Who are the "Vessels of Destruction"?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Andre, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Andre

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    The thesis that I intend to argue for is basically this: In Romans 9 to 11, Paul makes the argument that God has hardened the nation of Israel, with the exception of a remnant, in support of His grand plan to solve the problem of sin and death through the work of Jesus on the cross. This argument is substantively made by Paul in Romans 9 through 11, although there are elements in Romans 5 and 9. In the course of making this argument, I will argue that the “vessels of destruction” in the famous potter metaphor of Romans 9 are not human beings in general, pre-destined to some eternal damnation, but rather disobedient Jews, who have rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and, as a result, have been hardened by God for a strange, wonderful, and counter-intuitive purpose: that Israel will, as God promised Abraham, bless the nations. In God’s subtle plan, the way that Israel has blessed the nations has turned out to be a self-sacrificial one – God has used her as the place where the power of sin is concentrated, so that it can then be transferred to Jesus and condemned on the cross.
     
    #1 Andre, Sep 22, 2010
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  2. Andre

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    First, some matters of methodology. I trust we all agree that when reading Paul, our goal is to determine what he intended to communicate to us. In other words, I hope we all agree that we should not approach a text like Romans 9 with the objective of finding some statement(s) that can be used to endorse a theological position that we bring to the reading. Stated otherwise, whether or not God pre-destines some to salvation or some to loss, we need to remember that it is Paul, not us, who wrote Romans and that we need to let him dictate the terms of his argument. If the text of Romans 9, and the broader context of the book as a whole, shows us that he is making an argument about the hardening of Jews in particular, then clearly we not to let Paul have his say, whether we like it or not.

    I assume that all parties will grant at least the possibility that Paul is making an argument about the hardening of the Jewish nation in particular in Romans 9 to 11. To not even grant this as a possibility to be considered is only defensible if, repeat if, this possibility has been otherwise ruled out elsewhere in Scripture.

    No doubt there will be some who will not be willing to entertain the possibility I am suggesting simply because it clashes with their present understanding of Romans 9 to 11. Such people need to remember that it is Scripture that is authoritative, not their own desires about what it means, and they need to be open to the possibility that their view on Romans 9 to 11 is incorrect. And, of course, I direct this admonition to myself as much as to others.

    Now for a tiny part of the argument: Whose fate does Paul lament at the very outset of Romans 9? The fate of all lost unbelievers? No. It is the fate of his fellow Israelites that he laments. While this only a tiny part of the overall argument, the notion that Jews have been hardened by God functions as one possible explanation for the state of affairs they are now in. If, in the middle of Romans 9, Paul actually writes of “vessels of destruction” that include Gentiles, the reader must then concede that Paul has left the specific Israel focus of his lament behind and has moved on to a treatment of mankind in general. While Paul could have done this, I suggest we will see that he has not – that there is every reason to believe that Paul is saying that the reason the Jews are in such a sad state is that, yes, God has hardened them.
     
  3. Andre

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    The broader context of the entire letter supports the assertion that, in Romans 9, the vessels of destruction are hardened Jews. Even though this is often overlooked, the entire letter is suffused with the theme of the faithfulness of God to the Abrahamic covenant – this is clearly seen in Romans 4, as just one example. More specifically, at various places in the letter (e.g. Romans 4) we see Paul arguing that God has indeed been faithful to that covenant. What is the goal of the covenant? Well, one of its goals, if not the major goal, is that “the nations” will be blessed through Abraham’s descendents.

    Given all this, and given what Paul explicitly says in Romans 11 about how the “transgression” and hardening of the Gentile has had salvific implications for the broader Gentile world, one need not be a genius to see that Paul could well be arguing that the hardening of the Jew has been the means by which the nation of Israel has indeed blessed the Gentiles. This would fit perfectly into Paul’s thesis, developed throughout the letter, that God has indeed been faithful to the covenant. And what better way to express this notion than the following words:

    What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He (AU)prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

    Paul does not explicitly declare that the vessels of destruction are hardened Jews. This, of course, gives people the seeming liberty to read this text as an affirmation of a general, ahistorical, theology of “individual election to salvation or to loss”. But in a letter where Paul is clearly arguing that God has fulfilled the covenant, and where we should know that a major goal of the covenant is the blessing of Gentiles by Israel, and where, in chapter 11 no less, Paul explicitly states that most Jews have been intentionally led into a stupor of transgression by God so that Gentiles can be saved, the notion that the “vessels of destruction” are hardened Jews fits exceedingly well.

