of reasoning that this Passage does not apply to the ethnic group of the Jews but the text seems to suggest that it is indeed the natural children of Israel to whom he refers. Therefore it is this line of thought we will follow today. Each Passage will be viewed as applying to the natural born Jew, not the adopted heirs of the Promise.

    So the issue of the Jewish problem is completed in Paul’s Letter to the Romans in chapter 11. Had God rejected those to whom He had originally made His covenants? Paul begins his conclusion in diatribe style with an echo of this question from 3:3.

    Romans 11:1-6 The Remnant Chosen By Grace

    In answer to the question of God rejecting the Jewish people as a whole, Paul offers himself as an example. Often in his Letters Paul speaks of his strong Jewish heritage. At this juncture he does so in order to demonstrate that God had not rejected the Jewish people at all. To the contrary, Christianity began with those of Jewish descent. The Disciples were all Jews, the Apostles, the earliest converts including those touched by Jesus Himself.

    To explain the rejection of Christ by the many and the acceptance of the few Paul falls back upon the doctrine of the remnant once again. This doctrine was espoused by many of the prophets from the time of the kings particularly when disaster was eminent. Paul, however, goes back before this classical time of the prophets to the earlier figure of Elijah to make his point. The story he relates is based upon the prophets experience after the defeat of Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel in 1Kings 19. Much as Paul had done in chapter 9, Elijah made an intercessory prayer regarding his countrymen While Paul, however, prayed for them, Elijah prayed against, believing that there were none who had not been tainted by baalism. God’s response to the prophet was that there were 7,00 Jews who had remained faithful. As such, God had preserved that remnant to carry on His purpose and keep alive the covenant He had made.

    So as not to be misunderstood on the issue of the remnant’s salvation, however, Paul; once again states that it was through grace that they were saved, not by works. It was imperative that his audience understood that ritual and ceremony did not make one a Jew. It had always been grace that saved the unworthy sinner. Nothing in that regard had changed.

    Romans 11:7-10 The Hardness of the Rest

    Regarding those who had not accepted the Messiah, those who were not of the elect, they became hardened. The word for hardened here is not the same as Pharaoh’s hardening but the concept is quite similar. The rejection of the Messiah in Jesus had begun with their disobedience to God centuries prior. What they sought was God’s favor through works, an impossible feat for man. By continuing on that course they failed to find favor at all and instead found rejection. They had a false sense of security in being the chosen people of God and this prideful and arrogant attitude led to both a spirit of “stupor” or “slumber” and a “snare” of their own devising.

    The stupor came into play in that they were numb to the correct path to righteousness. They fell into the snare of the Law as the way and became so entrenched, so hardened, that to accept Christ would be to admit their folly for all these many years. They put their confidence into their code and ritual instead of in God.

    Romans 11:11-12 The Repeated Question

    These two verses represent the crux of Paul’s answer to the Jewish problem. Had God failed in choosing the Jews as His people? Had the Jews ruined any opportunity of retaining their favored status with God? The answer is a resounding “no.” It was the failure of the Jews that opened the way for the Gentiles. The nation had stumbled, yes, but they are still able to regain their footing.

    The Old Testament had spoken of the Jews being the “light” to the Gentiles despite her exclusivity. This was God’s purpose for them from the time of Abraham. Now that the failure of the Jews had been used to reach the Gentiles, the salvation of the Gentiles will be used to reach the Jews. In the future when the Gentiles have reached their fullness the Jews will join them and also reach their fullness. Israel’s defeat is a temporary event.

    Romans 11:13-16 The Jealousy of Israel

    The remnant is presently guiding the nation of Israel through salvation history. It is their task, Paul’s included, to bring the rest of their numbers to a full knowledge of Christ as Lord. Paul states that this will happen by provoking them to believe. For Paul, this is the revelation of a great mystery. It is in this way that God will keep His promise to Israel despite her temporary fall.

    Though Paul was an Apostle for the Gentiles, that duty had a twofold purpose. Foremost it was to bring the Gospel to the people who were born outside of Jacob’s line but it was also to make those who were his genetic kinsman realize that they were missing something. Jealousy would lead Israel back to the proper knowledge of grace and restore the promises of God top the Patriarchs.

    The rejection of the Jews had led to the reconciliation of the Gentiles (the world). That was and is the present state of salvation history. Yet at the time of the Jewish reconciliation, we will be entering a new phase. Some interpret the phrase “life from the dead” as the Parousia while others contend that Paul is speaking metaphorically of the event in Ezekiel in which the dead bones of the fallen Hebrews reanimated and fleshed out. Israel accepting Christ as the Messiah would be a moral turning point for the people resulting in spiritual life from spiritual death.

    In verse 16, the firstfruits and the roots most likely refer to the Patriarchs, particularly Abraham. Abraham was righteous, a fact repeated throughout the Bible. The “firstfruits” are a reference to Numbers 15:17-21 where the Israelites are commanded to offer a portion of the dough to God. By offering this portion the whole lump is made holy. A part sanctifies the whole. The “root” likewise is a metaphor for the Patriarchs for whom God would always keep a remnant. The holiness of the roots made the entire tree holy if they turned to Christ and repented of their sins.

    Romans 11:17-24 The Allegory of the Olive Tree

    The olive tree was another common metaphor for Israel. It was the most heavily cultivated plant in the Middle East. Here Paul uses it as a warning against Gentile pride and a reminder of God’s power. In Paul’s time, grafting of new branches on to older olive trees was done to give the plant new vigor and to make it produce fruit again. Paul sees the newly grafted limbs as sharing in the richness of the tree. The Gentiles were sharing in the richness of the Patriarchal root of verse 16. As a receiver of riches rather than a giver, there was no room for Gentile pride. Gentile Christians are grafted into Israel’s historical covenant by grace through faith.

    In verse 19, Paul’s opponent in the diatribe becomes the arrogant Gentile who states, “Old branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Paul concedes the point with the statement, “That is true.” Many interpreters read this response as ironical and insist that it should be better translated “Well, well!” God does not prefer Gentiles to Jews. Jews were broken off because of unbelief. Gentiles were grafted on because of faith.

    If the circumstances were reversed, a just and holy God will break off the new grafts as well. No particular group or ethnicity has any reason to be proud. The favor of God is given by grace and is impartial. The Gentiles as the new graft are not the “natural” branches of the tree. This is a fact that they should never lose sight of.

    continued
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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