Lesson 33

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

9:22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction, 9:23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, 9:24 us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? 9:25 As he says also in Hosea,

"I will call them ‘my people,’ which were not my people;

And her ‘beloved,’ who was not beloved."

9:26 "It will be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’

There will they be called ‘sons of the living God.’"

9:27 Isaiah cries concerning Israel,

"If the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea,

It is the remnant who will be saved;

9:28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,

Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."

9:29 As Isaiah has said before,

"Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us a seed,

We would have become like Sodom,

And would have been made like Gomorrah."

 Today's Lesson 

One of Paul's stated goals for the Epistle to the Romans is to show that God is revealing through Jesus Christ a righteousness that is by faith. God had always chosen people on the basis of grace and faith. The people that he chose were not perfect people. Many of them were not nice people or even what we would consider good people. God chooses people for His own reasons and by means that perplex our understanding.


Paul uses this section of his epistle to demonstrate through Old Testament scripture that God has promised His salvation of grace to all people. The righteousness that is revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a new revelation, but it is the same righteousness that God had always expressed to His people.


He first uses two quotations from the Hebrew prophet, Hosea. God had spoken through His prophets of the time when His salvation would be available to all the nations of the world. Though Israel was called "The People of God" there would come a time when a new people would be brought into relationship with the living God. "I will call them 'my people,' which were not my people."


Paul could have chosen from an abundance of places in the Old Testament from which to make this point. There are many times under the Old Covenant when God had promised to bring "the nations" or "the Gentiles" into a new relationship. What was widely assumed was that God would bring them into the Mosaic covenant. Even many in the early church assumed that when the Spirit began to be poured out on the Gentiles that God would first have them be made complete Jews of the covenant. This was the most contentious issue in the first century church.


But Paul's point is not just that the Gentiles would be brought to righteousness but that many within the physical nation of Israel would be excluded from righteousness. For this idea he turns to two passages from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had written of "a holy remnant" which would be saved. Isaiah had originally uttered these prophecies to explain that although the nation of Israel would be defeated and enslaved that God would protect a remnant, a smaller number within the whole, to be preserved and saved.


But even in the text of Isaiah, "the holy remnant" was widened to express the idea that Paul is incorporating here. The remnant was not just those that would be saved from physical death in battle. The remnant were those who were the true nation of God within the larger nation of Israel. They were those that had been chosen by God and those who remained faithful under adverse conditions. Though everyone else may be destroyed utterly, the remnant of faithful would remain because they were protected by the power of God.


Paul's point is that through the Old Testament prophets God had already revealed that there would come a time when the Gentiles would be redeemed and brought into a covenant with God. These same prophets had also written that a large portion of Israel would be lost through faithlessness and unbelief. Old Testament prophets had prophesied the changes that were beginning to take place in the early church.


We are often unprepared for the changes that God makes in our lives. We want God to be safe and consistent. God is consistent, but He is consistent to His own ways and not to our understanding. We are constantly asked to re- assess what we know of God because God is continuing to reveal Himself to us. There are some things that we can be sure of. There is much more that God has yet to reveal about Himself.


Are you open to the continuing revelation of God in your life? Is your mind open enough that God can still surprise you with His presence?


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