    Remember, Paul does not explicitly identify who these “vessels of destruction” are. So one must make an actual case as to who they are - simply declaring them to be the pre-destined lost, both Jew and Gentile, is not a case. The evidence is mounting that these are indeed Jews, hardened to destruction in order to bless the Gentiles, thereby showing God to be a keeper of his covenantal promise.
     
  4. Dr. Walter

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    There is no argument that Israel in particular will be hardened as Romans 11:6-9 states this explicitly. It is not an argument about Israel "in particular" but rather Romans 9-11 is about the hardening Israel to the EXCLUSION of all others. Romans 9:15-18 explicitly includes a GENTILE in the hardening aspect and the context is about INDIVIDUALS:

    15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
    17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
    18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.



    This is absurd reasoning! If that were the case then Paul should never have introduced Pharoah as the illustration of hardening in verses 17 in a context of INDIVIDUAL objects of mercy and hardening.

    If that were the case Paul should never have concluded the illustration of the Potter with "US" followed by the clear NEGATION - "NOT OF THE JEWS ONLY" but incuded "gentiles" in the "vessels of mercy."

    24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    The fact that GENTILES are included in the "vessels of mercy" but NONE are included in the "vessels of destruction" is not only irrational but wrong as Pharoah as an INDIVIDUAL has already been placed in that category (v. 17).

    Are ALL Jews included in "vessels of mercy" as Romans 9:24 demands Jews are included???? It is as irrational to argue that ALL Jews must be included in "vessels of mercy" as it is to argue that ALL gentiles must be included in "vessels of mercy."

    In verse 24 Paul says the "US" is "OF" the Jews and "OF" the gentiles that make up the vessels of mercy. That demands that the "vessels of wrath" make up those Jews and gentiles not included as vessels of mercy such as the GENTILE Pharoah in verse 17 and therefore all "children of the flesh" (v. 8). Paul makes it clear that the children of promise and the children of the flesh are not limited to ethnic Israelites (Gal. 4:28-29)

    28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
    29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.


    Just because the emphasis is on ethnic Jews in Romans 9:6-8 does not mean that the same two categories are not found among gentiles as well and thus Jews and gentiles make up the "vessels of wrath" and "vessels of mercy."

    Romans 10 is placed right in the middle between chapter 9 and chapter 11! Would you argue that Romans 10 is ONLY FOR GENTILES or ONLY FOR JEWS simply because Romans 11 has the Gentiles as the primary focus for being vessels of mercy??????????? Would you argue that Romans 10 is NATIONAL in application only???????????

    Again, the argument is not whether Israel is the primary subject in view but whether Israel is TOTALLY in view to the complete EXCLUSION of Gentiles in regard to mercy or hardening.
     
  5. Andre

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    Here is Romans 11:6-9:

    And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.[c]
    7What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8as it is written:
    "God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes so that they could not see
    and ears so that they could not hear,
    to this very day."[d] 9And David says:
    "May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.

    Paul has just told us (earlier in Romans 11) that not all Jews have been hardened - and I have never suggested that all Jews were hardened.

    In the above text, Paul is simply affirming that the remnant of Jews - remember the context, Paul is talking about the Jewish remnant at the beginning of 11 - are not hardened like the rest of the Jews were.

    Which is entirley consistent with the thesis that, in Romans 9, Paul is talking about a hardening of Jews only.
     
  6. Dr. Walter

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    Your interpretation of Romans 9:24 demands that ALL Gentiles are not hardened as you will include the hardened Jews as "vessels of wrath" but exclude the hardened Gentiles!!!!! That is the problem with your irrational eisgesis of Romans 9:21-24. Pharoah is an individual gentile that you cannot place in the category of "vessels of mercy" just as you cannot place into that category other HARDENED gentiles.



    False! Pharoah as an INDIVIDUAL is hardened and thus is a Gentile that cannot fit into the category of "US" in Romans 9:24 as a "vessel of mercy". You cannot successsfully deny that Romans 9:24 and "US" is INDIVIDUAL Jews and Gentiles! END OF STORY -

    I have thoroughly debunked your interpretation and anyone else reading this exchange can clearly see that.
     
  7. Andre

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    Well, in a manner of speaking yes. If, as I am claiming, Paul is making a specifically historical argument about how Jews have been hardened, then, of course, he is not talking about the hardening of Gentiles. Have Gentiles been hardened for various purposes in the history of God's dealings with humanity? Clearly, yes - Pharoah is an example. But that does not somehow "prohibit" Paul from making an argument about God hardening only Jews for a specific reason.

    I will deal with this obection in considerable detail in a subsequent post. It will be demonstrated that the fact that Pharaoh is a hardened Gentile d does not require us to understand that the "vessels of destruction" category contains Gentiles.

    I will leave this matter to the readers to judge.
     
  8. Andre

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    Deleted own post.
     
    #8 Andre, Sep 22, 2010
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  9. Andre

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    A natural objection to the view that the “vessels of destruction” category in Romans 9 contains only Jews – the view to which I ascribe - is that Pharaoh is put forth as a Gentile who has been hardened. How, then, could the “vessels of destruction” category not include Gentiles? I will now demonstrate that, despite the admitted superficial appeal of concluding that Pharaoh falls into the “vessels of destruction” category, there is a way to legitimately read the text so that he does not.

    Imagine that we unearth a letter written by a now deceased medical researcher who was known to have performed medical experiments on animals that resulted in their deaths. Imagine that the text of the letter is as follows:

    1. I conducted medical experiments on chickens, resulting in the deaths of those chickens, and these experiments benefited humanity;

    2. I conducted medical experiments on rats, resulting in the deaths of those rats, and these experiments benefited humanity;

    3. I therefore had the right to conduct medical experiments on the vessels of destruction for the benefit of humanity.

    Who are the vessels of destruction? Does this category includes chicken and rats? It seems that way, but appearances are deceiving. Suppose another source of information is unearthed, one that shows that the doctor was accused by other people for conducting medical experiments on dogs.

    This new item of information gives us an entirely legitimate alternative in respect to how we read the initial letter. The cryptic reference to “vessels of destruction” can now be read to denote dogs and dogs only, with the allusions to the killing of chickens and rats functioning specifically as examples, provided by the researcher in his own defence, of his general right to experiment on animals.

    The point is that the second source gives us a context in which it is clear that the immediate concern of the researcher is to defend himself in respect to the killing of the dogs. So even though he has just written about killing chickens and rats, we are not forced to understand these animals as belonging to the “vessels of destruction” category.

    Same thing with Pharaoh. Even though he is a hardened Gentile, there are other reasons to conclude that Paul’s specific goal is to defend the right of God to harden Jews. Therefore, Pharaoh need not be deemed to belong to the “vessels of destruction” category.
     
  10. Andre

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    Many see the potter metaphor as a treatment of the fact that God has pre-destined some to salvation and some to loss. However, there is another reading that makes more sense in context, namely that the metaphor alludes to a event that takes place in the course of “this-worldly” history – the hardening of the nation of Israel.

    Romans chapter 9 through to the first half of chapter 10 is clearly and inarguably a recounting of the covenant history of Israel. This is easy to see – the treatment begins with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then Pharaoh and the exodus, then threats of exile and promises of restoration (in verse 25, Paul quotes from Hosea 2, a text which deals with the threat of exile and the promise of restoration), then the present state of the Jews (at the beginning of Romans 10), then finally covenant renewal (in verse 8, Paul quotes from a famous covenant renewal passage in Deuteronomy 30) and the ingathering of the Gentiles (in the middle of chapter 10, Paul says: “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

    This is clearly a re-telling of the history of Israel and God’s dealings with her – how can anyone possibly dispute this? A number of key events in Israel’s history are laid out – in the proper sequence no less – concluding with what the Old Testament tells us will happen when Israel’s history reaches its climax – the Gentiles will be blessed. Now in the middle of a detailed, comprehensive treatment of Israel’s history, we have the potter metaphor. Now how likely is it that Paul has abandoned the clear focus on Israel and her history and has mysteriously veered off into a treatment of pre-destination – a subject that has no Israel specificity and is located at the very beginning of history. No competent writer would do that. This alone should undermine the notion that the potter metaphor deals with pre-destination.

    But there is also the “mission” theme of Romans 10 and 11 where, respectively, Paul advocates for evangelism of Jews and Gentiles. If God has pre-destined all to some eternal destiny, then why in the world is Paul talking about an evangelistic activity that would, of course, be entirely inconsequential if Paul really does embrace predestination. No – Paul uses the potter metaphor to describe a temporary hardening of the nation of Israel in the middle of her history and then, in advocating for evangelism to Jews in chapter 11, he demonstrates that the time of this hardening has passed.

    Seeing the potter metaphor as a treatment of the temporary hardening of Jews in history makes perfect sense in context – the potter metaphor is written smack-dab in the middle of a treatment of Israel’s history. Seeing it as a treatment of pre-destination entails Paul leaving the flow of his Israel history, making a statement about a general theological principles, and then reverting to the main flow of the Israel history. This is simply not plausible for a careful writer like Paul. And, as stated, why advocate for evangelism to either Gentile (chapter 10) or Jew (chapter 11) if ultimate salvation has already been worked out at the beginning of time?
     
  11. Dr. Walter

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    When a person has his mind set to prove something and turns to unbiblical illustrations and philosophical arguments and incomplete contextual data there is no hope for that person to acheive the truth of the context - such is your case.

    No one denies that Israel is the primary theme in chapters 9-11 but in regard to God's one and only plan of salvation which is inclusive of much more than Israel. The focus on Israel in chapter nine is to demonstrate that national election to privileges is not equivilient to person election to salvation. Those born after the flesh, though Israelites and born into national privileges does not equate to personal salvation or the children of promise. Chapter nine uses this dichotomy in national Isael (children of flesh versus children of promise) to teach the broader redemptive purpose of God in a world of children of flesh (vessels of wrath) versus children of promise (vessels of mercy). Chapter nine deals with the INDIVIDUAL basis of salvation with Israel thus providing the INDIVIDUAL basis of salvation world wide as there are only two types of individuals - lost or saved, born of the flesh, born of the Spirit, vessels of mery or vessels of wrath and denial of that is absurdity.

    Chapter ten also deals with INDIVIDUAL SALVATION which Israel as a nation rejected but of which both INDIVIDUAL Jews and Gentiles INDIVIDUALLY partake (Rom. 10:8-17).

    Chapter ELEVEN deals with National rejection of the gospel by Israel and its WORLD WIDE consequences.

    Paul's point in regard to Israel's HISTORY is that those born to NATURAL elective privilege have always rejected INDIVIDUAL salvation and the rejectors (vessels of wrath)has always been the GREATER PART of the nation while the children of promise (vessels of mercy/remnant) has always been the REMNANT of the nation and such is true at the time Paul wrote (Rom. 11:5). Moreover, this will continue to be true with Israel as a NATION or a MAJORITY until God's purpose of redemption is finished among the Gentiles (Rom. 11:25) and then not a remnant but "ALL" Israel shall be saved at His return (Rom. 11:26-28). Absolute proof that "ALL" Israel denies inclusion of Gentiles in Romans 11:26-28) is the fact that the pronoun "they" in verse 28 has for its nearest antecedant "ALL ISRAEL" in verse 26 and "they" are those identified as ENEMIES of the Gospel for the sake of GENTILES thereby denying gentiles are included in them:

    Rom. 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.








     
  12. webdog

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    Andre, can you go back and make the words a tad bit bigger? I misplaced my magnifying glass :)
     
  13. Andre

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    A completely empty statement - there is no argument, but merely speculations about my motives. And unsupported speculations at that. Do I engage in such dismissive speculations about your motives? Generally, I do not.

    Saying this does not make it so.

    Yes, this is part of the argument of chapter 9 - Paul is indeed most certainly arguing that salvation is not limited to Jews. But part of that argument is that God has hardened national Israel with salvific implications for Gentiles - the potter metaphor in the Old Testament is repeatedly, and I mean repeatedly used to describe the right of God to mold Israel for His purposes. Paul knows his Old Testament and would very likely use it consistently - to refer to what God has done to Israel.

    Agree.

    You seem to broaden out the category of "children of the flesh" to include Gentiles? Paul never does that in this chapter. So, on what basis precisely do you conclude that Gentiles are in the "vessel of destruction" category? To put it more carefully, how would make the case from what Paul has actually written, and without super-imposing other ideas on top, that Paul sees Gentiles in the "vessels of destruction" category?

    I suggest you will not succeed - it will be demonstrable that you must have imported the Gentile into the "vessels of destruction" category. But, please go ahead and try to make your case.

    It is not absurd to deny this - especially if, as I have been doing, the relevant arguments can be marshalled to support the notion that the vessels of destruction here are hardened Jews. You keep implying that this text has to be about some universal theology of salvation.

    Well, you need to make that case stick. For my part, I suggest that Paul is basically saying "Jews have been hardened so that the possibility of salvation is open to both Jews (the remnant who are not hardened)".

    I agree with this - Paul is indeed saying that the greater part of the nation are vessels of destruction and the remnant are in the vessels of mercy category. But this does necessitate that Gentiles are in the vessels of destruction category.

    It only does so if one is convinced on other grounds that the "vessels of destruction" category is global in its extent - that anyone, Jew or Gentile, who is lost must be in this category.

    Well that cannot simply be assumed.

    I will address the complexities of this passage in a later post. For the present I will simply assert that I have studied this passage in detail and am prepared to argue in some detail that it coheres perfectly well with the general position I am advancing.
     
    #13 Andre, Sep 22, 2010
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  14. Andre

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    I assume that the fonts look funny. Well if you can help me figure this out, great.

    Some of my posts are "copy and paste" from word files I have created. I have no idea how to make sure the fonts are the right size - I have tried everything I can think of.

    My posts show in the same font size as other people's posts on my computer.

    It is hard enough trying to make sense of Paul without having to worry about computer stuff - perhaps I have been "hardened" with respect to computer technology.
     
  15. webdog

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    I think if you go back and hit edit you can highlight the text and there is a a "sized" box next to "fonts". When the text is highlighted, click the pull down arrow next to "sizes" and change it to something bigger like 11.

    In all honesty, this is a good thread and I'm not sure if it's just my computer, but it is so small I'm not even sure a magnifying glass will help.
     
  16. Andre

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    I appreciate the fact that someone other than Dr. W and I is reading this thread - I really do.

    I am aware of the font box and I choose a font size the "displays" normally - that is, at a reasonable size on my computer. Hopefully I can figure this out.
     
  17. Dr. Walter

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    No, because you cannot. I stick to the contextual line of reasoning.


    The basic fundemental premise of Romans 9:3-8 is that being an ethnic Jew is to be born to elective privileges as a nation (vv. 3-5) but this does not mean natural born Jews are the children of promise (vv. 6-8). There are two classifications of natural born ethnic Jews just as there are two classifications of natural born human beings of all nationalities. There is that class which is only born after the flesh and there are those who are supernatural born and unconditionally elected by God to be children of promise (vv. 9-13) among Israel and among gentiles:


    Gal. 4:28 Now we, brethren,[speaking to Jews and Gentiles] as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
    29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

    Rom. 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.






    He broadens the "children of promise" to include Gentiles in this context (Rom. 9:24). He broadens the Gentile illustration of hardening (Romans 9:15-18) to include Jews! You cannot demand the restricted illustration of hardening of a Gentile Pharoah (Rom. 9:15-17) is broadened to Jews but yet assert that such hardening excludes all Gentiles in Romans 9:21-22 as that is aburd logic! In Romans 9:15-18 both "mercy" and hardening are included in regard to the illustration of the Gentile and both hardening and mercy are included in Romans 9:20-24 where both Jews and Gentiles are included (Rom. 9:24).

    Here is your problem. You take a general principle that is particularly applied to Jews in one case (Romans 9:6-13) and a general principle that is particular applied to a Gentile in one case (Rom. 9:15-18) and exclude any general application to all gentiles in both cases. That is aburd rationale.

    The truth is that the general principle is applicable to jews and Gentiles (Rom. 9:6-13) but specifically applied in one instance to Jews and in another instance to Gentiles (Rom. 9:15-18) but in the end Paul applies it to both Jews and Gentiles in regard to both hardening and mercy (Rom. 9:24).
     
  18. Eric B

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    Pharaoh was included because he was being used as a type or foreshadowing example of Israel; just as Esau now was. Those were individuals who God once favored Israel over, but now, God is favoring a new group (spiritual Israel) over physical Israel.

    All gentiles are not "hardened", if by that you are equating "hardening" with the "natural, spiritually dead lost state". The two are not the same. Hardening was a special instance of keeping one particular lost person from responding to the truth, in order that a plan could be carried out.
     
  19. Andre

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    I suggest that Paul is arguing that the Law of Moses function to harden Israel, to concentrate and bring sin to full expression in her - Israel is being "hardened", just as a potter will harden a clay vessel. This statement, no doubt will raise eyebrows - I am indeed suggesting that the Law of Moses has this "dark" purpose of making Israel more sinful, not less.

    The following snippet of text from Galatians 3 is consistent with this position:

    All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, ....

    There is, of course, a lot of meat in this passage. However, I simply want to point out that Paul says that the Jews who are trying to observe the law are, yes, under a curse. So I am not making up this idea that the law has a dark effect on those who try to follow it - Paul himself says so in this very passage. Paul is arguing that those Jews who make the mistake of thinking that "obeying the Law of Moses is what its all about" are led down the garden path. In other words, hardened.

    And then we get this from the same chapter:

    Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions

    Now this statement is admittedly ambiguous - what does "because of transgressions" really mean? Well, Paul also writes this in Romans 5:[/FONT]

    The Law came in so that the transgression would increase

    This statement, by itself, supports the point I am making - Paul is making the remarkable claim that God gave the Jews the Law of Moses to make them more sinful - that is to harden them. You watch what people do with this verse - they will invariably try to bend it into something like this: The Law came so that sin would be revealed. But this is simply not what the text says - it says that transgression (sin) would increase, not simply be "revealed".

    The reason for bringing up Romans 5:20 is that it establishes that it is at least possible that the cryptic statement in Galatians - about the law being added "because of transgressions" is a re-statement of the same point - the purpose of the Law of Moses was to increase transgression in national Israel. In other words, to harden her, just as a potter might harden a vessel of destruction.

    Finally, we get this statement:

    Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!

    The critical point here is that Paul clearly believes that he has just concluded an argument that would lead people to believe that the Law was doing something bad. And indeed he has done this very thing - like in Romans 5:20 he is saying things in Galatians 3 about the Law of Moses having this dark "sin-inducing" and, yes, hardening, effect on some Jews who follow that Law. For example, Paul has said that those who pursue the Law in a certain manner are cursed. This is a clear assertion that there indeed a "dark" side to the Law - a way in which it functions to drive the Jew away from following God.

    So why does Paul insist that, appearances notwithstanding, the law is, after all a good thing? I suggest that the reason is this: the Law of Moses, and its hardening effect on the Jew, has had salvific effect for the Gentile! As Paul writes at the end of Galatians 3:[/FONT]​

    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Here is another, arguably cryptic, way one could express this notion that the hardening of the Jew has expanded the family of God to include Gentiles:

    Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles
     
    #19 Andre, Sep 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2010

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